Are you worried that a new baby will derail your vacation plans? Well, we’re here to tell you that you can be both a new mom and a traveler. With pre-planning, thoughtful packing and a heck of a lot of patience, you’ve got all you need to adventure with your littlest one.
Certainly, venturing beyond the comforts of home with your baby can be daunting. There are days when a quick trip to the grocery store will feel impossible. You’ll wonder if you should you bring the whole diaper bag or just a bottle; you’ll worry that baby will cry the entire time. So we bet you’re wondering how could you possibly prepare for a trip away from home that lasts several days?
Here are 7 essential tips for traveling (by plane, train or car) with a baby.
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1. Do your homework
The very first thing is to do your homework. What do we mean by that? Basically, research each and every aspect of your vacation spot. If you’ve addressed all of your concerns beforehand, you’ll eliminate a tremendous amount of stress. To get you started, here are some basic questions to look into no matter where your travels take you:
- Does the airline have restrictions about traveling with an infant?
- Can you rent a car seat?
- Does baby need any ID?
- Is there a doctor available at your destination?
- Should you travel with infant medications?
- Does the hotel have cribs?
- What’s the weather forecast? Does it get colder at night?
- Will you be close to a grocery store or pharmacy?
2. Lighten the load
Your instincts may tell you to pack everything in the world you may need on your trip, but don’t do it! Instead, aim to travel lightly, bringing only the essentials with you. Many moms choose to use a backpack as their personal carryon bag so they can have their hands free to deal with a baby and her needs.
Overall, the fewer pieces of luggage you have to worry about, the better.
We encourage you to make a packing list well in advance so you don’t wind up forgetting your favorite must-have items. For example, here’s what we’d want in our carryon diaper bag:
- Changing pad
- Wipes (and more wipes!)
- First aid kit
- Extra clothes
- Hand sanitizer
- Small toys and books
- Trash bags (for soiled diapers/dirty clothes)
3. Ship ahead
While there are some things you want to have at your fingertips while you travel, you can make life easier by shipping some supplies to your destination ahead of time. For example, you know you’ll go through dozens of diapers, so instead of carrying them all with you from day one, order online and ship a supply directly to your hotel or Air BnB (most online suppliers ship for free).
A smart move would be to ship a duplicate blanket or stuffed animal (or whatever it is your baby doesn’t like to be without) to your destination just in case the original gets lost in transit. Your little one and your travel companions will be so grateful for your forward-thinking!
4. Time it right
If it’s possible, plan your travel around baby’s sleeping schedule. The very best scenario would be for your little one to fall sound sleep during the plane, train or car ride. When the baby’s asleep, you’ll be able to relax and anticipate the adventure ahead. What’s more, when the baby wakes, she’ll be alert and ready to take in all of the new sights!
5. Book a sitter
Depending on your destination, there may be babysitting services available. If there are professionals available to take care of the baby, go ahead and plan an adult-only night out (be sure to pack your dancing shoes!). Hotels often have daycare centers as well, so you can have an afternoon to yourself while the baby is safe and happy playing with other little travelers.
If you’re visiting friends or relatives, ask ahead if they could hook you up with a reliable sitter. Same goes for staying at an Air BnB – your host may have a list of recommended sitters to choose from.
6. Carry comforts of home plus a playlist
No one is going to have a joyful vacation if they aren’t getting enough sleep. With this in mind, check (and double-check) that you’ve packed baby’s favorite sleeping blanket, toy or whatever it is that helps her fall asleep every night. Having something that’s associated with home will definitely provide comfort in unfamiliar territory.
Music has been proven to help baby self-soothe and also promote sweet dreams. If you’re traveling by car, load up your iPhone with music that’s familiar to the baby and let it be your soundtrack! Also, if you’re staying in a hotel or Air BnB, you can use the playlist at bedtime or when she goes down for a nap.
If the baby is used to falling asleep with a musical mobile or another type of sleep soother that’s small enough to pack, be sure to bring it along!
7. Safety first
You’ll feel more confident if you have basic medical supplies on hand at all times. Pack a first aid kit that you can stash in the diaper bag and have with you wherever you go. You don’t need to go overboard and take along every medicine imaginable, but you do want to have the basics covered. Most of all, if baby requires specific medications, triple check that you have them handy (plus refills if necessary).
If you’re traveling by car, you can bring along a more comprehensive first aid kit that will handle a wider range of medical emergencies.
A basic first aid kit should include:
- Prescription medicine
- Disinfectant wipes
- Antibiotic ointment
- Tylenol (or other fever/pain reducer)
- Teething tablets
- Insect repellent
- Cold pack
- Calamine lotion (or the equivalent)
You got it covered
You don’t have to be a supermom to take a trip with your infant. In fact, we’re positive you can plan a family trip that will be relaxing and rewarding for everyone. The key is to take time to plan and then pack with care.
When you travel with a baby, know in advance that you’re in for a unique experience. Certainly, there’s no way to anticipate every tricky situation or uncomfortable moment. So, on every day of your trip, remind yourself that you’ve got it covered.
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About the author:
Samara Kamenecka is a VA specialized in SEO and writing, based in Madrid. When she’s not chained to her desk working, she likes to explore the city with her boyfriend, their two kids, and their dog. She blogs about everything from pregnancy gear to baby-led weaning over at www.tinyfry.com.