Ah, vacations. Sunny beaches, round-the-world flights, making a last-minute plan to meet friends in another state for the weekend. Sounds fun – let’s do it, right?
Great in theory, but you might just have a tiny new travel buddy tagging along now. Not so easy anymore, you might think.
Fear not, globetrotter; traveling with a baby doesn’t have to be as stressful. Sure, you’ve got more stuff than you’d ever thought you’d own, and a small human that needs your constant attention, but vacations are part of what makes having a family so rewarding.
As always, we’re here to help. Read on for traveling with a baby blog and tips.
1. Plan, Plan And Then Plan Some More!
Sometimes, where you go and what you do will depend on your baby, but it doesn’t have to. With the right plan in place, you’ll be set for an hour-long road trip or three weeks in Australia.
The first things to put in place are:
- Passports: check the requirements for your little one. Some countries will require a passport or ID regardless of age. Do this well in advance as applications can take time.
- Tickets: just like with the passport, do your research on whether you’ll need a separate ticket for your little one. Restrictions vary by airline and destination.
- Health check: schedule a trip to your pediatrician to check whether the baby is healthy and ready – especially if you’re flying. Vaccinations are required for some destinations.
Planning For Flying With A Baby
There are some essential rules for flying with a baby, but first off see what your options are.
When you’re booking your seats, aim to get one with a bassinet connection. This usually means you’ll be in the more spacious area at the front. These seats are often in demand, but as long as you ask far enough in advance, you should be able to get this priority seating.
If you’re lucky enough to be traveling with another adult to help you or an older child, try to book seats together. It sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised at where auto-assigned seats might place you!
You could even book a spare seat if time and budget allow. The extra space could be a godsend at 33,000 feet.
Schedule time to arrive early. Take advantage of those fast and priority boarding family extras – they’re there to help people traveling with a baby, like you.
TIP: If there are two adults, one of you could even board first, set up the seats and then come back to help you straight onto the plane with everything ready.
If you need to bring a stroller, bear in mind that you’ll usually need to check these at the gate. Consider getting a lightweight stroller that collapses easily if you can as you’ll likely be carrying it at some point.
Otherwise, an on-body carrier will be your best friend to keep your hands free.
Planning Car Travel With A Baby
Just because you’re staying on land, car travel with a baby requires some prior thought too.
First off, invest in a good quality car seat. On a plane or in a car, infants under 20 pounds should face backward in any travel seat.
If it works for you and there are two adults, can one of you sit in the back with the baby? It could remove a lot of the checking, stopping the and comforting delays. It could also keep your little one feeling calm, knowing you are there.
TIP: if you’re renting a car, check whether your rental includes a car seat so you don’t have to bring your own.
For the journey itself, scope out the route, allowing for delays. If you can, do a few practice trips to get the baby used to being in the car.
Can you schedule the journey around the baby’s sleep time? That way, you can get them ready for bed and in their pajamas and (hopefully!) sleep for most of the journey.
2. Pack Smart
We all know how much stuff comes with traveling with a baby. It can be tempting to just bring everything to be safe, but you don’t need to.
With the right traveling with a baby checklist, properly organized, you can conquer any trip.
Here are our essentials.
Packing For Flying With A Baby
Before you make any lists for packing, check the luggage allowance for your flight. Some airlines give lap infants an allowance, some don’t. You’ll still have to abide by cabin baggage restrictions.
- Travel food for a baby: some airlines offer baby food, or you might still be nursing. Investigate the menu and pack some snacks or expressed milk in reserve. It could be a long journey and the baby needs to stay fed and hydrated, whatever is on offer on the plane.
- Liquids: Most baby food and liquids are exempt from security restrictions, but check this for your flight.
- Hydration: liquids in the form of milk or water are one thing, but the air con is very drying. Bring a good moisturizer or ointment to keep the baby’s skin hydrated.
- Pacifier: you’re probably already carrying a few of them, but these could be essential on a plane. If you experience popping ears, your baby will feel it double or worse. Sucking on something can help to equalize the pressure.
TIP: if you do get stuck, a plastic drinking cup over each ear can help with the increased pressure.
Packing For Car Travel With A Baby
There aren’t so many issues with car travel as you can usually easily stop and get anything you need. Keep some of the plane tips in mind if you are going for long stretches without a town or stores nearby.
The main thing to think about is the size of your vehicle and how much you’re comfortable with.
Mainly, pack loads of snacks, games, their favorite items and things to do.
Sunshades are another good idea as the baby will need to sleep whatever time of day it is. You’ll also want to keep your little one out of the sun and as cool as possible.
For either mode of transport, a kid-friendly first aid kit is a solid investment. You never know when you might need it and you’ll be grateful if you do.
3. Don’t Forget The Little Things
You’ve got the essentials. You’ve packed, but are you packing? These extras could be invaluable when traveling with a baby. That ‘any eventuality’ you used to plan for? The chances triple with a little person.
- Bibs: can you ever have enough? Jostling, turning and turbulence – they can all make food go south. There might be no time to clean it and nowhere to buy a new one so take a spare.
- Wet wipes: the same goes for these little angels – especially if there’s a particular brand you use for your baby’s skin that you can’t buy elsewhere.
- Disposable diaper sacks: diapers themselves are usually not hard to come by – even planes carry spares – but somewhere quick to dispose of trash might be. Consider this especially in high-security areas like airports.
- Changing pads: There’ll be many times when you’re away from the comfort of your changing table. These handy pads turn any flat, safe surface into a changing table.
- Chargers and packs: always bring extras because these are classic items that go awry when traveling. You’ll need your cell and other devices to check the time, keep the baby entertained and even just play white noise to get them to sleep.
- Noise-canceling headphones: planes and cars are noisy places, and you don’t need anything else working against your baby sleeping.
4. Manage Your Journey
As much as possible, before your trip and once you’re on your journey, keep an eye on travel times. Also, even if you plan it, things can change on the road!
Timescales When Flying With A Baby
Us adults are used to it, but we forget even a short flight is a long time for a baby when you’re trapped in a confined space in an unfamiliar environment.
For a long flight, you might choose a stopover to break it up. There are pros and cons to both this method and a direct flight. Either way, plan for getting off and back on a plane or spending a longer time on the flight.
Timing Car Travel With A Baby
This is where making stops and taking it slowly really comes into its own.
Plan the route ahead to include rest stops at well-lit, clean and comfortable areas. Preferably with restaurants, stores and maybe even play areas.
While the actual traveling with a baby might seem like the main hurdle, don’t forget your destination. Investigate where you’re going and what the area is like for babies. Hot weather items like sun protection hats are easily forgotten.
When the baby’s young and you’re getting used to traveling, limit the number of destinations too. There’ll be time for backpacking and last-minute adventures when all the family’s old and grown!
Ready To Take A Trip With A Baby?
We’ve thrown a lot at you there but hopefully set your mind at ease too. It really all comes down to planning and remember, it does get easier. Your first trip might seem scary, but as long as you have the essentials, you’ll be fine.
Remember to enjoy the time and memories – that’s what vacations are all about! No flight, tantrum, sniffle or jet lag lasts forever. It’s a new situation and unexpected stuff will happen when you’re out of your routine. It’s about learning to go with the flow.
You’ll be traveling with a baby like a pro in no time!
What’s on your traveling with a baby checklist?
Share with us in the comments below!