Having a special trip coming up is an exciting thing. There is no better way to reset yourself and your mind than having a vacation or a short road trip. While all of the excitement of a trip is totally normal, so is the stress that comes along with it. Besides the obvious financial stresses, there is the worry about what to bring and activities you should plan for.
This stress only is elevated when you are planning on taking a trip with a baby. These days it seems that you can’t even go to the store with a baby without a full day of planning ahead of time. If you find yourself in this boat, don’t worry! There are plenty of ways to help get prepared for a successful outing for both you and your baby. Here are the top ten tips for traveling with your baby that are sure to guarantee a good time for all.
Know where you are going
The first obvious thing to know when planning a trip is to know where you are going. While spontaneous trips are always fun, this isn’t always great when you have a baby. This is because you want to make sure that there are plenty activities that you can do with your child. Unless you are planning on taking a sitter with you, Las Vegas may not be the best baby friendly option. Instead look into more family friendly vacation spots that have specialized events like fairs and children museums.
One of the most important tips for traveling with your baby is to know where you are going to stay once you get there. Call any hotels within your price range and see if they have any special accommodations for babies. Many hotels will provide a crib or a pack and play, sometimes at no extra cost to you. Even if you have a travel crib or a pack and play, this is still a great option because it will leave you with all of that extra trunk room for your entire luggage. Another thing to ask ahead of time is if there is a microwave or coffee maker in your room. This way you have a way to warm up bottles and baby food for those midnight feedings. The last thing you would want to do is wander around a hotel lobby at 1am trying to find a pot of boiling water.
Stick to a budget
One of the great tips for traveling with your baby is to set a budget and stick to it. While you may want to give your baby an amazing travel experience, that doesn’t mean that you have to do it at the expensive of your spending limits. When babies are little, they don’t need much to enjoy themselves. So save the big family vacation for when they get a little bit older and opt for a trip that will help the two of you bond while spending some time together.
A great way to save money while traveling is to look up places that you already have friends and family living. That way you can save some money on a hotel and stay with them for a few days. They will probably be delighted to see your little one and maybe you can squeeze in a night out with your partner with the built in babysitter that comes along with staying with a family member. It is also important to remember that children are unpredictable. You never know if something will happen on your travels that will make you have to throw some money at a problem. So plan ahead and save up!
Make a list
One of the most stressful parts of traveling with a baby is knowing what you should pack. While it isn’t the worst thing in the world to forget a blanket at home, being prepared can save you a great deal of headaches. Ever been in a hotel room with a screaming baby at 3am only to find that you let their favorite pacifier at home? It isn’t fun for everyone. So start your list off with the basics. Write down all of the everyday essentials like diapers and bottles. From there, expand your list to include items that are essential for your baby like their favorite stuffed animal or blanket. If it’s on the list, pack it!
Having a list is one of the best tips for traveling with your baby because it helps to ensure that you never leave him without the important things. Another reason you might want to might a list is so that you also don’t leave anything back at the hotel room. While some hotels will happily send you back an important item you have left behind, that may not always be the case. The last thing you would want is to lose your little one’s favorite buddy.
Plan out outfits
Make sure to select clothes that are weather appropriate. If you are heading for a sunshine state, pick clothes that will keep your baby cool and vice versa. If you are not going to have access to a washing machine while on the road, feel free to over pack some clothes. While limiting the amount of clothes you are going to bring for yourself is a sometimes impossible task, doing this for your baby is recommended. Baby clothes are small, so feel free to pack away!
It is also important to remember that you should always bring a few extras of the important things like socks and onesies. These are going to be your lifesavers while you are out on the road. Also, for extra measure, make sure to plan out a couple of special outfits in case you have a couple of big days planned! Some parents even like to pack each outfit together in zip lock bags that include a pair of socks. This way you can spend less time trying to match up pants and shirts and more time enjoying your vacation.
Make your diaper bag count
Even though you will need to bring along an actual suitcase for your baby when traveling, do not forget that your diaper bag will be your life line. If you are planning out a big trip, the diaper bag will still serve the same purpose as it does when you make a quick trip to the store. Before heading out on a trip, completely empty your diaper bag and start from scratch. With a clear and clean diaper bag you can better organize all of the essentials that you will need to have a smooth and easy and traveling experience.
First thing is to pack as my diapers as you can. This is because you don’t have the luxury of running home for more. While you can always keep a box of diapers in your trunk, having a good amount of diapers on hand is always a good idea. Next, make sure you have all of the usual things like a change of clothes, some snack and wipes. Having a well stocked diaper bag will also make those little pit stops to the bathroom go much smoother.
Prepare the car
Here are some tips for traveling with your baby if you are planning on traveling by car. One of the biggest complaints that parents have when taking a road trip with their baby is that the constant stopping eats up a lot of precious road time. Between the constant diaper changes to the feedings every hour, it seems like you spend more time on the side of the road rather than on the actual road. Not to mention to special stops like when you need to search the car floor for a thrown pacifier. To help make the car trip a little more pleasant, prepare your car first!
Start by clearing out the back seat from any clutter, this way you can find thrown objects quickly. Also make a neat little box filled with organized toys, books and snacks that are within reach to you so you can quickly comfort your child. Don’t forget the blankets and stuffed animals too! Try to stick to your child’s normal feeding schedule, even when on the road. This way they are more likely to nap at the times they should which should help with the tantrums. For extra measure, have some soft lullaby music to play if your child needs that extra little bit of help to fall asleep. You can always wear headphones, as long as you’re not the one driving.
Leave the bulky items at home
Just because you have a baby, that doesn’t mean that you need to bring all of the bulky baby gear items that you need at home. This also doesn’t mean that you have to go out and buy baby travel items either! There are plenty of travel friendly baby items that are there to make your life easier, and best of all, you might already have these things at home. If you find that either your family or the hotel you are staying at doesn’t have a crib, try using a pack and play instead. You may be already using these portable style cribs as a way to keep your child contained at home. These lightweight travel cribs are great for travel because the fold down to fit perfectly in your car without taking up too much space.
No travel changing table? No problem! Many diaper bags have portable changing mats that are a great surface for changing your child while on the road. If you’re diaper bag doesn’t come with a changing mat you can easily buy one of these low priced mats at any baby store. If there is no way to warm up your baby’s bottle or food where you are staying, you should invest in a great bottle warmer. Many of these bottle warmers are small and compact enough for travel so feel free to leave the pots and pans at home. The only bulky item that you should make sure to bring with you is a stroller. Many umbrella strollers are perfect for travel because they are lightweight and don’t take up too much space.
One of the tips for traveling with a baby that many parents forget about is if their baby gear is okay to travel with. Certain products have to be approved for flying travel, not only for size, but for safety as well. This is especially true when it comes to the type of stroller you are bringing. The stroller needs to be regulation size and the same thing needs to be said for the type of car seat you will be bringing with you. If you are worried about your car seat being too bulky to fly, you should look into compact car seats. These car seats fold up to a small enough size so you will be able to fit it perfectly in your carryon bag.
If you are taking a shorter flight that doesn’t provide meals, plan ahead! Make sure to pack plenty of snacks that your child can eat so that they don’t get grumpy on these short flights. It is also a good idea to find small and compact toys that don’t make too much noise so they won’t disturb the other passengers. It should be noted that some babies just simply do not fly very well. If you find that you have one of these babies, try not to stress about it too much. A crying baby is not the worst thing that could happen on the plane.
One of the most difficult things about long distance travel is trying to adjust your mind and body to the sudden time change. This is even more difficult when you have a baby. If you know that your traveling is going to have a drastic time change, try to slowly help your baby adjust a couple days before you leave. This way the jet lag and the change to their routine will be easier for them to handle.
One way that you can help your baby to adjust is to slowly start changing the times that they eat. If you have a newborn that is still on a pretty erratic feeding schedule, this might not work for you, but if your baby is a little bit older it should be easier. It is a good idea to also try to allow yourself to adjust to the time change before your trip. Designate a clock in your house to be the same time as the time in your destination. Try to spend a whole day doing your normal day to day activities according to that clock. You will find that the jet lag and the overall sluggishness will be far less damaging by the time you reach your destination.
One of the most useful tips for traveling with your baby is that you need to be flexible. While you may have planned out every part of your trip down to the minute, it isn’t always practical to expect your child to stick to such an extensive schedule. You may have some big plans to see some amazing sites but your child may have other plans. They are just babies after all. Don’t let a meltdown ruin your trip. Being able to quickly change plans from a night out to a comfy family night in with some take out and movies can save you from some serious disappointments.
To avoid over stimulating your child, try planning out activities around their sleep schedule. They are much more likely to be able to enjoy a fun event when they have had a good nap in between. If you find that your baby has slept through something that you have planned out for them, don’t worry. It is all part of the journey. Stay flexible and you are sure to still have an amazing time.
While the top ten tips for traveling with your baby are a great jumping off point to a perfect vacation, there is always sure to be some bumps in the road. It is safe to say that it is nearly impossible to plan for everything. Some other things you can do to be ready for the exciting journey ahead of you are:
- Have plenty of snacks on hand for both you and your baby. No one can have fun on an empty stomach
- Pack an emergency kit that includes health care items. This way you can be ready for anything your journey throws your way.
- Relax and remember that vacations are supposed to be fun.
- Bring a coat even if you are traveling to warmer weather. Weather can change in an instant so be prepared for rain or shine.
When you have all of the tools you need ready to go you are more likely to be able to de-stress and really enjoy your family time. Traveling with a baby gets easier the more you do and in no time you will find that you are a traveling pro. Good luck.