Super Valuable Tips when Traveling with Children
Some days, getting out of the house may be more than you can cope with when you’ve got a new baby. Traveling anywhere significant just seems ridiculous. You might be able to squeeze your stuff into a single small suitcase, but surely your baby’s physical entourage is going to require a steamer trunk. Do you really want to be the person everyone glares at, walking down the aisle of the plane with an infant who’s already starting to fuss? Actually, yes you do – and here’s why.
Accepting that a baby is going to change the way you do things is healthy. Stopping yourself from doing things because you have a baby is not. Many new parents make the necessity of focusing solely on their infant for the first few weeks a habit that becomes increasingly difficult to break over time. Traveling is one of those invisible barriers that will get more difficult to surmount the longer you put it off. So, if you’ve got people to visit or places to be, get used to bringing your little travel companion along and get moving.
Traveling with Infants
Traveling with a small baby isn’t nearly as daunting as it seems. In fact, they make far better
travelers at 3 months than they do at 3 years, so it’s best to do some trial and error when your baby is still young enough to be asleep much of the time.
- If you’re flying, feed your baby at take-off and landing to help with the changes in air pressure. Swallowing helps a lot, and feeding also provides a good distraction. Crying is often an indication that things feel “strange” and doesn’t necessarily mean that they are having pain in their ears.
- Bring a baby carrier, especially on a long flight. Holding your infant for hours gets tiring, and you are both going to be more comfortable if the baby can rest against your chest for at least some of the flight.
- Don’t pay any attention to the people who feel compelled to give you dirty looks if your baby gets fussy. They either have no children of their own or took no part in raising them. Your baby is going to absorb your anxiety and become more fretful, so just relax. Most of the people around you have been there, and are more likely to be sympathetic than obnoxious.
- Make sure to bring a full day’s supply of formula on board if you’re not breastfeeding, along with a change of clothes and plenty of diapers, just in case your luggage doesn’t arrive when you do.
- If you’re traveling by car, make sure the car seat is properly installed. The majority of infant car seats examined at police spot-checks are found to be improperly secured. Read the manual, get help if you need it, and do it right.
- Install window shades on longer car trips to keep your infant out of the sun.
- Bring a baby blanket with you wherever you go. It’s an outdoor playpen, mobile change table, an extra layer of warmth that you’ll use in a dozen different ways.
- Invest in a big plastic bib. They’re clunky, ugly, and essential for cutting back on the number of times you’ll have to change your baby’s clothes in a day.
Traveling with Toddlers
This is where the fun really begins, and the key to traveling successfully with your pre-schooler is to keep it fun.
- Be flexible. You can travel quite happily with a toddler, but not in the scheduled, predictable way you may have in the past. Don’t set yourself up for stress and failure by fixing rigid arrival or departure times. You can set the agenda, but your baby will inevitably set the pace.
- Spend the first day of your trip letting your child explore and find their bearings. It will reduce the amount of time it takes for your toddler to feel “at home”.
- Don’t try to do too much. Vacationing with a toddler will be about experiencing new things, not necessarily seeing them. Fewer museums, more play structures, and a lot of unstructured time in-between. You may actually find yourself having a more relaxed holiday than when you tried to tour Rome in a day.
- Make frequent stops on car rides and let your child run around. They’re going to build up a lot of energy sitting in a car seat and they need to get it out of their system at regular intervals.
- Make a small card containing your child’s name and contact information and put it in one of their pockets if you’re going to be out and about in a crowd. Losing sight of your child is every parent’s worst nightmare, and this just might help you find them more quickly.
- Bring a travel sheet for impromptu naps and less-than hygienic hotel rooms. This one packs up to the size of a cell phone and only weighs 6 ounces: Check out our favorite travel item from Brave Era
- Wherever you can, rent or borrow things like strollers and cribs. Pick family-friendly destinations that have these items readily at hand so that you don’t have to bring them with you. Check online ahead of time to see what’s available, and don’t bring anything you can get at the other end.
If infants and toddlers are surrounded by the same things they need to sustain them at home, they really don’t care where you take them. For toddlers, that means snacks, a few toys, and lots of patience. Infants are usually perfectly content as long as you’re close and they’re fed and dry. There’s absolutely no reason not to travel with babies, and you’re likely to find that the world is a much different, and at times more magical place when seen through their eyes.