Over the river and through the woods to Grandmother’s house we go! If you’re traveling with your baby, that image may be a little less idyllic than the snow-covered winter wonderland the song depicts. While it sounds like a good idea, there’s a lot that goes into preparing for a family trip. There’s the diaper bag full of diapers, wipes, lotion, changes of clothing, bibs, pajamas, and pacifiers. Then there’s the car seat, stroller, baby carrier, portable crib…and so much more. Just the thought of having to leave the house can be exhausting, it’s enough to make you want to call the whole thing off and call Grandmother on the phone instead.
Yet, how can you resist showing off the most precious member of your family and begin the memory-making? Yes, it will take some preparation, but with a bit of planning and flexibility, you’ll be rolling merrily along.
If your baby is traveling by plane for the first time, you’ll want to know about pediatric and FAA guidelines in advance of your trip. The tips below offer ideas for travel whether by air or land to help ease you down your yellow brick road.
Get Ready to Go
- If you’re traveling outside the country, be sure your baby has a passport. International travel requires everyone have a passport, regardless of age.
- Plan any needed vaccinations at least a week before your departure. In case of any side effects, you’ll be glad to be managing them at home.
- Do a little research prior to your trip and know where you can find a doctor or hospital in your destination area. From a fever to a rash to anything at all, you won’t want to spend time searching when medical care might be needed.
- Opt-in to purchase travel insurance when flying. It may reimburse you for some medical expenses.
- Pack as light as possible. Yes, there will be certain essentials, but as long as your baby is clean, fed, gets enough sleep and lots of love, there may be little else you need to carry for a few days away from home.
- Be sure that all devices are charged before you leave the house. Pack extra chargers to keep with you so there will be no interruption in service enroute.
Are We There Yet?
- No matter how long it takes to get to your destination, have some entertainment on hand. Any device loaded with favorite nursery rhymes, preferred family movies, and games for the older kids will do wonders for both your family and all surrounding passengers.
- Have snacks, will travel. Enough said.
- Many airlines and hotels have amenities that will make your air travel or stay more manageable. Call ahead for a portable bassinet if you’re traveling by plane, and check with the hotel for any supplies they offer to guests.
- Keep close at hand the lovey, favorite blanket or anything that your baby or toddler associates with sleep, while traveling. They will serve as cues that it’s time to sleep without resorting to medicinal options.
- Likewise, a favorite, soft toy will help your little one feel secure, comforted – and occupied.
- Sitting in place for a long period of time is taxing for everyone, from the smallest to the tallest. On a road trip, plan to take a break to get some fresh air, take a walk or grab a bite to eat. It will help everyone feel refreshed and ready for the next leg of the trip.
- If you’re able, try to schedule travel time around your child’s sleep schedule. Dressed in jammies, he just may fall asleep as soon as you board the plane or get into the car.
- Whether you’re visiting family or visiting the sites, keep your schedule flexible. Trying to cram too many activities into a short period of time can easily produce cranky kids (and parents). Expect the unexpected. You may need to make some adjustments as you go, but it will be worth reducing stress and saving your sanity.
- Schedule some downtime into every day. Downtime doesn’t have to mean naptime. Take a leisurely family stroll, watch a movie or pop into a local library for story time. Just as taking breaks during a road trip, downtime will rejuvenate and help everyone get ready for the next family adventure.
As one experienced, traveling parent notes, traveling with little ones is like being on the road with a rock band. To enjoy a smooth trip, it’s all about tote and carry. While it does take some advanced planning, it is well worth the effort. You will be only as happy and content as your least happy little travel buddy. Keeping his needs in mind will go a long way toward a memorable trip-for all the right reasons.
Most of all, bring along your sense of humor and go with the flow. Safe travels!