Does the mere thought of travelling with your baby put a brake on your travel plans? Are you nervous thinking about what would happen on the plane? Would your baby sleep well or will he wail the whole time? Will you get cooperative co-passengers on the flight or will you be subjected to nasty glares from your neighbors?
The thought of vacationing with a baby in tow might seem like an unlikely proposition in the first instance, but clearly not an impossible one. Although it might seem like two polar extremes – extremes which can never meet, but really it's not as demanding as it appears to be. Come to think of it, it's actually easier to travel with a young baby than with a teen.
Unlike older babies who tend to have a mind of their own and have the potential to wreck your trip, younger babies do not have the capability to disrupt your travel plans in any manner. As long as you meet their needs and satisfy their itsy-bitsy demands, they can travel the world with you trundling away happily in their pram or a sling carrier for that matter.
Let’s be a bit honest, though. Those carefree days of impromptu travelling are definitely gone - the times when you simply hopped into the car on a whim with no destination in mind or spent a weekend in the mountains with little to no preparation beforehand. Travelling with a baby requires a lot of prior planning and being prepared for the worst case scenario is the key to a successful trip when travelling with a baby.
If you are prepared beforehand and have the right stuff with you, then your trip won’t be as scary as you imagined it to be. Who knows, it might even turn out into one helluva trip – enjoyable both for your baby. One tip: To begin with, start out with a small trip and then move on to the bigger ones.
7 Pack Smartly
Now that you have a baby traveling with you, you will have to estimate and factor in their needs, and surprisingly you will find how many things babies need. A baby’s luggage can take up a lot more space than you can imagine, therefore you need to know what to take and what to leave behind. As parents, we tend to pack a lot of stuff, even those things which can be bought at the destination place.
Unless of course the place you are travelling to is a remote and an inaccessible one (though it’s beyond me why on earth would one visit such a place with a baby), the rest of the world is well-equipped to deal with your needs.
Be choosy and pack only those things which are truly essential and required by your baby. Do not go overboard with packing heavy duty stuff like car seats, cribs, high chair, swing etc. Leave them behind at home, there are many rental companies which provide all the bulky baby items for rent. It really takes a huge load off one’s chest - and back- because you're saved the effort of having to lug all these heavy-duty baby gear through airports and multiple stations, leave aside the fact that trying to fit them in the trunk of one’s car is a hell of a task in itself.
What you should instead carry and concentrate on is a good supply of clothes, diaper, cleansing wipes, sanitizers and of course medicines. Carry sufficient baby clothes with you so that you have an ample stock of clothes for your baby to change into whenever the need arises. Preferably, a week’s supply of clothes should suffice; in case, you need to stay for a longer time you can always avail yourself of the laundry facilities available at your destination.
Also, carry with you a solid supply of cleansing cloths and wipes for a thorough clean-up of your baby for any type of spit-up or diaper blowout that can happen at the worst possible time and in the worst possible place. Remember to carry sufficient diapers as well. Feeding articles like bowls, spoons, napkins etc. should also be packed in an easy to access bag. The most important things you should carry include:
- A blanket or shawl to provide warmth to your baby. It could also double up as a sheet to cover you when breastfeeding.
- A baby sling to make travel easier.
- Feeding equipment’s.
6 Keep Baby Safe
Whether you are travelling to a nearby place or some far-away exotic destination, it makes sense to carry your baby’s medications and other essential stuff with you wherever you go. Waking up in the middle of the night in a hotel room and finding your baby burning all over can be a scary thing. A pharmacy might not be situated nearby or there might be a language barrier which can lead to a situation where you really do not know where to turn to.
Having your pediatrician’s email address and phone number with you can come real handy so that you know who to contact to in case of an emergency. Needless to say, if it’s a serious medical emergency, then waste no time in contacting the nearest hospital. To be on the safer side, you should carry a mini medical kit with you at all times, that should include medicines for colic pain, teething gel, saline nose drops and infant paracetamol, thermometers, bandages etc.
Carry with you whatever medicine your baby requires and carry extra in case your return journey is delayed for any reason. There is no way you can totally prevent germs from attacking your baby, and constantly haranguing him from touching germ prone surfaces can make both you and him go crazy. However, to make yourself feel better, you can use a sanitizer when water is not available.
Maintain hygiene by all means, but please don’t get paranoid over germs and diseases. The vaccines that your baby takes as per his age should be enough to protect him from most of the diseases. Certain things which you need to carry with you:
- - Oral rehydration salts.
- - A first aid kit.
- - A thermometer, plasters and antiseptic wipes.
- - A spray for pain relief.
- - A cream for dealing with cuts, rashes and skin infections.
- - Probiotic drops.
- - Infant drops for fever, flu and colic pain.
- - A child monitor to inform you if your child strays away.
- - Removable window shades to keep the sun away.
- - Hats and sunscreen lotions.
5 Be Early
If you wish to have a stress-free travel experience, the first step would be to reach the airport or train station early. Arriving at the station at the last moment with a baby and trying to board the plane or train can be very daunting for you and stressful for the baby. Babies take time to settle into a groove; hence it makes sense to reach the station early so that they remain stress-free.
Reaching the airport early is even more essential as you have to prepare to go through airport security. Security at airports differs from place to place. While certain airports are quite lenient with families of babies, others demand you go through a thorough security check-up like tasting any open food or drinks that you might be carrying to a head to toe check-up of the baby. Remember you might even be asked to drink milk/juices or taste the pureed food that you have brought with you, hence factor all these in and arrive early so that you have a smooth security check and have ample time on your hands for boarding.
With babies, you always need to have extra time on your hands for babies take their own time and are clearly not bothered with the time pressures involved in travel. An uncalled for tantrum or an urgent toilet stop might make your plans go haywire thus if you wish to maintain your cool, it is better you reach the station or airport early so that not only does your baby get ample time to adjust to a new place, but you're also able to manage these unplanned things into your time frame.
Having the extra time means that you're able to relax and handle long line ups and waits to speak to security personnel. If you're flustered and rushed when you get there, security will make you slow down, and they might even take a closer look at you. Losing your cool at the security counter might mean the only trip you're taking is a trip home from the airport, so make sure you give yourself a two hour head start at the airport.
If you flight leaves at 4pm, then you should arrive at the airport for 2pm. You'll never be late for your flight, and you'll have time to go through security and get in a feeding and diaper change all before your board your plane.
4 Carry Toys and Books
Irrespective of the age of your child, you must pack enough toys to keep your child busy and distracted throughout the duration of your journey. If you are travelling with a baby, you could carry soft toys with lots of detachable parts so that baby spends time in assembling them. Books with plenty of pictures, books with touch and feel textures and lift the flap features work best with small kids and can keep your infant interested for quite some time.
For older kids, you could pack in a DVD player or a portable game device. Newer toys will hold the attention of your kids for longer time spells, but you needn’t spend a ton of money every time you go out on a vacation. You could buy affordable toys from dollar stores so that even if they get lost en-route, you do not incur a huge expense.
But buying new toys every time you go on a trip is not a feasible idea. What you could do instead is to store away a couple of your child’s favorite toys a few days prior to your journey and then re-introduce them along the way. Also be open to the notion of your child opting for free play. In spite of you carrying all his toys, your baby might still prefer to play with things such as seat belts, boarding passes etc. Learn to take it in your stride and smile away.
There are a variety of games you can play with your child to take their mind off of travelling too. You can play peek-a-boo, eye spy and learning games that require players to remember numbers, words and phrases. You might consider getting a Mad Libs book for family fun, or getting a short time subscription to web based movie suppliers.
There are travel sized games you can buy, but the small pieces are easily lost and forgotten. A pack of cards is great is you know a number of games by heart. You might want to consider getting coloring books and crayons for your children to use when they get bored as well. For young toddlers, Crayola has Color Wonder markers and books that won't make a mess of their clothes or hands. This will keep you children entertained and mess free, I call that a win-win.
3 Keep Snacks Ready
When travelling with a baby, it is imperative that you carry sufficient food and snacks with you to for the last thing you would want is a hungry child wailing for food and you having nothing to feed him. If you are breastfeeding your baby, that makes your task a lot easier as you do not have to carry any extra equipment. But if you are formula feeding your baby, you need to carry sufficient amounts of formula-feeds to last the journey.
A made-up bottle in an insulated bag is a convenient way of carrying ready to drink milk. If your baby has already started solids, then you need to bring ample jars of baby food to last the duration of the journey. Once you are settled at the destination, you can go hunting the local supermarket for baby food but till then you need to carry a decent supply of baby food.
Pack ample tubs of food so that you do not have to worry about a delayed journey or something like that cropping up. Babies need food at regular intervals and feeding them snacks every now and then is a good way to assuage their hunger pangs.
For babies who are just learning to eat keep soft fruit on hand like bananas, avocado, or melon. these can be easily mashed up and prepared for travel. For a baby who has teeth, raisins, grapes, and berries make great snacks because they're easily transported and not messy to eat.
For toddlers and older children, granola bars and trail mix are great snacks that are healthy and easily fit in your purse. You'll go through your money faster if you constantly buy packaged snacks, so buy your snacks in bulk so you save money and fill bellies.
2 Keep Baby Comfortable
It is important that on the day of your journey your baby travels with a fresh mind and well-rested body. In order to ensure this, make sure that prior to the day of travel your baby eats and sleeps well so that he is in a fit position to continue the journey. If you plan to sight see a lot then carry a sling bag or a pushchair so that baby remains comfortable throughout the vacation as he can go to sleep in his own pram while you go sightseeing.
If you have a long train journey ahead or are on a long-duration flight, try to walk a bit inside the plane or the train so that baby gets to see something new. Babies tire of things easily and get bored very often, therefore, whenever possible try to bring about a change of scenery so as to soothe the baby. Further, every few hours or so you should allow your baby to put his legs up and kick around as that will relax him and reduce the stiffness in his muscles.
Your baby should remain hydrated at all times, so give him water and juices at frequent intervals to prevent him from getting dehydrated. It is a good idea to feed the baby before the start of the journey and change him into a fresh diaper so that he begins the journey on a comfortable note.
Another way by which you can ensure that baby is comfortable is by aiming to travel during nighttime or baby’s nap time so that there is no change in routine and the baby sleeps during a major part of the journey. And since a sleeping baby causes no trouble, you are one happy lot – not to forget your co-passengers(not all, but a section of it) who cringe inwardly at the thought of sharing space with a baby.
1 Relax and Take Breaks
Now that you are travelling with a baby, do not rush through your trip. Babies get bored of continuous travelling, hence break up your trip into sections and take ample breaks in between. After all, the pleasure is in the journey itself, so learn to enjoy in the moment. As T.S. Eliot rightly said, it is the journey that matters and not the arrival.
You might be a bit late in arriving at your destination but by factoring in your child’s needs, you're ensuring that your baby stays in a happy frame of mind. When visiting a new place most of us are worried about completing our sightseeing on schedule. After all, we are there for a very short duration and it is but natural that we try to make the most of it. But with a baby around, things are different. You need to slow down your pace, else baby will burnout easily and get cranky.
Therefore, do not pack too much into your schedule, but stick to a few places only as that will allow junior to adjust to the surroundings so that he too in his own way gets to enjoy the place and the sights it has to offer. Also remember that what might interest us may not necessarily interest our kids as well, especially small babies. Be aware that your baby is not going to be interested in churches and palaces – instead a playground or an amusement park would captivate him more as here he gets to indulge in activities suitable to his age.
Finally, learn to relax – since you are on a holiday, allow the holiday spirit to seep into your soul and flood your being. Do not be strict about schedules and sleep times. A little change here and there won’t damage your schedule. Simply go with the flow and enjoy your holiday to the hilt with your tiny tot in your arms. For the memories that you would have gathered in your holiday trip will outlive all the supposed inconveniences which you might have encountered in your travels.