Ten Tips for Traveling With an Infant
… and bonus toddler tips!
With the holidays approaching many of us will be taking to the roads, or the air, to see our families… There is no question making the journey with young children in tow can be challenging, but the more prepared you are the better chance your trip will be enjoyable.
In addition to the following tips, make sure to set an intention that your travels are filled with ease, grace, and flow. Talk to your baby and young children a day or so in advance and let them know what to expect during your travels. I would always say to my children “the best thing to do on an airplane is sleep.” And do your best to stay calm, centered, and positive even if faced with traffic, delays, or other complications. As we all know children pick up on our feelings, so how you handle the journey will often set the stage for their experience.
1. Pack in advance. It takes longer than you may think to pull together everything you need. If you have special products you like such as a particular formula at least bring enough with you for the first few nights in case it’s not readily available at your destination. If you are staying in hotel, call in advance to see what they may offer. In addition to cribs, many hotels have high chairs, diaper pails or even changing tables.
2. Pay particular attention to what you carry on the plan. Plan to have enough of the essentials such as diapers, wipes, or formula to last in case there are delays.
3. As important as what you bring is what you keep it in. Make sure your carry-on bag is easy to carry (consider a backpack so you are hands free and can carry your infant). Also make sure everything is easily accessible—try to find a bag with multiple compartments so you don’t have to lean over with a baby on your lap and fish through your bag to find what you need.
4. Pack anything that leaks in plastic bags. Also consider grouping things together in large Ziplock bags such as all the things you need to change your baby in one bag, medication in another, feeding in another etc…
5. Bring extra bottles. It is easier to use a new bottle than worry about cleaning or sterilizing a bottle on the plane. Plan on giving your baby a bottle or nursing on the ascent and descent to keep her ears clear.
6. Keep your stroller with you all the way up until you board the plane—you can check just as you board the plane.
7. If you have an extra seat, bring your car seat with you on the plane. You will be more comfortable and your infant will have a cozy, secure place to sleep. Also, you won’t have to worry about whether or not your transportation on the other end will have a car seat.
8. Bring a change of clothes in case of any accidents. Also bring a changing pad and bags to dispose of dirty diapers and wipes to clean hands and trays.
9. Bring extra blankets to stay warm and appropriate clothes to change into if you are traveling from a cold climate to a warm climate or vice versa.
10. If your baby is teething you may wish to bring a pain reliever or teething rings.
What you will need—The essentials:
Diapers, wipes, changing pad or lap pad, bags to dispose of dirty diapers, extra set of clothes, blanket, bottles, formula, (if you need to mix formula bring room temperature bottled water and measure out the formula in advance- they make plastic containers to do just that), burp cloth, special blanket or stuffed animal your baby may be attached to, any medications, teething ring or anything you use to relieve teething, book or toy your baby likes to hold or play with.
Bring “entertainment” books, crayons, maybe a few surprises.
If you are ever going to make exceptions to rules, traveling on an airplane is probably a good time to do so– maybe bring a DVD player and allow for more “screen time” than you normally would at home.
As your baby gets older it will be even more important to bring any security objects she may have grown attached to. Don’t risk checking these items and bring them out to signal your child that it is time to sleep. Keep in mind that whatever patterns you start, your toddler will come to expect in the future- if you don’t want to schlep three stuffed animals each time you travel don’t start.
Waiting for bags after a long flight can be particularly trying for a toddler. If you are traveling with your partner, then when you get off the plane you may want to take your time and look at the planes taking off and landing and let your partner go down to wait for bags. When the luggage starts coming he can call your cell phone to let you know to head down.