It’s a common misconception that traveling is only for the young and free-spirited. The truth is – there is no reason for you to stop traveling at any age, even if you have babies to take care of. In fact, traveling is more meaningful when you explore new places and share experiences with those you love. Just be mindful that traveling with babies comes with new challenges. Here are the top tips for traveling with a baby:
1. Call the airline before the trip
If you are traveling by plane, it is best to give the airline a call to ask about the ticket fees and boarding procedures for babies. The charges and procedures vary per airline. It’s best to know in advance whether you’ll be purchasing an extra seat or need special paperwork. Some airlines require child safety seats and board families with young children first. Some ask you to allow extra time when traveling with young children. Trust us, this quick phone call will save you a lot of headache on your trip.
2. Get a check-up before you embark
If you are going to foreign destinations, it is best to pay your doctor a visit a few weeks before the trip. Ask your medical professional how to adequately prepare for the journey. It is very important to ensure that your baby is healthy and strong enough to withstand the journey. Some doctors do not recommend traveling with a newborn due to the exposure to unfamiliar bacteria and disease. Your baby needs to be able to tolerate fatigue and sudden changes in climate. Take any necessary paperwork or records with you. Taking the time to do this may help you avoid delays in boarding planes or crossing borders.
3. Pack carefully
When vacationing with babies, your packing list won’t be the same as when you travel solo. You not only have to lug around your own clothes, toiletries, and accessories. This time, you will also be carrying carriers, bedding, and feeding paraphernalia. A week before your trip, write down everything you will need. Include accessories and toiletries you usually use for your baby. This way you won’t forget to pack essentials in your luggage and carry-on.
4. Bring your own food
You won’t have the same access to your cupboard when you’re traveling. Prepare, in advance, for your little companion’s meals. For babies, many jet setter parents recommend pureed foods sold in tubes. Babies and toddlers can suck the contents straight out of the packaging. It’s much neater and will save you the trouble of using a spoon (hard to manage in flight). Pack food and formula your baby is used to. This is the safest way for you to prevent any stomach upsets that can put a damper on your trip.
5. Always have bottled water with you
Traveler’s diarrhea is still common. It is generally attributed to the contamination of the local area’s water supply. This is a particular problem in less developed countries. Babies are high risk for dehydration so make sure you don’t risk your child’s health! If you have no way of knowing whether the water at your destination is alright to drink, carry bottled water with you at all times. Apart from preventing any stomach upsets, it also helps prevent dehydration. If you are traveling to a warm climate this is especially important for young children. They cannot tell you when they are losing fluids!
6. Take meds with you
No parent wants his or her baby to get sick while traveling but it is best to be prepared in the event it happens. Check with your doctor to see what you should take with you. Many of these are over-the-counter but some may require a prescription. It is always advised to ask for the experts’ advice to be safe.
7. Give them a few days to settle in
When traveling, it is very common for babies to act restless, sleepless and cranky. They aren’t comfortable with their new surroundings and new routine. Even if you’re kept up for a few nights and tempted to call it quits power through. Soon enough, they will adjust to their new environment, schedule and sleep.
8. Stick to the routine
One of the best ways to ensure that your little companions are comfortable when vacationing is to make sure that their routine remains the same. Even if you’re on the go all the time you can still try to keep things familiar. If your baby’s bedtime ritual at home includes a bath and a lullaby make sure to do the same on your trip. Feed him or her at the same time as you normally do if possible. Changing schedules while on holiday will only work against you. If your baby is not be getting enough exercise he or she may not sleep well at night. Not fun when you are staying with family or in a hotel.
9. Pack their favorite toys
If you want to create the feeling of home wherever you go take along their favorite toys. Not only will these amuse them when they are feeling restless and bored but will also keep them distracted on long flights and scenic drives. Do your best to keep your children from disturbing other passengers. It is always appreciated!
10. Anticipate their needs
Truth is – if your child is getting cranky – that can only mean that he or she has an unmet need. Try to preempt the crankiness by staying on top of their needs for food, drink, sleep and play. By being extra attentive you can avoid unnecessary whining and undesirable behavior.
Indeed, traveling with your little companions will require a lot more work and extra preparation, but it’s worth it. The trick is to have realistic expectations and don’t do too many activities in one day. Make sure to have some downtime, so your baby can have some time for a nap or play. Most of all, don’t forget to have fun!