Vacations, although fun, can be quite stressful when you’re traveling with a baby. I personally dreaded the idea of going on a 2 week trip across the country because I had no idea what to expect with our baby. Will he sleep ok? Will he freak out on the plane? What if he gets super grumpy the whole time? But, with some planning and flexibility, you can have an awesome trip and can get back into the swing of things within a few days of being home.
Recently I had a friend ask me for tips for her upcoming trip which made me realize just how much traveling we’ve done with Logan. In his first 8 months, we’ve done a few weekend road trips that included ferries, went camping, and flew across the country for 2 weeks. With all of that traveling, I’ve learned some great tips I wanted to share with you including some items you absolutely want to pack.
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What to Pack and How Much
Diapers can take up a lot of space so depending on how long you’re traveling for you may want to consider purchasing diapers at your destination. I always suggest having too many diapers than not enough because you really don’t want to be left in a situation where you’re in a public bathroom changing your baby and you realize you’re all out of diapers, eek! With that in mind, I always bring along 12 per day, which is way more than enough. If that sounds like a lot to you, you could probably cut down, but I wouldn’t bring any less than 8 per day.
When packing clothes you need to keep in mind the tendency for your little to spit up or have blowouts. Think about how many outfits they go through on a bad day and how many days you will be there without doing laundry and multiply that together and use your judgment to add or remove any. So if on the worst of days your little goes through 3 outfits and you’re going on a 4 day trip I would recommend packing 10-12 outfits. It’s better to be safe than sorry and run out of clothes.
Toy leashes are great for keeping their toys with them and off the ground. You can attach the toy or multiple toys to one end and attach the other end to their high chair, stroller, ankle, etc because you really don’t want their toys going from the airport ground and into their mouth, eek!
You don’t need to pack a ton of toys. Generally, babies are quite entertained with random things around them. On our Nova Scotia trip my sons favourite thing to play with was creamers! Pack a couple of favourites and leave the rest.
Wet bags are for putting dirty/wet clothes in (think blowouts, spit ups, etc) and then putting it in your diaper bag without it getting anything else dirty. Large freezer Ziplock bags do the trick too, but I love all of the cute patterns you can find for wet bags and they come in handy all the time. Again depending on how dirty your baby gets is how many you will need, but don’t pack any more than one per day.
If you’re planning on attending a loud event like a wedding, or if you’ll be riding smaller louder planes you may want to consider bringing ear protection.
Depending where you are staying you actually won’t need a playpen. Most hotels will have some available that you can use. Check before packing!
Transporting Your Baby
Everyone has their own preference but it essentially boils down to babywearing or using a stroller. In my opinion, babywearing is
king queen because the wrap/carrier barely takes up any space in your bag and they can be magic nap makers. I recommend using a stretchy baby wrap, a ring sling, or a woven wrap over other carriers because they can fold up really small into your diaper bag, but use whatever you are comfortable with and happy to pack around.
If you’re more of a stroller mamma bring something small and compact. There’s no need to lug a giant jogger around unless you know you’re going to need it and will have space for it. Rather than packing one, you may want to consider purchasing a cheap one at your destination and donating it after. Think Walmart or a buy/sell site, or renting one. Do a bit of research and find what works best for you.
Tips For Flying With a Baby
- Most airlines allow you to gate check 2 of these 3 items: stroller, car seat, or playpen.
- Check with your airline to see if they have bassinets available. That way you will have your arms free while baby sleeps.
- Call your airline to find out where the change table is in the plane so you can choose a seat close to it.
- Breastmilk and formula are excluded from your maximum allowable liquids. Bring what you need.
- Breastfeed/bottlefeed during takeoff and landing. This one is tricky to time right. Don’t start when your plane starts taxiing. Start right when you actually start to take off.
Tips For Road Trips With a Baby
- Plan to stop every 2 hours to get them out of their car seat and move around for a bit.
- If possible have someone in the back seat to help entertain them.
Tips For Your State of Mind
Try to Have Some Routine While Staying Flexible
Sounds like an oxymoron, right? Finding the right balance will help you and your baby stay calm. If you’re able to include even a part of their night routine it will help them feel comfortable and safe, and assist them to go to bed easier. That being said, stay flexible. Don’t stress yourself out if their nap schedule is completely out of whack. You are on vacation, things will be off, but when you get back home you can get back into the motions and hopefully, they’ll adjust within a few days.
Take Help When It’s Offered
Traveling is stressful enough on it’s own, let alone traveling with a baby, and even more so if there are sleep or gas issues. If someone offers help take it. Even if your baby is fussy, let them try for a little bit. You may be surprised at how well your baby does going for a walk with someone and it will help give you a breather and leave your hands free. Even better if you’re able to squeeze in a nap or a date!
Have an App Downloaded and Ready For Your Baby
This tip goes so contrary to my main parenting of no screen time and minimal electronic toys, but in some situations, you need to let go and do what works. The Colors and Shapes toddler app works great at keeping your baby from crying while you’re on the plane or just a few kilometers away from your next car stop. It’s also educational so I feel less bad about using it. Your baby probably won’t be able to play with the app themselves but they’ll love watching you build the shapes and match the colours on the screen.
Do you have any hacks for traveling with a baby? Please let us know in the comments below.