10 Baby Traveling Tips For Noobs
My son is sixteen months old, and we’ve taken more than five large trips since he’s been born. By large trips I mean at least a two-night stay. As a family, we’ve road tripped several times, crossed the state line, and even been on a cruise. We’ve been to conferences, gone to visit family, and just had some fun. When it comes to traveling with Baby, I’ve had my fair share of learning experiences!
In this article I’m going to share some of the things I’ve learned to make our travels as smooth as possible. I’ve had to learn some of this the hard way, suffering my share of over-exhausted meltdowns and panic attacks over a shortage of supplies.
Don’t worry, though! I’ll show you all the tricks I’ve learned to spare you the same fate, along with the crucial items needed for a good time because yes, a good time is certainly possible–even with tots!
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Here are some tips about traveling with Baby!
Note: This article is focused on traveling with a baby from newborn stage to 1 1/2 years old.
1: Take Extra Time to Plan Your Travels
When you’re planning a trip, you need to think about two things regarding your method of travel. First, how long is the travel portion of your trip going to take, and what method of travel do you plan to use?
When we first started road tripping with our little one, we chose times when we knew he would sleep the most. Night traveling may not sound like the most fun but it certainly is a great way to increase your chances of a sleeping baby rather than a screaming baby.
Keep in mind: this is a baby we’re talking about, here. There are no guarantees.
When we planned our cruise, Kai was almost 15 months old. This was his first flight and we flew at nighttime, hoping he’d sleep through most of it. We worked hard at the airport to help him fall asleep before boarding. While he was drowsy, he didn’t end up falling asleep until we were in the air.
If money allows, I suggest getting baby their own seat. Having that extra space for them would certainly be nice! We decided to save the money and held him on our laps during the flight.
While he was asleep, he decided to stretch out across our laps. It worked for him, but my husband and I had an interesting time staying comfortable. It wasn’t impossible, but it was challenging at times.
2: Pack Snacks
When traveling with Baby, never underestimate the amount of snacks you’ll need! Snacks come in handy when there isn’t a meal available, as bribery tools, and when Baby just needs something to do.
Packing snacks for a road trip is a lot easier than when flying. When it came to TSA I wasn’t sure if they’d allow baby food on the plane. It turns out they’re pretty much okay with it.
Just be up front about what’s in your carry-on. They will usually work with you.
I found that baby puree pouches were an invaluable resource. I could fit several of them in my bag and because they’re sealed, you get less hassle from TSA. Not only did I pack several pouches in my bag, I also brought along a whole box of them in Kai’s suitcase to use during the cruise.
Each day before we left our stateroom, I packed 2-3 pouches in my backpack. They came in handy for sure!
Babies get fussy when they’re hungry and it happens fast! Having snacks ready will save you some serious hassle. I also noticed that Kai wasn’t as adventurous about his cruise dinners as we were.
When very little on his plate appealed to him, rather than fight him, we offered him a pouch. Yes, it’s a little pricey, but when you’re on vacation, don’t sweat the small stuff.
Check out this portable straw that we use everywhere!
3: Don’t Go ANYWHERE Without Jammies
This one is so simple it’s one of the easiest to forget. As moms, we usually think to pack an extra set of clothes and plenty of diapers. Stuff happens. When you’re on vacation, however, it’s not always easy to have every hour of the itinerary under control.
We quickly discovered that having pajamas on hand for Kai was totally necessary. There were times as the evening wore on that our little guy was just plain tuckered out and started falling asleep.
When we could see he was content to just close his eyes, we quickly changed him into his comfortable pajamas and nestled him in the stroller or carrier. Within minutes he was snoring.
Babies can sleep in whatever they’re wearing for sure, but adding that extra measure of cozy comfort makes them that much more contented.
The more little things you do to help them stay relaxed and comfortable, the smoother it is for everyone.
4: Keep A Couple Toys On Hand
We found this tip helpful mostly during travel. When we were in the middle of our cruise or on our vacations, Kai was usually wrapped up in whatever we were doing as well. The toys came in handy during the journey, in the car or waiting to board the plane.
The toys were most helpful on the way home from the cruise. As a rule, you should always book your flight either many hours after arriving to port or the next day. We opted for a later flight the same day our cruise ship arrived in port. That meant we had many hours of waiting.
My husband gratefully purchased passes in a more comfortable waiting area to pass the time. This was when the toys became so important. The lounge where we stayed had a kids’ zone but did not come with toys. Having some with us saved the day.
If you’re traveling with babies 1 year or older, I’d also suggest bringing along some busy toys. One of Kai’s favorites is a busy book that keeps him entertained for good stretches of time.
I also bring along stickers and a notebook. They’re flat and easy to pack and Kai loves sticking the stickers all over the notebook.
Baby appropriate arts and crafts are an incredible way to keep them entertained for longer periods of time, and a must when it comes to traveling with Baby.
5: Plan Nap Times
Just because you’re on vacation doesn’t mean that Baby forgets his routine. The truth is that neglecting the crucial parts of that routine has the potential to ruin your day.
The upside to this is that babies are pretty adaptable (for the most part). We found that when Kai’s nap time came, he was content to take his nap in the stroller.
Keep in mind all of this is focused on babies 1 1/2 years and younger. He’s still pretty little, so it’s easy to simply put him to sleep and then recline the stroller seat and make him comfy.
Nap time may not necessarily mean dropping everything and rushing off to the hotel or the stateroom, but it does mean being conscientious of Baby and pressing “pause” on the day’s events.
Every baby is different. Some might be okay with you spending some time wherever you are rocking them to sleep. Others may need a quiet place.
Keeping your baby’s personality in mind, make sure your plans aren’t so stringent that you can’t focus on nap time. Keep an eye on the time and don’t wait until the last minute.
Being on vacation can tire Baby more quickly than usual, so be ready to adjust the routine a bit for them. You’ll be glad you did.
Maybe you can even catch a catnap yourself.
6: Don’t Expect To Stay Up Late & Then Get Up Early Easily
We found that cruising and vacationing is one thing. Going to a conference or on a business-oriented trip is something else entirely. When you’re on vacation, it’s easier to call it a day. When you’re at a conference, you’re stuck to a pretty big schedule.
Here’s the real deal. Something’s got to give somewhere.
Most babies can’t stay up late and then get up early and go about their day without getting cranky. You’ve simply got to know when to call it a day.
Follow your instincts with Baby. If you can see that they’re doing too much, just cut back. It’s easier to make the necessary adjustments than to try and force your little to suck it up and stick it out. Babies just aren’t ready to do that.
7: Follow Your Baby’s Cues
It’s easy to get caught up in the events of your vacation or travels but when traveling with Baby, it’s really important to stay connected with them.
You know their cues when you’re at home. You learn what their “I’m hungry,” or “I’m sleepy,” or “I want Mommy” cues are. Baby still give those cues during vacation, too!
The best way to keep things smooth is to watch for those cues and when you see them, don’t wait! Go with what your baby is telling you. If they’re hungry, get something out for them to eat. If they’re sleepy, it’s time to take a quick break and see if Baby can sleep on the go.
I mentioned it in Tip 6 but be prepared that if Baby is sending the cue, be ready to call it a day.
8: Travel with Parents Whose Kids Are The Same Age
This one is big.
Unless you’re vacationing with family, go with friends who have kids in similar age ranges. This is key to keeping things smooth. If you’re traveling with Baby and your vacation buddies of choice don’t yet have kids, they are simply going to have a harder time understanding all your adjustments.
Sure, they may be patient with you, but why risk the worry on your part, and the potential frustration on theirs?
Couples who have kids in the same age range can relate very closely to your needs and required adjustments. They’ll have their own traveling needs as well. It’s much easier to form a non-frustrated “no-judgment” zone when everyone is in the same season of life.
During our cruise, we traveled with a couple whose baby was very close to Kai’s age. There were parts of the trip where we went our separate ways and headed to the stateroom to rest.
There were times they disappeared for awhile and we relaxed on our own. It was an easy rhythm of give and take because we were at the same place.
We’d even thought to bring extra things for each other in case our babies needed them, and having that backup was wonderful!
9: Adjust Your Expectations
I saved this one for almost last because it is one of the most important tips I can offer. Traveling with Baby is not going to be anything like a couple’s getaway or the crazy, adrenaline-packed thrilling vacations you’ve had in the past.
That doesn’t mean it’s not fun or exciting. It’s just different. Totally different.
When you’re traveling with Baby, you’ve got to think in terms of “slower-paced,” “easy-going,” “adjustable plans”. You also have to plan ahead. For everything.
If there’s something super fun you want to do without your little, you’ll need to plan for it in advance and arrange child care.
For the most part, it’s important to adjust your thinking around enjoying your travels as a family, through the adventures and the ups and downs.
Be willing to embrace that this season of life is just different and instead of trying to force your old expectations into this new life, learn to build new ones. Be open-minded and even approach things with a little humor. It goes a long way.
Parts of your travel are going to be tougher than others. Period. Instead of dreading it or allowing it to take you by surprise, just be open, ready and as prepared as you can be.
Just being in that frame of mind will improve your entire traveling experience.
10: Learn To Appreciate the Little Things
This one is the most important tip in my opinion. Before Baby, your travels and your journeys were all about you. Now, there’s this amazing little human that is experiencing life in brand new ways and it’s incredible to be apart of their amazement.
No, you probably won’t get to spend your nights up until 2:00 am out with friends, but you’ll learn to see the sparkle in the smallest moments, through the eyes of your baby.
When you can learn to appreciate the season of life that you’re in, you’ll find joy and connection that is so fulfilling.
Don’t fight it, fall in love with it.
Did you like this post? Read about surviving Baby’s first year as a new mom.
Don’t Forget to Pack:
- Plenty of diapers
- Extra wipes
- Plenty of snacks
- A few toys (simple arts and crafts work amazingly well)
- Extra sets of clothes
- Sunscreen for baby. Check out this Babyganics pack of sunscreen and bug spray.
- Baby’s bottle or sippy cup
- A disposable bag for dirty diapers in case you’re on the go
- Baby’s pacifier if they need one
- Hats to protect baby from the sun
- An umbrella stroller for cruises and other types of vacations. It travels way easier and it’s easily replaced if it’s broken or stolen
- A jacket or sweater for baby
- Teething supplies
- Baby medicines. Wherever you travel may not have baby-safe meds available, or the prices may be exorbitant
- A back-pack to carry the day’s supplies
- Weather-appropriate shoes for baby
- A travel bowl with a lid and spoon if you feed your baby cereal
- A portable child safety seat harness. Highchairs and booster seats aren’t always guaranteed
- A weather-appropriate blanket. If you’re going somewhere warm, take a muslin swaddle for shade or to cover baby
- Baby’s soap, lotions and diaper cream
- Swimming or snow gear, and appropriate toys
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