I can vaguely remember a time when the idea of an upcoming vacation was so exciting and stress-free I would literally begin planning the next vacation while still on the current one. That’s a B.K.F. (Before Kids Feeling) because traveling with babies and toddlers can most definitely feel daunting and be exhausting.
When I had my first child I remember people telling me to “take the trip” and feeling overwhelmed with the planning involved but when she was 4 months old I had my first chance to tag along on a work trip with my hubby for just a couple days and I decided to just do it. Over that next year I ended up traveling with my little one 10 different times over those twelve months, some of which I did as a solo parent. I won’t say it wasn’t difficult at times but I’d do it all again in a heartbeat.
I’ve been reminiscing about those early days traveling with babies and thought it might be helpful to share a few tips I’ve learned during those twelve months:
Plan, plan, and then plan some more:
- Plan around naps: Once you are on a good schedule with your little one it’s easy to plan a trip. If you are flying try and schedule the flight time around normal napping times. Day-time naps are better than nighttime sleeping because by the end of the day little ones are tired and while you think they may just sleep the entire flight they might instead decide they have had enough for the day and cry for those hours instead. If you are driving with babies try and get as much driving under your belt while they are sleeping but do plan times to get everyone out for a change of scenery even if it’s just to sit in a fast food restaurant and make eye contact.
- Plan around feeding times: Bottle feeding/nursing. This one is pretty self-explanatory but nursing and bottle times are great times for soothing. When traveling by plan try to plan nursing or feeding when the plane is taking off. Not only is it soothing, but it helps with any ear pressure that can be associated with cabin pressure and little ones. Same goes for your decent back to the airport. When driving use your times for nursing or bottle-feeding as an excuse to get out of the car. If you can find a park or scenic area where you can decompress at the same time. Take a break during this time and play together a bit if you can it will help their little minds be ready for rest again once in the car.
Take or rent your gear:
It’s tempting to want to bring every single present you received at your baby shower, but try and think through exactly what you need. If you are going to be walking around a lot, your favorite stroller or baby-wearing pouch are no-brainers.
That being said, you can also rent items to make life easier in many destinations across the country and overseas as well. Items like: bassinets, cribs, strollers, car seats, high chairs, bathtubs, exersaucers, swings, and toys can often be rented at your desired destination. Often times you can have the items meet you at the airport or be delivered to your hotel upon arrival. Here are some popular sites for renting baby/toddler items:
If renting isn’t an option in the area you are traveling to make sure you don’t leave home without your essentials: Pack ‘N Play, baby wearing options, stroller and a few toys/books are things I wouldn’t leave home without.
Stick to your schedule:
It’s tempting to try and be extra laid back on vacations but don’t be afraid to stick very closely to your normal schedule back home. Routine will be your friend when traveling. If you stick to bath, books, bed at home with a certain lullaby make sure you have all that you need to re-create that while traveling. Favorite lotions from home and nightlights can really help little ones feel right at home in their new space.
This same principle applies for naps and feeding schedules. If it’s normally time to nap or eat at home carve time for your little one to nap/eat at your vacation destination. I remember feeling silly about this on a few trips, especially when traveling with friends who didn’t have kiddos but just remind yourself you are the parent and you are doing what’s best for everyone.
If you have a little one who happily naps on the go, make it a family fun nap. Factor in time where your little one can nap in the stroller or car while you explore your vacation city. You don’t want to feel trapped to your hotel room so consider getting out and about while those little ones sleep.
It’s tempting to say, ‘we’ll go when he/she is a little bit older’ or ‘it’s just easier to stay home,’ but in reality you need to take the trip. Plan vacations and don’t wait. The more you do it the more you’ll be comfortable doing it. It’s good for your soul to get out of your comfort zone and good for baby too. Don’t wait, don’t make excuses, just book it and plan to bring along a healthy dose of grace for both you and baby and everyone else around. The memories will make it all worth it.