Believe it or not you are extraordinarily lucky to be able to take your baby with you on a trip! No separation anxiety. No getting upset when the Skype call doesn’t capture your baby’s perfect little smile. You will have your baby nearby the entire time you are away.
If you are traveling with your baby and you have a someone with you (your husband, your friend, etc) to help---lucky you. That is an ideal scenario. If you are traveling alone with your baby, it’s going to be a little more of a challenge, definitely not impossible but not easy either.
Preparation is key to stress-free traveling with your baby. Making sure you have things on hand for scenarios that might arise. Ideas for thing you will want to pack include:
- At least 2-3 complete outfit changes for baby.
- A change of clothes for yourself.
- Wet bag, plastic bags, and/or large Ziploc bags.
- Teething toys
- A new book and/or toy that baby has not seen yet.
- Baby’s favorite toy.
- Handheld DVD player and headphones. (e.g. Baby Einstein, Disney)
- Age appropriate snacks that don’t make a huge mess.
- Compact mirror.
- Orajel/teething treatment
- Custom photo album of family members/friends
- Spit up cloths.
- Lightweight blanket
- Heavyweight blanket
Some parents have found it beneficial—even if just for their own peace of mind to bring small treats or even ear plugs with a note explaining you are traveling with a baby and you apologize in advance for any crying or commotion that might occur during the trip.
It might seem a bit overboard but if it brings someone peace of mind---then there is nothing wrong with doing something like that. Everyone aboard that plane were babies---everyone knows what babies are like----the majority of people probably wouldn’t even bat an eyelash at a crying baby. They might exchange knowing glances or a comforting smile but would never even think about getting angry.
Traveling by car with baby definitely has its benefits but it also has its downsides. The primary downside being the length of time in the car—depending on the distance you are traveling. You are going to become a pro at making ridiculous faces in the mirror and singing along to nursery rhymes/kids songs.
Plan ahead for frequent stops. Make sure you leave with plenty of time to arrive at your destination. The worst thing you could do is not leave with enough time and be absolutely stressed out while you deal with a cranky, screaming baby in an enclosed space—that seems to be getting smaller with each passing minute.
Keep a list on your phone GPS of family friendly restaurants and rest stops. It might be best to use restrooms in restaurants or retail stores than to use a roadside restroom. The majority of roadside restrooms are not suitable for changing a baby—they are not cleaned as frequently as restrooms in restaurants or retail stores.
Things to pack for your car trip adventure (Yes, think of it like an adventure!) include:
- Plenty of age-appropriate snacks and/or bottles.
- If your baby is in a reverse-facing car seat you will want a mirror that attaches to the backseat and faces your baby so that being in the front seat you will be able to easily glance up and see your baby’s face. Did baby spit up? Is baby sleeping?
- Toys that baby has not seen before.
- Portable DVD player that attaches to the backseat that baby can watch. DVDs like Baby Einstein are great to entertain and soothe a restless baby.
- A change of clothes for baby and you---in an easily accessible location. A change of clothes packed away in your suitcase will not do you any good during your time of need.
- Board books and interactive toys.
- Classical music CDs.
- More diapers and wipes than you think you will need.
- Hand sanitizer.
- Paper towels, Ziploc bags, and/or garbage bags.
- A wet bag or washable canvas bag to throw dirty clothes in.
- An aromatherapy plugin with a child-safe essential oil for destressing and relaxing (e.g. lavender, cedarwood, etc.)
- First aid kit
- Gripe water/gas drops
- Bottled water (in case you are supplementing with formula)
- An extra phone charger
The four most important words to remember to make your travel experience with your baby a positive one are: Go. With. The. Flow. Things will not go according to plan. They just won’t. And, if you set your expectations high—and expect things to go exactly as planned, the trip will be miserable.
You will be anxious and irritable, and your baby will be upset and irritable. Happy mom is happy baby. Be flexible and think of it as an adventure. Remind yourself that the alternative was to leave your baby at home and you would be traveling alone. Instead you have an amazing little travel buddy!