I have good news! Travel doesn’t have to end once you have children!
One reason that my husband and I waited nearly 5 years to have children after we got married was because we weren’t ready to give up travel. Not surprisingly, we still aren’t ready to give it up. I’m a firm believer that those trips you are planning in your head to the Bahamas and Boston and Great Britain shouldn’t have to end once baby arrives.
However, I may be a bit of a travel freak.
Travel with my husband to Hong Kong at 32.5 weeks pregnant with our third son Cooper? Sure, why not! Bring my 4-week-old Clara to Paris? Just stop home first before leaving the hospital for the airport! Take our 7-week-old Callie on a family trip to Cancun? Yep! Just don’t let her drink the water. 🙂
Okay, now that we have established just how much of a travel fanatic I am, feel free to take my advice with a grain of salt. Yes, I have traveled the world with my children both by myself and with my husband. I have traveled internationally during the third trimester of pregnancy, and have left them with their wonderful and responsible grandparents.
Yikes, I sound like a horrible mother!
As it turns out, I have learned a few things along the way that I would love to share with you about traveling with a baby. It’s really not as hard as you think, and if you plan ahead with these tips and tricks, you will be packing your bags and Baby Bjorn for Bora Bora before you know it.
To stroller or not to stroller? I get asked quite often about my thoughts on what sort of baby gear to bring on a trip. Because, as anyone who’s been to a baby shower knows, there is a TON of baby gear out there!
I flew once without a baby stroller and many times with our stroller. And I have concluded that a stroller is the best piece of baby gear you can bring. It’s great to have along to help carry extra bags and luggage, and if you do need to run to the bathroom, it makes that very convenient of course. Also, strollers can be gate-checked for free on most airlines. Just a note for those international travelers, a smaller stroller is best if you will be using public transportation. We noticed while in Paris that most parents riding the metro only used umbrella strollers, and that there are very few handicapped-accesible entrances (i.e., lots of stairs and very narrow gates).
And while we’re talking about gear, let’s talk carseats. I always bring one for my baby. This is especially convenient because our carseat snaps onto our stroller. Carseats also can be gate-checked for free on most airlines. Some people like to cover their carseat with a car seat travel bag so it doesn’t get dirty on the plane. We just brush-off our carseat.
Surprisingly, TSA makes it quite convenient to travel with children! You can view the recent TSA site regarding traveling with children, also their requirements on flying with formula, breast milk, or juice. Always ask about the family-friendly security line which many airports now have, it is super fast and no one has to take off their shoes! Yipee!
If you are breastfeeding, a nursing cover will come in quite convenient on the plane and at the airport. I always make sure to time out nursing my baby both at take-off and landing to help baby’s ears from getting plugged. Baby food, formula, and even juice are all approved by TSA when less than 3 ounces, so make sure to bring some extra food to help keep baby occupied. Think non-organic, sugary, out-of-the-ordinary snacks and that will really keep baby REALLY happy and quiet on the plane.
PACK FOR THE PLANE.
Don’t forget to bring a change of clothes (or two) for the flight, enough wipes and diapers for the first day or two (then buy them when you get to your destination), and a pacifier. Also disposable bibs and a NEW baby toy (or new iPad game is more like it), and some $5 Starbucks Gift Cards for fellow passengers if all else fails!
MOST hotels offer free in-room cribs or pack-n-plays. I always call ahead and reserve one, because really who wants to travel with a pack-n-play? I also like to bring a soft baby blanket from home and warm pajamas for baby, even if traveling to a warm destination. A portable white noise machine, or even white noise iPhone app, also help for a better night’s sleep. I have found these things help baby sleep better when away from home. Try fitting the pack-n-play in the bathroom of the hotel. If it fits, it will be a dark and quite place for baby to sleep!
Vacation is a time to relax. Enjoy yourself, have a colorful drink with an umbrella, and make sure to take pictures with your baby. Enjoy the time with your family and little one. Bon Voyage!