Traveling with young babies and toddlers is often stressful. Here are some tips to help make the process easier so you can focus on having fun.
- Type and print a check list of all the items that you will need for the trip. You can reuse this list for future trips. Alternatively, you can use the iPhone’s reminder app for this purpose.
- Don’t forget to pack anything that your child uses to help them sleep, such as a sound machine, favorite stuffed animal, blanket, night light, or music player.
- Use a separate duffel bag or suitcase for each person. If using duffel bags, choose different colors for each person or monogram the bags for easy identification.
- Check the weather ahead so you can pack accordingly.
- Pack a separate carry-on bag with necessities like diapers and wipes as well as snacks, toys, and drinks (milk, water). For snacks, I like puffs and yogurt treats. I include some new toys and stickers for entertainment. I always pack this empty straw sippy cup because it doesn’t spill.
- If you’re planning on nursing, pack a nursing cover.
- Look for kid friendly resorts that cater to families. A small bed and breakfast may be quaint for a couple, but it won’t be so fun when your baby wakes up everyone in the middle of the night.
- If you have more than one child and if your budget allows, try to book a family suite with separate rooms. This will give you more flexibility in terms of sleeping arrangements.
- Call ahead and ask if the hotel has cribs or pack-and-plays. Most hotels provide them for free but I have encountered some hotels that charge $15 per night.
- Renting a condo/house can also be a good option for families with young kids because you will find it very convenient to have access to a kitchen and laundry.
- Try to schedule flights that coincide with nap times. For longer flights, consider booking a red-eye flight.
- To minimize stress, allow extra time to get to the airport, park, and pass security.
- There is usually an expedited line at security and boarding for families with young children. Make sure you take advantage of these priority lines.
- Grab a snack and a bottle of water after you pass security. Treat yourself to a cup of latte.
- To get through the airport faster with two children (four and younger), put the younger child in a carrier and the older one in a lightweight foldable umbrella stroller. I like the Ergo carrier and this $20 umbrella stroller from Target. Use a backpack as your carry-on bag.
- For kids that are potty trained, be sure to have them go to the bathroom right before you get on the plane.
- Offer your child a drink during take-offs and landings to help equalize the pressure in their ears.
- Break out some new toys and snacks during the flight to keep your child entertained, but also bring one favorite toy for comfort.
- If your child cries during the flight, try not to get stressed out. Everyone has been on flights with fussy babies and most people are sympathetic.
- Driving may not be a bad option for trips requiring fewer than 6 hours of drive time, especially when you factor in all the extra time needed for getting to and from the airport and waiting for flights.
- It’s an economical choice, too, because you won’t have to pay for airport parking or have to rent a large car/SUV with car seats.
- Try to drive during nap times or in the middle of the night. For young kids on long drives, I recommend driving in the middle of the night. For slightly older toddlers, you can travel during the day, but plan on taking lots of breaks.
- Pack a portable potty in the trunk of your car. It will be convenient when you’re in the middle of nowhere and your toddler all of a sudden needs to use the potty. I especially like this one for its size and for boys.
- Portable DVD players or iPads/iPhones can come in handy when your toddler starts to get antsy and you only have 30 more minutes to go.
When you get there:
- Be flexible. You don’t have to follow your child’s regular eating and sleeping schedule to a T during vacations. That being said, use your best judgement because over tiredness or sleep deprivation will inevitably lead to tantrums and melt-downs.
- Have fun and enjoy seeing things through the eyes of a child for the first time. The privilege of introducing your child to the majesty of the redwood forest or the grandeur of the ocean is one of the most exciting aspects of being a parent.
Do you have any upcoming traveling plans? What tips do you have the traveling with children?
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Photo credit: Leo Rivas-Micoud
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