The famous Danish writer Hans Christian Andersen famously said: “To travel is to live”.
If you love to travel, you can go almost anywhere with your baby. After all, people seem to have them everywhere around the world, anyway, so there will most likely be room for yours, too! If your travel fever is flaring up, why not get your baby’s globetrotter career started now? Here are some things to consider, check, prepare, and pack for your first trip with baby.
Need a break from your daily routines, laundry, meal plans, grocery shopping, and minute-to-minute time management? All-inclusive vacation destinations are popular with families with young kids. Your meals are served, some places offer a few hours of daycare or kids’ activities, your bed is made for you every morning, and if you’re up for it, you can go on a guided tour to local attractions.
Even if your pre-baby travel preferences were city destinations or active holidays, this option might be relaxing for the whole family while your baby is young (and you’re sleep deprived). Your baby won’t remember a thing, so don’t worry about missing out on epic sunsets, museums or wildlife destinations – there will be plenty of time for you to introduce those things when your child gets a little older. Bring their favourite music, toys and storybooks, and they’ll be happy just to be with you.
Take a hike
If you have the strength and energy for it, active vacations can be so much fun with your baby. And you’ll all get a lot of fresh air! So, if you can’t wait to start diving, hiking, mountain climbing or biking again after giving birth, it just takes a little more planning, equipment, and possibly a sitter, to bring your baby on vacation.
- If your baby is used to being in the water, they will love to splash around with you. Use baby swim floats, and common sense, whenever you’re in the water. And pack swimming nappies if you’re going to use a pool!
- If you’re diving, make sure someone else can take care of your baby on land/in the boat, whether it’s a partner, a grandparent travelling with you, or on-site daycare.
- Hiking and biking with babies can be so much fun. They will enjoy being close to you in a carrier on your belly or back while hitting the trails, hills, or mountains.
- For your bike vacation, you can bring a bike trailer where your baby can lie (or sit, if they’re a little older) comfortably. The movement and fresh air will soothe them, so don’t be surprised if they sleep through the whole thing!
- Plan for feeding or nappy changing breaks.
- Dress baby in weather-appropriate clothes, bring sunscreen or rain gear, feeding essentials, and a travel nappy and care kit in a small backpack. Remember trash bags, so you don’t leave your waste in nature. (And tell your kid when they get older that you once changed their poopy nappy on a mountain top.)
Driving Miss Baby
If you’re planning a road trip, consider first how your baby reacts when they’re in a car for longer periods at a time.
- Some babies fall asleep the second you turn the car key in the ignition – no problem. But if your baby gets car sick easily, plan for frequent pit stops and fresh air. If it takes a little longer to get to your destination, who cares? You’re on vacation; you can do whatever you want!
- You can line the car seat with a disposable changing mat, and pack baby wipes and extra sets of baby clothes at the top of your bag for easy access in case they spill their breakfast.
- Book a night somewhere along the way if necessary.
- Bring books you can read to your baby – if they’re less than a year old, they won’t care what you read, just your voice alone will be soothing for them, so you can get through your new crime novel – win-win!
- Check with your destination if they have baby beds or travel cribs – and bring your own if necessary.
Fly, baby, fly
If you’re flying with your baby there are a few things you should check first with your airline:
- Can you book designated seats with portable crib facilities for families travelling with babies?
- What are the rules for bringing formula and bottles on the plane?
- What is their procedure for bringing strollers, car seats, or other baby equipment on board: Do you have to check it in with your luggage, bring it to the gate, or bring it as carry-on luggage?
- Just like you may experience ear popping when the pressure in the cabin changes during take-off and landing, so will your baby. You can’t tell them to wiggle their jaw, swallow, or hold their nose to equalize the pressure. A simple solution is to feed them during take-off and landing. Whether you feel comfortable breastfeeding, or you give them a bottle, the swallowing mechanism will relieve any discomfort.
- A baby carrier is extremely useful in a busy airport, and if your baby gets restless while you’re in the air, you can walk up and down the aisle to comfort them.
- Disposable changing mats are handy everywhere – on an airport seat, aeroplane toilet changing table, in the travel crib on the plane, if baby needs to sleep in your lap – just bring a bunch!
Tips for any vacation with baby
- Travelling internationally? Check well ahead of time if your baby needs his or her own passport and/or visa and get the procedure started.
- Does your child have all the required vaccinations? Check with your doctor.
- Check with airlines how they can help you and your baby.
- Some airlines will let you carry unopened candy or snack bags on board – bring your favourites to keep your blood sugar stable.
Check with your destination:
- Do they have a baby bed or travel crib?
- Do they have a stroller you can borrow or rent?
- Do they have a microwave or other facilities that can help you sterilise bottles?
- Do they have a sitter/daycare option if you want to head out for an hour or two?
- Can you book a quiet family room away from any potential party guests or activity venue?
- Pack enough bottles and formula. If your airline allows you to bring them in your carry-on luggage, you’re safe even if your check-in luggage should take a detour and not arrive at the same time as you.
- Pack an easily-accessible change of clothes for everyone.
- Bring something to put yours or baby’s clothes in after spit-up or worse accidents happen, or dirty nappies or wipes.
- If you’re travelling across time zones, prepare for jetlag – and adjust your plans and expectations for the first couple of days accordingly.
Whatever your vacation plans are, your baby will feel happy and safe if you do. Prepare what you can, and trust that if something doesn’t go quite according to plan, you will find a way to deal with that, too. So, go explore the world together, set manageable goals and expectations, enjoy your time together as a family. Share your best travel tips on Facebook and Instagram!