Summer is the quintessential season for travel. Before departing on a trip, it’s important to maintain your summer wellness routine, make a plan for when you arrive to your final destination and of course to pack accordingly. Many of us have been traveling for years and know our go-to travel essentials, but if you are a new parent, you may be wondering how you can better travel with a baby. Whether you are traveling by car, plane or train this summer, here are 10 tips for traveling with babies and young children from real life moms.
#1 All About Attitude
Julia, mother of two from Chicago, IL. says, “Travel is all about your attitude. Your children will play off of your attitude, so no matter how tired or irritated you may feel, it’s important to keep a positive attitude no matter what the circumstances or situation.”
#2 Account for Nap Times
If possible, time your travel plans around your baby’s nap times. Babies and even small toddlers like routine, heck, even we as adults like routine, so when routines are thrown off, babies and young children can become extra irritable (as can adults). If you can, plan your departure time around nap times. It’s also important to plan for extra travel time too.
Jenna W., mother of two from Albuquerque, NM., notes, “Car trips with babies and young children can easily take 30-70% longer than they did pre-kiddos, so plan accordingly.”
#3 Pack Snacks
Traveling on the road, you never know where you will find food to feed your family and there is only so much “kids menu” food a parent wants to feed their families, says Julia F. Additionally, travel can be expensive and dining out certainly adds to that expense, so pack a variety of snacks the entire family can enjoy like almond butter, applesauce, baby pouches, crackers and crisps, dry snacks, fresh fruit and vegetables, sunflower seed butter and string cheese all of which are easy grab-and-go items.
#4 Be Flexible
As Chelsey J., mother of one from Stevens Point, WI., notes, “You might have a full itinerary planned, but you have to be able to flex as needed for your mini. Having a baby doesn’t mean you have to stop doing the fun things you love to do, but it does require you to give additional consideration to the newest member of your family and adjust accordingly as needed.”
#5 Consider a Car Seat
When traveling, Jenna W. recommends a car seat. “Most standard car seats will not fit in airplane seats, yet having a 2-4 year old sit in a car seat on a plane keeps them safe, contained and often helps them sleep and enjoy the plane ride more because most children are extremely accustomed to sitting in a car seat. If you are considering a car seat while traveling, look for a car seat with the small airplane logo on the safety label and whose reviews and product description confirm it can be used for air travel. Remember, even if your child rides rear facing in a car, car seats go front facing on an airplane!”
#6 Cut Back to Essentials
Since you will be carrying around your baby’s items, parse down on your own items that you usually cart with you in your purse, carry on bag and computer bag. Try to minimize how much of your own items you will have to carry because, let’s be real, you’ll be schlepping all of your babies items around the airport too. It’s not just your items that you should cut down on though, it’s also your baby’s items!
Chelsey J. says, “You do not need to stuff everything baby owns to have a great time away. A few outfits that can be worn interchangeably, some toys to entertain while sitting on the patio, diapers and you are set! Obviously packing sunscreen or necessary items for the elements is a must, but he/she doesn’t need his five favorite books, three sets of shoes, 19 toys, etc.”
#7 Kid Friendly Areas
This tip may be more applicable to families with young children, but if traveling by plane, see if airports have designated kids play areas where you and your family can pass the time while you wait for a departure or layover. If traveling by car, research infant and toddler friendly areas, kids museums, playgrounds and local or state parks you might be passing through during your road trip. That way you can stop and play for an hour or so, which will tire your children out and also gives you a good opportunity to stretch your legs.
#8 Prepare for TSA
Jenna W., recommends putting your package of baby wipes and tube of diaper cream in the security bins at the TSA checkpoints. These items will often set off security alarms, so be sure to pull these items out of your carry on luggage and put them in the bin so they’re easily accessible and visible for TSA to check. Another travel tip from
Jenna, “Large jogging strollers often don’t fit through the conveyor belt at TSA, which can create a delay, so pack your patience and plan for this unscheduled stop. To avoid this situation entirely, you can always invest in a fully collapsible travel stroller.”
#9 Tinker with Toys
When it comes to traveling with a baby, be sure to pack lots of little activities and toys for them to play with to help them pass the time. Novelty is key for amusement, so get some new toys before the trip so your baby is surprised with new things to play with, which can help keep them occupied and pass the time.
Julia F. recommends taking one toy out at a time and switching it up every hour, so the baby has something “new” to play with. Jenna W. also mentions, as babies begin to develop motor skills, they may enjoy putting window clings on airplane and car windows, so purchase some prior to your travels. Plus, they are super easy to pack!
#10 Wear Your Baby
Chelsey J. says, “Wear your baby! This is a must. There are loads of options on the market and it is a gamechanger when traveling. Having to wrangle a squirmy baby, check your phone for directions, slurp your hot coffee, roll your luggage and hold hands with your husband? No way! When you have your baby on your body, your hands are free to negotiate the seven other things you are attempting to do. This is especially helpful when in crowded spaces, rough terrain or tight quarters as strollers take up lots of room. When worn, you can roam freely without constraints.
This is also really nice for baby as he/she can see the world from your vantage point, rather than stuck behind the shrouded canopy of the stroller. Finally, babies often cannot resist a nap when in these carriers. We will have our son facing outward to take in all the action, but when he starts to get fussy, we simply turn him around and it’s naptime while we continue to adventure. (Wearing your baby is my number 1 travel tip.)”
Traveling with a baby can be stressful, but it doesn’t have to be if you incorporate these 10 travel tips when traveling with your baby this summer or any time of year!