South San Francisco, CA December 20, 2018 by Daniel Sherwin
Holiday travel with a little one presents unique challenges. After all, you want everyone to enjoy themselves, and incidents of any sort can quickly drain away the fun. Whether it’s time to visit family or you just want to get out of town for a bit, here is practical advice for making trips with your baby positive and refreshing.
Safety first. When preparing for a family trip, make sure you put safety first in your travel planning priorities. This is especially true for road trips. The last thing you want is to break down out of town, so make sure your vehicle is up to snuff before hitting the road. Knowing the ins and outs of maintaining a car can be a little overwhelming, since there is an abundance of data out there. Ensure your vehicle is safe by checking the basics yourself, starting with researching reliable information. Doing the general work yourself will save a bundle, and you can put those dollars toward more fun on your trip.
Let the good times roll. Part of planning your trip involves keeping your little one comfortable and entertained while en route. Obviously, babies aren’t as patient and understanding about traveling as adults, so make sure you don’t overdo your plans. Some experts recommend keeping road trips simple and not too lengthy when infants are along, making the experience more enjoyable and less stressful. Verify your car seat is safe and set up properly, and establish a play area in the back seat to help your baby pass the time. Keep appropriate toys and snacks handy, and offer snacks in pre-filled containers so you don’t have to pull over and sort things continually. Another idea is to bring along some music or videos for entertaining your little one while you’re on the road. Be sure to plan regular breaks during your trip to give your infant a chance for a change of scenery; every two hours should be your minimum.
Time-out from parenting. You might decide to make your vacation a break from parenting. Granted, you will always have your kids along in your heart, but with a little forethought, you can plan a getaway that provides peace of mind, even apart from your baby. If close family members and friends aren’t available, you can find dependable, honest sitters for your youngsters. Thanks to the internet, you can locate a responsible babysitter who is in your area. Research your options, and meet before booking if you harbor concerns.
Air travel tips. Making travel plans which involve flying can be especially daunting when you have a baby. Keep in mind people do it all the time, and while it may not be the norm for your family, the airlines have provisions in place for infants. If you can be flexible on your dates, one idea is to stretch your travel budget by scheduling flights on less expensive days, which can vary by destination, so inquire when you book. If this is your first flying adventure with your baby along, Travel + Leisure recommends planning on a short, domestic flight. For international trips, make sure you have your infant’s paperwork ready, and check with your pediatrician for any necessary vaccinations before you go. Note that airlines might have their own policies regarding infant travel; verify what you will need so you have everything handy for your flight.
Seats on flights. While your little one can sit in your lap on the flight, that isn’t the safest travel option for either of you. Instead, plan to bring your baby’s normal car seat, so long as it’s FAA approved, and fasten your youngster into the seat on the flight. You are allowed to bring a stroller along, and airlines often allow extra car seats to be brought as luggage with no added fee, although you might prefer to have a car seat lined up at your destination. One idea is to check with the airline to see if there is an extra seat on your flight for your baby’s car seat, so you don’t need to pay for the seat. Another suggestion is to purchase a travel system, which is basically an adaptable car seat with a removable stroller base.
Smart packing. A worry for any parent is ensuring you pack everything necessary for a comfortable and safe trip. You can start with a checklist to verify you cover all your basics, like a diaper changing pad, wipes, bibs, and the like. One suggestion is to overpack your diaper bag; that way, you’re ready if a flight is delayed or you’re stuck someplace on the road and can’t get to a store for replacements. For air travel, spread your baby’s items throughout the luggage in the event bags get separated. In all cases, bear in mind most things are easily replaced once you reach your destination.
Traveling with a baby in tow can be challenging, but with a little planning, your getaway can be pleasant and safe. Prepare in advance so you can make your trip with confidence. Forethought can mean all the difference in making it a family holiday that’s fun and relaxing.