It’s sun’s out, (baby) buns out here in New York! And that means one thing: fantasizing about summer getaways.
There’s nothing like clocking out of work on a Friday afternoon, packing up your suitcase, and jetting (or driving) off for a few days of stress-free relaxation.
Oh...unless you’re a mom. Then you’ve got stress on taps for DAYS.
Just kidding. (Sort of.) Traveling with babies can be a frantic experience. But it’s so much easier when you take a few minutes to plan!
Here are our fave pro tips to make traveling with babies a whole lot easier:
The best offense is a good...preparation. (Sports references have never been my forte.)
Check with your airline ahead of time to get their specifics on boarding policies, bassinet options, bringing breast milk in your carry-on, and other issues. (Here’s a great list of questions to ask your airline before flying with kids.)
It’s also smart to bring a little first aid kit. Hopefully, you won’t have any accidents, but you’ll sleep easier knowing you have an emergency kit, just in case. (How to DIY a first-aid travel kit.)
Get climate controlled
First off, dress your little in layers. (Is there ever an occasion when this is NOT helpful advice?) Whether you’re in a stuffy car, crowded train, or cramped airplane, layers will help your kiddo adapt to any temperature.
Also, bring items to help them adjust whether it’s too hot or too cold. A warm snuggly blanket or cooling mini fan can do wonders to keep the crankiness at bay.
Strategically plan your journey
If at all possible, plan your travel during your child’s sleep time. They’ll likely doze through the entire trip, making it relatively painless.
Like it is for adults, kids get grumpy if they sit in the same spot for too long. Plan pit stops into your trip if you’re driving. Look for safe, well-lit areas, preferably with outdoor space your child can run around on.
If you’re flying, take a lap around the plane every 1-2 hours. Even a 5-minute break can give your little one just enough excitement (and yes, I’m using that word very loosely) to avoid a meltdown.
Wrap up toys and treats
One of the biggest challenges of bringing a kiddo on vacation is keeping her entertained. Wrap up toys and snacks inside your luggage to add some excitement every time you pull one out.
The act of unwrapping is a great time-filler that stretches the entertainment value.
Bonus: repurpose newspaper, sheet music, scrap paper from work (nothing confidential, obvi!) or old wrapping paper for a green touch.
Related: 10 Incredibly Chic (and Green) Gift Wrapping Ideas
Ship bulky items to your hotel
If you don’t have space in your luggage for a ton of diapers, baby food, or formula, consider ordering them online and shipping directly to your vacation spot.
Sites like diapers.com and Old Faithful (amazon.com) can bring your favorite baby products right to your door...without taking up valuable space in your luggage.
Definitely be prepared in case of a late or lost delivery, like packing a day or two’s worth in your bag! And remember, anything you don’t use on the trip, you’ll likely need to bring home with you. So do your best to order only what you’ll need.
Have food at the ready
During transit, food is one of the best distractions in a mom’s arsenal. Always bring your own food and drinks to be ready the instant hunger strikes.
Pack a variety of airplane-approved snacks like dry cereals and cut-up fruit. You can’t take liquids through security so buy a bottle or two of water or juice at the terminal to bring on the plane.
Take advantage of airport time
Being enclosed on a plane with your little one for hours on end is the stuff of parent nightmares. Make it easier on yourself by boarding as late as possible.
I know, I know, we’re all anxious to get on the plane...but why? What do you really gain by sitting buckled up for an extra 30-45 minutes (especially with a squirmy baby).
Find out what time boarding ends. Then get something to eat, walk around the shops, treat the seating area like a jungle gym — whatever keeps your little one interested before boarding the plane.
I know that we all have our opinions about screen time. But at Dooli™, we’re Team Screen whenever it improves your overall quality of life. (And that’s definitely the case for long trips.)
Load a few episodes of your child’s favorite program onto an iPad. Download some fun baby apps on your smartphone. (Click here from Parent Magazine’s top apps for babies and toddlers.) Bust out the portable DVD player and some Moana.
And for the love of Sophie the Giraffe, make sure your gadgets are fully charged! You may even want to bring a portable charger to make sure you won’t lose power during the trip.
Test out the travel bed
If your little one will be sleeping in a travel cot or crib, don’t let the first time they try it be on vacation!
A few weeks before you leave, start familiarizing your baby with the new item. Try a few naps or even a full night’s sleep in the travel bed so they get comfortable.
And don’t forget to pack any items that your child associates with sleep! Special blankets, stuffed animals, music, etc. — anything that helps your little one sleep soundly will make the travel bed feel more familiar.
Set up your room ASAP
You made it to your destination in one piece — woohoo!
That frosty spicy margarita at the hotel bar is calling your name. But it’s so worth it to take 15 minutes to unpack your baby’s stuff and set up your room first.
Unpack your playpen or travel crib. Put your child’s toys, books, and gadgets together, preferably on a low shelf or area where they’re easy to access. Put bottles, formula, and snacks in one space. (The best spot for this might be near the bathroom sink!)
Set up a makeshift diaper changing station (a disposable changing pad is great for this!) with easy access to diapers, wipes, and creams. And put baby clothes in a drawer or a certain section of the closet.
Unpacking is a little thing that can make a big difference. When you’ve got a poo emergency, you’ll be happy to have everything organized, instead of rummaging through your bottomless Longchamp bag praying for a wipe.
Above all else, go into your trip knowing it will probably be different than your adult-only vacations. Adjust your expectations and be flexible to rolling with the punches of traveling with kids.
You’ll make some amazing memories together — let THAT be your focus instead of the potential hiccups that come up along the way.