Family vacations are a great way to escape and get some much-needed rest. However, when you have an infant or a toddler, it makes traveling a bit more complicating. All the toys, entertainment, baby equipment that you rely heavily upon, cannot always make the trip with you. AND, sometimes your spouse or adult support is not able to travel either. It can become very overwhelming! How do you plan for the un-plannable? Are you supposed to keep a sleep and feeding routine? How??? AND now we have to consider traveling during a PANDEMIC? Don’t worry, it’s easier than you think. With a few tricks, you will be able to travel like a pro Mama.
Travel Tricks By Plane
- Prior to booking the flight, call the airline to see how you should book your infant to 1-year-old’s flight ticket. If you plan on using a FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) approved carseat on the flight, then you may have to book a seperate ticket. However, if you choose to hold your infant during the flight, you will not need to pay a seperate ticket.
- Know in advace, what document your should bring to verify age, if any. I always bring a copy of the Birth Certificate or passport, if they have one. This is especially important for international flights. Make sure you plan months in advance, because if a passport is required, that takes several weeks to process.
- Research or talk to an airline representative about babies equipment, like carseats, strollers, and other items. You have the option to check in these pieces along with your other bags or you can check them in at the gate. I personally perfer to check in baby items along with my bags, and use my carrier to hold my infant. I do suggest traveling with as little baby equipment as possible. Remember, if you are going to rent a car, you can also rent a car seat. If you are going to a hotel, many of them have pack-and-plays for use.
- Know the ticket-check-in policy for the airline. With infants, you may have to go to a check-in counter, not the kiosk, which typically takes longer. I like to arrive 2 hours in advance for domestic flights and 3 hours for international flights.
- If you are traveling with breastmilk, I suggest calling the airline in advance, to understand their policies. The 3 or 4 ounce rule does not apply to breast milk manytimes. I travel with it frozen, in a seperate bag that I tell the security persons about in advance.
- With security, because I am holding my infant, I opt out of the body scanner. I choose the metal detector and a manual pat-down. Again, this requires an agent to adminster the security check and can take longer. You are able to choose a private manual pat-down, where they bring you into a seperate room, or complete it in the open security area. For this reason, I usually wear a sun dress, if weather appropriate.
- Make sure you load with family boarding. This allots you a few extra minutes to get everything situated. After I load the aircraft, I change my babies pamper and allow them to explore (i.e. looking outside the window).
- I always pack a special toy and a new item to hold their interest. Other items to pack would be their favorite beverages and snacks, a change of clothes for you and the baby (airport blow-outs are the worse), diapers and wipes, plus a spit-up rag and a blanket. Keep your bag light, and only pack essentials.
- If you have a loayover or arrive super early at the airport, there is usually a childrens play area. Take advantage, this helps to release energy.
- Most airports have lactation stations, but you usually have to get someone to open them for you. Also airports will have family bathrooms, the wait maybe longer, but it gives you privacy and more space for everything.
Travel Tricks By Train/Bus
Many of the same tips for planes will also apply to traveling by train or bus:
- Make sure you understand the policy regarding booking tickets, baby equipment, and if you are able to carry infant on lap or have to use a carseat.
- Bring a special toy, snacks, change or clothes for both you and the baby, baby wipes and diapers, hand sanitizer products, spit-up rag and a blanket. Keep your diaper bag light.
Travel Tricks By Car
- Decide on the best time to leave, this will varry. I like to leave early in the morning at 5am, some like to leave during the day, and others like to drive through the night. There is no right or wrong time to leave for your road-trip.
- Schedule in advance break or pit stops based on baby feeding schedule and/or your gas mileage. But remain flexible, just in case you have to stop sooner or your precious baby is asleep.
- Pre-pack the car the day before you leave; incluing installing all car seats. This way you can organize the car so you are able to reach snacks and toys very easily.
- Bring several forms of entertainment, electronics, movies, toys, music, coloring books (I use the Melissa and Doug Water WOW), etc…
- Pack a snack/food bag with beverages.
- Diaper bag should be fully stocked with a change of clothes, diapers, wipes, bottles, spit-up-rags, etc…
- Due to the pandemic, I avoid brining young babies into public places. However, if I have to, I like to use a carseat cover and avoid crowds.
- Pack cleaning supplies, hand sanitizer, napkins, and the disposable snack cups (this way I can re-use them verses using plastic bags).
When you travel, mentally prepare yourself for unexpected situations, because they always pop up. Simply keep cool as a cucumber and find a creative solution. Don’t be afraid to invite friends and family that also have kids! You got this Mama!