Having a baby doesn’t have to stop you from going where you want to go, whether it’s on vacation or to see family. However, you won’t be able to travel exactly the way you were used to. To be adequately prepared, keep reading to find out what you need to know before you go!
If you are on a plane…
- Reserve a bassinet
Each airline has slightly different regulations, but generally if your baby is under a year old they will probably be able to fit under the max weight and height rules for the bassinet. An “in lap” infant in economy class is not ideal, but with a bassinet, it is. They will have a comfortable place to sleep and play in, if they are old enough to sit up.
The bassinet attaches to the wall, usually the one right behind the bathrooms. These are also the seats with more leg room so it will be easier to stand when you need to. Only certain planes have them available. If you are one a short flight then most likely the plane will not be equip. Either way, you will need to call the airline and reserve one, usually up to 48 hours of your flight. Trust us when we say ding so will make your flight so much easier!
- Get a handle on ear pressure
A big concern of many parents is the possibility of ear pressure pain because of the altitude change. The way to counter this is to have your baby nurse, sucking on a pacifier, or snacking. Doing this is like the equivalent to chewing gum for us adults.
- Board last (or close to it)
All airlines will announce that first class passengers, families, and people with disabilities can board first. The latter two are there because they may need more time. But think about it carefully before taking them up on the offer.
Do you really want to be sitting there, with the possibility you won’t be able to stand since other passengers are loading, with a squirmy child until it is time for take off? Most planes board 20-40 minutes before they plan on leaving the gate. That’s a long time. Instead, opt to board last. You could even send your partner on first to get the carry-on baggage organized while you meander outside, and bonus: your kids will not get bored while waiting in the plane.
- Narrow down your packing list
You may think babies “need” a lot of stuff. They do need more than we do, but there are a lot of extras at home that can be done without for your trips. It will be hard, but only take what you really need- stuff for diapering, clothes, and some choice handy rags/cloths, since you know they are bound to come in handy.
- Do your research and think ahead
If you are going somewhere new, it’s important to do some research. Not just the best sightseeing spots like you may have done before the baby, but also new considerations that are for families.
These include thinking about
- Hotel amenities
- Family-friendly sites
- How you will get around (is it stroller friendly?)
- Extra time needed to be on time
- Keep things familiar
You will be in a different place surrounded by different things. You know this, and your baby will certainly pick up on it. Although everything may be different, try to keep as much as you can the same. Familiar routines, items, and songs will become a comfort when your baby becomes overwhelmed or over-stimulated from being in a new place.
- You need to be patient
Patience is the key! Things may seem to get out of hand when they really aren’t. For example, when your baby starts getting fussy you may start to panic, wishing to stop it before it escalates. This panic may lead to tense periods that will affect your partner and your child in a potentially negative way, only making things worse. Patience is also needed because everything in general will take longer when traveling with a baby.
- You need to give yourself plenty of time
Hand in hand with patience is allowing yourself extra time for everything. By now you know that anything can happen at any moment with a baby. A diaper explosion, spitting-up, breaking down the stroller and other gear, etc. are all viable happenings that will need to be dealt with in that moment, so it’s best not to be rushed.
The best way to help accomplish this is to get organized. Have everything ready well before you need to leave so that when you do if something happens, you can handle it. Leave 10 minutes earlier than when you assume you need to actually leave.
- It will be hard
Traveling with a baby has a reputation, and it isn’t a good one. Once you accept that it will have its challenges, you won’t freak out when it is hard. Mentally prepare yourself before any long journey. Talk about how you will handle certain situations with whoever you will be traveling with, and also include that everything you discuss may go out the window in the moment. It may seem contradictory, but it will help you to expect the unexpected.
- Or it could be surprisingly easy
With all that being said, you might be surprised by the end of trip. You might find that everything went smoothly without a hitch. Even if there were sometimes a bit of a hiccup, it was handled well and all is good. Traveling with a young one doesn’t always lead to a horror story; it may be just the opposite, for which you will be very happy!
Starting to travel even when your child is very young has a lot of benefits. In many people’s opinions, a baby is easier than a toddler on a trip. They sleep much more and don’t need to be chased around since they can’t go far yet. All in all, we wish you the best of luck in your travels. Keep these tips in mind and you’ll be just fine!