Having a new baby will make most mothers and fathers think twice about traveling. But there is no need to let having a baby stop you from traveling for pleasure. Raising a child is, overall, a blessing, and traveling with a baby is a great way to see the world through new eyes.
With a little planning and preparation, you’ll realize that it’s not impossible to enjoy travel and visit those places you wished to go before you got pregnant.
Perhaps the most stressful part of traveling with a baby is the journey itself. The time spent between the starting point and destination is more exhausting with a baby.
Babies are not known for being patient. They tend to demand immediate satisfaction, and while it’s our role as parents to help them learn patience, it doesn’t happen overnight. This is only achieved after weeks, months, or even years of struggle, through a process which, oddly enough, also requires patience on the part of parents.
Now that we know that’s the case, we can start preparing for that trip. Here are 9 tips that I have found very useful for traveling with a baby.
Traveling with an infant is an exercise in preparation. Pre-children you may have considered not pre-booking accommodation or transport, but once a baby becomes involved, these things are an absolute necessity.
Also, stay updated with the travel regulations regarding infants, both those of the destination and of the airline, train, or bus. If you plan on renting a car, keep in mind that in some countries it is mandatory to carry a booster seat or infant seat, according to age, weight, or height.
Honor your baby’s sleep
Timing your baby’s naps can be really handy for scheduling your trip, since disrupting your baby’s sleep schedule can easily ruin, not only your travel experience but your daily routine as well.
However, new environments, sounds, sights, and smells will sometimes mean your baby won’t adhere to pre-set schedules. If this is you, a more natural approach would be to allow your baby to sleep when it needs to.
By using a baby carrier or pram, and allowing your baby to sleep when they need to, will reduce stress while you are traveling and make for a better all-around experience.
Don’t overpack your bags
Having less to carry is a key to making the journey less stressful. Before you leave, create a list of items that you consider to be essential for the trip and for the baby, and leave out the baby gear that he/she doesn’t need.
As a way to exercise moderation, imagine yourself in stressful situations at the airport or train station, having to look over your luggage, with all the commotion going on around you, while also carrying a non-stop crying baby. Then, plan accordingly!
Also, you may like to consider shipping your luggage ahead if you plan to be gone for a prolonged period. That would save you a lot of luggage space and you don’t have to spend more time and money buying things for the baby once you arrive.
At the end of the day, almost all baby items can be purchased wherever you are going so avoid one of the most common family travel mistakes and pack only the essentials.
Rent a car, if possible
If you are traveling without a guide and want to take a self-guided tour, renting a car is a great option. First of all, not all countries or cities offer good public transportation, and even the good ones can’t replace the comfort of a particular vehicle under your control, especially when traveling with a child.
If you do decide to rent a car, you can usually rent a car seat along with the car. Unfortunately, these are the least comfortable car seats available, so it’s a good idea to bring your own car seat from home. Luckily, most airlines will ship your car seat for free.
Don’t forget about the breast pump!
Breastfeeding is wonderful and has numerous benefits for a baby’s growth. If you are struggling with low supply, or just prefer giving your child a bottle, you may need to consider bringing a breast pump that is suitable for traveling.
For traveling, a good quality pump like the Spectra range is a great investment if you plan on traveling with your breastfed baby.
Renting apartments over hotel rooms
Apartments are better than hotel rooms when traveling with children, as they can provide that home environment that you and your baby need to feel more comfortable.
Airbnb or Home Away are some portals that can aid you in finding apartments that can offer that type of family-friendly environment.
Even if you are in the most amazing place on earth, an unhappy child and unhappy parents can spoil what is supposed to be the perfect moment.
Before things get ugly, head back to the hotel reschedule for another day.
Your phone is your best ally
A mobile phone is an amazing tool for nurturing, especially in the context of travel. Take advantage of all the benefits of owning a phone by, for instance, download relaxing sounds to soothe your baby with. Don’t forget a pair of kid-safe headphones – such as BuddyPhones Pop Fun – to protect your children’s hearing.
On the other hand, be very careful with the use toddlers and older children make of your smartphone. Traveling with infants is a very different thing and you don’t want them attached to a screen when they could be enjoying a travel family day. Likewise, keeping devices to a minimum will help when they grow up. Make traveling with teens awesome by setting boundaries when they are young!
Baby carriers can save you
Literally! You don’t want to expose your baby to accidental falls and their consequences. Carriers allow you to strap your baby in your chest, leaving you with two free hands to do other chores or browse things in your purse during boarding, for example.
They’re also perfect for when you have to visit sites where strollers are not allowed nor encouraged.
Conclusion – Traveling with a baby
Perhaps this article was a bit overwhelming to you, but it’s really not as hard as it might seem. I can’t guarantee that it’ll be the most comfortable trip you’ll ever take, as it’s obviously far more convenient to travel alone.
Nonetheless, traveling with your baby has a lot of benefits that you can’t obtain when going on your own.
In the end, it’s the experience of motherhood which overcomes any bias people usually have in this regard, and any apparent hindrance you may encounter.
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Zoe is a mom of one and a passionate advocate for breastfeeding and gentle parenting. She started breastfeedingmama.net as a way to help breastfeeding parents with support, tips, and product reviews.