In parenthood, “vacations” are often (lovingly) stripped of that luxurious title and are quickly reduced to being called “trips”! The thought of traveling with kiddos can feel intimidating in general, not even factoring in the things that are entirely out of our control… potentially inclimate weather, holiday traffic/airline delays, etc. However, there are lots of good memories to be made on the end of that trek… stay strong, mama!
To help get your mind right about traveling during this upcoming holiday season, here are some tips that have helped us in holidays past, and we hope they will help you, too.
– If you know you’re stopping overnight, pack one separate duffle bag with at least 1-2 changes of clothes for each family member, toiletries, and overnight must-haves (sound machine, pacis, etc.) to keep from bringing in/rummaging through ALL the luggage at the late night stop.
– If you don’t have a first aid kit in your car yet, throw one together to keep in the trunk. A basic kit would include: thermometer, Tylenol/Motrin (both children’s and adult), bandaids, neosporin/Aquaphor, hand sanitizer, boogie wipes/extra baby wipes.)
– Make sure you have plenty of extra blankets, bottled water and a flashlight with fresh batteries in case of car trouble.
– Keep an entertainment “Bag of Tricks” within arms-reach of the co-pilot: activities, books, toys, etc., that can be easily handed to the backseat.
– If you allow screentime (both my hands are up!) ensure shows/games are pre-downloaded and you have a full charge the night before (And, an extra long charging cord doesn’t hurt the cause, either!)
– Determine whether or not you’ll purchase an airline seat for your child. Most airlines allow children under 2 years of age to fly free as a lap child.
– If you want to bring the carseat on the flight, especially for longer trips, buy the extra seat. Some airlines offer infant pricing; you can call reservations directly prior to booking to see what fares are available.
**Either way, make sure you bring their birth certificate for age identification. If you are taking baby onboard as a lap child, you can get a boarding document from the ticket counter prior to going through security.
– Travel bags can protect your checked/gate-checked items (strollers, carseats, etc.)
– Consider how much additional luggage and gear you will have and make a plan for getting it all into the airport. Best case, your airport offers curbside check-in or valet parking. If not, determine if it makes more sense for one person, baby, and luggage to be dropped off at the terminal while the other person goes to park the car, or if everyone should go together. If you choose the latter option, you will likely need a cart (available on site at most airports) to transport everything.
– If you have a baby carrier, consider babywearing through security. If you have a long layover, a stroller with a recline can be helpful for naps. You can gate-check the stroller before boarding.
– Formula and breastmilk can be carried on, but may require an additional screening. If using liquid formula, make sure the containers are sealed. For powder formula, buy or fill your water bottle once through security.
– Call ahead to determine if car seat rental is an option. If bringing your own, and if you’re using the same car for the entire trip it will make sense to pack the car seat base.
– Consider how much additional luggage and gear you will have with you when determining what type of vehicle you will rent.
– Research where the car rental lots are in relation to the airport terminal; like you did with the first airport drop off, gameplan in advance car retrieval approach. Teamwork makes the dreamwork!
– Consider the sleeping arrangements. Some hotels provide discounted rates on adjoining rooms. If you think you will need additional space, or if your child is an extremely light sleeper, inquire with the hotel directly about the availability of this option. Also, look into hotels that offer suites!
– Look for hotels with dining options available onsite; breakfast in the room or at the hotel is usually an easier way to start the day.
– Call ahead to discuss portable crib availability. Ask for the brand and age of the crib ahead of time to ensure safety; if this information isn’t available or if you aren’t comfortable with their answer, plan to bring your own.
– If your kiddo has sensitive skin, eczema or allergies, you may want to consider bringing your own crib sheet, blankets and towels.
– AirBnB’s can be a more comfortable (and oftentimes price comparable) option when it comes to traveling with kiddos. Always check the amenities list to see what kid friendly items will be available!
– #1: snacks, snacks, and more snacks! A deep snack arsenal is usually a good indicator for a successful trip ahead. It can be fun to try new special snacks for a first flight or a first long road trip, if your kiddo is old enough to get excited about that. Otherwise, stock up on pre-portioned snacks you can rely on.
– If visiting family/friends, see what they have on-hand for you to borrow before packing up your entire house. Also, ship your gifts to your destination!
– Try to set departures to align with sleep time (naps, early morning/late at night.)
– Dress everyone in light layers to adjust to different temps.
– Look for activities that are mess-free and with few pieces. (i.e., leave the puzzles at home and opt for the Melissa and Doug “Water-Wow” activity books instead.)
– Take breaks as you can, even if that means adding a few extra stops. A rested and fed traveler is a happy traveler!
Lastly, a few of our favorite travel blogs + resources:
Happy and Safe Travels, Mamas!