There are very few words that can strike fear into a parent’s heart quite like ‘travel’, ‘baby’, and ‘packing’. If the idea of venturing abroad with a baby in tow leaves you feeling cold, then allow us to offer a few words of wisdom.
That first vacation that you take with your baby is going to be the most exciting you’ll ever embark upon. Your little one will only ever have one first flight, one first vacation and one first dip in the swimming pool, and while the thought of packing for such an excursion may leave you feeling daunted, it’s important to remember that anything is possible with a little prior preparation. Yes, even an enjoyable holiday with a baby.
Think about the new experiences you’re going to share with your little one – whether that’s sightseeing, sampling the local cuisine or embarking upon a hike through an incredible landscape. Perhaps you’ve done all of these things before, during previous trips relished when you were far younger, but involving a child will always help you experience things through new eyes. Nothing looks the same when you’re viewing it with a small person in tow, after all.
Packing your bags for an adventure
If you’ve now been tempted to head into the great unknown with your baby, it’s highly likely the nerves will be settling in. How many diapers is too many? What else do I need to pack? Is the resort suitable for babies? How will I keep my cherub quiet during the flight? The good news is that parents embark upon long-haul flights with their babies all the time, so it has to be possible. As with every other aspect of parenthood, traveling with a baby simply requires a little – okay, a lot – of prior planning.
With passengers already being encouraged to pack smarter by their airlines, there’s a great deal of pressure on parents to fit everything in just a couple of cases; not only would it be impossible to carry everything on board otherwise, but it would also be incredibly difficult to drag along with a baby or two toddling behind. So, your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to pack everything you and your family need to enjoy a safe, entertaining and relaxing break, but to squeeze it all in a space far smaller than the average family car trunk… Are you ready for this?
Preparing for take off
When it comes to traveling with a baby, you must prepare for every eventuality. Think carefully about how you’ll be making your journey, the kinds of problems you may face, the atmosphere and type of accommodation that you’re jetting off to, and the whirlwind of emotions your little one is likely to experience during your vacation.
Prior to booking your vacation, ensure that the resort, hotel or self-catering accommodation has suitable facilities and caters to the needs of children. Research the local area and create a list of the kinds of things you’ll need that you know for certain won’t be provided. This list can include things such as a travel cot, a pushchair, a highchair or booster seat, bedding, and a stair gate.
Think carefully about the items you use on a daily basis and their usefulness during a trip away, and be sure to purchase anything you’re missing well in advance of your trip. A baby store such as Skip Hop is likely to have most, if not all of the things you’re looking for, so consider making a bulk purchase to take away the hassle of waiting for shopping from various vendors.
Vacation essentials you should not travel without
It may not feel like it now, but traveling with a baby during the first few months of his or her life is actually far easier than waiting until they’re older; journeys can be planned around naptime, and your little one is far less likely to become frustrated in a queue or while waiting for takeoff.
Knowing what to pack can be a tricky one, but start with the essentials you know won’t be provided. Where will your baby sleep? How will you get from A to B? What will happen at mealtimes? A car seat, particularly if you’re going to be hiring a vehicle once you reach your destination, is a must, as is a pram or pushchair, a bassinet or carrycot so that your baby can sleep soundly during the journey.
Pack enough bottles and formula to sustain a hungry mouth, a travel sterilizer, a sling, wrap or carrier, baby wear, clothes for the type of weather you’re heading into and the activities you’re likely to undertake, swimwear and a reusable swim diaper (if applicable), nighttime wear, a diaper bag to ensure the safe passage of your baby’s essentials, passports, and, of course, a camera to capture every ‘first’.
If you know they’re not provided at your accommodation, don’t forget blackout blinds for baby’s bedroom window, a travel stair gate, a booster seat for mealtimes, and enough diapers and wipes for the journey – as long as you know you’ll be able to buy more once you’ve reached your resort or accommodation.
Finally, remember a first aid kit, and toiletries; sunscreen, insect repellant, your baby’s usual bath and body lotion, sunscreen, nappy cream, teething gels and spare pacifiers will make for a far more comfortable vacation – for you and baby.
Entertainment for parents and tots
As you board the plane or first set foot on poolside, you’re likely to be feeling somewhat anxious; you’re pretty sure all of those single adults are staring at you, willing the ground to swallow your child whole. However, when traveling with a baby it’s important to prove those kinds of thoughts wrong. You’re an awesome parent, and your baby is going to have the time of his or her life.
Entertaining your baby is going to become a huge part of your vacation, from the moment you take a seat in the boarding lounge. But, with limited space, how do you know what to pack and what to leave behind? An iPad with headphones for both adult and baby use, sensory toys that won’t make too much noise, a favorite book or a title or two that you’ve never read together before, and a coloring or notebook with crayons should keep your baby amused, and calm your pre-journey jitters.
While traveling with a baby is seldom completely stress free, it’s important to embrace every moment of your child’s first adventure abroad – regardless of how far you’re going. Modern technology has made it easier than ever for parents with babies to enjoy long distance travel and, as long as you’re prepared to plan in advance, there’s no reason why your first trip should be your last. The world is waiting, so be sure to answer its call – babies included.