Whether your baby is newly born, a few months old, or nearing a year, the better prepared you are for any trip you're taking, the happier everyone will be. So rule #1 is to plan ahead. You really want to keep your baby's needs in mind as you decide where to go, where to stay, and how you're going to get there. After that's decided, you'll want to plan additional details, such as what to pack, ideally no later than two weeks before your trip. Make lists and check things off as you go. Here are a few areas you'll want to focus on:
1. Air travel. Call your airline ahead of time to find out how much your baby's ticket will be. Yes, it may sound strange, but even if you will be holding your baby during the flight, you will have to pay a fee and get your baby his/her own ticket. And while you may save money by not buying a seat for your baby, sometimes it can be worth the extra cost. Having your baby restrained in a car seat during the flight is not only safer, but will give your family a bit of extra room, which will inevitably add to everyone's experience. You'll also want to ask the airline what the baggage allowance is for your baby, if there's a bassinette on board for longer flights, and whether or not you can use a stroller right up to the gate.
2. Car travel. If traveling for several hours by car, be sure to plan several stops along the way so that you can feed baby, change diapers, and allow baby to be out of the car seat for a while.
3. Accommodations. Call around to different hotels, resorts, or to friends and family you might be visiting and find out what baby gear -- such as cribs, strollers, and high chairs -- may already be available. Also, know beforehand whether there will be laundry options available to you during your stay so you can adjust the amount of clothes you'll need to pack.
4. Childcare and baby concierge services. Depending on your budget and the primary goals for your trip, enlisting the help of a baby nurse/nanny to accompany you, or a baby concierge service to supply you with essentials where you're going, may help make your trip go more smoothly.
5. Baby care essentials. You will need basic baby care items while on your trip, so be sure think about your options and which makes the most sense for your family. You can pack extra diapers and wipes and bring them with you, go on a shopping trip once you get to where you're going, or send them ahead of time so they're waiting for you. Other items you may want to bring for your baby include:
En Route Checklist:
Despite the length of your travel or mode of transportation, the more you plan the better. Here are a few things you don't want to leave home without:
Water. This will always come in handy en route to make bottles, wash up, hydrate you if breastfeeding, etc. For an eco-friendly option, simply fill a few large mason jars or a travel cooler before your road trip, or put your empty water canisters in your carry-on luggage and fill them with tap water, once through airport security.
Wipes. Essential for diaper changes and easy clean ups.
Diapers. Think about the number of diapers you may need during travel and then add at least three to that. Since clean ones don't take up too much space, it never hurts to have too many!
Extra clothes. Because the likelihood of one or two spit-ups or diaper leaks en route is high, it's essential to bring along several changes of clothes for baby.
Small trash bags. Three or four small, biodegradable plastic bags will help manage the dirty diaper load and soiled clothing that may pile up during travel.
Blanket. Particularly if you're traveling by air, you'll want at least one blanket for your baby to ensure she's kept warm throughout the flight.
Snacks. You'll want to keep yourselves well hydrated and fed as you travel. Since you will be busy tending to your baby, it's good to have snacks pre-packed in your travel bags (crackers, trail mix, and fruit are great options).
Pacifier. If your baby uses a pacifier, pack two or three back-ups if you lose one or for when one falls and you can't clean it right away. For those who don't use pacifiers, bring a soft stuffed animal or anything that helps keep your baby calm.
Pediatrician's phone number. It's always a good idea to have your baby's pediatrician's number just in case anything comes up and you need to ask a question.
Camera. Your trip will likely introduce a few "firsts" for your baby and you'll be glad to have a camera to capture a few of them along the way.
Expect a few glitches along the way. Traveling with a baby adds an element of the unexpected. From crying spells, teething, and sickness, to delayed flights, lost luggage, and unexpected traffic, anything can come up that may cause a bit of stress. Do your best to prepare for these hiccups ahead of time but try to keep a positive outlook -- or even laugh -- to help you and your family enjoy the trip to the fullest.
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