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Let’s face it, traveling is hard. Not the enjoying yourself part that kicks in when you’ve arrived at your destination and you’re blasting through the adventure-filled itinerary. The getting ready part; the preparation, the running through disaster scenarios, making sure your passport is still valid, packing snacks in case the airline doesn’t give you enough and packing that suitcase!
You know what’s harder than getting yourself to your destination? Doing it with more than one person! Especially if that person is your little bambino! You’re excited to bring them along on one of your classic travel escapades and at the same time, you’re inwardly freaking out. All of the scenarios are playing out in your head, you pack more than you need and are frazzled.
Then what about when you get to your destination? That factors in a whole new set of scenarios that you are sure to overpack for because you have to balance it all while carrying baby. We’ve all been there at one point or another, so let’s make it a little easier. Here are our tips for traveling with baby. We hope it’ll give you more peace of mind before, during and post take-off.
Let’s be real here. Most of us can’t survive without a snack every two hours for ourselves let alone mini-Finches that have A LOT more energy than three of us combined. So pack those snacks! Bags of cheeze-its, fruits, etc. Make sure to feed your little beast. When we adults get hangry, we get mean, but when babies get hangry, they make a scene. We all know it! Don’t rely on airplane food alone, but do not skip the chance to ask for extra of their snacks. Hoard them in your purse for later. You may need some extra fuel yourself. Another tip - only bring food for the trip. You can buy baby food and anything else you might need when you get to your destination. Frees up more room for your own snacks.
This is more relevant to our toddler bambinos, but you may have a baby genius on your hands, so give it a try anyway! We’ve found that toddlers are much calmer if parents tell them what’s about to happen. "We're going to wait in a long line and then we are going to get on a ship!" or "we are going to drive for a while. Get comfortable. But then we are going to get on an airplane!" Give them the honest truth with a dollop of positivity at the end for them to know that there is indeed an end to the immediate future’s suffering.
There are plenty of elements to travel that are completely out of our control. Especially to a kiddo who is new to the traveling scene. To help them get used to sitting around, occasionally getting bored, hungry and restless, give them choices! "do you want to carry Elmo or do you want him in your suitcase?" or "do you want me to carry you or do you want in your stroller?" Notice that the only choices you would give are choices that you would be happy with. Asking, then having them choose gives them more control which in turn makes them more comfortable. If only it all stayed the same with choices. I can’t even decide what to eat for dinner tonight.
Or fun-tractions as we like to be cheesy call it, are the ultimate key to get your little Finch distracted while waiting for take-off, during take-off or a long drive. Load up the ol’ iPad with games and movies and do a little something extra - like a ton of individually wrapped little toys. Mama Finch Amy took her kiddo to the dollar store the week before to load up on objects like a rubbery lizard or little notebook to play with. From the time you buy it, wrap it and gift it your little guy or gal will be surprised all over again. And most importantly, they’ll be preoccupied for awhile.
This is pretty straight forward, but a little refresher can’t hurt. Someone is bound to get something on their onesie, shirt or favorite pair of yoga leggings. Whether it’s turbulence, burping gone wrong or colliding with another family or inanimate object, you have a 75% chance of regret to not bringing an extra outfit for everyone in your carry-on. Play it safe on this one parent Finches!
Now, this one is more for the families who still equal or outnumber their children. Those of you with 3+ kids? Run a zone defense. In order words, take turns. One of you take the little one(s) for a walk on the beach and let your significant other read a book by the pool. It might only be for 30 minutes, but it will feel like Heaven. Or better yet, go on a trip with another family and rotate to give each other Girls' Nights, Guys' Nights, and a Date Night for each couple. Then everyone wins! Or touchdown. Whichever.
Stress less by making sure to request a crib at your hotel or Airbnb beforehand. That way when you reach your room and it’s nap time, you can put baby right down while you get to unpacking!
Do. Not. Sleep. On. Kids. Clubs. Amy particularly mentions this as the most valuable tip. When deciding your trip destination or transportation (like a cruise), look into places with kids’ clubs. This means you can show your kids the world while also taking a nap or having some adventures with your partner. The kids’ club are built-it babysitters on a 24/7 sugar high. They are vacation angels that your kids will look forward to parting with you for. More and more hotels, resorts, and cruises offer this perk and it's amazing. When your kids are older, you can have that dream vacation backpacking through Europe...but for now, resorts with kids' clubs are key.
Ask a TSA worker if they have a designated lane for strollers. More often than not, they’ll direct you through Pre-Check to keep the crowded security lines moving! Win-win!
Bring your kiddo’s favorite sleep items. We are all well aware that sleeping in an unfamiliar place does not get you the best results when getting a nice, sound sleep. That’s why bringing their favorite items help them feel comfortable and cozy. These items look, smell and feel familiar. They also trigger the general notion that it’s time for a nap or bedtime. After getting them dozing, pull down the airplane shade, car sun shades or curtains and pop on those noise canceling headphones to get them falling into a deep sleep.
Always bring one that can be portable in a carry-on! If you’re delayed a while, your little one may want some tummy time to keep them distracted. You definitely don’t want to have tummy time with Cinnabon crumbs sticking to baby’s onesie.
Pack fun items like snacks, storybooks and games that are special to the countries or states you’ll be visiting. Thus, a family trip can become both a fun and memorable journey, as well as a teachable moment.
Know where the doctors and emergency devices are at every place you’ll be spending a ton of time at i.e. hotel, cabin or planned stops on a road trip. We never know what will what happen Finches! Travel = little control. We pack all the medicine and emergency devices we can, but you simply never know. Better to be safe in the event you may need some expert help.
Try to get to the gate as early as possible to ask the desk agent if your flight is full. If not, ask to be moved to a row with an empty seat. You’ll be happy with some extra space to put toys later on or more space to lay down in.
If the idea of international travel is overwhelming, pump the brakes and state small with a domestic trip. Start off with a trip that is no longer than 6 hours in travel time. That way there are stops or layovers in between to take a little walk to stretch everyone’s legs and get morale up for the next leg. This will get your mini-Finch some travel training by slowly introducing them to longer destination travel. First vacation, California. Next vacation, Australia. That’s a big jump, but it’s good to have goals right?
Avoid carrying all your items onto the plane by gate checking the obvious- a stroller. Anything that is big and hinders you from accidentally lugging items that could hurt people in the aisle should just be taken into gate check. No stress, no mess and more eyes to focus on the kiddo in the process of boarding.
Are you a new mom breastfeeding your little kiddo? Prep bottles beforehand so you don’t have to worry about it while traveling. Bottles will help with air pressure too by helping babies focus sucking the bottle and enjoy the comfort of the milk so their ears aren’t in too much pain.
Worried about messing with your baby’s sleep schedule while crossing zones? Fight future jet lag by shifting your baby’s schedule over a few days before take-off. Keep that same schedule as much as possible in your new time zone too. Another tip? Expose your baby to natural sunlight once you reach your destination.
Speaking of time zones, if you’re crossing one then you’re more than likely going to experience a layover in travel. If you can’t avoid a layover, do NOT pick a layover that is 40 minutes or less. It will not give you enough time to get your baby, luggage and carry-on from one gate to the other. Plus, you’ll have to add extra time for gate checked items and shuttles. Give yourself time to breath and get to your next gate in a zero rush.
There you have it! Our very thorough tip list to enjoying your best vacation with baby.
Have your next vacation destination chosen and flights booked? From beach houses to city living, VRBO has your next home away from home listed. Check out their gorgeous homes here.
Take it from us, we’ve been there! That’s why Amy, who is a mama Finch herself wanted to give you an extra layer of preparedness- with her own packing list! Take a look below.
Have you tried some of these tips already? How did they work out?
Do you have more toddler trip tips for us?