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Traveling with Baby Doesn't Have to be Hard

In today’s world, traveling to visit family and friends is common, especially around the holidays. And, if you love travel as much as I do, introduce your baby to it, as soon as possible, to get them accustomed to the sites and sounds of airports, train stations, and perhaps long car drives. I had both of my babies on a plane by the time they were 3 months old. It’s all doable and can be quite fun. Here are some recommendations for organizing travel with baby.

Packing: General Organizing Tips

Much of what you will pack in a suitcase for baby will be a larger version of the diaper bag. However, here are some things you can do to make sure you bring everything you need and want:

  • If possible, allow yourself at least a week to pack—you’ll need this time to do laundry and prepare without missing something.
  • Set up a staging area—Set aside some space in the guest room or a portion of your bedroom. Set out the suitcases and check off the items on your list as you add them to the piles.
  • Make two separate lists: One for your stuff and one for baby. Check off each item as you place it in the staging area.
  • Use large zip-lock baggies to organize individual categories of clothing for baby, labeling each bag. For example: Day One, Day Two, or Pajamas, Pants, etc. Result: Easier for you and others to find what you’re searching for. You can also re-use the bags to put dirty or soiled clothing in them for the trip home.

Car Travel

If you’re planning a long-distance family road trip, consider taking turns sitting in the backseat with baby. That way, if baby needs attention, instead of stopping the car or climbing over the front seats, one of you will be right there to take care of the need.

Assemble a car travel bag filled with snacks, books, and toys to entertain baby, a pillow for you, and possibly a blanket, lotion, gum/candy, and wipes. Remember to wear comfortable clothing. Remove your shoes and enjoy the ride.

Other items you’ll want to have for car travel with baby:

  • Music-whether it’s cds or an iPod. Perhaps you have a DVD system to watch movies.
  • Plenty of bottled water and snacks
  • Zip-lock baggies for dirty diapers
  • Trash bag (hang it around the head rest of the back seat and toss when you stop to fill up the gas tank)

When my clients, Pam and John, took their first road trip with baby, one would have thought they were traveling to a remote location where, if they forgot something, they would be unable to find it for miles. The back of the SUV was packed with everything they could possibly fit, including baskets of toys, videos, an exercise mat with hanging contraptions, a portable crib, portable high chair, a stroller, and more.

After spending most of the trip organizing and reorganizing the paraphernalia, then later expressing their frustration to a friend, the couple discovered that they could have rented a portable crib and high chair while on vacation from a local baby rental company. Not only would this have lightened their load and saved them packing time, it would simplify future road trips all together.

Traveling isn’t as complicated as it might all seem. The key is to relax, take a few toys, and just get out and be with your family. In the event you do forget something, it’s not the end of the world. If you’re staying at a resort, enlist the help of the concierge to get what you need. Or, if one exists in the area, call an equipment rental company. If during the holidays you’re planning a visit with family, ask them to ask their friends to loan equipment if your family/friends don’t have it on hand. The worst case scenario is that you take a quick trip to a super store and buy an extra something.

Airline Travel

Getting through an airport can be a huge production, especially with the security measures today. Make your airport experience a good one by limiting what you carry on. Also, if possible, use a baby carrier and a backpack to limit what’s in your hands. A stroller is great, especially if it has a place to store items below. You will, however, need to take baby out and send the stroller through security on its own, of course.

Airlines will allow you to travel with a child on your lap up until the age of two or three (you can check with your airline at the time you make reservations). If you purchase what is called a “lap” ticket for your child, which is a great way to save money. Here are a few suggestions to ease your airline trip:

  • Gate-check the car seat—You want to do this so that in the event there’s an empty seat, the seat can easily be retrieved by the flight attendant and junior will have his own seat.
  • Wait to board the plane until last—Many times airlines will call disabled and families, but then you are confined to the airline seat until EVERYONE else has boarded the plane. You especially want to wait if you’ve got a very active toddler and want to limit her time in the seat.
  • If you have an infant, while ascending and descending, either nurse, give the baby a bottle or binky. This helps to reduce baby's ears clogging then subsequently popping, which can be terribly uncomfortable.

Remember to enjoy the process and expect delays. You have a baby!

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Comment by Sheila Hill on December 26, 2010 at 5:37pm
Excellent advice, Stacey! We've always traveled with our daughters, starting at about 2 mos. for each of them. I truly believe that applying some organizational skills makes traveling with babies and children so much less stressful.
Comment by Jenn Costanzo on December 25, 2010 at 5:01pm
Great advice! You can never be to organized love it;)

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