Traveling with a baby
We have always loved to travel and we try to do it as often as possible. This has not changed since we have children. And although we will not say, that children have not changed anything in our lives and traveling, because they have changed a lot, it does not mean, that traveling with a baby must mean stress, tiredness and frustration. On the contrary, showing the world to your little one brings a lot of joy. But it is worth to prepare well for such a trip in advance.
Plane vs. car
The first important question we need to ask ourselves is what kind of transport to choose – a car, a plane or maybe a train? Each of them has its own advantages and disadvantages. Above all, it is worth taking a good look at our baby – how does it like staying still for a longer period of time? Does it usually sleep the entire time in the stroller during walks, or in the car, driving somewhere in the city? Or maybe it prefers to be carried around all the time? In the first case there is a good chance that your baby will handle a long car ride well (as well as any other trip). But if it does not like to lie in a stroller or sit in a car, traveling by plane may be a better solution. It usually takes less time than going the same distance by car, at the airport the child can be taken out of the stroller or you can even leave the stroller at home and travel eg. with a baby carrier. On the plane a small child (usually up to two years old) sits on the lap of the parent, and then during the flight you can also walk with it a bit.
Here are some tips on how to travel with a baby by plane, that we can share from our own experience:
– Do not let your baby to board the plane right after a nap. It’s worth to invest some energy at the airport, entertaining and carrying it, to make it a bit tired, so that it falls asleep right after taking off.
– Take something to drink for the baby with you – small children should swallow during take-off and landing, which helps with clogging of small ears, and during longer journeys it should drink as much as possible, so that it does not get dehydrated. If you are breastfeeding, plan feeding for the time of take-off and landing. I was worried for the first time, whether it would not be a problem to get hot water to prepare the milk before take off. However, after explaining to the stewardess that the water was for the baby, there was no problem with it at all. In addition, there is usually no problem with bringing water, juice or baby food to the plane either.
– Dress your baby comfortably – so that it can freely move, play and sleep. Also, make sure to chose clothes, that allow you to change the diapers in a quick and easy way in a small bathroom and without completely undressing the baby – these bathrooms usually do not impress with good hygiene. Pack some diapers, a changing mat and other necessary things in a small, convenient bag, because the changing room may turn out to be tiny and there will be no place to comfortably unfold.
– Before the trip, read the information about traveling with a baby on the airline website. Traveling alone, I usually do not read all available information, but when I was traveling with my little son, I found some information to be very useful (eg. when I traveled to Fuerteventura it turned out, that although the baby was a registered passenger, it did not have any luggage included in the fare apart from the stroller! And whoever has children, knows, that a baby travels with much more luggage than adults).
If you have chosen to travel by car, here are some tips on how to prepare for such a trip:
– In winter, do not dress your baby in a coverall, but choose a more comfortable jacket; or simply don’t put on a jacket at all, just a comfortable vest and wrap the baby in a blanket to quickly move it to a slightly heated car (of course if you have the option to park near the door). In this way, you will not have to undress the little passenger in the car again and it will be easier to dress it again, when you stop for coffee and changing diapers.
– Prepare toys!! The more the better. If your baby will sleep during the trip – great. However, it is worth being prepared for each scenario. Recently, I went skiing to Austria with my little son and during a total of 14 hours of driving (with a stop for the night), my son slept about 3.5 hours. So all the toys, we had were in use, as well as videos on youtube and imagination. With our son, we can win a couple of hours of peace by playing children songs – so it’s worth to save a few albums on your phone, so that you can play them abroad without connecting to the internet.
– My baby is much calmer in the car, when he is not sitting alone in the back seat. So I have already forgotten how it is to travel in front of a car, when I do not drive it myself. So if you do not belong to the lucky ones, whose child falls asleep the moment the engine starts, I suggest that you sit comfortably in the back seat with your baby.
Even if you belong to those spontaneous people who are able to pack in the last minute, going on a trip with a baby, it is worth starting to pack much earlier and think about what equipment will be needed, so that both – the baby and you can feel fully comfortable. Here are a few tips:
Going to the mountains or other snow-covered areas in winter, think about investing in off-road wheeles for your stroller. I did not have such, which I regretted, when fighting daily with unpaved sidewalks and pushing the stroller up on slippery hills. Also remember about comfortable, non-sliding footwear for yourself. If the baby is already sitting alone – you may want to take a sled with you (you can buy a folding one), which will not only make it easier to move around with a little toddler who may not want to be in the stroller for too long anymore, but it will also provide great fun, eg. going to a pub in the evening. It is also worth taking a playmat or a blanket, that you can put on the hotel floor. Especially in winter, we may not want our baby to roll around on the bare hotel floor.
In summer, traveling with a baby is much easier (as well as everything else). You do not have to worry about warm clothes, blankets, etc. Still it is worth to be well prepared. If we are going on a beach holiday, I highly recommend taking a baby carrier with you – it facilitates walking on the beach and you can carry your little one with you, if it is restless, or simply, when you want to have it close. Also take a playmat with you – not only for use in the hotel room, but also on the beach. In case you want to put the baby on a playmat on the tiles somewhere near the pool (of course, at a safe distance to the water), it is worth placing a specialist blanket with a warm base under the mat (like one you would take to a picnic). This way, the baby will not be cold, and on the double mat it will not be as hard.
If your baby does not eat everything yet and you will not have easy access to buy baby food on the road, then you need to think carefully about what to pack with you. Different types of jars and porridges for a week’s journey occupy a surprisingly large amount of space and they weigh a lot, so it is worth taking a moment to think about it and not take too much nor too little. Do not introduce new products to the child’s diet on a trip in order to avoid the risk of allergy and simply not to spoil your and the baby’s humor fighting over the plate. Leave this pleasure for when you are back home 🙂
First aid kit
Unfortunately, children like to get sick at the least appropriate moments – on holidays, birthdays, and, how else, on a trip. So its important to take a well-equipped first aid kit with you, which, among other things, must include a thermometer, fever medicine, medicine afgainst coughs, runny nose, teething, stomach problems; bandages, suncream or cream against cold and wind, and against any other trouble you expect to possibly happen. There may not be a pharmacy or a doctor in a new, unknown place, so it’s worth being prepared, while of course hoping to not need anything from this first-aid kit (well, maybe except the suncream 🙂 ).
And most importantly – when traveling with a baby, do not forget to pack good humor! It will surely happen, that the baby will have different plans than you and you will have to adapt. Surely there will be a moment of crying and probably not all nights will be filled with sleep. However, showing your baby new places and experiencing new adventures together is incredibly fun, so take the challenge and take your baby on an interesting journey with you!