Planning a trip this season with an extra little passenger? Traveling with a newborn is an adventure! One that you can make enjoyable and memorable with a bit of planning and, like everything you do as a parent, flexibility.
Planning and Packing
When setting travel times, consider the baby's schedule as much as you are able. Can you drive during nap time? Can you fly early enough to get to your destination for the regular bedtime routine? And, remember, babies are very resilient! If your travel plans don’t feel quite ideal, it’s okay! When we traveled with newborns and very young babies, I was always surprised at how easily they adapted to unusual circumstances and schedules.
Packing can feel a bit overwhelming. What to take? What to leave behind? Here are three good tips to consider when packing.
#1 Don’t overpack. If you can borrow or buy things at your destination, consider doing it to make traveling easier. Most hotels and Airbnbs have cribs, for example. There are also companies that rent baby equipment like high chairs, strollers, and other essentials. And, it is usually easy to buy things like diapers, wipes, and baby shampoo once you arrive.
#2 That said, make sure you have traveling essentials like diapers, wipes, food, extra clothes and socks, and large ziplocs (to seal up any soiled clothes you need to wash later). Do you use a white noise machine at home? Consider packing this to create a familiar sleep environment for the baby and block out some of the unfamiliar noises of the new environment.
#3 Take a first aid kit, thermometer, and medication with you. Yes, you can buy these things most places, but these are items that you don’t want to be without in the middle of the night. When you need them, you need them!
If you are going by car, a good sunshade, car seat toys, and books can go a long way when covering the miles. Consider sitting with your baby for segments of the journey. During these times you can sing, read board books, or get the baby moving with playful leg and arm “exercises.”
If traveling by plane, try, as much as you are able to, to make things a little easier on yourself. Consider buying a seat for your baby, using curbside check in, and gate checking your stroller and car seat. Having the stroller while you navigate the airport and the car seat to use in the plane can be a big help!
Nursing or feeding on take off can really help little ears.
And, pick up some inexpensive rattles and toys that you wouldn’t mind getting left behind at the airport or on the plane for entertainment during the flight.
Give Grace, Make Memories
Like everything else with your newborn, expect things to take a little longer and for your “perfect plan” to have some interruptions and detours as you navigate this new season of travel. Take breaks when the adults or baby needs it! Try to avoid putting too much pressure on your travel by having firm deadlines and fixed plans once you arrive. Keep everything as loose and flexible as possible.
Of course you will take loads of pictures! As a memento, also consider buying a postcard on your trip and write a few details on the back about what you did and who you saw. Over the years, it will be a sweet collection of all your adventures together.
Happy travels from Tennessee Family Doulas! Bon Voyage!