I remember getting ready for a summer vacation pre-baby…pack a few essentials, grab the sunscreen (perhaps a couple bottles of wine) and hit the road. There was very little thought put into preparing for a trip. Fast forward several years, our first family beach trip with an infant is upon us and reality hits! What used to be a no-thought-throw-items-into-the-suitcase mentality was now a week-long prep process of craziness!
Reminder notes on your phone to pack the monitor, post its shoved in your purse as cues to not forget the yellow pacifier, email to prompt the packing of the baby body wash…it goes on and on. The once leisurely summer vacation prep has become a strategic, all hands-on deck process and the car that used to remain at half-capacity now is questionable whether the doors will stay shut with all the stuff crammed in.
While the days of minute planning are long gone, below are 8 tips that can help make summer travel with little ones a bit less stressful. Whether traveling by plane, train or automobile…. I’ve got you covered!
- Grab bag: Pack a bag that is easily accessible with a couple of diapers, wipes, a change of clothes and whatever immediate essentials your baby requires. Most of your luggage will have all these items 10-fold, but this quick bag will alleviate you having to rummage every time one of these objects is required.
- Unpack upon arrival: While it may seem like you packed your entire house, the vacation destination is still different than home. Try to unpack all baby’s belongings once you check in to your temporarily domicile. This will allow your little one to feel comfortable when surrounded by familiar items and smells.
- Dress in layers: I swear, it is a law of nature…If it’s cold outside, the inside of a vehicle or plane will be sweltering. If it’s 90 degrees outdoors, it will be like an ice box indoors. Instead of packing a carry on full of clothes for all seasons, simply dress baby in layers that you can strip or add depending on the temperature.
- Nap-time travel: If possible, try to schedule travel during the time baby sleeps. It may seem like a silly concept (especially for flight travel) but it changed my life when my little one slept during that majority of our trip to Florida. I almost had some time to relax…almost.
- Downsize: Baby’s require a lot of gear! If possible, try to minimize by wearing your baby and ditching the stroller. A baby carrier will save you money for air travel and space for car travel.
- Loosen up: While routines are good to keep (especially for keeping your sanity) unpredictability is inherently a part of traveling. Try not to stress too much when your at-home practices and vacation-practices don’t exactly jive. Baby will sleep, baby will eat…so, just enjoy your time together!
- Invest in zip lock bags: These bags are super versatile! Carrying small supplies, bottles, formula, waste containers, snacks…the list goes on and on. Grab a box and hit the road.
- Day-one downtime: It is fun to experience all your vacation has to offer, but there is plenty of time for that. Keep the day of your arrival low-key so family and baby have time to adjust to the new location and restore your body from the travels.
Traveling with a baby is crazy, especially the first go-round, but it is amazing time together. Take mental notes of what works for you and add to this list for future trips. It will get easier!