I often hear mothers saying that they cannot take holidays as they have a baby or a toddler or they have to leave the baby with grandparents or maids if they want to take a holiday. Some couples like to travel with maids, but that is their choice and I would not like to comment on it. Coming back to the issue of travelling with your little one. With my experience I feel, it might not be the easiest thing to do but it certainly is not the most difficult thing as well.
Undoubtedly, the concept of a holiday changes when you have a child travelling with you. You mentally need to be ready for that if you are travelling with your child. You possibly cannot go to a night club and dance the night away. My 15-month-old has been on 22 flights (2 international ones) and three road trips. Her first flight and road trip was when she was three months old. We have enjoyed all our trips with her, and I have seen the change in her too when she travels.
Her fear of water went away on our Goa trip and then every time we traveled she looked forward to splashing in the pool with her father. She enjoys spending time with my husband as these are the times her dad is all hers all day. I also have become less stressed with respect to her food and schedules as the holidays have taught me to be flexible. We all enjoy our family breaks. From my experience, I have listed some tips which might make it easier to travel with a baby.
You have to go with the flow when you travel with a baby. Babies do not have concentration spans to do long hours of sightseeing. Holidays with simple schedules and itineraries should be preferred. You need to be mentally ready to make adjustments and thus, do not plan too many things in a day. I suggest take holidays to places where you have been earlier and where you do not have much to do. Paying for day trips or excursions is not advisable as you might need to work around the baby’s schedule of feeding and naps.
As discussed already, try and plan trips to family destinations which is equipped for the little travelers. A nature resort or a beach destination or a kid friendly hotel are always recommended as the main idea here is to laze around and enjoy your time with the kids. Any crowded place or a place where there is too much to do will be difficult to manage. Also, when planning the sightseeing trips, try and ensure the places have ramps or lifts for the stroller. Else you will end up carrying the baby and the stroller. There are many hotels today, which are kids friendly and have special meals and cribs and baby seats for them. While booking the hotel do check for such amenities.
Food and Drinks
Be well stocked with respect to food, milk and drinks for the baby. Babies tend to ask for more water on flights as they feel dehydrated or they can be picky eaters on trips. Depending on how old the baby is, carry enough food. For children who are less than six months and are breastfed, there is no hassle at all. For the formula fed, carry enough formula and never depend on buying it at the destination. For older kids who have started solids carry cheese, food items like cerelac or other ready to eat products. I never gave my daughter packaged food when we are home, but this comes in handy when we travel. As soon as she was one, we did carry cerelac for emergency but she ate whatever we managed to get in the hotel. Most of the hotels will take your special request and prepare something simple for the baby.
Plan your travel
When planning your flights or time of road travel, choose options where there are chances of the baby to sleep. This helps them and you travel in peace. Kids will not always do what you want them to, but choosing the options keeping their schedule in mind makes it easier. Babies usually tend to sleep in the car seat, so plan a few stops depending on when they get up and do not force them to wake them up as they might become cranky then.
Packing is a tricky affair when you travel with a baby. The diaper bag must be well stocked and you must carry everything spare in the suitcase as well. Pack few books and toys to keep them entertained. Depending on the age of the baby and their likes and dislikes, do carry a few things to keep them busy or distract them. I try and carry a new book or toy when we do a long trip as this surprises her and keeps her busy. Also, never leave your packing for the last minute. Make a list and pack well in advance to avoid leaving something necessary. Some things which you must carry are:
Diapers: Carry extra diapers than what you expect you will need. Emergencies do not come announced.
Wipes: Wipes are not only needed for nappy changes but also come in handy for cleaning hands and face.
Plastic Bags: Carry these to easily throw away soiled diapers.
Hand Sanitizer: This comes in handy to clean hands after diaper changes
Changing Mat: You might not get a clean surface to clean the baby so the mat is essential.
Diaper Rash Cream: Don’t let the baby get upset with a rash so always carry one.
Bibs: Carry both disposable and regular bibs to avoid messy clothes.
Bottles/Utensils: Carry the baby’s bottles and essential utensils to feed them on the go. I always carried a travel sterilizer or microwave bags. There are other options available also like sterilizing tablets.
Change: Always carry clothes to change in times of an emergency.
Extras: Carry everything you have packed in the diaper bag for the entire trip. This also helps if something happens to the diaper bag.
Clothes: Carry on an average two change of clothes per day and a few extra. Never underestimate the clothes you will need.
Weather Related: Pack essentials depending on the weather. With babies, it is always safe to carry a light jacket.
Night Suits: I carry one per day and one or two extras and I have never had a problem.
Toiletries: Make a small bag with essential toiletries so that the baby is clean and comfortable.
Swimming Gear: Carry a swimsuit and swim diapers to enjoy the pool time with your brat.
Medication: Carry common medicines for the baby like for fever, cold and diarrhea. Also carry a thermometer and basic first aid kit.
Collapsible Pram/Stroller: This is very important to let the baby relax and move around.
Travelling is an experience and a wonderful way of learning for the children and in my opinion, we should not deprive them of this. As parents, we only have a few years to travel and enjoy with them. Before you realize they will grow up and would want to holiday with friends and their partners. Travelling with them is not very difficult. Go with the flow and enjoy yourself. Don’t wait teaching your child to love travelling.