You and your partner were drawn to each other by your shared wanderlust. No place was too far or exotic for your insatiable appetite of adventure. Now that there is a baby in the mix, get a passport, stat! The wanderlust must continue. Travel with a baby in tow takes a little extra planning to make sure everyone is safe and having fun.
Here are my top 5 tips to getting everything together and getting out in the world—with your baby.
Get one sooner than later. It will be one last thing you have to worry about when planning a trip.
- Everything you need to know about getting the proper documentation, to the baby’s identification picture, can be found on the U.S. Department of State site. Note: You and your baby must be present to apply for a passport. If both parents cannot be present, here are your options.
- Don’t forget to check the expiration on your own passports! Many countries require your passport expiration to be within six months of your travel dates.
If you insist on letting the direction of the wind lead you where you may, unless it’s a sailing adventure, then this article is not for you. A little planning goes a long way when traveling with baby.
- Consult friends who have traveled to your desired location.
- If that does not pan out, Lonely Planet guides have been my go-to since college and have never lead me wrong.
- Build an itinerary in Google Docs with the option to share—say, with your mom, who will be a nervous wreck while you take her grandchild to a foreign country. An itinerary, even a loose one, can help optimize your fun.
While planning the fun stuff, take some time to plan for the What Ifs.
- Consider looking at some of these sites for any red alerts or health concerns: Travel Warnings, Center for Disease Control (hello, Covid/Zika). Also call your health insurance provider to know what is covered out of the country and if you should consider travel insurance.
- Make copies of your passports and pack them separately from your actual passports. Perhaps even jot down a note of the closest embassy.
- Utilize the hotel concierge before you get there for all the specific information you may need like car rentals, local doctors, and babysitting services.
4. Luggage and packing
Face it, for now, you have to haul more stuff. While it’s a pain to lug this stuff around, it would be more of a pain to be a million miles from home without it and no way to procure it.
- Pack the family in one large suitcase and check it curbside. The secret to enjoying travel with children is convenience. Think security lines, going to the restroom... running to catch your flight! Most airlines will check your car seat, stroller and baby carrier at the curb or gate for FREE. Check with your airline before you go.
- While you can wear the same outfit more than once, a baby cannot. Don’t skimp on the extra clothes for the baby.
- If your baby is eating solids you may want to bring some along. In some countries, you have to be very cautious about food and travelers’ sickness. Prepackaged pouches are very convenient as they are lightweight and quick on the draw. Though, a huge part of traveling is experiencing the cuisine.
5. Surviving the flight
- Put your baby in nighttime diapers. When the fasten seatbelt sign is on and you are stuck in your seat, they will buy you some extra time.
- My favorite plane toys include wind-up toys that can hop around on the tray table, interactive books and soft fabric blocks.
- If your baby is under 30 pounds (depends on airline), you may be able to get a bassinet for the flight. Check with the airline as these need to be reserved ahead of time and require a bulkhead seat. If you get one, and your baby sleeps in it, IT’S WONDERFUL.
You have done a lot of work to get here. Now try to relax, make beautiful memories and show your offspring what a pleasure it is to travel the world. You might be in bed/hotel room every night at 8... But on this vacation, take the time to catch up on your sleep, read a book or spend some alone time with your partner.