Jet Set Baby

Traveling with a new baby can be intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. As we approach the travel season, many families may be traveling with their babies for the first time.

While domestic travel is certainly the easiest, even international trips are possible. After traveling to Australia (24-hour flight) with a six month old, I’ve learned some tips that may make traveling a little less stressful.

For starters, it is important to do your homework up front, especially if traveling internationally. Consult your doctor to see if your trip may require any special planning. For example, are there foreseeable complications with feeding, or the availability or quality of formula or medication? Check with your doctor and your insurance carrier to see what the best medical options are in case your little does get sick, and bring phone numbers just in case. We did end up having to call our pediatrician, which was much easier than trying to find one there.

If you are traveling internationally, start the passport process early. We were turned down at the post office for infant passport pictures, and after searching, finally found that Costco would take them. Also, call the airline and request seating together and a bulkhead if possible. Let them know you’ll be traveling with a little one; we were able to get bulkhead with a built-in bassinet for infants.

Travel Light
Plan to travel as light as possible, but also make sure your have enough supplies, diapers, wipes, and formula to make it through (un)expected delays. We opted to go without the stroller and used a backpack carrier (or Moby wrap) at the airports. We found it was easiest to bring both pre-made formula and pre-measured powder, as this reduced bulk and didn’t require refrigeration. Bring an empty water bottle and plan to fill it after security check points. We also only brought a couple bottles, as packing materials to wash bottles was lighter and less space consuming than bringing enough bottles to last a 14 hour flight. Be sure to pack all the essentials, diapers, food, toys, and medication, in your carry-on, and plan for flight delays. Also, be prepared for lost luggage, in this case, many essentials can be purchased, diapers and formula are easy, but make sure you have any medications, essential toys, blankets, or comfort items with you.

Take off and landings get progressively harder for infants, the fewer in any 24 time frame the better, so if possible, direct flights are the easiest. Try to time feedings so that they coincide with take off and landings, as swallowing will help relieve pressure buildup in the ears. Alternatively, be prepared with a pacifier. It’s also impossible to pack enough amusing items for little ones on long flights, so be prepared to improvise. It is amazing how entertaining a water bottle, cell phone, watch or bracelet can be.

Call your destination ahead of time to see if necessities are available to rent. If you’re traveling to visit family or friends, they can help. We had my sister-in-law rent a car seat, stroller and pack and play ahead of time, so she was able to install the car seat and have everything ready for us when we arrived.

Plan for the Weather
Consider the climate of your destination and pack accordingly. To accommodate destinations closer to the sun, sunglasses and a hat may be advisable. Plan early, as these items may be difficult to find in stores, and may need to be purchased online. Also, consult a doctor to find baby safe sun block or insect repellent, pack a child-friendly first aid kit and make sure you have your child’s health history and ID information.

Kicking Back
Finally, try to relax and have fun. Work together with your spouse or travel partner and know that even if everything doesn’t go exactly as planned, minor setbacks or challenges are just that, minor. Keep the big picture in mind. Your little one is remarkably well in tune with you, so the less stress you feel, the better your little one will do. The travel, after all, is only a means to an end. Whether it is introducing your baby to their grandparents, aunts, uncles, or cousins, or just getting away from home for some much needed R&R, be sure to enjoy the trip and try not to worry so much about the travel part.

This spring, we’ll share tips on traveling with kids in cars.

– Jeremy Lipton

1 Response to “Jet Set Baby”

  1. 1 Jen Adler March 21, 2011 at 9:32 pm

    And the family waiting at the other end will undoubtedly appreciate the effort taken to get there!

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