The travel bug in me is real, and it started when I was a baby. I was a month old when I took my first international flight and moved to Taiwan for a few years. By fourth grade, I had visited many other Asian countries and a dozen or so states. They say traveling is healthy and good for your soul. I couldn’t agree more. Plus, the memories are priceless.
When we had kids, some people would give us pitiful looks as they laughed about how we’d never travel again. Joke’s on them! These days, the travel bug has become more of a traveling circus, but I wouldn’t change it for anything.
We took our oldest on a plane when he was 3 months old. My youngest flew when he was 5 months old. Yes, traveling (flying) for the first time with a baby can be intimidating and nerve-wracking. For me, the most stressful part is just packing up your whole house into a suitcase. Sure, you may fight some glances when your child whines or cries (because some people cannot comprehend this). But start domestically (obvi) and be confident in your mom-ing abilities — you’ve got this! And fear not, here are some basic tips to help you be better prepared.
- If you have an infant, babywear! Two words: Hands. Free. Babies that are worn DO NOT need to come out of the carrier. Bag check a LIGHT stroller with your luggage, so you have it for when you land and embark on your awesome adventure.
- Take advantage of the “meet and assist” service that some airlines/airports provide. This means there would someone to help you from boarding through arrival, which is a huge relief when you’re traveling for the first time!
- Carry on goods should include: snacks, a NEW toy (novelty = lengthier play time), change of clothes, all the wipes, and a bottle of milk/formula for takeoff and landing (or just nurse, if you’re breastfeeding). At security, declare your baby food and milk to an agent. Baby food is exempt from liquid regulations, but require extra security measures.
- Pack baby’s meds. Baby Tylenol, gas drops, gripe water–the comfort cures. Sure, you can buy them wherever you go, but if a fever hits or baby is crying in pain from gas, it’s best to already have it on hand.
- Request a pack ‘n play at a hotel or book an AirBNB with family accommodations. Bring your own sheets and blanket. If staying at a hotel, make sure breakfast is included. If staying at an AirBNB, buy groceries to make some of your own meals and save money.
- When given the choice, I always choose beach over pool. It’s just easier to me to sit with a baby where the sand meets the sea, versus pack/buy an inflatable and hold onto baby in a pool. Consider a cruise!
- Research and explore all the family-friendly options at your destination. Stay in an area close to restaurants, a park, and local attractions. Look for family deals that could include free meals and discounted rates. Do the free things! Sometimes, the most fun activities will cost you nothing! Catch an outdoor concert, visit a festival, explore a hiking trail, play in a splash park, stop by a story time at the library. Many museums and tourist attractions often have free/discounted days, so plan accordingly. Always check social media outlets for coupons!
- Be flexible with your plans! I fully admit this was hard for me, initially. I like to maximize my time by seeing/doing all the things, when traveling. Babies are unpredictable. Don’t overdo it with your itinerary. Go with the flow and be prepared for Plan B…and Plan C. Also, be ok with skipping some things if baby isn’t having a good day. Slow down and be realistic about what’s feasible. Cramming too much into a day can mess up nap schedules and make for cranky kids. When we travel, 2 hours everyday is set aside for quiet time when the baby naps. Honestly, it’s been refreshing and makes for a more enjoyable trip.
- Have fun, don’t let the uncontrollable stress you. Take lots of pictures! Make it an adventure!
- Just do it–take the first trip! It may be messy, inconvenient, and just a lot at times, but YOU CAN DO IT. You’ll make memories. You’ll experience things as a family. You’ll get back home. You’ll want to do it again.