Travelling with a baby can be a fun and fulfilling experience. Some may have their reservations, but with a little planning and preparation, you can stick closely to your baby’s usual routine while on the move. This is the key to minimal disruption and stress for the whole family.
While it’s certainly true that being in an unfamiliar place can leave your little one feeling cranky, overstimulated or overtired, following these five travel hacks will help you continue to travel to exotic, exciting and unusual locations. Adventure doesn’t have to stop when parenthood starts!
1. Slow down
If you usually enjoy an action-packed vacation, you may need to accept that life moves at a slightly slower pace with baby in tow. As you’ll be stopping for regular changes, feeds, toilet breaks and the opportunity to rest and refuel yourself (particularly if you’re a breastfeeding Mom) you may not be able to cover as much ground as you’d like. Instead of your usual packed itinerary, try planning only one or two activities or visits each day. Stay flexible, as you may need to change or even cancel plans at short notice. It’s also sensible to avoid paying for excursions in advance, and don’t beat yourself up if you don’t tick off every item on your list.
Spontaneity will ensure you make the most of your time away. If baby takes a long nap, for instance, seize the opportunity to do some sightseeing in town, grab lunch at a nice restaurant or even pop him or her in a sling and go on a hike! If baby’s cranky, cancel a busy activity in favor of some unstructured family time around the pool. It’s far better to thoroughly enjoy a few activities, than to try to do too much and not be able to enjoy any of it!
2. Travel light
Pack the bare minimum for your trip as the lighter you travel, the easier your life on the road will be (especially if you’re moving between locations.) A great rule is not to pack for ‘what ifs’ but include only what you know you’ll use.
You’ll be able to stock up on items like nappies, wipes, sun cream, toiletries and clothing throughout your trip, so include only what you need for travelling. If you’re staying at a hotel or apartment, you may also be able to call ahead and reserve baby equipment like cots, high chairs and even strollers.
Instead of taking a change of clothing for each day, pack some travel detergent so that you can wash and re-wear. Another great tip is to pack matching separates for both you and baby, so if one item gets stained, you only need to replace this, rather than the whole outfit.
Taking along a buggy does have some advantages, but if your trip includes lots of walking and sightseeing, wear your baby or toddler in a good quality sling or carrier. Baby can nap or feed at their leisure, and you are hands free for the day. Not having to lug a buggy up hundreds of steps is a bonus!
3. Expand your horizons
Having a baby may alter your vacation, but it doesn’t mean you have to abandon the road trips, camping holidays or city sightseeing you loved before you became a parent. All you need to do is adapt your plans to account for the youngest member of the family, and you can revisit old favorites or explore new destinations with confidence.
Don’t discount baby-friendly breaks, however, as these can be a great option for families who don’t have much time to plan and organize their trip in advance. Consider self-catering accommodation in a beautiful location for that home-away-from home feeling, go to a holiday park with swimming pools and playgrounds aplenty, or choose a hotel that’s fully kitted-out with babysitting services, kids clubs and family entertainment.
4. Build in some couple or me time
Be sure to build some ‘couple time’ into your vacation, if possible, along with securing some ‘me time’ to indulge in what you enjoy while away from home. If you don’t fancy visiting a family-friendly hotel with a babysitting service, why not vacation with another family and share the childcare duties between you? Mom and Dad can also give each other a few much needed hours of alone time to enjoy a shopping trip, a walk along the beach or a few quiet drinks. You don’t have to plan all your adult time – grab a few stolen moments as and when you can.
5. Take a road trip (or take to the skies)
Whether flying, travelling by rail or taking a road trip, reaching your destination with a baby or toddler on board can be stressful. Pack plenty of drinks and snacks for both you and your little ones, along with lots of entertainment, including games, books, crayons and paper along with your baby’s favorite comfort toy or blanket. Keep some spare clothing close at hand too, for inevitable spills. When flying, you may want to plan a feed at take-off and on landing, to help avoid discomfort in baby’s ears. Taking an aisle seat is advisable for quick access to bathrooms, as is booking online to be seated as a family and completing check-in and check-out online to avoid queues. Also remember that most airports and airlines let families go through the priority lanes at security and at boarding. Fly direct and try to book night flights, where possible, so that you can keep baby in his or her sleep pattern. Dressing your child in their usual nightclothes, reading a story and singing soothing bedtime songs can help remind them of their usual routine.
Make amazing memories
Wherever you choose to vacation as a family, these travelling hacks will ensure that you get the most out of your holiday time, making some amazing memories that last a lifetime.
If you’re interested in taking a baby-friendly holiday, there are many options to consider. Keep an eye on our blog, as we’ll soon be giving you the lowdown on some fantastic baby-friendly vacations.