Traveling with a baby can be stressful if you’re not prepared. Planning from the beginning, even before the trip is booked, can make the experience a lot less stressful and fun experience for the whole family!
My wife and I took my daughter on her first trip when she was two months old. We went to the #1 Beach in America, Clearwater Beach, Florida! Here’s what we learned about traveling with a baby. These tips will help you keep traveling with a baby fun and relaxing!
Tips For Planning the Trip with a Baby
When planning to travel with a baby, the first thing you need to figure out is if your baby is even old enough to travel! I found that most airlines would allow babies to travel starting at just 2 weeks old! That was a bit early for me.
My wife and I also asked our pediatrician some questions about traveling with our daughter and he recommended waiting until ~2 months old. This would allow for her immune system to develop a little bit more and she would have some vaccinations as well. Regardless of age, I recommend asking your pediatrician if your baby is ready to travel for the first time just to be safe.
It also wouldn’t hurt to check with the airline about their rules for flying with a baby before booking tickets. You may want to ask things such as if you need to buy a ticket for your child (usually free), how to register a child for a ticket, what paperwork is required for the child to travel, etc. Understand what is needed and the check-in process of traveling with a baby will help make the travel day much easier.
When talking with the airline, you can also ask questions about the TSA rules and how to get through security. Getting through security can be more difficult with everything for the baby, including liquids such as breastmilk (frozen or not) or even the pump equipment.
Another way to make getting through security even easier is the register for TSA PreCheck. “With a 5 year, $85 membership, you can speed through security and don’t need to remove your: shoes, laptops, liquids, belts and light jackets.” This speeds the whole process up and makes it easier when your hands are already full with your child, your bags, their bags, car seat, stroller, etc. If you sign up from TSA PreCheck, your child does not have to sign up, they will be approved to go through TSA PreCheck with you until age 12. Children 13 and older must have their own TSA PreCheck approval.
Speaking of carrying all of that stuff through security, you may not have to take as much as you think you do. If you’re going to rent a vehicle, check with the rental company to see if they also rent car seats – you may not have to unlatch your car seat from your car (which is difficult on its own) and relatch and unlatch in the rental cars as well.
You can also talk with your hotel or condo management company and see if they can provide anything for your baby, such as a Pack n Play and possibly even a high chair. If you’re staying with us at B&W Management, ask us what all we can provide for you! Pack less, relax, and enjoy your stay on America’s #1 Best Beach!
Packing Tips for a Baby
When it comes to packing for a baby, my #1 tip is not to pack everything into a checked bag. Pack a carry on that includes enough clothes, diapers, and wipes for your baby for roughly two days. Packing a smaller carry on will keep you fully prepared for any unknown issues that may popup such as lost luggage, missed flights, or even just a surprising second blow out on travel day (and a diaper bag that needed just one more change of clothes than it had in it).
Second tip: you don’t need everything. You’re packing too much. Pack light so you don’t have to carry so much. You’re already going to be carrying more than you used to. Check to see if you have access to a washer and dryer. (Our beachfront condos all come with a washer and dryer directly in each condo!) If they do, pack fewer clothes for your baby and less for you! Just do a quick load of laundry while you’re on vacation. Don’t pack so many diapers, wipes, sunscreen, medications, etc… there are many grocery stores (and Target) nearby Clearwater Beach, and if you’re going somewhere else I’m sure you’ll be able to find a store nearby as well. Instead of packing everything for a week or longer – pack for a few days and make a quick stop to buy what you need when you arrive at your destination.
When making a packing list, don’t forget to add things such as a sound machine and the baby monitor. A sound machine will help block out unusual noises of sleeping in a new location. A baby monitor will allow you to keep an eye on your baby while in different areas of the condo – including sitting on the balcony overlooking the beach!
Travel Day Tips with a Baby
When it comes to driving, there are not many tips I have to offer. Prepare for frequent stops if needed, bring snacks, relax, and take turns driving/relaxing/entertaining the baby.
If you’re flying with your baby, I have some tips to help with that. In addition to packing light… arrive early. You’ll need to check-in with your baby at the desk area of your airline. They’ll need to print additional boarding passes for you and your baby.
If you are bringing a stroller and car seat, see if they have the ability to connect. If they do, use it! It’s worth being able to connect them and not have to carry them separately. Don’t check the stroller and car seat when you check bags, gate check them. Gate checking the stroller and car seat allows you to use them until right before boarding the flight! If your child is young enough not to need a stroller, consider not bringing one. You may be able to get away with just using a baby carrier. These are much smaller, making travel easier. We didn’t bring a stroller on our trip to Clearwater Beach, and we didn’t miss it. The baby carrier worked very well. Also, strollers don’t work well in sand. I saw a couple of people fighting with their strollers on the beach throughout the week – they all get stuck and are not useful.
My last two tips, and probably most important flying tips!
#1. Before boarding the plane, change your baby’s diaper. You have way more space. It’s much more manageable before getting on the plane with enclosed space.
#2. Feed your baby during take-off and landing. Feeding your baby during these times helps the baby clear the pressure build-up that causes ear pain. Babies don’t know how to clear their ears yet, they need help, and breastfeeding or taking a bottle during take-off and landing helps!
Traveling with a Baby Tips
Once your vacation starts, relax, and stay flexible. Things will not go as planned, and it is okay. Enjoy showing your baby more of the world (even if they’re sleeping and don’t see much of it). Enjoy the new experiences with them. The texted of soft sand, the warm water, watching the seagulls fly, and when they’re napping in your arms enjoy holding them with beautiful beach views.
If your baby has set nap schedules and bedtimes (my daughter does, and she tells me if I don’t follow her rules) do your best to keep those schedules. Our condos offer full kitchens to cook in for your favorite foods. If you want some local food for dinner but it’s almost bedtime for the baby, no worries, many places deliver or have delicious to-go orders, and it’s still hot and warm when you get it back to the condo.
If you feel like people are watching you, they probably aren’t. But sometimes they actually are but they’re usually remembering the times they’ve spent with their families, admiring your family and seeing your happiness makes them happy as well. If you’re in a less than happy moment and are struggling, know everyone has been there and if someone offers help even if it’s just by holding the door because your hands are full – allow help when it will help.
Relax, play, and enjoy a wonderful family vacation with your baby!
What tips would you add to these? I’ll be taking another trip with my daughter soon and I’m always open to more advice on traveling with a baby, and now a soon to be toddler!
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