Say after me: Getaways with young kids are not a vacation, they’re a trip. Now that you’ve set the right expectations, check out these baby travel hacks that will make your trip a little less work and a lot more enjoyable for you and everyone else involved. Whether you’re flying with a baby or taking a road trip, these are the keys to a good getaway.
1. Plan activities.
For older babies who are active and staying up for longer stretches, plan simple activities to pass the time and keep them engaged. One idea: Bring a water bottle filled with pom-poms for your little one to take out and put back in. And bring interactive books to hold your babe’s attention.
2. Ship diapers and wipes to your destination.
You have enough stuff to squeeze into suitcases. Use a service like Amazon to send diapers and wipes ahead of time to your destination. If you’re staying at a hotel, ask them if they’ll accept deliveries prior to your arrival.
3. Nurse or feed your baby during takeoff.
This is an important one. To help your little one deal with pressure changes in the cabin during takeoff (and landing!) that could make them uncomfortable, nurse or give your baby a bottle at that time. The sucking distracts your child and alleviates much of the discomfort.
4. Request a portable crib in your hotel reservation.
Most hotels will offer a portable crib at no extra cost. Request it in your reservation, so you can make other arrangements if the hotel informs you they can’t provide it. Pro tip: Bring your own crib sheets with you. They won’t take up much space in your luggage and will be soft and smell familiar to help your child drift off to sleep in their new location.
5. Baby-wear to keep hands free.
Definitely bring your baby carrier or wrap. This frees up your hands for carrying luggage and other important items, like handing your ID and boarding pass to TSA. Plus, being close to you will likely keep your baby calm and happy in unfamiliar, sometimes stressful, environments. If you’re traveling by car, keep your wrap on or your carrier easily accessible, like on the floor right by baby’s carseat, so it’s quick and easy to put on at every stop.
6. Wear a badge to hold your ID, ticket and baby’s birth certificate.
You know those clear name-card badge holders they distribute at conferences, with a lanyard? Use one of those to hold your license, boarding pass and baby’s birth certificate. No digging through your purse or running the risk of it falling out of your pocket. Simple, accessible and no fuss.
7. Simplify the car seat situation.
If you’re flying, you can usually check your car seat at the ticketing desk for no charge (call ahead to confirm with your airline). Make sure they put a plastic bag over it (you can also purchase a sturdy bag for your car seat online). Or, if you want to eliminate the hassle of bringing it with you, arrange to include a car seat in your rental car. If you’re taking ride-sharing services, check their app to see if they offer cars with car seats in that area.
8. Pack odor-blocking diaper sacks.
A blow-out at 30,000 feet or in the middle of the desert with no trashcan in sight doesn’t have to be a total disaster. Pack Arm & Hammer diaper dispenser bags or even just plastic grocery bags to mask the smell of the dirty diaper. Nobody wants to lug a stinky diaper around or assault others’ noses, but at least this will make it a little more pleasant.
9. Pack a baby essentials kit.
Keep a pacifier, wipes, sanitizing wipes, pacifier wipes and other essentials easily accessible, in your purse or diaper bag. This goes for flights and road trips. When there’s a mess or a howling baby, you’ll want to access these items as quickly as possible.
10. Bring snacks—for baby and you.
Pack simple, low-mess snacks for your baby, like puffs or pouches. And it’s important you stay fed as well. Pack protein-filled snacks to keep you energized during your travels and a decadent treat as well. If drama ensues, you’re going to want the good stuff to help you through it.
11. Keep extra clothes in your carry-on bag.
Keep an extra outfit for baby and a shirt for you in your carry-on or diaper bag for air and car travel. The goal is to keep it easily accessible so when a blowout, spit-up or other potentially outfit-ruining scenarios happen, you can solve it without having to wait for landing and checked baggage retrieval.
12. Think location, location, location for the hotel room.
When you book your hotel room, ask for it to be away from the elevators, pool and vending/ice machines. While you can’t control if the hotel room is perfectly noise-free, choosing your room carefully will help make it a quiet space.
13. Pack a noisemaker to help baby sleep.
Increase the quiet factor in your room by bringing a small, portable noise machine with you to mask noise from other rooms. Don’t want to haul something else with you? Download free white noise or wave sounds to play from your phone or tablet.
14. Do a thorough check of the hotel and car before leaving.
Before checking out or returning the rental car, look under beds, under seats, the trunk and glove compartment, because something will likely be left there. And always double-check that your baby’s favorite lovey and stuffie is with you at every transition and location change.