Tips to Travel Well
Don’t think your traveling days are over just because you have a baby or two. Just consider your kids a new dynamic added to your itinerary. Your once leisurely pace will have to take a backseat to the new cargo you will be bringing along. Whether you’ve got a new bundle of joy or a toddling tot, vacations and trips are meant for enjoyment and memory making, so here are a few helpful suggestions that will make smoother sailing for you.
This is the most important bit of advice you should remember when traveling with children of any age. So your toddler didn’t eat a very nutritious lunch or your afternoon flight is really screwing up your baby’s nap? Just remember to be flexible and improvise. “When I first started traveling with our daughter, my anxiety and stress would sometimes ruin the whole trip, and it made everyone miserable. I had to teach myself how to relax,” says Maggie Hall, Olathe. When traveling, you are already taking your family out of its natural environment and schedule, it’s inevitable. You just need to scale down your expectations, be realistic and go with the flow. You will have a better time and so will everyone else around you.
Preparation Is Key
You can never over pack, because the moment you don’t have it is the moment you need it. “I would spend weeks preparing for a trip, laying our luggage out in the dining room, making piles and lists of the things I thought I would need,” Michelle Danielson, Leawood, says. Make a list of all the essentials for baby and the products you use every day. Travel lighter by finding travel sizes; they will be perfect for cramped suitcases, diaper bags and hotel rooms.
Before you even leave, call ahead to reserve your crib at the hotel. If you plan on eating at an unfamiliar restaurant, check to see whether they have a children’s menu or highchairs. Airports require specific documents for children to fly. Make sure you get all of this information before you head out the door—you’ll be glad you did later.
Safe and Sound
Our homes are undoubtedly baby proof; we have prepared them as we move from each stage and know what our child’s next move is. However, Grandma’s house is another story. Although many households will be accommodating for baby, they won’t think of everything. Take the essential step to pack your own child safety kit, including electrical outlet covers, noninvasive cabinet locks, doorknob handle covers and, if possible, a gate. It’s also a good idea to do a quick check around the home or condo to see what is in hands’ reach.
Get the Gear
Evaluate your baby gear: What is travel friendly and light enough to lug from airport terminal to rental car? Take a practice run. Are you able to fold it easily on your own with a baby strapped to your side? Before you embark on this journey, take note of the things that will be essential for baby or toddler. Is a swing a must? Do you have to check the car seat? If you are renting a condo or staying with family for a week and are in need of other baby equipment, there are many companies that provide equipment for rental, so you don’t have to hassle. Just make sure you call ahead of time to reserve.
Engage and Entertain
When traveling, entertainment and engagement are key factors to making a pleasant and enjoyable experience. Pack your baby’s favorite items, but avoid the toys that drive you bonkers. It is also important to consider the type of transit you will be taking or whether you will be going out to eat during your trip. Will Baby be sitting on your lap or will she be in the backseat of a car? If you are on Pinterest, you know about baby/toddler busy bags. Make a few of these; they will be perfect to pull out in any situation during your trip. Portable DVD players are great for the car, and iPads and iPhones have thousands of kid-friendly apps to download, plus movies and music for them to enjoy.
Plan Frequent Stops
Traveling might be a little much for your little companion, so to ensure a happy camper, plan to take stops and breaks along the way. Maybe the newness of the beach is wearing off or he is getting antsy in the backseat. Switch things up. Bring along plenty of snacks for your little one, too. Or take the approach of Lori Grant, Raymore: “When we are on a road trip, we have all the McDonald’s play places mapped out so we can stop with our son. It’s a nice break for him and us.”
Jennifer Duxbury is a mother and freelance writer from Belton who is super excited about the trips they will be taking this summer.