With the holiday season already in full swing, here are a few tips and tricks for traveling with little ones.
EXTRA TIME. No matter how you are traveling, be sure to give yourself extra leeway with arrival and departure times. Diapers,nursing sessions, potty breaks, and more will make your travel slower. Plan to stop once an hour for car travel, and try to plan for sensible stops along your route (perhaps friends or family or a highway rest area).
TIME OF DAY. Try traveling when the baby or kids are ready to settle in for their usual nap or bedtime so that they sleep for the car ride (or plane ride)! This can be harder with newborns who don’t quite have a schedule, so try to be flexible (arrive early or late as needed)! Also remember that even if you are traveling at night, you’ll likely have the help of family or friends once you arrive (so you can catch up on your rest!).
FOOD. Remember to pack drinks, snacks or even meals for your little ones – a small lunch bag filled with cheese sticks, tomatoes, grapes, cut fruit and veggies, raisins, cooked plain pasta, and whatever else your kids like will keep them occupied (and prevent crankiness)! I also always bring a few high bribe value foods (like pop tarts or fruit snacks) – just in case! You never know when you may need some peace and quiet from an older child when you have to unexpectedly stop and nurse the baby. It also might help to pump a bottle for baby in advance of a car or plane ride just to keep your options open.
ACTIVITIES FOR KIDS. Try wrapping a few toys the kids haven’t seen in a while – it might give them some novelty, and the unwrapping is an activity in and of itself. I also always love to bring color wonder markers and paper, a new pack of crayons and coloring/activity book, and the water painting books (can be repainted with water over and over again). For very long drives or plane rides, don’t hesitate to bring a DVD player or tablet even if you generally don’t do so. Remember to cut yourself some slack – and your kids too! Traveling can be boring and difficult – for everyone! So make it as pain-free as possible. Bring whatever is likely to safely entertain your little one, whatever their age. Also for longer travel by car, consider stopping halfway through at a playground if the weather allows!
DIAPERING/POTTY. Keep a few extra diapers/pullups/undies plus wipes and plastic bags near each child in the car. And bring a travel potty or urinal for your toddler! The idea is to minimize your steps in the cold or in bad weather, and also make the change as quick as possible (especially if you are doing the change in the car). And don’t forget a spare set of clothes for everyone, including mama (and/or dad too)! You never know when spit-up or baby poop will end up on you somehow.
Last but not least, please, PLEASE remember to consider YOUR NEEDS when traveling. Be sure to dress comfortably, and bring water and some snacks to fuel your body – without those you cannot produce milk for your baby or patiently address the many other needs of everyone in the car!
What other tips and tricks do you use when traveling with your baby and older children? Please share with us!
Thank you to Jen Shotto for providing this guest post.