Whether you’re packing up the car to visit the in-laws or flying off to the coast, the idea of traveling with your newest family member probably fills you with excitement and dread in equal measure − particularly if you’re first-time parents. The first year is actually the best time to travel with your child, mainly because she will be portable and you won’t have to chase after her. “The first time we traveled internationally with our daughter, Kitana, she was 13-months-old. We took her to Sri Lanka and it was a trip and a half. Traveling with a toddler who has just discovered that she can walk can be more difficult than with an infant,” says Shaney Vijendranath, mommy blogger at youbabyandi.com.
Pack smart and light
Shaney recommends always packing your baby’s clothes in a separate bag. “It makes it easier to ensure you keep your little one’s toys, shoes and clothing together without mixing them up or forgetting items during your journey. My top tip is using clear bags such as sandwich airlock bags for shoes and toiletries, or just puting them into a clean nappy sack to avoid any leakage. Roll the clothing neatly, don’t fold. Tightly rolled clothes take up less space than folded items.
If possible, take your own bathtub and bath toys for your baby. The foldable bathtub has always been a life saver for us. I felt comfortable knowing her bathtub was clean and it really helped in the hotels that didn’t have a bath. Hygiene is a big issue when traveling with a baby,” she adds.
Keep it simple
Pack enough nappies and wipes for the duration of the trip. However, if you’re going to visit family or somewhere with a shop to buy nappies, bring what you need until you can go to the shops. The less you have to carry, the better. Be sure to take all the important first-aid supplies for you and your baby. It’s a good idea to get a small first-aid kit that can fit in a nappy bag, Shaney advises. Include useful phone numbers in the kit, such as emergency numbers in the places you are visiting and your insurance contacts.
Baby travel essentials checklist
- Lightweight travel system
- Travel cot (find out if your accommodation will supply one. If not, you may have to bring your own portable cot)
- Baby carrier or sling
- Bed and bath supplies
- Feeding equipment (including sterilising equipment)
- Food and drink supplies (pureed food sold in pouches is perfect for travelling with a baby who has just started solids)
- Nappies (if you are going to the beach or pool, take your own supply of swim nappies as they can be hard to find)
- Clothing (include warm clothes and hats for the sun)
- Sunscreen of at least SPF 15
- Medicines and a hand sanitiser.
Pack a few of your baby’s favourite toys and books from home – they will keep her entertained in the car or on the flight. They can also help pass the time in the hotel room and make her feel a little more secure by keeping aspects of her normal routine intact. Bring at least five favourite toys and three books, depending on how long you will be away for. You may want to introduce a new toy or book to keep your little one amused throughout the trip, but stick to familiar toys and books at bedtime.
- Try to travel at off-peak times or days so you will have more space and fewer other passengers to worry about.
- Arrive early enough to get through check-in and security screenings without racing to the gate.
- For ease around the airport, you can use your stroller right up until you board the plane.
- If you’re still breastfeeding, offer the breast and, if not, offer a pacifier to help relieve your baby’s ear pressure while flying.
- Driving to your holiday destination may be the cheapest way to get there. Driving also gives you control over when and where to stop, which is important when there’s a baby or toddler on board.
- If your baby sleeps well in the car, plan your departure time to coincide with her regular nap time or bed time so she will sleep through part of the journey.
- If your baby sleeps better in her own bed, consider leaving first thing in the morning.
Our experienced editors work with trained journalists and qualified experts to compile accurate, insightful and helpful information about pregnancy, birth, early childhood development and parenting. Our content is reviewed regularly by our panel of advisors, which include medical doctors and healthcare professionals. Meet the Living & Loving Team and our Online Experts.