With the silly season almost here, it’s the perfect moment to start planning your Christmas family holiday. Yet the thought of travelling with a baby during the busiest time of year creates a cold sweat in most parents. Caring for a little one is demanding enough when you’re at home. Why on earth would you throw in the stress of being on the road too?
But take Karen Edwards: a mum who spent her year of maternity leave travelling the world with her newborn in tow. Her two young children are growing up all over the globe, learning about different cultures and people up close. That’s an education you can’t get from a picture book or TV show.
Your bub can travel as soon as they’re born, or as soon as you can set them up with a passport. And more importantly, you do still have the freedom to explore somewhere new; now you just have an adorable dependent along for the adventure.
That’s why we’ve pulled together some practical tips on better surviving travel with a baby – so you can start the holiday season with more prep and less stress.
Do your research
If caring for a baby is all about organisation, preparing for a trip with one is surely the Parenting Grand Final – so bring your A-game to your holiday planning. Double-check that your accommodation has a cot and high chair, or that your rental car comes with a car seat. Holly Rust of Scary Mommy takes trip planning to the next level by scheduling her family’s travel times during naptime: ‘At first the excitement will take over, but once they feel the vibration of the plane – it’s lights out!’
Find out whether your fussy infant’s preferred formula or baby food is available where you’re going, and what substitutes you can feed them if not. Lisa of Fun Money Mom also recommends sniffing out the local attractions and eateries where kids can get in free or get a big discount – brining a smile to your toddler’s face and your travel bill.
For mums whose previous travel plans were ‘go with the flow’, all this advanced prep may require some getting used to. But you’ll be thankful in the long run, when you know where to buy nappies at 11pm in an unfamiliar city.
Pack lightly, but wisely
I see you, mums lugging around baby bags that are twice the size of their actual baby! Although babies have a lot of baggage by nature, be ruthless when packing. Don’t add to the struggle of finding their important bits and pieces when you need it most. Look into renting bulky necessities such as prams and cribs at your destination, and invest in multi-purpose items such as muslin wraps. Make your baby carrier your new best friend for hands-free travel.
Yashy Murphy from Baby & Life recommends bringing along a special bag packed with your toddler’s favourite snacks and toys to keep them occupied. Trust us – any item that can keep your bub not-screaming during long flights or car rides is essential for all involved.
When it comes to medication, babies can take the same paracetamol tablets as adults – simply crush or absorb in water the correct measurement for your baby’s weight. Also, check with your GP about purchasing powder antibiotics ahead of your travels. Their expiry date is significantly extended in this form, and you can easily add water later if needed.
Relax during the flight
Yes, some rude passengers may throw you and your young family a dirty look during boarding. But according to JetBlue, 65% of adults understand that parents can’t control whether their baby cries in-flight. And you know who loves babies? Pretty much everyone.
So don’t spend your whole flight worrying and trying to keep your baby well behaved. Flight attendants will be sympathetic to you, so ask them for assistance when needed – especially if bub is at that squirmy age where they want to crawl in the aisles or climb over the seats.
Giving your baby something to drink or suck on during takeoff and landing also helps prevent ear pain caused by the cabin’s air pressure. Squeeze food pouches and non-perishable snacks such as dried fruit and nuts are a godsend inflight, as well as hydrolyte (which helps combat dehydration in the air and in warmer climates).
Remember it’s your holiday too
Travelling with a young family is special, and of course you want your little ones to have the time of their lives. But don’t forget that you’re going on holiday with them too! Even the most selfless of mums need a break every now and again.
Many resorts nowadays have nannies or childcare facilities, so make the most of your stay. If your baby is only distracted for a few hours finger painting at a hotel play group, this still allows you the precious opportunity to unwind in your favourite ways – whether that’s exploring the local sights or laying by the pool with a bottomless cocktail.
Just remember: a happy, relaxed mum is a parent who can create new bonds with their child, during and after your travels.
What’s your number one travel tip for babies or toddlers this Christmas?