You know the only thing that realistically prepares you for traveling with kids? Actually doing it! We started with her first trip at 3 months so I feel like we’ve learned some tips along the way through experience but also advice from others.
I recently compiled a list of my must haves to bring on our next vacation we had planned. Unfortunately, given the circumstances around the world right now, it looks as though that trip may be postponed. I still thought it might be helpful to do this post and share a few things I’ve learned/have purchased for Charlotte’s excursions because I’ve seen so many questions on this topic floating around Instagram. And let’s be honest- we’re all going to be in need of a serious vacation after this is over.
Tips & Must Haves For Baby/Toddler Travel
1. Start a list early with everything you use for your baby from morning til bedtime. Doing it in this order helps to cut down on things you might forget. Typically, I’m not the type to vastly overpack for myself but for Charlotte, I shutter to think of forgetting something important that could make vacation more stressful than it needs to be.
Example of our list: Pack and Play, baby sling or backpack to wear if you’re traveling with an infant, toiletries (soap, diaper rash cream, clippers, brush, diapers, swim diapers, sunscreen (This one is my favorite) and a towel. Of course bringing enough outfits for all activities and a few extra for unforseen circumstances is important. We also always bring toys that we know will comfort her and make her feel at home but not too many that are too special because you never know when something may get lost. If it’s a beach trip, she’ll need swimsuits, water shoes that won’t slide off like these, a towel, some toys for the sand and our top must have- a beach tent. We have this one and wouldn’t want to be without it. Obviously if you’re looking to spend much time at all by the water, you’re going to need plenty of shade and things to occupy your little one. On our last trips to the beach, Charlotte was even able to comfortably nap in the tent which was SO helpful to us. We also like to bring her a little bag to carry around since mama always has a beach bag. I really love Target’s tote selection like this one or this little seashell option.
2. Try your best to maintain your child’s schedule. While this may interrupt your plans, we certainly think it’s well worth it. In our experience, vacations and all the changes that come along can throw off your little ones. When my child doesn’t get her regular sleep at the times that she’s used to, she is not a happy camper. Going back to the room early may not seem fun at the time but will most likely improve your next day. We like to have in-home date nights during this time and make it fun with a movie and take-out usually.
3. Plan drive times for sleeping times if it’s a road trip. We typically like to drive to the destination when Charlotte is sleeping at night. Obviously this one only works if your child will sleep in the car. If it’s an extra long road trip, I highly advise breaking it up into multiple days with fun and entertaining stops along the way. If we were flying, I personally would not choose to do so at night though. I think this one depends on your child. Charlotte needs darkness and her own space to sleep so the dark car and vibration of the road work very well for her.
4. If at all possible, get a hotel suite or house/condo. We’ve tried the “put the pack and play in the bathroom thing” (and have made it work) but honestly, having another room for her is worth just getting the condo or house in our book at this stage. Our issue is that the hotel bathrooms are often quite small and have little temperature control. As she gets a bit older, that won’t be necessary and we can go back to cheaper vacations where she’ll be fine staying up later and sleeping near us.
5. Snacks, snacks and more snacks everywhere you go especially if you’re vacationing somewhere with lines. If you have the space, buying the snacks back home will likely be more cost efficient.
Just remember that while a trip as a new parent will certainly be different than your previous ones, it’ll be even more special. There’s nothing like exploring a new place through your child’s eyes.