So you’ve decided to venture into the great unknown—baby’s first vacation. If you’ve never traveled with your infant before, it can sound like a daunting task. Vacations are supposed to be a relaxing escape from the daily grind, and adding a cranky little human into the mix might not always sound like the most ideal way to get some much needed R&R.
But don’t let those initial doubts scare you away from planning a family vacation with your baby. With the correct preparation and the right destination, travelling with your little one can be an incredibly rewarding experience.
Feeling stressed about your upcoming vacation and need to get some answers quick? Use the links below to skip straight to it:
- What Should I Pack to Bring on Vacation with my Baby?
- How Old Should My Baby Be Before Going on Vacation?
- How Do I Have a Stress-Free Flight with my Baby?
- What are the Best Places to Vacation with a Baby?
What Should I Pack to Bring on Vacation with my Baby?
The key to a successful vacation with your baby is to create a detailed packing list. The quantity and variety of items you’ll need depends on where you’re going and how long you’ll be staying there. Beach vacation? Pack plenty of sunscreen, bathing suits, and floppy hats. Headed to a cabin in the mountains? Make sure you stock up on warm sweaters, bug repellent, and cozy socks.
Apart from these destination-specific items, there are plenty of products you should bring no matter where you’re traveling to. While you might want to pack up every single thing you own to make sure you’re prepared, try to resist that urge. Packing lightly will save you money, time, and energy—you already have enough stress on your hands being a new parent.
If you’re struggling to figure out what to bring on vacation with your baby, here’s our Baby’s First Vacation Packing List:
- Diapers: Bring more than you think you might need, but don’t buy out the entire diaper aisle at Target. This includes wipes, baby powder, and any other products you might need to perform a successful diaper change while in transit.
- A travel crib: This is a necessity if you want to get your baby to sleep soundly during your getaway. We recommend having them sleep in the crib for a few nights prior to travel, that way it feels like a source of comfort in unfamiliar surroundings.
- Extra clothes: You’ll want to be prepared for anything during a vacation, so it’s always a smart idea to pack more outfits than you need and to have a change of clothes handy for long plane flights or road trips
- Snacks: To keep your little one a happy camper, a full belly is a great way to prevent meltdowns (and helps make sure you don’t get cranky, as well!).
- Toys: It’s incredibly helpful to have something to distract baby with when they start to get fussy. Pack toys that are soft and will remind them of sleep if you need to calm their nerves. It’s always a fun idea to pack “surprise toys” that you pick up at the dollar store to keep baby entertained with something new and exciting.
- Blanket: Apart from keeping baby warm, a good blanket can serve many purposes. Use it to cover an airport changing table to fend off germs or fold it up to create a makeshift pillow.
- A first-aid kit: You’ll want to be prepared for anything when traveling outside of your city for the first time with a new baby. Safety first!
- Small trash bags: These are handy for dirty diapers, snack wrappers, and any other trash that accumulates during travel.
How Old Should My Baby Be Before Going on Vacation?
There isn’t a hard and fast rule for when your baby is old enough to travel. Many doctors recommend waiting for more rigorous travel, such as flying, until the infant is 4 to 6 months old. However, most airlines will allow you to travel with a baby that is as young as two weeks old.
When it comes to car or train travel, the age doesn’t matter as much as flying. Just remember that the immune system of infants is still forming during their first few months, and exposing them to a whole slew of germs and bacteria in crowded, public places might not be good for them. An unexpected illness will certainly put a damper on your first vacation with baby.
How Do I Have a Stress-Free Flight with My Baby?
Flying is still stressful for many full-grown adults, so try not to put too much pressure on your new baby to be the perfect traveler. We do have plenty of tips, however, on how to make an expedition to the airport as stress-free as possible for your first vacation with baby.
Buy a seat for baby: It’s a smart idea to buy the seat next to you in order to hold a car seat. This is safer for your little one in the event of turbulence, and provides you with extra room to relax a little—it is a vacation, after all.
Know your baggage: Make sure to look up how many carry-on items you’re allowed and what the dimensions of the overhead bins are on your plane. Don’t save packing to the last minute because you won’t want to pay extra fees to check bags that won’t fit, becoming separated from critical supplies. Also, most airlines will check baby gear (strollers, car seats, travel cribs) for free if you don’t want to carry them on or gate check them.
Be polite to other passengers: While this might go without saying, it never hurts to be friendly with the passengers around you and let them know it’s your first vacation with your baby. Some parents even put together “goodie bags” for passengers in their immediate vicinity that include ear plugs, candy, and a fun note to introduce your family.
Protect baby’s ears: Be mindful that your baby will be extra sensitive to changes in air pressure that you’ve grown accustomed to as an adult. Give your infant something to suck on or nurse them to help relieve pressure in their ears during take-off and landing.
Bring a nursing cover: This can be helpful for breastfeeding mothers so baby has easy access to nursing opportunities. The CDC offers plenty of travel recommendations for nursing mothers, including whether you need to declare bottled breast milk when visiting another country (luckily, you don’t).
What are the Best Places to Vacation with a Baby?
So, now you know what to bring on vacation with your baby and how to prepare for travel. Here comes the fun part: where should you go? To ensure the whole family has a good time, it’s probably best to stay away from bustling cities that can be noisy, dangerous, and difficult to get around. Instead, try out one of the options below.
- Beach resort: Relax amidst the sounds of ocean waves and seagulls on a beach vacation with baby. There will be plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy together and depending on the age of your youngster, you might be able to give them their first swimming lesson.
- Cruise ship: Set sail on the open ocean and rest easy knowing all your meals and entertainment are just a short walk down the hall. Cruise ships are the perfect first vacation for parents who want all the comforts of home while still travelling somewhere new.
- Dude ranch: Let your little one learn about animals and get their hands dirty with a fun trip to a dude ranch. These ranches come with plenty of planned activities for guests of all ages. If your baby is walking, it’s the ideal place to let them roam freely without worrying about speeding cars or other city dangers.
- Camping: Pitching a tent in the great outdoors can be an extremely fun family vacation for your little traveler. Fresh air, a cozy fire, and an empty campground will make it easy to lounge around and take a load off after all the hard work you do at home and at the office.
- Staycation: If traveling to another country, let alone another city, sounds like too much, a staycation is never a bad idea. Make sure to pick a hotel or rent a house that is fancier than where you currently live—you still want this to feel like a vacation. Plan some fun activities around your city that you wouldn’t normally get to do and expose baby to all the wonders of their hometown.
The biggest thing to remember when planning a baby-friendly vacation is that all new parents make mistakes. Your first trip might not be perfect, but that just makes it all the more memorable! If you keep giving your baby a chance to experience new cultures and climates, you’re bound to win the parent of the year award.