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.
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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:
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.
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).
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.
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.