Traveling stresses me out more than anything else in the world. Thankfully, that anxiety helps me to be pretty well-prepared for any number of situations since I’ve been traveling with babies and toddlers now for almost 10 years. Aside from packing up baby gear, there are a few things about traveling that you should know.
Breastfeeding While Traveling
Driving long distances with a breastfed baby will take considerably longer. Though the movement of the car might help the baby sleep well at naps, he/she might want to eat as often as at home. Just find a random place to stop and nurse in the car. No one will care. It gets a lot easier when solid food is an option.
Breastfeeding while flying can be difficult if you’re in the middle seat. There is no elbow room! It is possible, though. Other than that, flying with a tiny baby isn’t too bad because they sleep a lot and aren’t too squirmy to hold.
Stroller Vs. Babywearing
Depending on your mode of travel, both can be useful. There are disadvantages to each, though.
- It’s uncomfortable: it kills my back and makes me sweat. I’ve tried at least 4 different carriers, and I didn’t love any of them.
- Babies usually fall asleep in the car, and transferring to a baby carrier can wake them up.
- The baby gets in the way and I can’t use my arms/hands very well. Imagine trying to chop vegetables with tiny hands in the way.
When I use a baby carrier: on hikes, and that’s pretty much it.
- They can still be big, even when folded up.
- They don’t do stairs or doors very easily.
When I use a stroller: pretty much everywhere possible
I know some people love wearing, but I am not one of them. I’m glad to get the baby weight off of me and don’t want to carry it around again. We do have both a front pack and backpack for when we want to go somewhere that isn’t stroller-accessible.
Dealing With Diaper Changes
The number of places with changing tables is surprisingly low. And, even when they do have them, they are often in the women’s bathroom but not the men’s. (Isn’t that totally sexist?) It’s great to have a travel changing pad to use if you have to use a counter, the floor, or even one of those gross changing tables. Always take your baby’s car seat with you so you can set him/her in it after the diaper change so you have a chance to wash your hands!
Things have changed somewhat since I had my first baby, but the rules as of 2019 are like this:
- You have to take the baby out of the carseat.
- Kids under 12 don’t need to take off their shoes.
- Carseats check for free at the gate.
- Formula and breastmilk are fine to go through security.
Toddlers can be challenging if they are too young to be entertained with technology. (Mostly ages 9 mos. – 18 mos.)
Things get a lot easier when older kids can use devices to entertain themselves, but looking at screens can cause carsickness. Always have a bucket with a lid handy for the car. (Airplanes provide bags for sickness.) If a child gets carsick, have him/her take a break from screens for a while. It really helps. We didn’t make the connection at first and had to deal with washing a favorite blankie in a hotel laundry room one time.
Changing Time Zones
Time changes can be challenging. I always keep our schedule according to our time zone while we’re traveling. It works great for the week we spend in NC, and when we return home, no adjustment is needed. It works really well for about a week, but after that, our circadian rhythms start to shift.
Traveling with babies and toddlers can be stressful, but it certainly helps to be prepared. It’s worth it to see the kids’ excitement at being at Gwamma’s house!