Gearing Up for Travel
If you thought it was a challenge to pack yourselves for a trip, just wait until you start packing the baby for a vacation. Not only do you need to pack several additional sets of clothes, toys, bottles, and diapers, you'll also need to be sure that you spread out all of baby's “accessories” so that you're covered should a suitcase full of key supplies get shipped to Honolulu when you're on your way to New Mexico!
With changes in airline baggage policy, chances are you'll only be able to pack a diaper bag as a carry-on. However, if you purchase a separate seat for your baby (always a good idea, since you can secure baby in a car seat), the diaper bag will count as baby's carry-on baggage, so you'll be permitted to take on one additional carry-on for yourself.
Start with a Plan
Before hitting the road (or the family-friendly skies), you would do well to investigate all of your options with a professional travel agent. That way, you can be sure that all of your destinations and accommodations fully support adults who are traveling with infants. If you want to go to a resort, you'll want to be sure it's not an adults-only paradise!
Keep as much flexibility as possible in your itinerary, since baby may not be on the same schedule as you. When you make your final plans, be sure to include bits and pieces of baby's regular routine. Just because you're on the road doesn't mean that baby should throw caution to the wind and give up on naptime.
Set Some Limits
Don't try to pack too much activity into your vacation, since babies can't handle too much change at one time. Do have backup ideas in mind in case you have to make a change. For instance, you might need to switch from an outdoor flea market to an indoor museum if it starts to rain. Or maybe you'll need to schedule that zoo visit to happen before baby's afternoon nap. Stay in tune with your baby's regular rhythms and you'll avoid lots of crankiness on the road.
Pack Light — and Smart
When you travel with a baby, take the following items with you for transporting baby around: a car seat, a stroller (the umbrella type is easier for traveling), a cloth-front carrier (good for keeping baby close to you), and a backpack (if you'll be hiking or at lots of outdoor functions). You'll most likely be able to rent other equipment, such as a crib, playpen, or high chair.
For every daily activity or excursion you take, be sure you've packed at least one diaper, one bottle, and one change of clothes for every hour you'll be gone. There's nothing worse than being out in the middle of a scenic tour with an empty bottle or a dirty diaper — and no more replacements!
New passport regulations require everyone, including infants, to have a passport when traveling outside of the United States. This includes trips to Mexico and Canada. Be sure to apply for your child's passport as soon as you know you might be leaving the country.
Practice Makes Perfect
Before embarking on a week-long trip, try doing practice runs with smaller excursions around town. Pack up the baby and visit a museum in your city — or go to a park for an afternoon stroll around the duck pond. Make note of anything you forgot to pack, or something you wish you had for the next trip. Chances are, you'll get lots of use out of anything that's portable, packable, and practical.