Summer's winding down and school's about to begin (cue collective sigh of relief.) If you're like us, you may be squeezing in one last trip before Labor Day. To get you ready for a relaxing and stress-free journey, we've teamed up with our friends at Britax to bring you our top 10 tips for traveling with tots in tow. So if you are taking a long road trip or introducing your baby to the joys of air travel, we’ve got you covered with our guide for winning at summer and fall travel.
Before You Leave:
- Minimize what you pack. Babies and kids need lots of stuff - but they may not need all their stuff when you are on vacation. Bring essentials, but hauling that second diaper bag or extra-large suitcase will only weigh you down when trying to catch a cab from the airport. If you could use some training in the packing department, check out How to Pack by NYC mama Hitha Palepu.
- Get the timing right. When buying plane tickets, take a moment to really think about the best time to fly with your kids. Personally, we like flying early in the morning - that way, when you're ready to leave the house, you just lift your tots out of their crib, keep them in PJs, and cross your fingers that they sleep on the way to the airport or even (hallelujah!) on the plane. Flights are less likely to have delays first thing in the morning and bonus: you get to enjoy a full first day wherever you land.
- Be realistic with your plans. It's easy to want to plan an ambitious schedule hitting all the hot spots on your bucket list, but no one will enjoy seeing the sites if everyone is jet-lagged or overtired. Give yourself enough time to adjust to new time zones and work in time at playgrounds to let your little guy/gal run out their energy before naps. Let older children help plan activities. They will be just as excited as you are learning about your destination and picking out things to do.
Road Tripping with Your Littles
- Bribery is everything. For a long car (or plane) ride, pack special activities/toys/snacks and pull out something new every hour to surprise your kids. Bonus entertainment points: wrap the surprises.
- Plan your pit stops. For the car rides, plan bathroom breaks/leg stretches around parks, playgrounds or restaurants with play areas where you can have a picnic or run around a bit. Directories of kid-friendly locations like Mommy Nearest are a great resource for this.
- Safety first. You want to make sure your child is in a super safe and comfy car seat. We love the the Britax Emblem convertible seat not just because of its double impact protection, but because it is comfortable enough that your kid wants to nap in it, and light enough that you can easily make that transition from car, plane, cab etc. without breaking your back. Oh and did we mention it’s super easy to install?
Flying High with Kiddos
- Be mobile. An easy to fold, lightweight umbrella stroller is a must when traveling. We are obsessed with the Britax B-Mobile stroller. You can fold it with one hand, so your other hand is free to wrestle the kid that's tantruming their way through airport security. You then sling it over your shoulder like a tote bag to carry it. It's also got a great can recline to let your child nap on the go.
- Get rollin. If you're not traveling with a stroller, a travel cart is a convenient alternative for maneuvering through airports. We love the Britax Car Seat Travel Cart. It's like a little shopping trolley, but your car seat attaches to it with the same safety latches you use to hook the seat into your car. Your little ones are already used to their cozy car seat and they can snooze in it as you cruise to your gate.
- Disinfect, disinfect, disinfect. As soon as you get on the plane, wipe down everything your child may be able to reach with an antibacterial wipe. This includes the front and back of the seat tray, the windows and seat belt. It may seem a bit extreme, but planes are Petri dishes and this way you can relax when your child gets handsy with the furniture in the middle of the flight. (We've received flight attendant high fives while doing this.) Also, keep your kids' shoes on, just trust us.
- Don't forget to drink on the descent. Most of us know to nurse or feed a baby a bottle right as you take off, but air pressure also changes on the descent, which can bother little ears. Make sure you have enough milk or water to give to your child about 30-45 minutes before landing. And wait to start feeding until you are actually taking off - you don't want to start too early and then run out as you are sitting on the runway.
No matter what - don't psych yourself out. If you love to travel, want to show your children the world or just get out of town for a weekend, just do it. Pretty soon they'll have the travel bug too.
Britax is a Mindr sponsor, and we're so grateful for their support. All of the Britax products included in this article have been independently tried and tested by #MINDRMAMAs. We recommend them because they're great, and we get no kick-backs if you buy. We're all about giving you the best information to make parent life that little bit easier, and we love finding like-minded companies that are working hard to do the same.