Your first vacation with your child can be exciting and a bit nerve-wracking; whether your child is weeks old or starting to crawl, your first vacation is definitely a big wake up call! But there's no need to panic; with a little organization and planning (and these helpful tips!), you can be ready for whatever comes along!
To start, making a list will save you a lot of frustration and time. You'll want to pack to address everything from your child's health, to his or her day-to-day needs in terms of feedings, elimination, entertainment, safety, and comfort. Much of what you will need to pack will be determined by your destination, but the goal is to pack as efficiently as possible, minimizing the amount of unnecessary gear you bring along. In addition, you will need to address some basic health and safety precautions before you set out on your adventure.
Before You Go:
Scheduling your journey during your child's nap or bedtime is a great idea - after all, the more time your child spends sleeping during the journey, the less time you will need to occupy with play or other distractions! Just remember to bring along comfortable pajamas, books, or anything else that is a part of your usual routine.
If you are travelling with an infant, it is important to check with your pediatrician to be sure your child has had all necessary inoculations. Babies do not have fully formed immune systems and are far more susceptible to contracting illnesses than adults. In addition, it is always a good idea to pack any medications your child may require in a bag that will be easily accessible during the journey. A carry-on or diaper bag is a good choice; beware though, if you are flying you will need to familiarize yourself with the TSA limits regarding how much liquid you may carry on with you. Consider packing larger quantities of children's medications in your checked luggage for emergencies.
Packing clothes is relatively simple: a good rule of thumb is to pack a few more outfits than your baby would go through at home, and remember it never hurts to pack a few extra pajamas, socks and onesies! For extended trips, you may want to check with your lodging provider to see if they have laundry facilities. What you spend doing laundry you will easily save in excess luggage fees.
Diapers and Wipes:
For the majority of destinations, it is safe to assume that you will be able to acquire diapers, wipes, ointment, etc. once you arrive. But plan to pack enough for the flight or drive, plus a few extras for any unforeseen accidents or travel delays. If you are uncertain as to whether you will be able to acquire those items once you arrive, consider using a company like Jet Set Babies - they deliver all the supplies you will need directly to your hotel!
Travelling without toys to occupy your child will inevitably result in disaster. Pack a wide variety to keep baby distracted along the way, including old stand-bys and a few new surprises! Avoid bringing noisy toys or items that could prove annoying to fellow travelers. To add to the fun, consider wrapping some toys (old or new!) in tissue or scrap paper and introduce items one at a time to extend their novelty and appeal!
The less gear you need to haul, the happier you will be, so look for items that can serve multiple purposes (i.e. a car-seat that converts to a stroller, a pack and play that can be used as both a play pen and for sleeping etc.). Another alternative is to explore the availability of rental gear; many popular vacation destinations have local companies that offer strollers or other baby gear that you can borrow for the duration of your stay for less than it may cost to lug all that gear on a plane. Also, many lodging providers now offer cribs, play yards, etc. upon request, which can help cut down on what you need to haul, so call ahead!
Bring along whatever baby-snack items (rice puffs, dry cereal, etc.) your child enjoys most - if you are flying, remember a sippy cup or pacifier to help equalize pressure on take-off and landing! And don't just pack for baby - bring along some finger-friendly snacks (granola bars, dried fruit, Goldfish crackers, pretzels, etc.) for Mom and Dad - you never know when you might run into a delay.
Air Travel Tips:
Though it offers you the best chance at stowing larger items overhead on a crowded flight, you are not required to board early; if your child is not asleep, that's just 30 or so more minutes that he or she will be trapped in a confined space feeling antsy.
Once You Arrive:
Upon arrival, do a quick evaluation of your room; you may need to rearrange furniture to make play space and remove decorative items that could pose a hazard to your little explorer. You will also want to call ahead to see if your hotel offers any childproofing measures; if not bring along some basic child-proofing devices to child-proof your hotel room. The Travel-Tot Childproofing Kit is an ideal option with it's broad range of deterrent devices (outlet covers, corner guards, foam door pinch guard, multipurpose straps, cord guard etc.) and temporary, non-damaging adhesive. The Kit provides a layer of protection between your child and common hazards, while simultaneously affording you the peace of mind of knowing you won't be incurring extra expenses due to inadvertent damage to hotel property!
The extra few minutes you spend making a list ahead of time and childproofing your "home away from home" will result in a much more relaxed and enjoyable first vacation experience for everyone; and you will reap the reward of special memories that will last a lifetime! Check out Travel-Tot's free, printable e-book featuring all these pointers and more - the perfect resource for planning your Baby's First Vacation!
Safe and happy travels!
- Destination Mom