Now that we have two successful trips with our 4 1/2 month son under our belts, I thought it might be helpful to share some of our learnings and experiences with those who are just thinking about taking their first vacation with their little ones.
Traveling with children can be a wonderful experience - if you go with the flow. Try and keep your expectations low and you'll likely be pleasantly surprised. If you are a planner - LET IT GO! Your little one may get fussy in the long car ride or hot heat and improvisation may be required. That really cool activity you had planned might last 5 minutes before you realize it really wasn't a great idea, so keep your itinerary simple. I suggest putting a limit on the amount of "scheduled" activities a day. Keep it to one planned outing and you'll find it's much easier to make last-minute adjustments.
Destination is key
Now's not the time to try out a swanky hotel. Choose a relaxing destination that's used to young visitors, so you don't have to sweat the details. I recommend a family member's house, a cozy beach retreat, family camp, nature resort, or similar kid-friendly place. Skip the crowded, over-stimulating tourist destinations, places without shade, and other spots that will make you feel like you have to have you babe on his/her best behavior.
Bring some bottles for the plane, but be sure to limit them to 4 ounces or less for security (we all know the horror that would result from having to throw milk away!). Try feeding your little one while you are taking off and landing - it will help with the ears. Our little man happened to be sleeping on one of the take-offs and landings and we didn't dare wake a sleeping baby - he slept right through it.
Plan frequent rest stops
If you're driving, break up your trip so you can stretch your legs and feed and change your little one. Pick out parks and picnic areas on your route by using an online mapping service such as Google Maps or city guides.
Do you really NEED that? On our camping trip , the Mister and I definitely over-packed. Our second trip, we were selective about our baby gear and it paid off. Think about things you use or need on a daily basis. For us, this list included a few of Bean's favorite toys, the room monitor (we were staying in a beach house), a small room fan (in case it was hot), the carrier/car seat and stroller. That's it!
Practice makes perfect
Take a few road trips or visit some out of town friends the weeks leading up to your big trip. These trial runs could provide key insights - about things like what gear and supplies you should pack, how long your child can last in a car seat, and which toys keep him or her entertained (or drive you nuts).
Laugh it off
Keeping your sense of humour is key when traveling with your baby. When you want to SCREAM, look at your travel partner and laugh. You have no idea how many laughs the Mister and I exchanged over the course of our trip. Sure there were some tense moments, but we all felt better when we took a deep breath and laughed it off.
Do you have any tips that you would never travel without? Please share!
hannon is a first-time mom and the founder and creator of The Daily Balance , a Web site updated daily with advice, tips and personal stories to help others find balance in their lives. From food to fashion, motherhood, fitness, inspiration and recipes, The Daily Balance is the perfect tool for those who "want it all."