Traveling with a little one can be stressful, especially during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday seasons. Whether you’re road tripping it to Grandpa and Grandma’s or getting your passports stamped, traveling with baby is always a big adventure. The trick is to be prepared so that you can enjoy the journey—and the destination.
No matter where you’re going or how you’re getting there, these expert traveler tips for traveling with baby during the holidays can help make life a little easier and the trip more pleasurable.
When you’re traveling, your diaper bag becomes your mobile kitchen, changing table and entertainment center more than ever. Always think worst case scenario; pack everything your baby might need, even if it's just a short trip, including extra diapers, a travel pack or two of wipes, a change or two of clothes, an extra shirt for you (radar: spit-up, spills), snacks, toys, a pacifier or three, feeding supplies, such as baby food pouches, infant formula that is ready-to-go.
Betty N. Thesky, author of Betty in the Sky with a Suitcase: Hilarious Stories of Air Travel by the World’s Favorite Flight Attendant, made the ultimate mistake when she packed all of her baby’s diapers in her checked bag. “I had to walk around the plane and ask other parents for a spare diaper,” she says, "There were no other babies on board that day so I improvised by putting two holes in a pillowcase with a Kotex down the center." So make sure to pack these items in your diaper bag.
Bring a prepared bottle of baby formula for the airport; this can really help keep your baby happy during the lengthy check-in process. Airports allow you to take more than 3.4 ounces of infant formula or breast milk through airport security. It will be screened by X-ray, but you can simply tell the transportation security officer that you have medically necessary liquids at the beginning of the checkpoint screening process. You can visit the TSA for more info on flying with children.
In your diaper bag, stow two to four bottles of pre-measured, dry baby formula that you can mix with bottled water at feeding time and make to-go (dry) formula bottles before going out for the day too. Pack extra infant formula in your carry-on (a diaper bag doesn’t count as your carry-on) and checked bag or buy more formula wherever you land.
Thrift tip: Buying store brand infant formula instead of Enfamil or Similac nationally advertised formula brands will save you a great deal of money. All infant formula sold in the United States is regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and must meet the same FDA standards as nationally advertised formula brands. By using store brand infant formula, you can save $600 per year. Store brand infant formulas are available at Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club, and Target, and other retail, grocery, and drug stores.
“Give your baby a bottle during take-off and landing,” Thesky says. Sucking on something, such as a bottle or pacifier, will help relieve ear pressure.
Travel around naptime, or at bedtime for international flights, so you and your baby can catch some before landing. Be sure to bring along your child’s favorite stuffed animal or blanket. If you've got a toddler, make the flying experience fun with crayons, books and plenty of snacks.
This strategy worked for Martie Adamsen on a cross-country flight with her 18-month-old, Meghan. "I kept her West Coast schedule, says Adamsen. "On the plane, we went from activity to activity. Then, during her regularly scheduled naptime, I kept to her routine--getting her cozy in her favorite blanket, having her drink some milk, then singing her favorite lullaby--and she went right to sleep."
We hope these tips for traveling with baby during the holidays are helpful. Learn more by visiting Sandra Gordon’s website.
Sandra Gordon is a consumer products expert, a writer, and a mother of two. She has appeared on NBC's Today Show and as a baby safety expert on The Discovery Health Channel's "Make Room for Baby." A Consumer Reports author, her latest book is Save a Bundle: 50+ Ways to Save Big on Baby Gear.
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