When Have Baby Will Travel launched over six years ago, it was to help new parents realize that once you have a baby, international travel is not out the window. It’s entirely possible to travel and still have a great time – you just need to make like a boy scout, and be prepared.
Here’s a few things you need to consider when taking baby abroad for the first time…
Before you travel…
Age is an important thing to take into consideration, as babies with established routines or those who are already walking need more consideration than really young babies, but travel with newborns often means you’re much more tired.
When taking baby abroad, you’ll need to decide where you want to go and baby should have a big say in this. For example, you might want to avoid certain countries that require immunizations. Breastfed infants get a certain boost in their immune systems thanks to their mama’s antibodies, but destinations that require anti-malarials or special shots can be visited when your little one is not so little. Active holidays can still be enjoyed with a baby in tow, but if you’re hoping to scuba dive or ski when your baby is still really young, you’ll need to sort out childcare for your vacation.
Babies used to be able to travel on their parent’s passport but this is no longer allowed, so make sure your baby has their own passport before going away. Having the correct travel insurance is also important (see Columbus Direct). You’ll want to be certain you’re covered for any and all emergencies while you’re away. If your baby gets sick just before you leave and is therefore unable to travel, you’ll also want to make sure you have cancellation insurance.
Flying with baby? This can be the most stressful part of your trip. Since the Eustachian tubes in baby’s ears are much shorter, they can be that much more affected by air pressure. To help relieve any pain, you can try nursing your baby during take-off and landing, or giving a bottle, pacifier, or snack. It’s the act of swallowing, not sucking, that helps alleviate the pressure.
Your carry-on bag is your lifeline while you’re on board, so make sure you’ve packed enough snacks and distractions to last the duration of the flight (and then some). Don’t skimp on diapers and wipes, and make sure you have a change of clothes for yourself, as well as for baby Use a detailed carry-on packing list to make sure you don’t forget anything.
What to take…
Let’s face it, gone are the days of traveling light. I once traipsed through Europe with one bag strapped to my back, but now that same said bag would barely hold all the diapers.
Feeding on holiday while breastfeeding is undoubtedly the easiest way to ensure your baby is fed. Parents of bottle-fed infants travelling will need to determine if they should bring all the formula they’ll need (or if they can purchase their brand at their destination) and how to sterilize bottles in a hotel room. If baby is over three months, you can mix formula with most bottled water without boiling it first. Check to see that it has less than 200 milligrams (mg) per litre of sodium (also written as Na) and no more than 250mg per litre of sulphate (also written as SO or SO4). If baby is on to solids, you’ll need to determine if packing pouches will work, what sort of baby foods are available at your destinations, or if you would be able to make you own by mashing the grown up food that is available.
Use a detailed packing list for travel with baby – you don’t want to overpack, but you also don’t want to forget anything or spend your entire trip managing laundry. The one thing you don’t want to forget is a first aid kit, and any medications baby needs, and pain reliever (for baby and for you!)
If your destination is a sunny one, make sure you’ve packed or have access to sun protection – whether that’s sunscreen, SPF swimwear or both. Hats are a necessity, as is some time away from the sun in an (ideally) air conditioned room – babies can easily overheat and dehydrate. Make sure you’re all keeping up your water intake, and also make sure you’re taking care near the water. Beach, sun, and pool safety are all things we need to brush up on before heading out, especially if your day to day lives don’t involve them much.
Mobile babies require a quick babyproof of your accommodation. Choosing main-floor rooms give your back a break when lugging kids and gear around, and while the utmost in vigilance must be taken to secure and lock doors, a main floor room also eliminates any risk of a fall. A roll of tape thrown in your suitcase can be used to cover electrical outlets, and manage cords that might dangle and tempt your baby.
If you’re thinking it all seems like a lot of work, well – it is. But so is being a new parent. Exploring new places together while baby is still small makes it easier to do it when they get bigger. And then you can really go on some great adventures together!
Thanks to Columbus Direct Travel Insurance for supporting this post.