7 Tips for Traveling with Babies and Toddlers

Dad prepares to travel with his baby in the car

7 Tips for Traveling with Babies and Toddlers

The holidays are here, and for many families, that means travel. Any parent can tell you that traveling with babies and toddlers is a bit more complicated than traveling without them, but crossing miles with your little one doesn’t have to be miserable.

These tips, compiled from real Primrose parents, can help smooth out traveling-with-tots turbulence, whether you’re in your car or a plane.

  • Pack strategically. Days (or even a week) before your trip, start a packing list of items you use daily (bottles, pacifiers, diapers, wipes, etc.). Note what you have to pack and what you can borrow or ship to your destination. For example, if you’ll be staying at Grandma’s for two weeks, can you pack enough diapers for the first few days and order a shipment to arrive once you get there? Do you need to take a portable crib, or is there one you can borrow? Starting to think through daily needs well in advance ensures you won’t miss anything. (But if you do, don’t panic — there’s usually a way to buy or borrow what you need.) If you’re flying, check your luggage and car seat (car seats are free to check) and only carry on a bag with your in-flight essentials.
  • Allow for extra time. However you travel, it’s going to take longer than you think if you have little ones in tow. For car rides, add in generously timed stops for snacks and diaper changes. If you’re flying, don’t take any chances in thinking you can rush through security. Add an hour to whatever amount of time you’d take if you were flying solo or with your partner; that means arriving at the airport one hour before your flight becomes two hours. No one wants to spend more time at an airport, but your less-stressed self will thank you.
  • Plan for snacks. Toddlers get “hangry” and aren’t always so patient when you tell them you’ll stop for lunch in an hour. Pack a cooler with water, milk and travel-friendly snacks such as cheese, granola bars, cereal, pretzels, raisins, and pouches of yogurt and applesauce. If you’re on an airplane, a small cooler bag should do the trick; make sure to fill up water bottles and buy any drinks you need once you’re through security.
  • Entertain them. Pack a bag with your child’s favorite books and small toys to keep them occupied en route. New toys or toys they haven’t seen in a while can be especially entertaining. Coloring and sticker books are also good portable activities, and you can always play “I Spy.” If all else fails, a little screen time isn’t the end of the world. You can download a couple of episodes of their favorite show on your device beforehand.
  • Consider their sleep schedules. If you’re driving, it can help to leave for a trip either at bedtime or naptime. If you leave at night, do your normal bedtime routine before getting in the car. At naptime, a blanket and a sippy cup of milk can do the trick. It’s a little harder to time flights, of course, but make sure you have a light blanket for chilly cabins in case your little one does catch a nap.
  • Keep health and safety in mind. This holiday season comes in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and, as with every year, flu season. Make sure you have multiple clean and easy-to-wear masks for everyone age 2 and older in your family. Pack disinfecting wipes to clean high-touch surfaces and hand sanitizer for when hand-washing isn’t possible.
  • Breathe. So maybe your toddler won’t nap on the road or your infant screams for an hour on the plane. Consider it a rite of parenthood that many have survived before you, and know that you will, too. Give yourself some grace and look forward to fun, family and festivities on the other side.

Happy holidays and safe travels!

For more on making the most of the holidays as a family, check out:

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