When we left for our family vacation I didn’t know what to expect. It was our first vacation with a baby, we were going away for two weeks and we’re first time parents. This wasn’t an international vacation but we were going to be driving a lot, which made me nervous since my baby is not a fan of the car.
I was also anxious about taking a vacation with our baby because I wasn’t sure how she would react to all the changes but to my surprise she did great. I feel blessed because she is such a good traveler which means this is only the beginning of our family traveling adventures.
During our vacation I learned many things that I’d like to share with you so your family vacation can run smooth.
Tips for a family vacation with a baby
The first time you show baby a new thing they might be scared
It was our baby’s first time going to the beach and she was scared of the waves. It took my baby 3 visits before she loved it.
I learned that exposing your baby to the same activity several times is important. This doesn’t mean if your baby is crying you should force her to do the activity or stick around. You might have to leave and then try again later. But just because they don’t like something the first time, it doesn’t mean they won’t like it some other time.
Babies are learning about the world around them and at times it might feel overwhelming for them. Expose your baby to as many new things as possible and watch their cues. They, better than anyone, will let you know how they feel about it.
Don’t let the fear of how your baby might react stop you from trying something. You might be surprised to discovered the things your baby loves! So expose them to as many things as possible, and try again if they don’t like it the first time.
Be flexible, very flexible
Having a set schedule doesn’t work. We knew what we wanted to see/do during each day and would accommodate around our baby’s nap times. Sometimes this meant we didn’t get to see everything we wanted or that we didn’t stop at a city we planned to see because she our baby sleeping and we had to take advantage of this to keep driving.
When you travel with a baby your schedule is more like an outline of what you want to see and do, but stay flexible because the chances of plans changing are very high. You might that your baby needs some down time, away from whatever stimulus they’re having. At other times you might find that you can enjoy an activity longer than you expected.
So have a plan, but remember to stay open to changes and to go with the flow when needed.
A baby carrier is a MUST
I’ve been using baby carriers from day one but during travel they are absolute necessity. Your baby can nurse in the carrier, nap in the carrier, stay close to your (and away from strangers who want to hold your baby) when she’s in the carrier.
Have an open mind
Most likely, you will encounter other parents who parent in a different style than you. This might make you feel strongly about your parenting style or it might question it.
When this happens your best guide is your own intuition. Your intuition, listening to your heart, is going to show you what’s the best way to parent your child. Take from others what makes sense for you and discard the rest. This is especially true if you’re getting unsolicited advice or being judged. Ignore those who are not being helpful and negative.
When you see other parents who are parenting in a way that looks more loving and more calm, then pay attention, you might learn a tip or two about how you want to raise your own child.
Breastfeeding makes it all so much easier
If your breastfeeding, it’s going to make traveling a lot easier since you won’t have to worry about preparing food or washing bottles. Embrace the nursing and ditch the bottle during your trip! Learn how to nurse your baby in a carrier so you can keep on going while your baby nurses and naps.
If you’re a bottle feeding parent, make sure you have a list of all you will need so you don’t forget anything important during your trip.
Always carry a thermometer
Your baby will get exposed to new germs and they might catch a little bug. Carry a thermometer just in case your baby gets sick. This way you can monitor if the baby’s temperature gets to a level that requires a call to your doctor.
It is never too early to start traveling with your baby
Babies are usually easy going and as long as you’re with them, they don’t care where they are. This makes it really easy to travel, especially because they’re at an age where they sleep anywhere.
Of course, double check with your doctor, especially if you’re going oversees as she might recommend that you wait until your baby is 2 months or older. In my experience, once babies are about 4 months old, traveling with them becomes a lot easier.
You will pack a lot, embrace it
My husband joked that I was taking our entire house during our first trip but I felt better knowing I have everything I could possible need. I think it’s best to be prepared than to be in a new place looking for something you need for your baby.
After your first trip, take note of what you actually used and what you didn’t. That will give you a better idea of what to pack for your next trip.
Take advantage of traveling before the age of two
Kids two and under can fly on your lap, and after that they pay for airfare just like adults do, which significantly adds to the cost of any vacation. So plan as many trips as possible before they’re two. It will also help them become better travelers and more flexible about their surroundings.
After our first trip I realized I was way too stressed out about our trip and things went so well. Yes, there were some moments that were hard, but there weren’t many of those. So stress only when necessary!
Even though baby might not remember the vacation, you will. Plus, your baby will be learning so much about the world they live in when they travel, it’s a win for everyone!
Have a great time and focus on making fun family memories!