We're still within the season when everyone is pulling out the luggage and getting ready for summer vacation. Some of you may also be planning for a trip for the first time with your newborn and... you're realizing that packing just got a lot more complicated.
Today, our in-house, traveling-with-kids expert and Postpartum Doula, Suzanne Lee shares her tips to help (and if you really need to pack that second bouncy seat):
Less is really more.
Even you are staying in a one-room cabin in the woods, you don’t really have to take every toy, blanket, pillow, bouncy seat, baby holder you use on a regular day. Look at your items that could serve as double duty. The baby’s car seat can serve as a safe place for baby to sit (supervised and for short-periods of time), as you would have used the bouncy seat. Borrow a pack-n-play or other large baby items from those at your destination.
*Pro Tip* Hunting these items down are a perfect job for excited grandparents (if they're joining you at your destination) and it will significantly lighten your load. There are often companies in each city that will rent baby supplies and set them up for you in your hotel room.
Utilize useful baby gadgets.
We really love the Skip Hop Pronto Changing Station and other portable changing pads for easy diaper changes. You can have it under one arm and your baby on the other arm as you navigate the impossibly tiny airplane bathroom or a public bathroom when you don’t want to put your diaper bag on the floor. Wearing your baby in a ringsling is also incredibly helpful alternative to the stroller. In fact, consider the ease of wearing your baby at festivals and airports or other crowded places where it would be difficult or a little dangerous to push your baby in the stroller.
Know your load.
Baggage fees are pretty typical when checking them for a flight. But for most airlines, a carseat in a travel bag is not charged a fee. This means you can also put bulky items in the car seat and zip it up. Consider putting placing heavier blankets, jackets, a pack of diapers or dirty clothes (on the way home) which can save tons of room in your luggage. You can also check your carseat and stroller at the gate if you don't feel comfortable checking your carseat with your luggage. If you travel frequently consider purchasing a less expensive and lighter seat to use as the travel car seat so if there is damage in transit, it’s not so upsetting. Word to the wise, definitely cover your car seat, it gets dirty when placed in cargo!
Another helpful tip is using packing cubes. Packing cubes are perfect for keeping everyones stuff organized and keeping track of those tiny baby socks and outfits. Purchasing color-coded cubes that are assigned to each member of the family means you pack once, use them as a drawer at your destination, no unpacking!
Stay safe in the sun and heat.
Babies are more susceptible to sunburn and heat exhaustion. Protect them from the sun using SPF rated clothing and hats. Many sunscreens are not recommended for babies under 6 months, but there are a few on the market such as Think Baby and Babyganics among others. SPF rated rash guards, swimwear and hats, and even an umbrella, are a great alternatives to protect delicate skin. Heat exhaustion can also be dangerous for babies so stay alert. If your baby is warm and dry to the touch, dizzy, lethargic, vomiting, or has rapid, shallow breathing, take your baby to a cool place, apply a wet cloth and hydrate immediately.
Also, never leave your baby in a hot car or carseat. Use sunshades on the car and cover the carseat between uses with a light colored towel to reduce how hot those buckles get! It takes more time for a larger van or SUV to cool down and those rear facing carseats may not cool down as quickly as you do in the drivers seat.
Don’t forget yourself!
Countless times I have arrived at a destination and forgotten to pack essentials for myself! At this time in your life, a packing list is your best friend. Make a list for every member of your family and write down the essentials and cross them off. That way you won’t get to where your going and realize that you have forgotten to pack your underwear!
BONUS TIP: Adjust your expectations.
This is really our best tip. Consider what you would have accomplished on your trip before baby, divide that by 3 and realize that you will probably only accomplish 1/3 of what you would have before baby. And that is OK!
Take it easy, take a nap, and enjoy being together as a family rather than trying to cram in all the activities you normally would. You can come back when your kids are older and begging for souvenirs!