Just the thought of taking a baby along for a long distance trip can make parents cringe, but this unavoidable prospect doesn’t have to be as painful as you think. Although sometimes temper tantrums and bad days happen, there are some strategic ways to keep your baby from misbehaving or experiencing discomfort during the ride. If you’ve got a big trip coming up and want to bring your little one along, take note of the following tips for a tear-free ride.
1. Technology is your friend
Want to make sure your child has plenty of entertainment options, but don’t want to lug around an extra bag full of toys and games? Condense your carry-on and keep your tiny tot busy with tablets, laptops, smartphones and other compact tech tools. Before you go, make sure these devices have games, movies and other cool features installed to keep kids occupied during the trip. You can even download apps devoted entirely to traveling with young children, which offer helpful advice, checklists, calendars and other features to stay organized and efficient while en route.
2. Plan for interruptions
Every parent knows that traveling with a little one means adding an extra 30 minutes to prep time to account for accidents, crankiness and packing a to-go bag, even for a trip to the grocery store. If you were to miss your flight due to one of these common delays, travel insurance would help you get to your destination without having to dip into your little one’s college fund. Insurance would also cover you in the case of canceled flights, lost baggage and other complications that can occur while traveling.
3. Timing is everything
Think about the times of the day when you’re most at ease. This is probably during nap time and bed time, right? If you want to minimize stress during your trip, schedule long flights or drives during times when your child is typically asleep. If possible, avoid traveling when your child’s meal time is approaching. Hungry kids may tend to be fussier than other kids.
4. Make a list, check it twice
You definitely don’t want to over-pack for your trip, but you also don’t want to leave behind any important items. Make a list of all the baby care items you use in an average day and have these on you during the trip. And because you never know when you may end up stranded at an airport, pack extras of essential items like diapers, wipes and clothing. Keep a smaller emergency bag on hand with medicine and first aid items, just in case.
Every child is different, so traveling with children will be different for every parent. However, once you’ve gotten used to going on a few trips with your little one, you’ll start to determine what strategies are best for a smoother experience. These general tips will help you prepare for the challenge of the very first trip, so you can make it as comfortable as possible and avoid all the dirty looks from annoyed passengers.