Why is it the minute people find out you are pregnant, they assume you won’t be traveling anywhere anytime soon? I find that annoying and make it my personal challenge to get out and see the world with my kids. Traveling with an infant can be a challenge though and if you do a search online, there are dozens of articles out there explaining how to travel with an infant, many provide long lists of all those essentials and must haves to bring along.
I fell for a lot of that when I had my first child, but now that I am expecting baby #4, I realize that those necessities really aren’t that necessary. True, if you want all the comforts of home then by every means, bring it all. But I enjoy traveling light, even when traveling with the whole family including our infant. And here is how I do it.
Hotel Necessities: Think comfort and safety when traveling with an infant. If you are staying over night at a hotel, ask ahead of time if they rent or loan a crib. Then you can save yourself the hassle of having to pack a travel bassinet. If you don’t want to take a chance and feel more comfortable bringing along that bassinet for your new baby, then there are a few on the market that fold down to a compact size that fits in your suit case like the Pea Pod by Kidco.
There are also portable bed bolsters that inflate and attach to the hotel bed if you prefer to have your infant in the same bed with you. I have used them and not only did it work well while traveling, I continue to use my inflatable bed bolsters at home to keep my active sleepers from toppling onto the floor.
Diaper Bag: Lets face it, your diaper bag is simply a necessity, but it doesn’t have to be an oversized hassle. I’ve tried out many different diaper bags ranging from big to small, sturdy to flimsy, and none of them met my needs for carrying everything I need in an organized, comfortable manner. That is until I discovered that a diaper bag could be a back pack. My all time favorite diaper bag is a diaper bag backpack made by Baby Sherpa. I use it as my carry-on luggage on flights, as well as my daily diaper bag that also has an insulated compartment for food, snacks, and liquids. As an avid backpacker, I love the feel of a well built backpack on my back.
Flying with an Infant: I love to avoid carrying a lot including a car seat. Many airlines allow parents to use an infant airplane harness like the Baby B’Air so your infant sits on your lap and is tethered to the same seat belt as the parent. This allows you to avoid lugging around a car seat and checking in a stroller while you fly. That’s a lot of gear I would rather leave at home. There are also nifty travel seat attachments that attach to rolling luggage so kids can sit on them like the Ride-on Carry-on. These work great for toddlers.
Extra Clothes: Yes, you simply will have to bring extra clothes for your infant. They are cute, but they are messy. Good thing those little outfits don’t take up a whole lot of space in the suitcase. An extra pair of clothes for Mom might not be a bad idea either, unless you have stain free-wrinkle free out fits.
Transporting Baby: Is a stroller really necessary? Well that would depend on the size of your infant, your comfort level, and the structural integrity of your back. When I travel with an infant, I prefer a sling or baby carrier like the Baby Bjorn. I don’t like to be weighed down by all the baby stuff like bulky strollers and prefer traveling like the Native American Indians did with their infants in the papoose for long distances and Moms hands free.
Toys, Games, and Extras: Should you bring toys, games and items to entertain your infant? Chances are, your little one will be just fine interacting with you and does not need all the extra stimulation that many infant toys provide while you travel. I have had the experience of traveling on a long road trip with a teething baby. Out of desperation, I handed her my lavender soothing eye satchel. She held it to her face, and instantly stopped crying. Not sure what that was all about, but I would recommend carrying some aromatherapy items along just in case.
Traveling with kids is a little more complex, though and unless you are a stand up comedian with endless energy, then it is advisable to bring along a little something to entertain or educate them with. We always rely on audio books and self contained coloring kits, a few toys, and a lot of snacks on our long road trips. I am not one for car clutter so we use a car travel tray that folds up compact when not in use, and allows the kids to keep there travel activities, snacks and such organized in one spot on their tray while we travel.
Strive to travel light with your infant. Don’t let the fear of being without something cause you to bring everything. Write down the items you feel comfortable bringing, then try to downsize as much as possible. Whether that means switching from a large travel bassinet to a small, compact one, or losing the stroller and car seat all together.
You will need to do some footwork to be sure you have a car seat available upon arrival or with your rental car company, but it’s really not that difficult and only takes a phone call and reservation. Call your hotel to secure a crib, and attach your baby to your body with a baby carrier/sling to avoid a stroller. Then you can be proud of yourself in knowing that you are truly traveling light with your infant. The world is a fascinating place to see, so get out their and see it without all the extra baggage!