While traveling as a family creates wonderful memories, the logistics can be overwhelming. Here are some of our favorite tips for traveling with infants and small children to help reduce stress and avoid some potential disasters.
Gather the required documentation. When traveling domestically, you don’t usually need to produce identification for minors. However, if you are flying with an infant that you plan to hold in your lap, you will need to prove that your child meets the age requirement (for most airlines: 0-2 years). Birth certificates are preferred for proof of age but shot records are commonly accepted. Be sure to confirm your airline’s policies well before travel. Many states require you to order a birth certificate and we know firsthand how easy this detail can be to forget. International travel requires all passengers have a passport so be sure to get baby’s as soon as possible.
Get a ride to the airport. You are going to have a ton of stuff to lug around and being able to avoid trekking through the airport parking lot and braving the shuttle with small children will be a huge relief.
Wear your baby through security. In most cases, TSA will allow your little one to remain attached to you in the baby carrier as you move through security. The baby wearer will skip the body scanner and have their hands swabbed instead. Be sure to avoid applying chemicals to your hands before the hand swab to avoid a false positive. This includes hand sanitizer, lotions, and oils.
Check the car seat and stroller at the gate. Some airlines allow parents to check a stroller and car seat free of charge. This allows you to use the stroller to transport baby and help lug some of your baggage throughout the airport and have it for immediate use upon landing at your destination. To protect your gear, cover the car seat and stroller but hold off until you arrive at your gate because you will need to run them through security.
Use a waterproof cover over your baby’s diaper on the airplane. This will help contain any diaper leaks and prevent you from having to completely strip baby on the plane for a full diaper and outfit change. Be mindful about introducing new foods right before travel to avoid any messy digestive reactions.
Take advantage of delivery services. If you will be traveling domestically for an extended period of time, have essential items delivered to your destination. Pack enough diapers and wipes for the first few days, then do an Amazon order to restock your supply for the remainder of your stay. You can also use a grocery delivery service like Instacart to have food and drinks delivered. It will be helpful to have your child’s favorite snacks on hand and it is more practical than trying to travel with groceries. It also keeps family travel affordable since eating out adds up quickly.
Bring your portable streaming device. If you are staying in a hotel or resort with Wi-Fi, chances are the television will be compatible with your device as long as it has an HDMI port. Bring it along, connect to the WiFi, and allow your kids to enjoy their favorite shows and movies. This will help small children feel comfortable in a new place and may help avert meltdowns. The ability to stream successfully will be dependent on the quality of the WiFi connection but it won’t hurt to throw it in your carry-on and give it a try.
Research the closest hospitals and urgent care centers. Give your insurance company a call and find out if they have a list of preferred centers and service providers in your destination. This is particularly important when traveling internationally where language may be a barrier—some establishments will be able to communicate with you better than others. You can also check out reviews and find out what, if anything, you will have to pay out of pocket for emergency medical treatment. Of course, you hope this isn’t information you will need but you can have peace of mind that if the unimaginable occurs, you can get quality medical care for your family quickly.