We are going on an international vacation! OK, so we are going to Canada, but it is still international and involves a lot of preparation. Here are my tips on preparing for travel with a baby.
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One of the first things to do when planing a trip is to make sure that all travel documents you’ll need are accounted for. In our case, one thing was getting Little One a passport. We learned a lot in the processing of getting this passport. This website will list the full requirements for getting your child a passport. Some of the important things we learned are that both parents must be present (or have documentation from the other parent). We both had to declare that we were allowing our Little One to travel outside the USA. Another thing we learned was that the application could only be paid by check or money order, which was more annoying than anything.
We will also be traveling with a photo copy of Little Ones birth certificate, just in case (we never ended up using it, but I guess better safe than sorry.)
When booking travel its important to consider how you will be traveling, when, and for how long. Try to book any flights during your child’s nap time if they are still taking a nap. Hopefully they will sleep through most of it then. I know many people who do long flights will travel at night so the child will sleep as normal.
We are choosing to fly and rent a car once we get there. When flying, review your airline’s guidelines when it comes to flying with little ones. Most airlines will allow children under the age of two to ride for free on your lap. Depending on how your little one does, you can help your budget by having them on your lap. If you know this wouldn’t work for you, getting a seat for them is always an option.
Most airlines also allow two of the following items: stroller, car seat, and pack and play. They can either be checked when checking in for the flight or at the gate. This is most convenient for the stroller.
We also will be renting a car. Most car rentals have car seats available for a fee. We decided that the cost of the car seat outweighed the inconvenience of hauling our own.
When booking anything, make sure you read the fine print when it comes to your little one.
Post trip update: on the way back there was a row behind us that only had once person in it. The flight attendant came by and asked the person in the aisle seat to move a row behind to give us three seats. This made a world of difference for our comfort! If you are able to book a seat for your little one, it sure is nice to have that extra seat!
To check a bag, or not to check a bag…that is the question. The fees for checking the bag are outrageous, so we tried to use strictly carry on bags instead. Before traveling, try to compile a list of everything you will need. This will help your packing and try to make space as efficient as possible. Most airlines will allow a carry on bag and a personal item like a diaper bag, purse, computer bag or back pack.
We are trying to conserve as much space as possible, so we will definitely be taking clothes that are versatile and hand washable if needed. We have tested it out and can get everything we need into two carry on bags and two back packs.
Something to keep Little One busy while being cooped up in the plane or car is essential. We are packing a few small toys – a wooden car, a ball, and books. The Hello magazines are perfect for travel. They are small and have many activities, they are easy to wipe off and sanitize when needed, and are durable. We will also be loading up our electronic devices with shows. Normally we don’t let him watch too many shows, so it will be a special treat when flying.
Snacks are a must. Pack snacks that are easy to eat, don’t require refrigeration, and aren’t messy. We hit up our local food co-op and checked out the bulk bins. There were a lot of options, like yogurt covered pretzels, yogurt covered raisins, dehydrated apples, bananas and graham crackers.
Going though security at most airlines will not allow liquids to be taken though security. There are exceptions to this rule, though, when it comes to breast milk and formula. Read the TSA rules before your flight to be current on any changes. If there is any liquid traveling with a little one the TSA will need to test it. We were able to bring a sippy cup with water in it and there was no problem.
The lines for security can be long, so having snacks, drinks and entertainment available is a must.
Be prepared for traveling with a little one by following the above tips. Also try to be mentally prepared for a long day. Things are going to go wrong, so just take deep breaths and roll with it.
Just one last tip before I wrap up this post – be nice to those around you and to those working. As the saying goes, you catch more flies with honey then vinegar!
Do you have any other tips for preparing for international travel with a baby? Let me know in the comments below!