While it may sound counterintuitive to many new and expecting parents, experts generally agree that traveling with babies can be much easier than a family vacation with older children. After all, while a parent has to be constantly vigilant about an older child running around in foreign locales, babies are fairly immobile and easily managed. That said, avid travelers who are new parents should expect to make many changes to their traveling routine.
The first and most important adjustment involves the realization that everything will take longer with a baby, from road trips to international flights. New parents should give themselves plenty of time for diaper changes, breaks for the baby to stretch out and be comfortable, and dealing with the ubiquitous piles of baby gear. As long as you’re traveling in the developed world, of course, you should feel free to leave a lot of heavy gear and extra supplies at home. Rental companies in large cities will often offer things like strollers or cribs, while virtually any destination will have numerous options for baby food, diapers, and other necessities. However, you can’t find family doctors familiar with your baby’s health in a foreign city, so be sure that your infant is fully up-to-date with vaccinations before making any travel plans.
A good car seat and plenty of pit stops will go a long way toward making any trip easier, but to ensure a truly hassle-free experience, you need to be prepared. Start by calling the airline ahead of time to ask about how they handle infants and familiarize yourself with the TSA’s rules on bringing formula or pumped breast milk through security. While many parents enjoy the fact that their infants can ride for free on their laps, a ticket for baby is nevertheless a good idea, as an air-travel-approved car seat remains the safest place for an infant on a plane. During takeoff and landing, encourage your baby to nurse or otherwise suck on a bottle or pacifier to relieve ear pressure, and be sure to bring plenty of toys to entertain your baby. Another good idea is to schedule flights during naptime or at night to encourage sleepiness. Most importantly, however, remember that your baby can’t apologize for his or her bad behavior. Be polite and contrite with your fellow passengers, and consider bringing along plenty of disposable earplugs you can pass out should your baby decide to voice his or her displeasure with the experience of flying.