Need to travel for the holidays with baby? Here’s what you need to know to make it easier!

How was your holiday period?

Ours was busy – as usual!

But fortunately, we didn’t need to travel with our kids this year. 

Since I was tiny I have been used to traveling to spend time with family for the holidays.

Every year we would be bundled up into the car for a 6 hour journey to visit our uncle and aunt and cousins. All the stops were the same each year. We all knew the signs – that tower meant it was nearly a stop, that town was where we got a snack, that road lead us to the big city and our destination… as farm kids that was half of the excitement!

Lots and lots of us do this kind of thing. It’s part of the holiday tradition for many to travel and visit family.

But of course once we bring baby into the picture it gets a wee bit more complicated…

For such tiny people, babies sure need a ton of stuff.

And to think of traveling with all that stuff – and then what if you forget something!?!?! – is quite intimidating.

So here is the best advice I can think of to give you for the holiday season if you need to travel.

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Plan ahead so you don’t actually have to pack everything

If you are traveling to family this is easier, of course. But even when you book accommodation you should be able to find out what they already have there, so you don’t have to double up and take all of your own things.

Here is a list of questions I would be asking ahead of time, whether it’s family or elsewhere:

  • Is there a cot there already?
  • Is there a high chair / kiddie seat?
  • Are baby gates in place if there are stairs?
  • Any baby latches / safety catches on cupboard doors that need them?

I would be looking at a travel crib if you need to take one. Ideally one that packs up and down very easily. 

This one from Baby Bjorn is a good example.

In terms of bedding, my kids always slept in sleep sacks. I highly recommend them if you have wrigglers!!

That said it may be a good way to keep your packing light as well. Then in colder weather you can use a heavier sleep sack and put blankets over baby as well if need be.

Something like this sleep sack would be perfect!

We had light cotton ones for very warm summer nights and ones with merino wool for cold winter nights. And they made our lives so much easier!

It is worth saying as well that if your baby has several toys they like with them to get to sleep then if possible try to reduce that in the lead up to traveling so you only have to take a few with you while away from home! 

If your baby only has one main toy they sleep with each night… then I suggest making sure you buy a backup!! No one wants the nightmare of leaving precious Mr Ted behind at Grandma’s 8 hours drive away…

My husband’s cousin had one of these for her baby girl this year and I wish I had found this when my kids needed one, so I highly recommend it to you!

Not only does it hold baby in quite firmly, but it is also really easy to set up AND it packs down flat to carry. I never found one that did all of those things before. I had a plastic seat that held my wrigglers still but it didn’t pack down flat. Check it out here!

My wrigglers never made me confident enough to try the cheaper, easier material versions even though I wanted to. They also had to sit on the adult seat which meant they were not up high enough at the table to see the action! But it may work for you – it was one like this

And of course there are this kind that fit onto a table, so your little one can be part of all of the action!

If need be you can take a pack of safety latches with you as you travel too.

Whatever you do decide you need to take with you, I suggest trying to find the easiest to use and pack away. It will make the experience that much less frustrating.

Stop as often as you need to

Obviously, this applies to you traveling by vehicle rather than plane.

But even on a plane I would still say you should find a way to stand up and walk around as much as you can manage.

You will know your baby best. Some kids are happy to sit and watch things going on around them, even if there isn’t much happening, and play with their own toys.

Some kids have to move!

Life will be easier if you can help them to do that as often as possible.

Keep expectations low!

Do yourself a favor and do not hope for much more than getting there and being there.

If that sounds pessimistic, then think of it this way: once you achieve that goal anything else you manage is awesome!!

Your wonderful family may have things they do each and every year that involve things you will find hard to do with baby. It’s ok to discuss in advance how that is going to be managed. It’s even ok for you to say you won’t be able to join in this time around. 

And if you can manage to do it, then go you!! 

My family tend to do things on the spur of the moment. Which can be great fun. But not for our little boy who has autism and doesn’t cope with things that are not planned.

[He never did either, even as a baby… try explaining to baby what the plans are so that they can be prepared in advance. It sounds silly but anything is worth a try! Talk about who will be there, what will happen and make sure you use simple language. Honestly, I have actually done this and *sometimes* it really did work! I think he knew the names of the people, already loved them and he was happy that we would be spending time with them. He would also catch my enthusiasm I think!! Of course, this was once he was an older baby, not a newborn. But I just think sometimes we drag our wee ones along with us not expecting them to understand what is happening anyway, or thinking there is no point in talking about it. But babies are very observant and generally use us as their way of knowing how they should feel about something coming up.]

We have learned the art of keeping our expectations down to being there and managing to join in with whatever seems possible. And our family has learned that we love them but can’t always do the fun things they suggest. 

However you find your holidays going, I hope you find ways to enjoy yourself with limited stress if you are needing to travel with baby.