After over 2 weeks of waiting to find a minute to sit down and type this blog post the time has finally come. Note to self: Do not plan a move a week after your vacation. Bad idea!
The beginning of November my family went to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico for a week. It was a really fun trip! Puerto Vallarta, is a great place for families to travel to. I’m not a travel agent that’s going to tell you all the great places to stay but many resorts in Puerto Vallarta are “kid friendly” and even have kids clubs if the parents want a night out or to venture off for zip lining or golf for a few hours during the day. Puerto Vallarta is also great because majority of the hotels are all inclusive and have buffet style restaurants (save the nice restaurants for your date night) which even the pickiest of eaters will be able to find something to nibble on.
I have put together some travel tips for parents travelling with babies. I thought they may be timely for people who like to leave the cold weather at home or people who are planning a trip to see family over the holidays.
- If your kids will need passports make sure to apply for them well in advance (at least a few weeks before) so you don’t have to pay any rush penalties. As well, have all paperwork for passports in order like birth certificates ect. When we went to apply we only have the kids “short” birth certificates (without the parents names) and apparently you can only apply if you use the “long” birth certificates (with both parent’s names). We of course, did not have those and had to go pay $25.00 each to get both kids one. What a scam if you ask me! Don’t forget to make sure you and your partner’s passports are not expired!
- Be sure all immunizations for everyone, especially the kids, are up to date if travelling abroad. Check with your doctor if there are any types of immunizations your kids should be getting based on the area you plan to travel.
- Time your trip. Think about the time of year you are going (peak vs off season). Take advantage of off season if you can because that means there is potential for extra seats on the plane to be available or potential room upgrades when you arrive. Obviously, if you’re going somewhere warm, like Mexico, you do want to make sure the weather will be good. Sometimes off season = rainy/storm season! You do not want your trip to be spent with 2 kids inside a hotel room. Also consider the time of day you are travelling. If you can, plan flights around the baby’s sleep or nap schedule schedule.
- Start to pack a week (at least) in advance. Even if it’s just getting the suitcases out, making a list and getting bathing suits/swim shorts set aside and ready to pack. When you are travelling with your kids, especially a baby, there is so much pack and organize if you leave it to the last minute you will definitely forget something.
- When booking your flight arrange seating together as best you can. If you will be travelling with baby on your lap (children under 2), typically an aisle seat is best so you can easily get up and down. For an extra cost, you can buy a seat for the baby and use your car seat. Most standard car seats are acceptable by most airlines but obviously you want to check with them at the time of booking. (do not wait and assume it will be ok). Also try to arrange your other children and partner either in the same row or in front or behind so you can pass snacks, toys or the baby back and forth easily if needed. If the airline happens to not allow you to all sit together most people are nice enough to switch. (they would be pretty ignorant not to in my opinion).
- If you plan to rent or borrow a crib, highchair, playpen ect. from the hotel you are staying make sure to confirm at the time of booking so you can ensure there will be one available when you check in.
Starting to pack is overwhelming. The list of things for the baby is twice as long as yours (and you had 4 pairs of shoes down). Getting organized as soon as possible is the best way to keep things in order as much as possible. Weeks before I made sure I had essential items I would need like sunhat, sunscreen, bathing suits (make sure clothing will be the correct size for when you are travelling if packing in advance) and I put them all in a separate drawer in her dresser then added to it as I went along.
Pack light for yourself, your husband and older children to help yourself out with all the many bags of luggage you’ll have. Honestly, I think between the 4 of us we had a suitcase and carry on each! Plus my purse, a cooler bag and a garment bag...try to condense this! We looked like a travelling circus! It was not fun trying to hull it all through the airport while pushing the stroller. If you’re going somewhere warm you’ll be in your bathing suit most days. You don’t need a different pair of shorts for every day. Get a wrap instead or sundress to wear over your bathing suit down to the beach.
What to pack for the flight:
Aside from your own personal items pack everything that is essential for the baby on the flight in the diaper bag. If you can, bring a carry on bag which has all the baby's clothes and other supplies as well. If your suitcase got lost after being checked the chances of you being able to buy a bathing suit are much higher than you finding all the things you need for the baby in a store somewhere on your trip and baby items can be expensive to replace. If you don't want to carry a purse as an extra bag then put your wallet, cell phone and travel documents inside an easy to reach, secure place in the diaper bag. Ziploc bags are great for organizin things like travel documents, passports, first aid items ect.
- Enough diapers to last the plane ride plus another few hours just incase anything happened with your luggage or the plane is delayed to land ect. If you are cloth diapering, I would suggest the disposable liners for during the flight. If disposable, make sure they are good quality absorbent diapers with good fit around the legs to prevent leaks. (maybe even use night time ones)
- Wipes for hands, faces and the obvious! Make sure you have a full pack before you leave.
- Diaper rash cream or ointment
- Waterproof bib
- Reclosable plastic bag for wet clothes, dirty diapers ect.
- A comfort object for baby like a soother or stuffed animal (and maybe an extra just incase it gets lost)
- A light blanket
- A light jacket or sweater incase its cold on the airplane
- A pair of socks or booties
- First aid kit with Band-Aids, medications and baby sunscreen
- Extra change of clothes (especially if baby bag with clothing won't be accessible during the flight)
- A supply of snacks and breast milk/formula. (see cooler bag)
*Quick tip: Nurse or feed baby a bottle during take-off and landing to help their ears with the pressure
I brought a cooler bag with a few ice packs because it was small and easy to keep things cool. It also came in handy to bring down to the pool for the afternoon so we didn't have to make trips back up to the hotel room for every feeding. If formula feeding, you could buy ready-to-use formula to use during the flight. If you are comfortable breast feeding on the airplane, bring a nursing cover and breast feed during the flight and then it’s one less thing to think about packing. If your baby is eating solids bring some rice crackers, cheerios or a small unopened jar of baby food. Disposable spoons are a good idea as well.
*Note for when you go through security, have the unopened items separate (maybe in the diaper bag or another carry on) from any bottles of breast milk or premixed formula as containers of liquids have to be checked so if everything is in their together they consider it all to be potential "contaminated" and have to scan it all separately then put it through the conveyer part again as well.
Other items to pack when travelling with a baby:
- Baby carrier – great to where while at the airport and also some are allowed to be warn during the flight
- Portable baby seat/feeding seat.
- Umbrella Stroller
- Portable playpen/playard (if hotel isn’t supplying one for you)
- Kettle to boil water
- A new toy or game to entertain them during the flight or while on the trip
Last little bit of advice... if you can, travel with your parents, in-laws or another couple with kids for your first trip. You may not want to spend your week away with your parents but look at it as an extra pair of hands to help. My in-laws came with us to Mexico and it allowed Shane & I to go out for a date night...Aww! Sounds romantic right? Well our date night turned into 24 hours of what seemed to be food poisoning for BOTH of us!!! If my in-laws weren’t there with us I honestly don’t know what we would of done to entertain a 6 year old and a baby in a hotel room all day in between our trips to the bathroom.
Travelling with kids can be great if you plan everything right and know what to expect. (it’s won’t be like your honeymoon this time) So get in the mind set ahead of time and make the best of it. Your family will be able to share experiences together that will last a lifetime!
I’ve included a few pictures from our trip below.