Planning a trip with a baby (or more than one!) may seem overwhelming. You’ve likely got your daily feeding, sleeping, and play routine down pat—and heading to a new destination has the potential to topple the whole delicate balance. That’s why you’ll hear parents of babies and young kids often describe family vacations as “taking this show on the road.” No matter where you’re heading, you’ll need much of the same gear, routines, and parenting strategies that you use to care for your brood at home.
That said, each type of trip presents its own unique challenges in order to make sure the littlest family members are healthy and happy from one minute to the next, and everyone in the group is enjoying the break. Choose your destination type below for some targeted tips and tricks for seamless, stress-free traveling with babies and small children.
Destination: The shore
The promise of a trip to the lake, seaside, or river conjures cool splashing, barbecues and bonfires, and starry night skies. Make that fantasy a reality by following these tips for any beach or waterside vacation.
- Map out water safety in advance: Discuss with your partner and any other adults on the trip how you’ll split child-watching duties near bodies of water. When taking your baby in or on the water, remember that “water wings” and other wearable inflation devices aren’t safety gear—a legitimate infant life jacket should be USCG-certified (by the Coast Guard).
- Consider a tent or pen: Babies can’t effectively sweat to cool off like kids and adults can, which makes it extra important to have shade for them if you’re in the sun for any length of time. A portable baby beach tent or playpen under an umbrella gives them their own space to chill.
- Calculate food needs: In the same way that you throw a few extra pairs of socks in your suitcase, make sure you have enough formula and any other baby food to last just a few days longer than you think you need. Aussie Bubs goat milk infant formula comes in convenient 400 gram tins for easy packing—stash one in each person's luggage so that even if one bag gets left behind, you've still got formula on hand.
Destination: The city
Exploring a new city is exciting, and can be easily done with your baby strapped to your chest or happily sightseeing from their travel stroller. With a little advanced research, you can streamline your packing list and travel light as you explore as a family.
- Preview public transportation: Some cities are driving cities—like Los Angeles. Others are all about subways and taxis—think New York City. Search travel sites and talk to friends who’ve been to your destination to determine the best mode of transportation for your family while on vacation. A “hop-on, hop-off” bus system, for example, might be difficult if you’re constantly folding and unfolding the stroller, and worried about baby riding a bus with no car seat.
- Build in breaks: There is so much to see on a trip like this—from museums to landmarks, restaurants to parks. But even from the comfort of a stroller, your baby can become exhausted. Just as you would at home, make sure to build in downtime every day. Decide what that looks like to your family: Sightseeing in the morning, then back to your hotel/lodging for lunch and a nap before heading out again later? A full day of touring, with a long midday break at an air-conditioned lunch spot or shady park?
- Be flexible with feeding: If you need a cool spot to sit and breastfeed, search to find a nearby Mamava lactation pod, or a baby/maternity store or upscale department store. If you’ve packed your day bag with a clean bottle filled with a scoop of powder formula, don’t panic if you can’t get warm water to mix in—room temperature or cold water is also fine, and might be a cool treat for your baby on a hot day.
Destination: Multi-family house share
No wonder the multi-family house share vacation is so popular: The kids have built-in playmates, the parents have built-in besties, and everyone pitches in for dinners, cooking, and child-minding. Here are a few tips to make the week go perfectly.
- Choose housemates with same-age kids: This type of vacation works best if others have babies too. It might be tougher to schedule group activities and mealtimes with families with tweens and older kids.
- Share gear where you can: Do you really need a baby bathtub for each baby? Not unless they’ll be bathing at the exact same time every night. That said, if you relish the idea of a group pic of all the bubs lined up in their baby bouncer seats, by all means everyone BYO.
- Ship ahead to the house: If you’re road-tripping to the house share, save room in the trunk by packing light and shipping extra stuff straight to the house to get there a day or two into the trip. Things like baby formula and packaged food, diapers, and other bulky supplies will arrive right when you need them.
Destination: Theme park
Theme parks are made for families—and the amenities and thought most put into the visitor experience more than makes up for the full-tilt energy required to maximize a day at the park. Here’s how to get the most out of your visit, without sacrificing baby’s comfort or your sanity.
- Be realistic about your child’s needs: Some babies can sleep anywhere, anytime. Others require two 2-hour naps a day, like clockwork. Plan your visit around that routine and you’ll avoid meltdowns in family members of all ages. With that in mind, think about park tickets: Would your family benefit from a “park hopper” where you can come and go between parks as you please (going back to your room or rental as needed)? Or do you plan to make just one visit to the theme park every day?
- Look for baby care centers: Check the park map for baby care centers or nursing rooms, which generally offer a changing station, refrigerator, microwave, and comfortable place to feed your baby, all in the cool comfort of air conditioning.
- Manage your own expectations: Don’t put pressure on yourself to fit it all in. While kids older than three or four may remember this trip forever, younger kids and babies won’t. So if they don’t get to see any characters or a particular parade or show, it’s not the end of the world. Go at your own pace, and enjoy their reactions—and your own—in the moment.
A family trip to another country can be an amazing adventure for everyone. In this type of trip more than any other, you and your baby may both be in unfamiliar territory. Prepare your family for a trip of a lifetime with these tips.
- Pick a night flight: Your baby (and you) will be more likely to fall asleep on the plane during their normal sleep hours than at any other time. (Fingers crossed!) Dress baby for comfort and quick-change success—the less buttoning, snapping, and other maneuvering you have to do during diaper changing, the happier you’ll both be.
- Feed them during takeoff and landing: Adults can chew gum or swallow on demand to reduce pressure in their ears, but babies can’t. So feed them instead, to trigger the swallowing reflex and prevent that painful ear “pop” feeling.
Manage jet lag: Most of the rules for adults apply to babies, too. If the trip is less than a week, consider staying on “home time” regardless of the time at your destination. Otherwise, if your plane lands in the morning, hit the ground running rather than going straight to the hotel for shut-eye. (One exception: If your baby likes a 10:30 a.m. nap, try putting her down at 10:30 destination time.) Be sure to bring sleep ritual items from home like a favorite blanket, pacifier, or scented bath wash.