If you are reading this before taking your first trip with a baby, then the title is spot on.
It is a survival guide.
While we can’t give you money to get first class tickets on a plane or make your nervous toddler fall asleep or interested in the roadside scenery, what we can do is give you some tactics and pointers on how to play defense in this ruthless sport you’re new to.
The “opponent” is cute, but has no mercy.
The first rule of packing for the first trip – have a plan and stick to it. Otherwise, you’ll get lost in the what-ifs and could-bes.
Let’s make that plan!
Does your trip include an overnight stay?
If it does and you have room, pack their blanket and their pillow. As you’ll soon realize, the nighttime at a new place is the scariest, so they’ll need stuff they know to comfort them.
If you your hotel doesn’t have an extra bed, you’ll have to pack a portable toddler bed.
A kids air mattress is your best bet here – it packs smaller and lighter compared to foldable foam beds and cots and it’s fun. So, it can also be an effective way of diverting their attention from the fact that they are in a strange new place.
Tip: If you are carrying a toddler air mattress, plan ahead and use the bed around the house for a few weeks and see if it grows on them. You don’t want to learn that they hate it on the first night away. An airbed will also be the only choice for your toddler if your plans include air travel – it’s the only portable bed for kids that packs small enough to be carried as a part of your luggage or as a carry-on.
A carry-on bag for the first 24 hours
If things get hard on that first day, don’t panic, it gets better as they get used to the new experience and you get better at handling whatever issues pop-up.
But, to survive the transit and the first day more easily it’s a good idea to have all you might need on hand.
- Change of clothes for the day (in case of any accidents or spills) and a set of clothes for the next day
- Toothbrush and PJs
- Anything else you might imagine needing for the first 24 hours (like their favorite teddy bear)
- Wipes and paper towels to clean up what they drop or spill and a bag to dispose of the used tissues and towels.
- A bottle of antibacterial hand gel
- High-energy snacks for you
- Water, juice and formula
- If your baby needs diapers, pack one for every hour of the trip and some extra in case of any traffic jams or delays
- Disposable pads to use when changing their diapers
- If they eat solids, you’ll need utensils and baby food
In your trunk (adjust this list to the age of your child)
- First aid kit including pain relievers and basic supplies
- Front carrier – especially if you’re going to be changing transportation, like getting on a train or a plane
- Stroller (collapsible) – these are small enough for a plane overhead compartment
- Night-light – your might have things figured out at home, but in your hotel room, the main light might not have a dimmer. That’s why a soothing nightlight will make nightly diaper changes easier.
- Clothes – a good rule of thumb is having 1 or 2 sets of clothes for every day of the trip
- A baby tub (inflatable) – will make life much easier come bath time
- Some extra sippy cups and bottles
Important: Start small and go from there – don’t make your first trip with a baby a 4-hour flight.
3 additional tips for the first trip
- Forget spontaneity
You can fondly remember the BC (Before Children) days and the spontaneous trips but that’s all you can do, remember.
When traveling with a baby or a toddler, everything has to be planned, booked, checked and re-checked.
- Let them play games and use their phone apps
If you don’t like the idea of your kid being exposed to phones, games and apps, there’s a time and place to control what goes on and it’s not the first trip.
Consider yourself lucky if they take an interest in a game and spend time focused on the screen because if not, they’ll be focused on anything about the new experience that makes them uncomfortable.
- Child locator is a great idea
Trying to keep them by your side at all times will make them feel restricted and that will only make them nervous.
Instead, get one these handy gadgets. Do keep an open eye, but don’t panic if you loose sight of them. Just activate the alarm on the transmitter and walk towards the sound.
The small unit that attaches to your child’s belt or wrist (depending on the model) and the transmitter stays with you.
Don’t be afraid, they can smell fear
Whatever you do, do your best not to let them see you are nervous. A child is like a sponge when it comes to nervous energy.
If they notice you’re frustrated because the line is moving slowly, you might soon have a much bigger problem on your hands then the few minutes lost standing in that line.