Baby's first holiday: a travel guide for new parents

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 Photo: Getty Images

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Life with a new bub can feel overwhelming enough, and it's no exception when it comes to organising your first holiday together as a family.

Here we take the stress out of planning and packing so you can spend more time relaxing.

Flying with a baby? There are a few things to consider.
Flying with a baby? There are a few things to consider.  Photo: Getty Images

Packing: the basics

Clothes

It's easy enough to pack light for babies when it comes to clothes because every item is generally very small. So take advantage of this and don't be tempted to over pack. 

Try to limit your packing to one or two outfits for each day, ensuring that you have outfits to cover all climate and location conditions. Consider things like sun and bug protection, hot and cool temperatures, wind and rain. 

If you're still concerned you may not have enough clothing, pack a small container of washing powder so you can hand wash along the way if needs be. The likelihood is you won't!

Certain toys/familiar items

Babies love familiarity, so packing a toy, blanket or favourite item can help them settle when in their new environment. 

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If you're taking your own travel cot with you, it's a good idea to put them to sleep in it a few times prior to travel so it becomes familiar. Using the same sheets – both at home and while away – can also help with this.

Alternatively, consider taking just a familiar sheet or blanket if you're hiring a cot from a hotel.

Stroller

Taking your stroller on holiday with you is worthwhile and can certainly make life easier, particularly if you're planning on doing lots of sightseeing or day trips.

It can also be handy if you're doing a long haul trip with a few hours layover in an airport en route.

If your stroller is on the bulkier side, it might be worthwhile investing in a cheaper, more lightweight one for situations such as these – or just using a babycarrier or wrap.

You can also opt to hire a stroller and other baby items, including high chairs, from some local businesses. Do some research before you go to find out what you can borrow locally.

Car seats 

Much like the stroller, taking a familiar car seat on holiday is a preferred option for some parents.

However, if you're planning on hiring a car at your destination, it's also worthwhile investigating what they have on offer. Something similar to what you currently have could save you the hassle of carrying more luggage.

Most airlines will allow you to take a stroller or car seat on board as additional carry-on luggage at no extra fee when you're traveling with a baby or infant. Check with your airline before you fly.

Medical supplies

Many parents may find it reassuring to travel with a fully equipped first aid kit incorporating the essentials to cover any baby sicknesses or ailments. 

Consider packing baby paracetamol – whatever you would usually use at home – and any age appropriate creams for instances of nappy rash, bites or skin infections. 

Packing: additional items

  • Formula: if you're travelling overseas and are worried about being able to get your hands on a certain formula, it might be worthwhile taking your own or fully investigating your options before you leave.
  • Night light: If your baby settles better at night with a night light, consider taking a small one with you in the instance that there is not one available in your accommodation.
  • Wipes: Good for both the plane and while away, most parents would agree that wipes serve a multitude of purposes and sins! Ensure you don't run out by packing some in your hand luggage and some in your case.

Planning

Hotels

Choosing the right hotel can be the difference between a good and bad holiday. Therefore, much like destination research, ensure you take the time to do your homework.

There are many things to consider, such as:

  • can the hotel provide cots or trundle beds?
  • is the service and accomodation family friendly?
  • is there a restaurant on the premises – and does it have a kids' menu?
  • is it located close to amenities?
  • does it offer good value for money?
  • is there a Kids Club, or can babysitting services be organised?

Flight/travel times

While it's not always possible to coordinate your travel times with your baby's schedule, it can help if you get it as close as possible.

Therefore, try to book flights that interfere as little as possible with day and night sleeps and, if travelling by car, break the journey up in line with feeds and changes.

Carry-on for your baby

No matter how long your flight is, it pays to have everything you need for your baby close at hand.

To cover any unforeseen situations such as delays, a vomiting child or an explosive nappy, ensure that you not only pack a change of clothes for your baby in your hand luggage, but also yourself.

Pack teethers, toys and rattles for distraction purposes for the flight, too.

Bring more nappies than you think you'd need, and lots of wipes. Also include some ziplock bags to put soiled clothes in.

If you're not breastfeeding, remember to take formula with you for the flight. This can be ready prepared if you prefer, as airlines will not restrict liquids for babies.

(Read more tips on what to bring and how to get through the flight with your baby here.)

Time zones

While there's no surefire way of avoiding jetlag – other than not to travel to certain locations – it can help if you try to adjust your baby to their new time zone as quickly as possible on arrival.

Try getting them up when the sun rises, putting them down to nap at appropriate times and putting them down to sleep when it's dark.  

Try to keep to familiar routines as much as possible, even as far as food, bedtime and play is concerned.

Research before you go

If you're travelling to a new or unknown destination, set aside some time beforehand to fully research it.

Consider researching things like local child friendly restaurants, activities and attractions. Look up 'must sees' and 'must avoids', and look up the nearest pharmacies, doctors and supermarkets. 

Also check out review sites for advice, tips and information from other families who have visited that particular destination with babies.

Insurance

Ensure that before you travel you have the necessary insurance to cover you and your family for any medical, personal loss or emergency situations while you're away.

Review and compare sites and offerings to find the best deal for you.

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