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TRAVEL TIPS & INTEL

How to Plan Family Trips: Traveling With Your First Child

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Shortly after I had my daughter, I remember thinking that my traveling days were over until she was in grade school, or at least until she could walk through an airport by herself. However, as I settled into motherhood, I realized that hopping on round trip flights (or hitting the road) with a little one wasn’t just possible, but rewarding and fun too. Traveling with an infant or toddler can be challenging, but it doesn’t have to be daunting if you take the proper steps to prepare.

Start your travel planning by searching for round trip flights and use the following tips for a fun family trip with your child!

1. Give Yourself Plenty of Time

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Giving yourself plenty of time is key in order to reduce stress while traveling with young children. Few things are more stressful than rushing through an airport or unknown city with a tiny person in tow. When booking transportation and activities, be sure to give yourself ample time to get to and from a location. Pay special attention to connecting flights and transportation to and from airports and train stations.

2. Plan Travel around Your Child’s Schedule

Keeping your little one’s sleep schedule and arrangements as similar/consistent as possible is key when traveling.

If you are taking a flight, try to time it for around your toddler’s bedtime. Full disclosure: This will either be a huge success or a spectacular failure – either way, you’ll have a story to tell! On one of our most successful trips, we got to the airport around 6:30 pm, let our toddler run around the airport for an hour after getting through security, boarded the plane around 8:00 pm, and she slept for the duration of the four-hour flight (It was glorious!). Additionally, keeping your little one’s sleep schedule and arrangements (where she/he sleeps, how she/he falls asleep, etc.) as similar/consistent as possible is key when traveling. That means planning ahead in order to “recreate” the home sleep setting and rituals in a hotel or vacation rental. Keeping a consistent nap schedule can help eliminate exhaustion meltdowns as well.

3. Choose Kid-Friendly Accommodations

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Accommodations are so much more relaxing when both kids and parents are comfortable. Before booking, be sure to verify that the vacation rental or hotel room has everything you and your little one need for a restful stay. Likewise, be sure to choose a place that welcomes children instead of giving them (and their parents) the side-eye as soon as they walk through the door. This will make everything much easier!

RELATED: Got older kids and want to plan the perfect family road trip this summer? Here’s how to make sure the whole family has a memorable, stress-free journey!

4. Pack All Products Your Child Needs

Making a list of essentials will save you a lot of time and headaches along the way.

You may be able to get your tot’s favorite all-natural shampoo at the local grocery store at your destination, but don’t count on it. If there are special products you use at home, be sure to pack them for the trip. It’s one less thing to worry about as you’re traveling and will save you a lot of time and headaches along the way. I make a list, written or on my phone, of essentials and then double-check to make sure I’ve packed them all before I zip up my bag and head to the airport. Remember to bring the stroller and a car seat, too (you can gate-check these for no extra cost).

5. Build in Some Adult Time

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Whether you’re traveling on round trip flights with your partner or just with your child, it’s important to make time for activities that fulfill you as an adult, not just a parent. That could be a museum visit while your little sweetie is napping in the stroller or a glass of wine on the patio after he or she falls asleep. Traveling with kids doesn’t mean it has to be all about them. You deserve some fun as well!

What tips do you have for traveling with infants or toddlers? Let us know in the comments section.

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About the author

Jen Westmoreland Bouchard

Jen Westmoreland Bouchard

An insatiable foodie, art collector, and international literature aficionado, I have traveled throughout Europe, Asia, the U.S. and Canada. For the past fifteen years, I have written about my adventures for various travel and literary publications. I am the owner of Lucidité Writing (www.luciditewriting.com) and Bouchard Design Co. (www.boucharddesign.co).

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