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Preparing for Holiday Travel with a Baby

Oh, there’s no place like home for the holidays… And this time of year, you may have plans to visit family in another city or state to celebrate Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah or New Year’s Eve.

Spending hours on a plane or in a car is exhausting for anyone, and it’s even more challenging with a baby. Here are a few tips for surviving holiday travel with small children, and getting to enjoy your time with loved ones once you arrive!

Pack the right gear.

Go through each step of your trip in your head. What equipment will you need for each one to be smooth and stress-free? For a road trip to Grandma and Grandpa’s, this list might include extra bottles of formula or pumped milk, a travel changing pad and favorite toys for the journey, as well as a stroller, a Pack ‘n Play, and a lightweight baby monitor for when you get there. For a plane ride, you may have to pack lighter but can still include essentials like extra diapers and wipes, a change of clothes, and a tablet for emergency entertainment.

Weigh the costs.

The cheapest travel option usually comes with strings attached, such as 11 hours on the road, or a red-eye flight with 3 layovers. Before picking the most economical way from Point A to Point B, consider all of the pros and cons. Look for ways to keep a good balance between a practical budget and a sane travel schedule. It might be worth splurging on a few extras – a night in a motel to break up a long drive, or a bit more on airfare to avoid multiple connections.

Keep your baby’s schedule in mind.

If your baby sleeps well in transit, you may want to travel late at night or early in the morning to try to maintain a normal sleep schedule. Roads are quieter during these hours, and airports are also less chaotic. During the holiday, you can expect a certain amount of disruption to your normal routine, but stay on track with what you can. Plan family meals or events around regular nap, feeding and bedtimes when possible.

Make room for downtime.

Family holidays provide a lot of activity and excitement – but it’s important that you carve out some quiet time for both you and baby. Don’t feel bad if you need to take a short break from the crowd to relax and recharge – and rejoin the fun later!

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