Children on a Road Trip (credit: Thinkstock)
It is hard to believe how fast time flies and before you know it, your first vacation with your little one will be here. Whether you are packing up to visit family, get away for a family weekend or flying off to a tropical destination for a dream vacation with the entire family, you are going to want to be prepared for your child’s first vacation.
Depending on where you travel, you might need a passport. Babies and children need passports too. If you plan to take a cruise or drive over the border you can get a simple passport card. However, if you plan to fly overseas you will need to get a passport book. Make sure to allow ample time to apply and receive the passport before leaving for your vacation.
When flying you will have to make your way through security, and if you do not pack accordingly, you may find yourself having items confiscated from you. Before leaving for the airport, learn your rights and know what you can and cannot take through security. TSA allows you to carry breast milk, formula and baby food in reasonable quantities exceeding 3.4 ounces. You are also allowed to take any medically necessary liquids and gels with you in your carry-on.
Before leaving on vacation with your child, you must make a list of what you need and determine if you will need to pack a bag to be checked, or if you can fit everything in your carry-on luggage. Chances are when traveling with kids you will have to check a bag. Make sure to know what the limitations are on checked baggage and get a list of all associated fees. If you are worried about the stroller or car seat, do not worry about it. Most airlines will allow you to check car seat and stroller attachments at the gate and it will be waiting for you when you arrive at your destination. Just avoid bringing an oversized or non-collapsible stroller, which might not be allowed to check at the gate.
If you will be staying with family, make sure to know what the sleeping arrangements will be. Know if they will have a pack’n’play or a crib available for your little one. It is also a good idea to know if they will have a quiet place for babies and toddlers to take a nap in the afternoon. If you are staying in a hotel, call ahead and make arrangements to have a crib or pack’n’play delivered to your room upon your arrival. If something for your little one to sleep in is not available, it might be necessary to pack and bring one yourself.
Depending upon how far you have to travel, your child will have hours of time that needs to be filled with something to do. Of course, chances are kids will nap in the car during a road trip or sleep while on the plane. However, they will not be sleeping the entire time. Bring something along to keep the child entertained while traveling. This can be in the form of small toys, books or a portable movie player. This will also help keep the child occupied when sitting around in the hotel room during down time.
Shop for snacks before you leave. This will help save you money from having to pay the high costs of snacks at gas stations or at the airport. Use zip-locking bags in snack size to portion out snacks for your child. Make sure to include some of his or her favorite snacks. This will help keep the child occupied and hopefully less fussy in between meal breaks.