Travel Tips

Easy-trip tips

Forgot something? Vacation areas often have shops where you can rent bulky items like cribs and strollers.
Toss a handful of outlet covers in your suitcase if you'll be staying in a hotel: Most rooms aren't baby-proofed.
Stock a bag with a few safe toys that your child has never seen before: Surprises can go a long way toward entertaining a bored little traveler.
Pack plenty of age-appropriate snacks.
We repeat: Pack plenty of snacks!

Essentials for Travel

No matter where you go or how--by plane, train, or automobile--getting there with a baby or toddler in tow will be infinitely more complicated than traveling was before you had a kid. After all, just because you're away from home doesn't mean you can take a vacation from diapers or car seats or even cribs. can help lighten your load considerably, by delivering much of what you'll need to your destination. But some essentials you'll have to bring along, for your child's safety, comfort, and entertainment (aka your sanity) en route. Don't leave home without 'em!

The best for travel are light-weight (with a sturdy frame that locks firmly in place); are easy to set up and break down; come with a tight-fitting mattress; feature mesh sides (so you can see in and your baby can see out); have a storage bag; and have a washable surface. Use sheets that fit your portable crib's mattress snugly (loose-fitting ones could create a suffocation hazard).
For the plane. Airborne babies are safest strapped into a car seats, so make sure the one you buy for the car is approved for use on planes (the label will say so).
If you plan to check your baby's car seat, a special carrier will help to guarantee it gets to your destination in one piece. The carrier you buy should be padded, close up securely (think, sturdy zippers), and, of course, be compatible with your car seat. For extra convenience, some carriers come with shoulder straps or wheels.
The stroller you use at home may be too heavy or bulky for travel, in which case you'll want a lightweight, easy-to-fold version for the airport or the trunk of the car. If your baby is an infant, a wheeled frame that the carrier part of her car seat clicks into is ideal. Look for one with a roomy basket (perfect for souvenirs!). For a baby who has the neck and upper body strength to hold her head up, an umbrella-style stroller is just the ticket. Must-have features: a five-point harness, one-handed folding mechanism, sturdy wheels, a sun- and rain-shielding hood, and plenty of storage space.
Can't bear the thought of buying a second stroller just for travel? Consider a combo car seat and stroller--essentially a car seat that comes with a separate frame on wheels. Some models have car seats that work for infants and toddlers, so you'll get a lot of use out of them. You can also buy wheeled frames separately; make sure any you consider will work with your car seat. Make sure the frame is sturdy, the wheels are steady, and it's easy to attach the car seat securely.
Fly much? If your child is over a year old, you might want to purchase a harness that attaches directly to the airplane seat belt, turning it into a five-point restraint system that'll be way safer than just the lap belt. Check the age and weight recommendations on the harness so you get the right fit for your child, and make sure the harness is approved by the Federal Aviation Administration.
Hitting the road with a toddler? Consider bringing along a portable potty seat (tots-in-training are often reluctant to use a strange toilet; and sometimes nature calls when you're on the road but nowhere near a bathroom). A travel-friendly potty seat will fold up and come with a carrying case; use disposable bags for waste; and be easy to wipe clean. (Another option: a foldable insert for regular toilets.)
The fun stuff you bring along for the car or plane (or train, for that matter) will need to fit an entirely different set of criteria than what your child plays with in the privacy of your house (although all toy safety rules still apply). We recommend that any toys you bring along when you travel:
  • have a minimum of small pieces that can get lost underneath or between seats
  • come in some sort of container, so if there are multiple parts to keep up with your child can easily put them away
  • are easily played with on a seat back tray or your child's lap; handheld toys are ideal
  • make little or no noise (especially if you're traveling by train or plane)
  • require very little help from a grown-up if you'll be traveling by car (unless you plan to ride shotgun with your child and can play with her)
Also think about investing in a portable DVD player; bringing along CDs of kid-friendly music (and if you can't stand those types of tunes, we suggest you turn your tot onto what you like between trips!); and packing plenty of chunky