You’re just a couple of days/weeks away until the welcoming smell of sweet pies, roasted turkey, and piping hot stuffing is wafting in your mom’s or grandma’s kitchen. Wherever you’re headed for Thanksgiving, the main concern is getting your little one there. Here are some tips for traveling with a baby this Thanksgiving.
1. Make sure you have all the essential baby gear ahead of time
Don’t assume that the stroller your brother-in-law used last Thanksgiving is still at his mother’s house. If there are any baby items that you don’t want to bring with you, consider calling to ask your host if they have anything that you can use on hand. This doesn’t just mean a place for your little one to sleep or play. It also includes other essentials like a place to bathe them or a nightlight.
Here are some of the items to pack in the diaper bag:
- Baby carrier
- Extra clothes
- Snacks - for older babies that have started solids
- Blanket - to cover your little one when sleeping on long haul drives, flights, or train rides
- Disinfecting wipes and hand sanitizer
- Ziplock bags - for soiled clothing and dirty diapers
Here’s what to pack for the suitcase:
- Baby clothes - onesies, pajamas, outfits, cardigans, jackets, shoes, etc.
- Extra blankets
- A few days/weeks worth of wipes and diapers (depending on how long you plan to stay at your destination)
- Small hand breast pump
- Feeding bottles and bottle-cleaning equipment
- Sleep sack or swaddles
- Medical supplies - thermometer, bandaids, etc.
2. Plan to leave earlier
Your parents are all about an early Thanksgiving meal, and you live a three-hour drive away. That is, three hours if you don’t account for having to make diaper-changing or snack-eating pit stops. Now that you have kids, that three-hour drive has suddenly morphed into five. Plan to either leave your home earlier or head out a day or two before (if your schedule allows) to account for the extra baby time.
3. Keep the weather in mind
November is known to be typically cold in most parts of North America. For all you know, it could snow on Thanksgiving or just be a little chilly. You could never be sure what’s in store for you in terms of weather during this month, which means you need to bring different layers of baby clothes with you. This includes warm and cool sleepers, shirts, and jackets.
4. Pack light
The lighter you travel, the easier your Thanksgiving trip will be. There’s nothing more exhausting than lugging baby gear you may not even get to use around. Definitely keep in mind your mobility needs and pack accordingly - if you plan on going to one destination, it’s no big deal to pack a giant suitcase (though it would still be annoying to deal with unpacking/packing all the stuff), but if you’re going to be catching several trains to get to your destination, that would be very stressful.
It would be convenient to have an extra stroller or playpen at Grandma’s for your upcoming Thanksgiving trip. If you plan to be there again for Christmas or other holidays, you might want to have the duplicate of some of the items you have at home already there. The simplest way to do this is to order a few larger essentials online and have them shipped to your destination. That way, you can travel lightly with your little one.
5. You don’t need to check your carry-on bag
Remember to pack your little one’s essentials in a diaper bag. If you’re planning to fly to your destination, there’s no need to check this bag. You’ll want to keep it with you at all times in case your luggage is unexpectedly lost to ensure that you will still have all the essentials to maintain your baby’s health and comfort.
6. Be sure that it’s safe for the baby if traveling by air
Different airlines have different requirements. Some only permit travel with an infant that is at least two days old, while others require them to be at least two weeks old. Many doctors typically recommend waiting until your little one’s immune system is more developed before flying (at least one month). Some parents opt to wait until their kids are at least 3-6 months old before flying with them. If air travel is out of the question, driving is usually the next best option for most people with young babies.
7. Wear your baby
Wearing your baby is so much easier than pushing around a stroller, especially when traveling on a busy holiday season like Thanksgiving. You can move around with ease, navigate stairs, and generally be more nimble. Plus babies enjoy the comfort that comes with being close to you. Many of them nap or sleep faster in a carrier, even if you’re on the go. Of course, this option won’t work for everyone, but it’s worth a try especially if you’re traveling in tight spaces like a plane or train.
8. Bring along some special items with you
Babies find a sense of comfort from all things familiar, so don’t forget to pack that special binkie or blanket when preparing to travel away from home for Thanksgiving. A special, familiar item will help to calm your baby when they feel overstimulated with the change of routine and unfamiliar faces.
9. Try to keep a schedule
Try your best to maintain the same schedule for your little one. Babies don’t understand special occasions like Thanksgiving. It’s in their best interests to keep up their usual feeding and napping schedule as much as possible when on the move. That way, you provide them with the security they need to adjust to new places and faces.
10. Avoid traveling on the busiest days
Traveling on a crowd-free day is ideal especially if you’re planning on using a plane or train, but it might not be that easy with your work schedule. If possible, avoid traveling on the day before Thanksgiving when using these means of transport - this is when airports and train stations will be at their busiest. If you have no choice, your best option may be to drive to your destination where possible.
Traveling with a baby is far from easy, but with these tips in mind, you can make your experience a bit more hassle-free.