With Thanksgiving, Christmas and other holidays coming up, you’re probably starting to think about traveling, whether it’s to go visit your family or because you and your partner have a bit more time off and can take a trip that’s longer than just a weekend.
While the “To travel or not to travel?” question was easily answered pre-baby (the answer was an easy yes!), things are now a bit more complicated with a little one in tow.
While on the one hand it would be great to introduce everyone to bébé and bébé to all the quirky family traditions, on the other hand, traveling during the holidays is always so crazy and crowded… and now you want to add the complication of doing it with a baby?
Here are the top 7 things to consider when trying to decide whether or not to travel with bébé during the holiday season.
1. If you can, avoid the busiest travel days of the season.
In the US, the busiest travel days this year are on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, November 25, and on December 23. Of course, this makes sense because everyone wants to spend the holiday actually on holiday. Traveling even one day earlier can significantly reduce how busy the airport is and the likelihood of scoring a free seat for your little one.
2. Consider how long the flight is and how heavy your baby is before buying tickets.
Children under 2 years get issued infant tickets which means that they are supposed to sit on a parent’s lap for the flight. If it’s an intercontinental flight, you may be able to score a bassinet if your child is small enough (i.e. under 6 months or 10 kg is the general rule). Some airlines, like British Airways, do have bassinets on intercontinental flights that are adapted to take kids until they are 2 years old.
All that to say, if the flight is longer than a couple hours and you can’t fathom having your baby on your lap for that long, you should probably buy a seat for your baby. Be sure to factor that into your budget! Some flights might require you to have a FAA-approved car seat to put your baby in, so be sure to check with your airline.
3. Go direct!
If you can avoid stopovers, do it. Traveling with a baby invariably involves bringing lots of extra stuff with you, so having to change planes is an unnecessary hassle. Unless you’re doing some extreme transcontinental traveling (i.e. more than 24 hours door-to-door), minimize the layovers and get where you’re going the shortest way possible. Recently, bébé voyage Club member Audrey W. asked the group whether it was better to do one longer flight or two shorter flights, and traveling parents everywhere responded that they would rather avoid the layover.
4. Take as little as possible.
Especially if you’re going to visit the grandparents’ and are likely to be going back regularly, get them to stock up on all the baby equipment like a crib or pack’n’play, a high chair, a car seat and maybe even a stroller, not to mention a sterilizer and/or mini-food processor. That way, you only need to pack the necessities… and the holiday presents! Of course, you could also order the holiday presents online and have them delivered.
There’s a couple ways this could go. Host the holiday at your place, but then be sure to delegate as much to others as possible. Or book a destination an easy drive from your place (maybe a couple hours) and have everyone meet you there.
6. Start a new family tradition by celebrating Thanksgiving on the following Saturday and Christmas on the 26th!
While the Wednesday before the Thanksgiving and the day before Christmas Eve are really busy travel days, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas are super light. Sometimes airports feel a little spooky because they’re so empty on those days. But we have close family friends who always celebrate their Thanksgiving meal on the Saturday after so that family coming from far away can take advantage of lower fares and generally easier conditions by traveling on Thanksgiving Day, and people driving in can avoid traffic. It makes it a lot less stressful for everyone!
7. Save up your vacation days and travel during the off-season
Another option is to just avoid traveling during peak season altogether. That way you can save up your vacation days and take time off when traveling is less hectic. Some offices will even let you negotiate getting bonus vacation days if you work over the holidays. That way you could spend even more time traveling with your little one!
Travel can be stressful and having a baby can be stressful and combining the two can be super stressful. But if you think through your travel plans with your baby in mind then it’s totally doable and can even be fun. In fact, we have a Club dedicated to parents traveling with babies. Come join us!