If you’re going away with your family for Labor Day weekend, or sometime in the future, here are ten travel tips to help make your trip easier. (We assume you’re already packing an iPad or portable DVD player and at least one bottle of wine.) Safe and happy travels!
1. Get the kids involved with planning and packing. But instead of lugging extra bags and giving yourself back pain, place an order on Diapers.com and send what you need ahead of time. Just make sure you let your hotel or the owner of your rental home know to expect a package.
2. Before you leave, create an itinerary of your trip, including your transportation details and all the places you’re staying with phone numbers. Email it to a close family member or friend so they’ll know where you are and how to get in touch with you. TripIt can help.
3. Make a list of your most important contacts–including the phone numbers of a local doctor and hospital in the destination where you’re going, the US embassy, your pediatrician back home, and of course any family members and friends you might want to get in touch with while you’re away. If you’re taking a plane, pack one copy of the list in your carry-on bag and another one in your checked luggage. For additional safety, email the list to yourself and your travel companions.
4. If you’re going on an international trip, make copies of everyone’s passports and pack them in a different bag than the one holding your actual passports. You might want to consider doing the same thing for your drivers license on a domestic vacation.
5. Depending on how far-flung your destination and your own health conditions, consider buying medical evacuation insurance. A short-term family membership from MedjetAssist starts at just $170 and if you have a medical emergency, they’ll get you to the hospital of your choice from almost anywhere in the world.
6. Hungry babies are not happy travelers. Have snacks on you—lots of them—and especially fun new ones like animal crackers, silly shaped cookies, and freeze-dried fruit in addition to a few favorites. Squeezable packets like the ones from Ella’s Kitchen are a great way to carry vegetables with you.
7. On that same note, especially if you’re traveling with a new eater, bring a lightweight, packable booster seat. It’s not expensive and it saves you the hassle of having to find a restaurant that stocks highchairs when your little one is hungry.
8. Bring a couple of lightweight blankets like the ones from Aden + Anais. They serve multiple purposes. In addition to keeping the kids warm, they can work as makeshift pillows at nap time (just ball them up), sunshades for babies, and burp cloths or napkins in case of a mess. They’re also great for playing peekaboo.
9. Don’t forget to pack the medicines you keep on hand at home for emergencies, particularly Tylenol and Benadryl, and sunblock.
10. For a long plane, train, or car ride with a toddler: Go to the dollar store and buy a bunch of small toys, books, puzzles, coloring books, stickers, mini board games, etc. Wrap them all individually in wrapping paper. Every time your little one starts to get squirmy, pull out a new “present” for her to unwrap and play with. It may only buy you 10 minutes or so per gift, but if you bring 10 presents, that’s almost 2 hours of something to do. Plus, you’ll have new things to play with at your destination.