Planes, Trains, and Automobiles
To travel or not to travel is truly dependent on how you, as new parents, feel. If you are up to the adventure, pack the diaper bag and your suitcases and take to the air, rails, or highway with your little one.
If you are considering air travel, first check with your pediatrician. Baby's ears are still developing, and flight can sometimes be painful. You and your doctor can decide what age is best for your child to experience her first plane trip.
Some airlines offer free passage to babies if they sit on your lap. Others offer fares at a discount for infants in their own seat (with a car seat). Contact your travel agent or airline and ask about current regulations regarding car seats, bassinets, and diaper changing facilities—some airlines supply all of these added amenities. Also inquire about pre-boarding procedures and if you will be able to board your stroller in the cabin, or if you may check it at the gate and have it brought to you shortly after landing.
Air travel is very dehydrating. And drinking during ascent and descent will help your little one's ears pop, making this rough part of travel easier on her (and your fellow passengers). But new airline regulations may limit carrying on water and milk or formula for you and your baby. Contact the airline before you pack carry-on luggage and learn what's OK to bring on board.
Taking the train is a second travel option and may be less overwhelming than air travel with a baby. Amtrak offers family or bedroom sleepers for longer train trips at costs comparable to flying (coach seats cost much less). However, train travel is best only for those families without a pressing schedule—it takes longer to reach the destination (a five-hour plane trip from the Midwest to the West Coast translates into a two-day trip by train).
If you are taking to the roads during the holiday season, be sure to double check the installation of your car seat. Most local fire and police stations will install your seat free of charge or double check your installation. You can also visit your car's dealership for help in positioning and securing your car seat. (Read on for more hints on safe car seat installation, then take our car seat safety quiz.)
If you are taking an extended trip, be sure to have your car fully serviced before departure. And before leaving the house, check current weather conditions and pack emergency gear and blankets in your trunk—it never hurts to be prepared for any possible crisis.