Getting out the door for any trip can have its challenges, but when you travel with babies and toddlers, getting everyone and everything out the door and–finally–on your way can feel like a gosh darn miracle.
Here’s a helpful checklist to keep handy in your final days before departure. I recommend taping the printable version it to the refrigerator, your bathroom mirror, or inside your front door for easy–and frequent access.
Describe your travel plans and discuss any concerns you may have including: status of vaccinations, food safety and allergies, and finding medical assistance for your child at your destination.
If your baby or toddler hasn’t seen his doctor in a while, a check-up may be reassuring (“ears are clear,” etc.), and it could be helpful for parents of infants and young babies to have a current weigh-in and dosage of infant over-the-counter medications in case they are needed while away.
Check your child’s travel kit to see if any items are running low or need to be replaced. Move any non-carry-on items into a checked bag if you’ll be taking the kit in a carry-on bag.
For help determining what should be in your child’s travel kit for your next trip, see Chapter 4: Deciding What to Bring in Travels with Baby, and follow this link for help creating a cabin-friendly travel kit for travel with babies and toddlers.
Make sure you have your Checking-In Safety Checklist printable in your carry-on, suitcase, or diaper bag and list any temporary childproofing products you want to bring along on the printable (see Recommended Products for Temporary Childproofing and Travel Safety here).
4. Take inventory of the gear that will be traveling with you.
Is your car seat FAA approved for the flight and can you point to the label on it if necessary? Are the stroller wheels still up to snuff? Can you find the travel stroller sun shields, mosquito nets, or other accessories you plan to take along? The pop-up sun tent for the beach? Add the key gear you’ll be taking to this printable for this checklist.
5. Replace old sunscreens
That goes for your own brand and your child’s if you’re heading for a sunny destination. Sunscreens lose their effectiveness with time, and small children need the best protection available. Replacing sunscreens once a year is advisable.
6. Stop your mail.
You can quickly arrange to have your mail stopped while you are away online by going online to usps.com or by calling 1-800-ASK-USPS (1-800-275-8777). You designate which day you would like it all delivered or when and whether you’d prefer to pick it up after your trip.
7. Call your airline within 72 hours of your departure.
When traveling with young children it’s especially important these days to reconfirm your seat assignments and, if applicable, your bassinet reservation and/or children’s meals one last time before arriving at the airport (see Airplane Bassinet Checklist).
Families getting separated on flights is all too common a theme with many airlines as is the overbooking of flights, so do what you can to avoid hassles–including checking in early to make sure they still don’t give the window seat you need for your child’s car seat to a business traveler with higher frequent flyer status!
8. Make necessary arrangements with a neighbor or friend.
Do you need someone to set out your garbage can and recyclables for pick up? Feed pets and/or water plants? Use the printable for this checklist to write in reminders of who you need to contact and for what.
9. Remove anything from your refrigerator that will not outlast your trip.
Move leftovers to the freezer, check expiration dates on dairy goods, and give the vegetable drawer the once-over.
10. Empty your diaper pail!
–> Click here for the printable version of this list to tape to your refrigerator, bathroom mirror, or front door to reference throughout the 2 weeks before your trip.
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More tips and advice are on the way! For help for planning travel of every kind–with babies and children of every temperament–in Travels with Baby: The Ultimate Guide for Planning Travel with Your Baby, Toddler, and Preschooler.
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Shelly Rivoli, author of the award-winning Travels with Baby guidebooks
What?! Your kids aren’t babies anymore? Head over to Family Travel 411