Many questions arise when traveling with a toddler for the first time. Can I travel with an infant? At what age? What should I take with me when I travel by plane with my baby? The Petit Coulou team shares its advice and tips for traveling with peace of mind.
At what age can you travel with a baby?
Did you know that you can travel with your baby right from birth? The first few weeks after birth are often devoted to getting to know your baby and discovering the joys of parenthood. It's often a time when new parents prefer the comforts of home so they can get into the swing of things with their new family member. Traveling at this time is, therefore, largely a matter of confidence in your ability to handle the unforeseen events of a trip, in this new life that is opening up to you.
The time of year is also a factor! If you're traveling in Quebec in the winter, you'll certainly need more luggage than if you're flying south! But rest assured, with the right organization, you'll be able to travel to the destination of your choice, just like many couples before you.
Where to travel with baby?
Top destinations for a holiday with a child
When traveling with a newborn, there are certain destinations that are best and others that are best avoided. Quebec is obviously a destination of choice because it limits travel by public transportation, such as planes or trains. In fact, for a first-time traveler, this type of transportation can sometimes be painful for your baby and cause crying, which is tiring for both of you.
If you want to fly, it's easy to find a selection of family-friendly destinations where you can travel with children:
Spain and Portugal, where children are easily accepted in restaurants and most activities are stroller-friendly.
Indonesia, where the values revolve around the family, and where it's easy to find baby products that are both hygienic and nutritious.
Guadeloupe and Martinique, where there are many hiking trails that are accessible with children in baby carriers, and beautiful beaches to relax on.
South Africa, where the sanitary conditions are excellent and the locals take good care of young children.
Hawaii, with its beaches, nature and excellent value for families, if you can find the right flights.
In fact, Sophie Reis, founder of BB Jetlag magazine, spoke out in 2017 about the 10 perfect travel destinations with a baby.
In any case, it's your opinion and feelings that matter most when it comes to choosing the ideal destination. It's important that you feel safe and comfortable on your family trip, and that your stay doesn't cause unnecessary stress for your little one. Let your maternal instinct take over!
Destinations to avoid with a newborn
Among the most obvious destinations to avoid are countries that are unstable or torn by war, which are not suitable for a child. But geography also comes into play! For infants under 18 months, we recommend avoiding high altitudes above 1,500 meters. Extreme climates, both hot and cold, are also not recommended during the first few months of a baby's life. And don't forget about health risks and jet lag!
Don't hesitate to consult Canada's travel advice on health and political risks for the countries you are considering!
What kind of travel is right for baby?
Whatever mode of transportation you choose, we recommend that you limit long trips. Your child will need to change positions, eat, etc. It's better to aim for closer destinations or to be able to take breaks, for example during a car trip.
Roadtripping with a young child
Traveling by car is usually the easiest solution. Of course, this means longer trips if you want to visit new regions you haven't been to before. Consider the many options available to you: van, camper, or even multi-day trips... By prioritizing travel during nap time, you'll make the most of your child's time and reduce travel fatigue. Think about it!
Taking a road trip with your baby also means that you can bring your child's own equipment and choose what to pack without having to limit yourself. It's also the convenience of being able to set your own pace and get around at your leisure. One of our favorite destinations in Quebec, Baie de Beauport is a great place for families, with campgrounds, swimming... If you love the outdoors, Oka National Park offers a supervised beach and easy hiking trails, some of which are stroller-friendly!
You'll have to plan on a slightly longer drive than usual. It's a good idea to stop for at least 15 minutes every hour for a baby under one month, and every 2 hours for older children, to get some fresh air and change positions. You can also help your baby sleep with a support pillow to keep his or her head in place and our summer cover to keep him or her out of the sun.
Travel by train
Traveling by train with a child means you can focus on your child: no driving, and you can get around more easily than by plane... It's also easier to rest while your child sleeps, so you can enjoy your stay more when you arrive at your destination. This mode of transportation can be a great option for an adventure in Toronto or Halifax while enjoying the ride and the view!
Depending on the distance, the train can also be an economical alternative, especially for your child, who can travel free on your lap if under the age of 2. Don't forget to take more food and diapers than you'll need in case the train is delayed!
Be careful not to overload yourself, though, as suitcases, stroller and baby will quickly take up space in your arms... Also, once you arrive at your destination, you'll need to take a taxi or public transportation to get to your hotel, so pack everything you need to keep your child occupied and avoid any unpleasant surprises.
Air travel with baby
Most airlines allow newborns to travel by air as early as three weeks of age. However, if you are planning to travel to an exotic destination, wait until your baby is vaccinated and consider getting him or her a passport. Traveling by plane with a baby means traveling lighter and stocking up on supplies. Even if your child's ticket entitles him or her to as much luggage as you, we all know how quickly bottles, diapers and wipes can take up space...
You can always take a stroller or car seat with you in the hold, free of charge on some airlines. Don't hesitate to ask your airline if it's possible to warm a baby's bottle or order a meal during the flight. Don't forget to allow time for the various stages of your trip and bring a pacifier to help your child swallow saliva and relieve pressure on their eardrums and little ears.
What to pack for a trip with a toddler?
As we all know, our little ones have many needs, and it's best to think of everything when you're traveling. So what are the essentials for a good vacation?
For starters, it's important for your child to stay hydrated. Always bring water for the day. Depending on your destination, make sure it's potable or buy bottled water. A lunch box or reusable bottle will also come in handy for your child's snacks and compotes, so you won't find the glass jars and their contents at the bottom of your bag!
Another must-have is a baby sling or carrier. Practical at all times, they avoid the need for a stroller, which is less suitable for certain activities. It frees up your hands to take beautiful photos during your outings, for example. You can also bring along a car seat that you can use wherever you go! And don't forget the Petit Coulou covers, which can accompany you all year round!
How to protect your baby while traveling this summer?
In addition to the traditional baby travel bag, which contains everything you'll need to change and feed your child, as well as a cozy blanket, you'll also need to take care of his or her health and safety. Bring a first-aid kit with age-appropriate medications: it's not impossible for your little one to get sick or bitten by a mosquito during your adventures.
Sunscreen and mosquito repellent are essential in the summer to protect your young one from many illnesses! Please note that these products can only be used on babies under 6 months of age. We recommend that you equip your newborn with our summer car seat cover.
It acts as a :
Anti-UV sunscreen. It protects your baby from 98% of UVA and UVB rays, whether you are at the beach or in the city.
Mosquito net. Positioned on the shell, it acts like a mosquito net, preventing any insects from harming your child during your picnic.
Protective bubble to guard against strangers who might be tempted to touch or hug your child.
Temporary rain protection. Water repellent, the water slides off the cover but air can still pass through to keep baby dry in the event of bad weather until you're ready to take shelter.
Ready for adventure?
As young parents, it's natural to want to be as prepared as possible for a trip. Every family has its own way of traveling: some travel light and buy what they need on the spot. Others prefer to overpack and worry about running out of baby gear. Trust yourself: you're ready to travel the world!