How to Travel Safely & Soundly This Thanksgiving

Holiday travel this year is going to look different - and that goes double for new parents - here are our expert tips to navigating the scene safely
Written by Mia Weber

With 2020 sure to go down in history as one of the most unpredictable years of all time, it’s no surprise that, given current rising rates of COVID-19 in certain parts of the country, that holiday travel is going to be a different equation than in the past. 

And if you have a baby or toddler, of course you also have the ups and downs of travelling with a little one to keep in mind. To help navigate the start of the most wonderful time of the year, we’ve put together some family travel tips.

Before You Travel
If you’re planning to be around loved ones you don’t see regularly, make sure you’re on the same page with them about social distancing, masks, and COVID testing if need be. This holds true for whether you’re driving or flying. In terms of specific risks to prepare for, it’s best to consult your doctor as well as the recommendations from the state you live in, and the one you’re travelling to. 

If You’re Driving…
Once you’ve navigated the COVID-19 risk factors to be aware of before and during travel, and ironed out a plan with your family, you can fully shift your focus to keeping your kiddos calm in the car. Whether it’s a 30-minute drive or an epic hours-long road trip, keeping your baby or toddler safe, calm, and comfy in the car is always the goal. 

Of course, your car seat is going to be at the center of things. Before your trip, make sure you have all of your car seat settings adjusted properly for your child’s age, height, and weight and double check that it’s properly installed; also, never buckle your baby into their seat with their winter coat on, or with blankets tucked under the straps. 

For any length of longer-than-usual trip, extra snacks and within-reason treats and toys are going to be your best friend here. For significantly longer trips (like, 4-5 hours or more), consider timing your drive so that the littles are more likely to sleep for the majority of the sojourn.

If You’re Flying
It goes without saying that the choice to fly this year is a tough one--but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a path to doing safely. Again, we advise you to speak with your loved ones and doctor and make a plan for COVID testing before and/or after using air travel. If possible, it may be worth it to plan for a longer trip if you and your partner work remotely.

And with any plane flight with a small child involved has its own set of concerns. Though many airlines allow infants to be held on their parents lap, it’s actually much safer to buy a seat for your baby and install the car seat in the airplane seat similar to how you would in a car--by doing so you also keep eyes on your car seat (which can be subject to damage if you check it on) which you’ll definitely need once you land and take a car to your final destination.

If your child is a baby, double and triple check your diaper bag that you’ll be carrying on. There’s nothing worse than being up in the air and coming up short in the clean diaper department! If there are items like formula, breast milk, diaper rash cream, nipple cream, or other nutrition and personal care items that are in cream, gel, or liquid form, check with the airline about the sizes you can carry on, and the exception for breast milk, formula, and medications they may have (and how you can be cleared to take advantage of those).

Finally, if your child is a toddler or small child, and you want to keep them happy and melt-down free--now more than ever is the time to forgive yourself for letting them have screen time. Load up your iPad with “Paw Patrol,” pack plenty of your child’s (and your own) fave snacks, and mask up!

Happy Thanksgiving!