Travel during pandemic is stressful! But reasons arise why you may need to make a trip with your little one. According to Experts at the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), travel increases your chances of getting and spreading COVID-19.
Health experts don’t yet know if one type of travel is safer than other, e.g., a car or plane trip. Airports, bus, gas and train stations, as well as rest stops, can all be places where you can be exposed to coronavirus in the air and on surfaces. It’s hard to keep your distance, for example, in an airplane or on a crowded train.
If you have to travel during pandemic, this is no time to be disorganized: Research your destination, create packing lists and pad your itinerary with extra time throughout your journey. Check local travel and weather warnings at noaa.gov, and for international restrictions at http://travel.state.gov, where you can also apply for passports and visas.
- Wear a mask, watch your distance from other (stay 6-feet apart or more) and wash your hands often with warm soap and water for at least 20 seconds, and avoid touching your face or your baby’s face
- Wash your hands after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing and always before touching your face, or eating, and preparing to nurse your baby
- Carry and use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol; when using hand sanitizer, it’s important that you rub your hands together until they feel dry
- Cough or sneeze into a disposable tissue or into the crook of your elbow
- Avoid eating inside buildings; instead, pick up food at drive-throughs, curbside at restaurants or buy in grocery stores and eat in your car, a park or another outdoor location
- Pack disinfectant wipes where you can access them at all times, especially if you’re going to be turning baby’s car seat or stroller over to others at airports and bus or train stations
- Pack enough medication for the full length of your trip; especially if you or baby uses prescription medications
When it comes to flying, it’s best to wait until baby is 3-4 months old before flying to avoid challenges to their vulnerable immune system. Check to see if your carrier has any age restrictions regarding infants.
You can carry frozen or fresh breastmilk through airport security, although it will be scanned for safety. Also bring unopened snacks and empty water bottles you can fill once through security as there may be no snacks on board. Check with TSA.gov for any updates to the rules before flying.
Most airlines will gate check your stroller or car seat for free, and it will be waiting for you as you exit the plane post-flight. Keep disinfecting wipes at the ready to clean the surfaces of these items before using them with your baby. If you’ve purchased a seat for baby, they must ride in a government-approved car seat. Look for the sticker on the seat that says: “This restraint is certified for use in motor vehicles and aircraft” printed on it, or it won’t be permitted on-board. It’s likely your steward will look for this.
If baby’s riding on your lap, a sling or backpack carrier may help you carry them through the airport but you’ll have to put it away during takeoff and landing. Help baby clear their ears on take-off and landing by getting them to swallow frequently, either with a pacifier, bottle, or by breastfeeding.
If you’re staying at a hotel or home rental, ask about the facility’s COVID-19 prevention practices before you go, such as is there extra cleaning and sanitation occuring. Stay in places that allow you to avoid contact with employees with features like:
- Online on in-app reservation and check-in
- Mobile room key
- Contactless servcies, including room service
- Online or in-app payment and check out
Ask if employees are required to wearing face coverings at work. If you have to interact with employees, ask if the facility features plexiglass barriers at check-in counters, and physical distancing signs in the lobby–these features ensure the hotel or lodging is taking your health and safety seriously.
You’re packing for two (or more!) Aside from the obvious clothes and accessories, don’t forget these essentials:
- Extra diapers, wipes and a change of clothes in the diaper bag (especially needed if your checked bag gets lost or delayed!)
- Antibacterial wipes
- Disposable gloves for disinfecting hotel rooms (including door handles, lights, levers, remote controls, window covering controls, bathrooms)
- Moisturizer and baby-friendly sunscreen
- Medications you or baby is taking
- Your driver’s license and/or passport, baby too if traveling international
- A recent photo of your baby
- Emergency contact sheet: include relatives, friends, your pediatrician and your destination information
- Duct tape for baby proofing hotels or houses where you may be staying, e.g. for electrical outlets
- Small first aid kit with infant acetaminophen (get dosing chart from your pediatrician)
- New toys your baby hasn’t played with yet
- Favorite snacks or pacifiers