The roast turkey smell is in the air, and the pumpkin pies are baking in your MIL’s kitchen. Okay, so you’re still 700 miles away from her house, but you’re pretty sure that the scent of sweet potatoes is wafting in your direction. Now all you have to do is get there… with a baby. And it’s your first time traveling with your new little bundle. Good thing we’ve got plenty of tips for making your Thanksgiving travels (and the stay itself) easier for you, your baby, and everyone else involved.

A mother uses a cell phone while holding her baby

1. Check for necessary gear ahead of time. Don’t assume that the pack-and-play your sister-in-law used last summer is still at her mother’s house. If there are any baby items/gear that you don’t want to lug with you, call or email to ask your host if they have anything on hand. This doesn’t just mean a place for baby to sleep or play. It also includes anything from a place to bathe them (you may be out of luck if the home only has a stall shower) to a nightlight.

2. Plan for weather issues. November is cold, kind of. It could snow on Thanksgiving. Or it could be 60 and sunny. You just don’t know what this in-between season has in store, which means you need to bring a buffet of baby clothes. This includes warm and cool shirts, leggings, sleepers, and jackets.

3. Build in extra travel time. Your in-laws are all about a 1pm Thanksgiving Day meal, and you live a four-hour drive away. That is, four hours without having to make breastfeeding pit stops or find a place to change a poopy diaper. Now you’re a mama, that four-hour drive has suddenly morphed into six. Plan to either leave earlier or head out the day before to account for the extra baby time.

A mother holds her baby over a shoulder while looking in a handbag

4. Double pack. You’re two hours into your six-hour Thanksgiving road trip. Or maybe you’re in the air, partway to Grandma’s. However you’re traveling, you don’t have time to search through an oversized suitcase just to find an extra binkie. Bring duplicates of all the must-haves in your carry-on, or stash them in a bag that’s not in the trunk. You’ll have everything you need right in reach.

5. Take table breaks. Now that you’re at your destination, it’s finally time to eat. You’ve settled in for the meal to end all meals — and it’s going to take more than a few minutes to eat. But baby has other plans. Sitting still (and not crying) for a mega-dinner is something that baby just doesn’t want to do. Instead of trying to push through their little cries and whines, stop and take a few mini-breaks. Waiting until your kiddo has a major meltdown could end up ruining the entire meal, but getting up periodically to feed, burp, or change them won’t.

6. Try to adjust sleeping schedules. Easier said than done! Maybe try for “sleep familiar.” Even though you’re away from home, a Thanksgiving holiday spent at someone else’s house doesn’t have to turn into a crying night of disaster. Keep things as close to home as possible. Bring baby’s crib sheet (or anything else that smells like home) to make them feel more comfortable.

7. Send gear to your destination. You’d love to have an extra bouncy seat, stroller, or some other baby-related item at Grandma’s for your Thanksgiving trip. Considering you’ll be there again for Christmas, it will be more than helpful to have the duplicate of what you have at home already there. (And you don’t want to impose upon your relatives anyway.) You could drag everything on the plane or try to fill the trunk of your car with baby stuff. Or you could order a few larger necessities online and have them shipped to your destination (there are rental services for baby gear like Babierge that ship across the world).

What’s your must-try Thanksgiving travel tip? Share it with us @BritandCo!

(Photos via Getty)