Traveling with a baby…just the mention of these words invokes a strong reaction in most people, which is often a mix of fear, panic and avoidance. When J and I had Perry, we told each other we would never lose our sense of adventure. We wanted to make an effort to continue traveling, even if that came with a level of logistics we never even thought to consider. In preparation for our first trip with Perry when she was five months old, I spent hours researching what to bring when traveling with a baby. I wanted to be mentally prepared for any surprises that would come our way.
When it comes to baby travel, the first thing I say to my friends is to adjust your expectations. This will be more of a trip than a vacation but you can have a great time and it doesn’t have to be intimidating. Do everything you can to recreate their routine at home and you will have a great trip. If you’re reading this article, you’ve probably read a bunch of other ones with different advice and tricks but here is what worked for us!
How to Fly:
Umbrella Stroller: We use the Mountain Buggy Nano stroller, which is the best baby travel item we have. It’s also available on Amazon. I was hesitant to purchase another stroller but our daily stroller was too big for travel. This travel stroller fits in plane overhead compartments so you can have it with you right before and after the flight. You can also put the baby in the car seat and then put the car seat in the stroller when walking around the airport. This was so helpful because it allowed us to have our hands free for all the other baby stuff we had to carry! We also used it when walking around the hotel and sightseeing. If you plan on traveling at least once a year, it will make your travels much easier. We purchased ours in 2015 and it’s still in great condition.
Diapers, Wipes and changing pad within reach: We put a few diapers, wipes and a changing pad in the side pocket of our diaper bag so we can quickly reach the necessities for diaper changes. You don’t want to be searching for each individual item when your flight is about to board, your hands are full and your baby is upset. Having these items easily accessible helps diaper changes on-the-go run smoothly. It also helps you avoid putting your diaper bag on a dirty bathroom floor to search through it!
Diaper bag on the plane: Speaking of diaper bags, put all the baby essentials in there and bring it on the flight as a carry-on. This way, you have everything you need in case your suitcase gets lost. Not having enough formula, diapers or wipes can turn into a disaster quickly. We usually take the diaper bag on the plane and check our bags. It would be a major pain if bags were lost but I could deal with that. Our babies would not be as understanding.
Extra set of clothes and bags for blow-outs: I can count on one hand how many times Dylan has had a blow-out and we didn’t have another set of clothes for him because it was traumatizing and unfortunately, very memorable. We had to wrap him up in a blanket, put him in the stroller, and walk/run 20 minutes back home. You don’t want this to happen when you’re flying with a baby. I always have an extra two sets of clothes with me in the diaper back when traveling, along with plastic bags for dirty clothes or dirty diapers when you don’t have a garbage can nearby.
Nursing cover: I’ve posted about the Milk Snob nursing cover before and would definitely recommend it when traveling with a baby. I’m not really comfortable breastfeeding without a cover unless there is no other way. This cover is light weight and provides flexibility to nurse my baby whenever and wherever. When you’re not nursing, you can use it as a blanket to keep your baby nice and cozy. I also love that it also serves as an infant car seat cover, which is perfect for traveling because I don’t want anyone getting too close and breathing on my baby. 🙂
Car seat bag: A few of my girlfriends recommended this car seat bag from Amazon. We check the car seat in this bag and also use it for diaper storage. It’s shocking how much room diapers take up, which is otherwise valuable space I can use for more adorable baby outfits. We also stuff our jackets into the car seat bag when traveling in the winter. It has straps so you can wear it like a backpack. When you no longer need the car seat, you can check the bag. You can also feel good knowing your car seat is safe inside the bag and less likely to be damaged in the luggage transfer process. A huge bonus is that you do not have to pay a fee for checking carseats so it’s nice to get rid of it and then have it later at your destination at no cost.
Car seat: The decision of whether or not to bring a car seat is so personal. I’ve spoken to many parents about this and everyone has their own methods. When we traveled on a plane with Perry to St. Thomas, we checked the infant car seat and had her on our laps during the flight. At that time, Perry was young enough to be a lap infant (less than 2 years old). Once we got to our destination, we picked up the car seat and used it in our rental car.
When we went to Florida with both kids, we checked Dylan’s infant car seat AND took Perry’s toddler seat on the plane because we felt it was the safest method. I can tell you that it was a major pain to carry both car seats around the airport but you do what you need to do. One thing that helped was being able to put at least one car seat on the umbrella stroller to consolidate a bit. For that trip, we checked Dylan’s infant car seat and had him on our laps. We purchased a seat for Perry (she was over 2 years old at the time) and had her strapped in the car seat. It was actually nice because she was contained in one area. We base our decision on the location, whether or not we’re planning on doing a lot of driving at the destination, the kids’ ages at the time of travel and travel safety data available at the time. Ultimately, it comes down to what works best for you and your baby.
Toys, including teething toys: Dylan has basically been teething since he was four months old so I always try to have some kind of teething toy with me whenever we’re out. Bring wipes so you can clean toys when they inevitably fall on the floor. I also bring a few board books and random toys so I can alternate them and keep the babies occupied.
Feed during take-off and landing: Whether it’s bottle or breast, feeding during take-off and landing helps relieve ear pressure and therefore, a cranky baby. You can also try a pacifier if you don’t have a bottle handy.
Snacks: Snacks always come through for us. Depending on the age of your baby, packing snacks in the diaper bag can be extremely helpful. We usually pack some kind of fruit, cheerios or raisins and bring out one at a time at opportune moments. We ration them out to make sure we have enough for the trip. Always have a snack strategy. Also, don’t forget some snacks for yourself to keep your energy levels up!
Hand Sanitizer: Not much explanation need here. You and your baby are going to encounter a lot of germs during your traveling adventures so keep hand sanitizer close by. I like the travel-sized ones that you can put on the handle of your bag for easy access.
Medicine & Sunscreen: You never know what can happen or if your baby will suddenly develop a fever. We usually take basics like Tylenol and Motrin. I assume that we can get most other necessities at a local pharmacy but I like to take these two because if there is a fever, the last thing I want to do is delay treatment by having to locate a pharmacy. This is the sunscreen we use.
Where to Stay:
Get a suite or rent an apartment: We have learned our lesson and now always book a suite when traveling with a baby. We put the crib in the living room area at bedtime and then continue our day. This is time for us to be together and have some one-on-one time. The babies can get a good night’s rest and we can have fun without having to whisper and tip-toe around them. This layout is also great for naps! Since we can’t leave to go to dinner, we usually do room service or pick-up from a local restaurant. We then have some wine and pat ourselves on the back for making it through another day in a new place with a baby.
For future vacations, we’re planning on looking into Home Away and Airbnb instead of hotels since suites can get pricey. I like the idea of having a kitchen that we can stock with our favorites. Also, since toddlers basically always want snacks, this would be a great way to not have to eat out all the time.
Request a crib: There are travel cribs you can take with you but i’ve personally never done that because we have enough necessities on our list already. You can request a crib from the hotel and they will often have it ready for you upon arrival. You can choose to bring your own crib sheet or the hotel will provide one.
Wear your baby: What a life saver! I put Dylan into the baby carrier and was able to have my hands free when walking around and even when we were on the beach. I also used it at the airport so I could help out J with bags and documents. Both Perry and Dylan loved it. They fall asleep within a few minutes and I love the feeling of my babies snuggled up next to me (or on me!). I use the Solly Baby wrap with both babies. It’s lightweight (you won’t want anything heavy in hot weather) and comes in nice designs that don’t clash with your outfit. 🙂
Sound Machine: We use a white noise machine at home to block out any noise during naps and bedtime. I always bring it on trips with me because I want to recreate our bedtime routine as closely as possible. This helps block out noise from next door rooms or even us talking in the other room. You can also use apps on your phone but I like to have access to my phone so we usually just use the machine.
Keep clothes to a minimum: I made the mistake of packing way too many adorable outfits on our first trip and we didn’t get through most of them. Looking back, I would maybe pack one adorable outfit per day with a few swim suits and some extra bodysuits, shirts and pants in case of blow-outs.
Overall, I’m happy we started traveling with our babies at such a young age. We really enjoy it (for the most part) and seeing how happy they are in the ocean makes all the planning worth it. Each trip has its great moments and incredible stressful moments. With some planning and the proper supplies, we’re able to minimize the stress.
When I first started thinking about traveling with a baby, I thought that surrounding passengers on the plane would give me dirty looks but no one even looked our way. When we were exiting the plane, they just commented on how cute the babies were. I truly feel that exposing kids to new things from a young age is important, whether it’s traveling or going to restaurants. They catch on quickly and will know what to do. Traveling isn’t a big deal unless you make it a big deal. If you plan ahead and think about the details of getting from one place to another, your family will be happy and comfortable.
We have traveled on a plane once with Perry and once with both kids so this is based on our experience. I’m not an expert but these are some things that worked for us. Overall, both times were not easy and so much work but I would do it all over again. In fact, we will be doing it again in the near future. I’m willing to put up with the annoying travel moments we all inevitably experience if it means we get to travel together as a family.
If you have any other helpful tips, share below. Traveling with a baby or BABIES isn’t easy so let’s help each other out. Ready to explore the world with your baby? Thanks for reading! xo, Tanya