I actually had a different post planned but I have received so many requests for my tips for traveling with the baby that I decided to get this out to you ASAP! Travel has always been an important part of my life and I knew that I would continue to take trips with our baby even though it would be different and challenging at times. So far we’ve traveled with Lilly to Atlanta at eight weeks, Arizona at twelve weeks and Florida at twenty-one weeks. Full disclosure, I didn’t realize how different it would be or how challenging it would be and sometimes, if I’m being completely transparent, I feel like it’s not worth the struggle.
But the moments when it’s good it’s SO GOOD. Seeing new sights through her eyes, spending time just the three of us without the interruptions of daily life, and experiencing new things with our baby make traveling with her worth it in my opinion.
These tips are sure to help whether you’re a wanderer like me trying to figure out how to keep exploring with a baby in tow or just need to survive traveling to visit friends and family a few times a year. I’ll keep this simple and easy to skim since I know you are busy and quite possibly skimming this while the baby naps/is on you/wants to play/needs to eat.
- Make a list! Lists are your friend as a mom. I keep mine in the notes section on my phone and add things to the basic list depending on the type of trip.
- Lay everything out throughout the week before. I find that I get a lot of anxiety about packing the week before so if I start early and slowly add to it then I feel much more at ease.
- Bring extra sleepers/onesies and less of the cute outfits. I know, I know but travel is the perfect time to bring all those outfits your baby never wears when you’re just hanging in the house normally. But really, you’ll be napping baby on the go and also, blowouts. Keep it simple and just bring a few cute outfits but mostly basics.
- Bring enough diapers and wipes to last the first 24 hours and buy the rest when you get there. Diapers take up way too much valuable packing space.
- I pack her own suitcase for her. Mama does not like to share her suitcase space and babies need so much stuff.
- Things I’ve learned are important to pack that I can’t always find when we get there: special soap and brush for the bottle and pump parts, bags for pumping, sterilizing bags.
- I go HAM when packing the diaper bag for a flying travel day. I’m talking all the diapers, extra outfits, an extra outfit for myself including pants (learned that the hard way after sitting in spit up for a 5 hour flight). Yes, the bag may be heavy but I’d rather be clean.
- Bring toys for plane entertainment. I like to bring out 1-2 new toys that she hasn’t seen before and an old standby that’s familiar.
- I also bring a swaddle for nursing and snuggling, a hat, a sweater and extra socks because planes are chilly.
- Oh and a million pacis. Bring all the pacis.
- I try to time flights around nap time. It’s not always possible but when it is it’s amaaaazing.
- I put her in the carrier (our Ergo is my go to) as soon as we get to the airport (facing out if I don’t want her to nap yet or in if it’s time to snuggle in for a good sleep). I wear her through security and go ahead of my husband since the stroller has to be collapsed and I want to be able to keep walking her around as much as possible.
- Speaking of the stroller, I don’t like to check it before security because it’s a great place to keep the diaper bag and jackets until we board. If I fly alone with Lilly, I will check the stroller before security but we haven’t crossed that hurdle yet.
- We bring our own car seat and stroller when traveling after learning the hard way how crappy rental car seats are. Lilly HATED the one we rented and has hated car seats ever since…
- We have an Uppababy stroller and we use this bag to protect it when we check it. Uppababy will replace it if anything happens to the stroller while it’s in this bag.
- For breastfeeding moms, I like to bring 1-2 bottles of pumped milk just in case she decides to be fussy about nursing. I don’t bring a cooler bag since the milk stays good for 6-8 hours but I would definitely bring one for a longer travel day.
- I bring this hand pump with me, too.
- After our first trip to Atlanta, I learned the hard way that hotels and babies are not a fun combination. We try to do Airbnb now or ensure our hotel room has more than one room with a door that closes.
- As soon as we arrive, I unpack her and set up a diaper station so that we aren’t scrambling when that first inevitable blowout happens. I typically lay out a towel and then a changing pad on top. Be careful about using bathroom counters as baby can roll off!
- Set up baby’s sleep situation FIRST THING. For us, this means our portable blackout curtains and this travel sound machine along with a pack and play. We’ve had good luck renting pack and plays from hotels and local companies.
- If your baby is sleeping in a pack and play for the first time, you may want to do a few trial naps/nights in one at home before you leave for the trip.
- Bring your monitor and get it all set up, too!
Enjoying Your Trip
- Traveling with naptimes is an art and a science. We plan the day around her naps and try to have two of her three naps at the room. Staying in a centrally located place helps make this less of a hassle. We do one nap wearing her but if your baby is down with car or stroller naps those are a great option, too.
- We plan out our meals ahead of time so that we can be efficient with where and what we are eating and try to plan them around when she wakes up so we get the best possible baby mood for our meal.
- Dinner is always tough because of the early bedtime so we typically do a super early dinner if we want to eat out or bring something in after she goes down.
- Lastly, adjust your expectations. You will probably not see all the things on your list and won’t get to eat at all the spots people recommended, but that’s ok! Traveling is going to be different and the best way to enjoy it is like much of the other parts of parenting – try to embrace your new normal!
Bon voyage and bonne chance!