When I work with a parent-to-be on their Baby Registry I ask a lot of questions, one of which is: “Do you travel often?” – and it’s because I want to understand what products would be the best fit for their lifestyle. A whopping 9 out of 10 times the answer is, “We used to. We won’t anymore.” It takes all of my self-control not to start yelling, NO! I admit, I’m a little dramatic, but I know first-hand how great traveling with your baby can be, so it really upsets me to hear this. When your baby arrives, some things inevitably stop. You probably won’t go to the movies very often and the speed of your showers will likely be eligible for the Guinness Book of World Records. But, vacations? Come on now. Piece of cake.
Tips for Travelling With Your Baby
- Find a hotel that welcomes babies
- Call ahead about sleeping options
- Make physical packing lists so you don’t overlook essentials
- Consider shipping some of your items
- Bring your full-sized stroller (not a small travel one)
- If tickets are affordable, think about buying a seat for your baby
- Try to choose a flight time during nap hours
Day of Travel:
- Pack anything not needed on the plane into checked luggage
- Pack extra diapers and bottles
- Bring new and exciting toys
- Consider baby wearing through the airport
Once your Arrive:
- Let go of the little things, and enjoy the smiles and precious time with your family
Debunking Travel Fears
Traveling with a baby can seem daunting. I get it, I do. There are lots of lists, packing and weeks of anxiety that lead up to the day of travel. Plus, the overall fear that the vacation won’t be fun or relaxing.
The first step is to stop saying you ‘can’t travel’. Once you overcome the idea that traveling with babies is impossible, you can start focusing on preparing for the trip ahead of you. There are plenty of hotels that welcome babies (usually free) that can not only meet your needs, but also exceed your expectations. Do a little research online, call a few hotels, and ask your friends for recommendations. You’ll be surprised with how accommodating and welcoming the right hotels will be. Some even have programs specifically geared to families with tiny travelers.
Prior to arriving at your destination, find out the sleep options for an infant. If they offer a crib, get the dimensions to ensure your baby will fit. I was once greeted with a tiny porta-crib, which didn’t come close to fitting my 1-year-old. If it won’t work, plan to bring a compact travel crib, which you can often use at the beach or pool too.
Next, stop worrying about the flight itself. Let the other passengers on the plane worry about themselves and you worry about your baby’s needs. There are a few tricks you can try to keep your baby occupied, such as: bringing new and exciting toys and packing snacks that you are sure your baby will love. Remember to pack double the number of diapers, bottles and food you will need for the flight. If you do everything you can to entertain your child and there are still some tears, remind yourself that everyone will understand. Everyone has been on a plane with a crying baby before, the most you can do is sincerely apologize and move on. Remember, no one could stop the guy in 8B from taking his smelly shoes off or the lady in 22C from cutting her nails – and they aren’t even trying to be polite.
Day Of Travel Solutions
Let’s discuss the “stuff”. There is no way to sugarcoat this. There will be a lot of stuff. Kids need things and you need things that will make your vacation more convenient with children. It should not be daunting though. Pack anything you will not need on the plane into your checked bags. If you will be traveling within the US, make a quick run to a local store when you arrive so you can pick up diapers, formula and all of those other things that take up space in a suitcase. You can also consider shipping items to your destination in advance. I am the queen of this! Things arrive at my hotel before I get there and it’s no more expensive than paying for it at home, or than paying for extra luggage at the airport.
Next comes getting your baby through the airport. From experience, I am a fan of a proper stroller – and when I say proper, I don’t mean a thin cloth umbrella stroller that you have to hunch over to push. Bring one with a generous canopy and nice recline because sometimes naps on-the-go work out. Delta recommends the J is for Jeep® Brand Adventure All-Terrain Jogging Stroller, it’s perfect for meeting all of your vacation needs.
You may want to protect the investment of your stroller with a padded travel bag. Gate check will take the bag from you, but from that point on it’s a free-for-all. It may be rolled, thrown, dropped, wedged and banged. It’s what I call luggage Wrestlemania. You don’t want stains, rips or a broken chassis. At a resort, I once saw a woman pushing a stroller missing a wheel. When I asked what happened her response was, “airline.” Clearly she did not have a travel bag. Don’t put yourself through that! Before the day of travel, run through taking your stroller in and out of the travel bag whether you are luggage or gate checking.
In the airport, your baby gets carried through security with you. Formula, water, baby food and breast milk are acceptable carry-ons (they may just require some testing). Baby wearing is also an amazing airport option, but keep in mind that the carrier will have to be taken off to get through security. Do not try baby wearing for the first time in an airport. If you are new to it, practice with your carrier prior to the day of travel.
Next, if it’s in your budget, consider buying your baby their own seat on the plane and harnessing them into their car seat. You will need the car seat anyway when you arrive at your destination and your baby will be safe and secure, particularly through unexpected turbulence. Set a price alert via a travel site, so if airline tickets drop to your magic number, you can purchase them affordably. If this isn’t an option, when you get to the airport ask the airline if there is an extra seat available for your baby and see if they can accommodate you. Most airlines are happy to help a family when there is room onboard (especially a cute baby)!
I’m proud to say my 4-year-old is a rockin’ traveler and I think that’s because he’s always sat in a car seat. He associates a plane with the car and understands he can’t get up and walk around. #WIN. I could just be lucky, but I’m going with my previous assumption and holding onto that belief with my infant daughter.
Why It’s Worth It
At home I know I often feel stressed out because life is one big rush. Sometimes I wonder if we can ever get anywhere on time. On vacation… it doesn’t matter. There are no deadlines. There is nowhere you need to be. Breakfast can wait 15 minutes. Life happens at a much slower pace in Vacationland. A calm washes over the whole family (it could be something in the sunscreen, I suppose) and everyone can enjoy each other’s company in a stress-free environment. It’s something that rarely happens at home and will make you want to book your next trip in the middle of your current one.
The best part about traveling with your kids? Memories! Memories! Memories! I find that each of our family trips fits into different parts of my brain. I remember the different ages in a way that sometimes blends together at home – no matter how many photos we take. Being away with your family is a wonderful experience and if you are someone who is lucky enough to be able to do it – do it! Yes, it will be different than the pre-baby trips you took as a pair, but these vacations will become some of the most special and important memories you will make with your family.
For more tips and hints on traveling with your little ones, check out some of my travel videos on YouTube where I discuss specific products that made my trips easier. I also encourage you to follow me on Instagram and Snapchat for a glimpse into some of my own family adventures.