There are a number of mommy bloggers and Instagrammers who make traveling with babies and children look so easy. They are truly my inspiration and serve as a constant reminder that having a baby shouldn’t put an end to exploring the world.
As soon as I had baby’s birth certificate in hand, I submitted his US Passport application and it arrived less than 3 weeks later, via routine delivery. Literally the day it arrived, I completed the online Global Entry application and scheduled the interview for less than a week later. In case you’re wondering, yes babies still have to complete the “interview process” and take a photo for the Global Entry card even when they’re asleep. LOL.Baby took his first flight, at just 7 weeks old, to Detroit to visit my in-laws. He slept most of the trip and we figured this was as good of a time as any to take trips when he still spends most of the day sleeping and travel is free for lap infants. Besides, I wanted to take a getaway before returning to work from maternity leave. After debating on which of the ABC Islands to visit, we decided on Aruba as it was the most affordable island of the three and had a ton of family friendly accommodations.
Anyway, while preparing for our trip and during, several people have asked for tips on how to travel with an infant so I decided to compile a list of the things I found most helpful.
Preparing for your trip…
- If flying with your partner, when selecting seats choose an aisle and a window as it’s unlikely someone will a.) choose a middle seat when others are available b.) want to sit beside someone with a baby (don’t be like this woman)
- Pack all of your baby bag essentials i.e. hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes, baby wipes, more diapers than you think you’ll need, and at least one outfit change for you and baby in your carry-on.
- Pack any medications you think you could possibly need like Baby Tylenol, Mylicon (gas relief), Gripe Water (for fussiness), etc
- Buy a travel bassinet like the SwaddleMe By Your Side Sleeper ($35). Your baby is likely used to sleeping in a more confined space than standard cribs and Pack n Plays. Those that hotels typically provide are not suitable for newborns and small infants.
- Bring a travel size bottle of baby detergent in the event you need to hand wash baby’s things, or even yours.
- Important: Don’t forget to let the airline know you will be traveling with a lap infant (baby under the age of 2) well in advance. Typically there’s no charge for domestic flights but for international some airlines charge a small fee based on the cost of your ticket. Some flights will provide you with a separate ticket for baby, others will list baby as a secondary passenger on your ticket.
- When taking long flights (4+ hours) make sure to inquire whether the flight has bassinets. Many planes only have 2 available and you have to reserve it in advance.
Once you get to the airport…
- TSA is very accommodating of babies and nursing mothers. Pack your carry-on with your breast pump, breast milk, and/or bottles with water and formula (not limited to 3.4 oz) in them for baby’s feedings. The bag will need to be screened per usual but you shouldn’t need to take anything out. (I’ve heard they may need to test the liquid, if this happens make sure to ask them to use a fresh pair of gloves before handling your breast milk/formula.)
- Purchase a gate check bag ($13), like this one from Amazon, to hold your car seat and base. The bag has straps so you can carry it like a backpack. Note: These will need to be screened, along with your stroller.
- Travel Hack: During the winter when traveling to some place warm, put your coats in the gate check bag before boarding your flight so you’re not as crowded once you get to your seat. (You can also do this when it’s warmer to bring a few more items that just won’t fit in your carry-on)
- Once you get to your gate, make sure to have the counter agent put a gate check ticket on your car seat and on your stroller. (There is no extra charge to gate check these baby items.) This will ensure they will be waiting for you on the jet bridge once you land.
On the flight…
- Try to board first with those needing “special assistance”. Traveling with a baby often takes more time so take advantage of pre-boarding.
- When you board the plane make sure to wipe down your entire area, especially the tray table (top and bottom), arm rests, seat belt buckles, and the knobs/buttons to turn on the air and lights. And NEVER put anything in the seat back pocket unless it’s trash. Next to the toilet, that’s the dirtiest place on the plane. Don’t believe me, look it up. Imagine all the dirty used tissues and napkins that get tucked in there. No one wants to bring home an illness.
- If you breastfeed be prepared to whip out a boob during takeoff and landing. Same for if the baby is bottle fed, always have a bottle ready during these times. Trust me, air pressure is hard on their little ears and sucking on the bottle helps them acclimate to the pressure change. Besides, once you feed baby he will likely fall asleep.
- Bring baby’s favorite toy and book, if you think they will be awake and need something to distract them during the flight.
- With it being flu season, I packed several small blankets and used them in various ways: car seat carrier cover when walking through the airport, cover for baby (we literally kept him under a blanket for each flight), and when no one was sitting between us, we wiped down the seat and laid down a blanket to let baby stretch out.
- If you need to heat up bottles, let a flight attendant know at the beginning of the flight so you won’t have to wait for the drink cart to come.
Once you reach your destination…
- In addition to your standard baby bag, if you’re going to be out and about for more than 6 hours, I recommend packing an extra bag for emergencies (to keep in your rental car) with a change of outfit, portable changing pad (puppy pee pads also do the trick and can be thrown away), blanket, wet/dry bag to store things until you have a chance to wash them, and diaper disposal bags.
- If traveling internationally, pack more baby wipes, diapers, and formula than you think you’ll need because you don’t want to run out and have to search for replacements in a foreign country.
- If you have a routine at home, try to keep it while traveling, i.e. feeding, nap time, playtime, and bedtime. All of this will help make the transition easier for baby.
- If going out at night for say a late dinner, place baby in their car seat carrier dressed in a sleeper outfit and keep it covered up with a blanket. That way when you return to your accommodations, you don’t have to fuss with trying to change a sleeping baby and can easily transition them to their bed/crib for the night.
These are just some tips that I wrote down after our recent trip. Please feel free to comment below with any other suggestions or travel hacks you have for traveling with a baby.