Since I’m personally traveling this week, I thought what better topic than to cover baby travel tips.
Whether you are taking a road trip with your baby or flying with your baby, the baby travel planning process can be overwhelming. You can either over prepare and bring too much with you, or you under prepare, leading to lots of funny stories – that you will laugh about in hindsight.
There are lots of baby travel tips and tricks plus some secret best practices, and I’ve collected them all from The Mommy Experts to share with you today.
Mommy Experts Annika, Josephine, Lauren and Lisa each have traveled a lot with their babies.
- Annika took her first flight with Peyton when she was 2 months.
- Josephine, who lives on the East Coast, has flown back and forth from NYC to SF probably half a dozen times. They’ve also taken a trip to the Bahamas, cruise to Alaska and lots of weekends in the Hamptons, Jersey Shore, Connecticut, and Boston.
- Lauren has taken many road trips and flown with her boys between Northern California and Southern California.
- Lisa, who has 3 kids – 1 year old twins and a 2 year old – has flown all over with all her children, and most recently flew to Shanghai.
So how do you do it?
KEY TIP: Keep it simple and bring only the necessities.
Flying with your baby.
KEY TIP: Check the United States Travel Security Association (TSA) for the latest rules, which do change from time to time.
Getting through airport security
According to TSA, you have to remove your baby from whatever you are transporting him or her in (carrier, stroller) and carry your baby through the detectors with you. Be prepared for that.
So what’s better to go through security with? Baby carrier or stroller? It depends.
Many parents have reported they’ve recently been able to get through security with their baby in the carrier. However, there have been other parents who were required to remove their baby while in a carrier. Because of this, they say to not travel with a baby carrier due to the hassle of getting the baby in and out at security.
It sounds like it really depends on who you are dealing with during security, but regardless, you should know that you will have to carry your baby. To keep it simplest, it’s probably best to not risk it the trouble of using a carrier.
For strollers, you’ll want a light-weight travel system stroller. The two most commonly recommended strollers among the moms I spoke with for airport traveling have been the Graco Snap and Go for infants and the MacClaren Travel System strollers.
KEY TIP: Use your husband. Have him go first or stay out of the picture.
From Mommy Expert Josephine:
- “I usually carry the baby through security and my husband follows behind with everything else. Just be sure to take an inventory after security to make sure you have everything – we left a suitcase behind one time.”
- “Have your husband get on board during early boarding to put away the luggage and get situated in the seats. Then board last with your baby/toddler. Especially for toddlers – I let Alexis run around and get some energy out before we get on a flight. Otherwise, if she boards with the early boarding, she’s sitting on the plane for an extra 30 minutes.”
From Mommy Expert Annika:
- “I was super scared to travel alone but actually found out that it is kind of nice since everyone tries to lend a hand to help. The next time I traveled with Brian, I made him stay back.”
- “If you are taking formula, make sure the bottles are see through. Some of the pre-made ones are not, so take off the labels, otherwise they will take them away.”
Spend the money to check luggage – make it easy on yourself – just take a snap and go stroller, car seat, and diaper bag.
Wear flip flops or shoes that you don’t have to bend over and take on and off because you will need to be holding your baby through security
Keeping Your Baby Comfortable
Everybody knows this one… but give your baby the pacifier or bottle during takeoff and landing to avoid ears popping. If you are nursing, you’ll want to nurse going up and nurse coming down. DON’T start until the plane is actually on the runway and about to take off though… otherwise you will finish too soon.
If you are flying internationally with your infant, some planes have bassinets, can warm bottles, and will have diaper changing tables. Call in advance.
Keeping Your Baby Entertained
I actually had a personal experience with this yesterday when I was flying in from Taipei to Bali. The couple next to me had a 13 month old, who was wailing and crying the entire take off and was restless during the entire flight. Keeping your baby comfortable using the tips above should be a given, but they didn’t know. And keeping your baby entertained is critical for these long-haul flights.
- Give your baby anything you can pick up along the way – straws, cups, painters tape or buy cheap things and keep switching throughout the trip to keep them entertained.
- Painter’s tape is great to keep kids busy. It’s fun for them to play with and easy to peel off of surfaces. Even luggage tags from the airlines.
KEY TIP: Kids are creative and everything can become a toy. So give them options to stay entertained.
What to Pack
- Plan out the trip in your head and pack accordingly.
- Always pack an extra layer for the baby and bring your own blanket.
- Unfortunately babies can’t wear things twice like adults can, so always pack extras.
KEY TIP: Pack enough for the trip plus an extra two days worth. Mommy Expert Josephine says, “I’m always afraid we’ll get delayed or have our flight cancelled and we will need the extra supplies.” This includes DIAPERS.
KEY TIP: Always bring a change of clothes for every body. Don’t wear a white t-shirt, or else!
KEY TIP: Use clear Ziploc bags to pack each outfit so you can easily grab and go, or pass off to your husband to change the baby without having to give him many instructions. You can reuse these bags to store soiled clothes or diapers, etc.
- Use as many disposable items as possible. It’s hard to wash dishes, bottles, etc. while traveling. You’ll be surprised at how many travel products there are to make your travelling life easier.
- Don’t forget snacks, entertainment items as mentioned above, your diaper bag essentials, and feeding necessities.
KEY TIP: Bring Aquaphor and cotton swabs – put them in the ears and noses to prevent germs from getting trapped in the canals and use antibacterial wipes to wipe down everything.
- Sleeping options for your baby: a portable crib or pack and play may be good or if this is somewhere you keep returning to frequently, have a set of things there to keep it simple.
- If you’re pumping, aside from planning out your schedule for that, Mommy Expert Sena shared her learning experience:
“At the age that Olivia was when we took this trip, she preferred warm breast milk. Since I exclusively pumped, I needed to make sure there was a way for me to warm up her milk. Our friend lent us their car bottle warmer accessory and I quickly learned that to get her milk the temp she usually likes it, I needed to warm it up for about 30 minutes. On the way back, I learned that it was also probably easier for me to carry an empty bottle, pump on the drive and then just give her the fresh milk.”
- Sit in the back with your baby.
Mommy Expert Sena said their first trip was a road trip to Southern California. The ride there was a breeze. Her baby Olivia slept most of the way and when she was awake, she entertained herself. The ride back, however, was a “nightmare.” She slept for a few hours, but then woke up and wanted to get out of her carseat. Since they were driving, that was not an option. She cried, or as Sena said, “screamed, shrieked, cried bloody murder for 30 minutes safe until we got to the first rest stop that was open. The moment we took her out of her carseat, she stopped and smiled. Those 30 minutes were the longest of my life.” Sena then shared, “When we started driving again, I decided to sit in the back with her. This way I could entertain and calm her if needed. I think this helped a lot. If I was given the chance to do it all over, I would probably sit in the back with her to begin with.”
- Be aware of what your baby’s upset stomach can mean prior to hitting the road.
Mommy Expert Lauren said, “It was much harder than I expected the first time I took a road trip with William from San Francisco to San Diego in California. She said, “The first trip with William was a hilarious disaster. We drove to SD and he had been constipated for several days before. I was on the phone with the doctor and they said I should give him a few ounces of straight prune juice. I did, and it worked. The problem was it worked for several days and we had not one, but two MAJOR blowouts on the drive home from SD, like so bad I had to throw away his clothes and wipe him down in a gas station bathroom. It was horrible.”
Mistakes to AVOID
- A lot of people talk about timing of nursing too – that they do it too soon or too late.
- Too few diapers
- Not having a change of clothes
- Traveling with a baby with an upset stomach and over compensating with prune juice – Lauren’s disaster!
- Thinking you need to drive during the night when the baby usually sleeps. If this is your first big trip, you can’t necessarily say that your baby is going to sleep through the car ride. There’s a chance that the baby will be awake and upset. Then you’re in a situation where you’re tired, sleepy, and having to deal with an upset baby.
- When you’re running off to change the baby, make sure you have the change of clothes with you.
- From Mommy Expert Josephine: “First travel experience went really well. We were flying to San Francisco to visit family. Only hiccup was, right before boarding she had an explosive dirty diaper that soiled her clothes. I ran out of the restroom with a half naked baby since my husband had the change of clothes with him. Needless to say we missed the “early boarding” for families with young children.
Traveling with your baby can seem daunting, and most moms I spoke to said it was not as bad as you think it’s going to be (except for Lauren!) as long as you plan ahead. Mommy Expert Annika shared the best analogy of what it’s like to travel on your own with your baby… “It is the same as if you were traveling with your husband because they are sort of clueless.” She also added, “It is hardest in earlier days because you are so sleep deprived, your body hurts everywhere, and your hormones are making your mood change all the time. But at the end of the day, it’s good to travel so you get your confidence back.” Just remember: you can do it!
What are your travel tips and travel stories?