Photo by Jen Kay.
Traveling with a baby is an experience...it's a huge change from the days of pre-baby trips with no checked luggage and killing time at the lounge waiting for your plane to board. The first time can be daunting (will the baby cry the entire trip? will everyone hate me? why are we going again?), but as someone who loves to go, I've learned a few ways to make the journey a bit easier…
This product is an absolute lifesaver on a plane. It's the perfect way to settle your baby and keep them close. We sometimes wear the baby onto the plane, which makes it easier to break down your stroller for gate checking- Bonus: they can fall asleep and you'll have your hands free! (FYI, some airlines make you remove the baby for takeoff and landing.) If you're traveling with a newborn, you'll need this piece as well.
We prefer to travel with our own car seat, though renting them through your car rental agency is possible. This car seat easily installs into any vehicle WITHOUT a car seat base by using the seat belt, making it perfect for taxis and rental cars. It's also compatible with lots of different stroller bases by using an adaptor, so if you've got your heart set on a specific stroller have no fear. We gate check our stroller and car seat, and use this to keep our car seat and adaptor protected.
Your stroller will basically become your home base. I picked the stroller with the most cargo space since we live in a city. When traveling our bags fit nicely underneath and we're essentially hands free. This one gets checked plane side, but this stroller is amazingly compact and fits in the overhead compartment! It folds down (with one hand!) to the size of a carry-on bag and weighs about 11lbs total making it an absolute dream for travel. It's a little pricey, so we invested in this to keep it protected when traveling. The best part is, it works with our infant car seat using these adaptors.
This is super handy for bottle washing in a hotel room and packs down to almost nothing. We also used this for baths when traveling when Charley was quite young; it literally packs totally flat and takes up almost no space!
Traveling with a baby monitor can be a pain; instead, we use the Baby Tracker 3G app. It requires two devices (iPhone or iPad) and costs around $5.
What to bring in your Carry-On
Checking a bag makes your life so much simpler (this is my go-to), but you'll still need a carry-on for baby essentials. I find a backpack is easiest to maneuver while on the go. This one fits neatly under the seat and doesn’t scream “diaper bag!!!”. Plus, I love that it's the perfect size to become Charley's personal travel bag when he's a little older.
Air pressure can be painful for young babies; feeding a bottle or breastfeeding during take-off and landing helps.
If bottle feeding, this is so helpful, rather than lugging a huge canister of powder around (stow that in your checked bag). A cooler bag is also great on the road for keeping milk at just the right temp.
I use this to contain all my diaper changing supplies. My favorite wipes, diaper cream, and changing pad all fit neatly inside, so when it's time for a change I just grab the entire pouch and everything is easily accessible.
Dress your baby in something easy, like these comfy pjs for the journey; it makes diaper changes in cramped airplane bathrooms much easier and promotes sleep! And bring an extra change of clothes to have in case of accidents....for the baby, and for you.
For very young babies, bringing toys is essentially useless, but once they're a little older packing a few small, favorite toys is a handy way to distract during delays and layovers. This one is compact and easily attaches to a stroller or car seat. Otherwise, an empty plastic cup and bag of snack mix make excellent toys. Just know that the greatest source of entertainment is you, so be prepared to take turns with your partner playing with the baby. You probably won't be reading that magazine you packed.
This has become essential for life on the road, and at home. It makes naps on the go a cinch - just clip it onto your stroller and lights out!
Arrive to the airport with time to spare: getting through security with a baby and all the gear takes time. They’ll have you break down your stroller completely (familiarize yourself with this process at home beforehand to make it smoother…) and carry your baby through security, so try to keep your baby awake during this time, otherwise you’ll risk waking them from their sleep (not cool).
You can travel with liquids (water, milk, juice), just be sure to remove them from your bag because they need to be tested separately. I like to bring filtered water in this so mixing bottles is a breeze.
I always try to do a quick diaper change BEFORE getting on the plane. I also find that these diapers are the best for keeping baby dry longest.
When selecting seats, choose an aisle and window. You may get lucky with an entire row to yourself, in which case you can bring your car seat on board for free! For this to work, I find it helps to get to the gate early and let the gate agent know that you’re traveling with a baby. That way if there is a standby list, they can try to accommodate other passengers while keeping your row free.
If you have a schedule, do your best to stay on track, but also accept that when traveling things will be a bit scattered. If possible, try to schedule your flight during a time your baby might typically be napping anyway.
If you're headed somewhere for a lengthy stay, consider ordering diapers, wipes and formula via Diapers.com to your destination to avoid having to pack them.
Words to live by...
Inevitably, your baby will cry, and fuss, and spit-up and generally be a baby at some point during your trip. You may even get some nasty looks from your fellow passengers. Just grin and bear it. It will all be over in a few hours. And do order a white wine whenever possible!
At the end of the day, showing my son the world has been one of the most rewarding experiences. Travel is something I love and now I get to share that love with him. It's tiring, it's messy and it's rarely relaxing, and even though he may not remember the beach in Hawaii at sunset, or the fresh air of the Canadian Rockies the experience will be with him wherever he goes. Happy trails!