The snow is melting, daffodils are peeking through the soil, and the days are getting longer - all signs that spring is just around the corner. For a lot of us, this means travel season is almost here. Traveling with a newborn, toddler or even older children can seem overwhelming, but here are some tips that can help make your travels go smoothly!
General Tips for Travel
What’s in Your Carry-On Bag
Diapers, wipes, bags for dirty diapers, (at least) one clean outfit for baby and parents, snack, blankie/lovey, a few of your baby's favorite toys - plus some surprises, extra pacifier if used, hand sanitizer or wipes, hat and sunscreen if going somewhere sunny, portable pump if needed (don’t pack your pump in your checked bag, in case your luggage is lost or delayed).
Pack diapers and then more and then a few more… When packing to travel think about how many diapers you usually use in a day, then pack about three extra. A blowout is nearly inevitable, so best to be prepared.
Extra Love from Home
Night light, sleep sac, sheets for baby’s travel crib
Silicon bibs- wipeable, favorite dish or cup
Your favorite baby shampoo/shower gel, baby towel
Pack each of your baby's outfits in its own zipped plastic bag so you don't have to hunt around for tiny socks, shirts, and so on.
Stay where there is laundry so you don’t have to bring too many extra clothes. And bring a little of your own laundry detergent so you don’t have to use whatever they happen to have. This will be better for baby’s skin.
Hands Free Pumping… It’s a Real Thing
Look into getting a Haakaa or Willow Pump for your travels. They are tube free, stress free pumping. (See more info in Resources, below.)
If you'll be staying in a hotel or motel, request a crib when you make your room reservation or you may be out of luck when you arrive.
If you're bringing a portable travel bed, have your baby sleep in it for a few nights before you leave. That way, it will feel like a familiar, comfy spot to go night-night on vacation. (See Resources)
Bring a king sized sheet if you’re traveling abroad, just in case your bed is two twins pushed together. Especially if you’ll be bed sharing with your littles.
Create a specified changing area in the hotel room.
Bring storage cubes you fold flat for travel, but pop-up to store toys, etc. while staying.
Unpack ASAP to create a feeling of home.
Bring collapsible dish pan, soap and bottle brush.
Meals In/Meals Out
If you're not breastfeeding, bring ready-to-use formula or make a few bottles of formula at home for feeds during travel.
If you’re traveling more than 5 hours, bring frozen breast milk AND ice packs.
Think “Where will I Breastfeed?”
Enjoy nicer restaurants by eating dinner early.
Your favorite baby carrier is a priceless tool to have with you - and they don’t take up much space.
Electronics: Sometimes a distraction can salvage a plane ride or the last half hour in the car. If your child is allowed screen time, download shows to your phone or tablet - or there are some great educational apps for littles (see Resources)
Practice taking the car seat(s) in and out of a car so you are not struggling when you get to your location.
RENT EQUIPMENT. If you can it is always a wonderful option to rent equipment for your trip. You can rent anything from baby carriers and car seats, to beds and strollers - they show up when and where you need them. It’s a great way to travel light (see Resources).
Bring flight attendants a sweet treat
Bring the flight attendants a sweet treat, and hand it to them while boarding the plane. It gives them a little extra joy. This way if your baby has a hard time, you’ve already thanked them and they are more likely to be in a better mood to help you.
Aisle seats are key
Having easy in and out makes life way easier than having to climb over people to get to the bathroom. Also, if you have walking babies or toddlers, they can take a little stroll down the aisle without disturbing anyone.
Priority seating and clearing security - use it!
Use the early boarding for families with small children. This way you get overhead storage space and you can prepare your seating space. Take out your snacks, toys and books and put in arm’s reach. Have your small diaper bag ready (see below). Boarding early means you will be on the plane for extra time, so account for that with snack, or you wear your baby and bounce and move about.
Diaper Changes on the Go
Get seats near a bathroom. The back of the plane may seem claustrophobic, but being only a few aisles away from the bathroom is much nicer than having to walk the length of the plane everytime your little one needs a change.
Mentally prepare for the tight-bathroom diaper change. Pack a smaller bag with just the essentials in your bigger bag so you can grab and go. Some parents will change on tray table or on the floor. Do what works for you.
Make sure baby has something to suck on
Take-off and landing can cause babies to have pain in their ears, just like adults. Make sure to have something for them to suck on: breast, bottle, pacifier. Timing is important, which can be hard if your baby wants to eat NOW. So plan your whole day out in advance and figure out your feedings based around when you are taking off.
No babywearing on planes?
Airlines prohibit wearing your baby during take-off or landing. So plan your departure accordingly, so you hopefully avoid having to wake a sleeping baby.
Stroller, Carseat, Baby carrier, Oh My
Some people love having carseat and stroller, or just stroller to use through the airport. Others like to wear baby and check the stroller and car seat. You need to do what works for you.
Know that the stoller can come in handy to push all your carry-on bags, even if you are wearing your baby. You can always gate check the stroller. However, know that it will take you more time through security because they will need to do a separate, detailed check of the stroller. It will also take more time once the plane lands to get back whatever you’ve gate checked. So think about your flight times. If you have a really short layover, gate checking can be stressful.
A backpack for baby’s bag and shoulder bag for you works really well.
For international travel you may want to consider using a hiking backpack instead of a stroller. The hiking backpack can be used to navigate the airport, tight European streets, uneven cobblestones, and bonus, it’s easy to gate check.
If you have little(s) that need to move, don’t forget to find out where the play centers are in airports. Most large airports have children's play centers. They can be a great place to burn some energy off during layovers.
Always be prepared
Be prepared for the trip to take a couple of hours longer than expected. There is always something to delay the trip; potty time, blowouts, feeding, crying that requires a car seat break, etc. So add a few hours into your trip plan.
Removable shade screens for the car's side windows can be a lifesaver for nap time or a toddler who doesn’t like sun in their eyes.
Pack snacks in an old box or paper bag to keep things contained and so you can discard along the way.
Have paper towels for snacks and well as water.
An extra stash of baby wipes in the glove compartment can be a lifesaver.
Having a small potty in the car can be a wonderful way to continue potty learning while traveling. You can place the bucket part in a plastic bag so you can easily dump or throw out. Have wipes attached to the potty so you don’t have to search for them when needed.
If you’re driving through the night, consider a car seat light that makes white noise (see Resources).
Map out gas stations, rest areas with swings/playscapes, or city parks in towns along the way. Also look for family-friendly restaurants. The out-of-car time should offer some physical activity if needed for crawling babies, toddlers or older children.
Games for older tots
Car bingo cards
Pipe Cleaners and cheerios
See Resources for more
Baby supplies Rental Companies
Rent Baby Travel Gear, sorted by country
goBaby, the Airbnb for baby gear
BABY AND TODDLER APPS
Endless School Bundle (Alphabet and Numbers for children aged 2-6)
EASY BABY SLEEP
MORE TIPS FOR DECREASING TRAVEL/HOLIDAY STRESS