Summer’s here! Hopefully you’re lucky enough to partake in some travel with your family this year. The first time we took baby on a plane (not to be confused with Snakes on a Plane), I made it a point to gobble up all the best travel tips from my frequent-flyer friends. Now, I want to share them with you so you can have stress-free travel adventures of your own! Here are my top 8 tips for traveling with a baby.
Tip #1: Bring your car seat on the plane.
Most airlines will check car seats and strollers for free (but please confirm your airline’s policy)! Airlines can be tough on checked baggage, so it’s worth it to get a cover for the seat. We bought this J.L. Childress Car Seat Travel Bag, which was affordable and convenient. We loved having our own seat because we felt confident in securing it correctly in our rental car, and it was one “constant” for our baby despite all the changes travel brings.
Bonus tip: You can fit lightweight items in the bag with the seat, like extra blankies or diapers. THAT is what makes this my favorite hack for traveling with a baby! I can’t tell you how nice it is to have a place to store extra diapers without consuming all the space in your suitcase. To me, that alone is worth lugging the car seat through the airport!
Tip #2: Baby carriers save the day.
I love wearing our baby, so she’s pretty comfortable in a carrier already, but this was an absolute lifesaver at the airport. We were able to keep her close and calm despite the crowds, plus we had free hands for handling luggage or grabbing snacks. It was also way easier to navigate the airport than if we’d used a stroller, and then we had the carrier for outings while on vacation, too.
I could write an entire post on baby carriers because there are so many options and benefits to each type and brand. Since this is a travel post though, I’ll just share my favorites:
- For wee ones, I prefer wrap carriers like Solly Baby and Moby. Since it’s getting warm out, you can also find similar models in uber light-weight fabrics and even mesh for getting in the water!
- For bigger littles, I like structured wraps like Boba. The key here is to find a structured wrap that not only supports the baby, but also supports you by ergonomically distributing the baby’s weight across your body. Ergobaby is another hugely popular structured carrier you can check out.
If you aren’t using a carrier now but are planning on some trips or outings over the summer, try testing some carriers before you go! You might find them helpful, too.
Tip #3: Pack extra clothes for yourself in your carry-on.
Parents—and in my experience, especially moms—are pros at ensuring their kiddos have everything they could possibly need, including a change of clothes. That said, parents—and again, especially moms—are notoriously bad at planning for their own needs.
Travel can upset tiny tummies and ears, and I personally can’t imagine many travel maladies worse than being stuck on a plane wearing my child’s puke and/or poop. Please pack an extra set of clothes for yourself! While you’re at it, throw some reusable, waterproof bags (to store your dirty clothes) in your carry on, too.
Tip #4: Budget for extra food.
I don’t care how much food you pack, it’s not enough. Ever. You’ll be buying food at the airport, the hotel, and every gas station or Starbucks in between. Do yourself a favor by not letting anyone get hangry.
Tip #5: Accept that travel will probably screw up sleep patterns.
Your great sleeper will suddenly develop FOMO (fear of missing out), and your terrible sleeper will become so exhausted with the new stimulation that he’ll conk out at the most inconvenient times. Set no sleep expectations and you’ll be adequately prepared.
Tip #6: Remember medicine.
A wise friend told me she always brings a thermometer along with age-appropriate medicines for fevers and coughs because otherwise, she ends up buying them on every trip. I usually don’t do this, but honestly noticed that I had less anxiety when I tried it. Something about knowing that I could readily evaluate and help my baby feel better if needed brought me peace of mind.
Tip #7: Bring a nail clipper.
The circulated air on planes makes your child’s nails grow three times faster than usual. (To my knowledge, there is no clinical research supporting this assertion.) No one wants to be repeatedly clawed on vacation. I also inevitably get a hangnail or break a nail, so it comes in handy for adults, too.
Tip #8: Most importantly, know that you can do it!
Once, while traveling with our 1 and 3 year olds, my partner got altitude sickness. Let me tell you, managing to get a puking adult, two little kids, and a week’s worth of luggage for a family of 4 through O’Hare myself was simultaneously miserable and one of my proudest mom moments to date.
That experience taught me that my family is a team, I’m more flexible and adult than I think, and the benefit of time together and the memories made far outweigh the stress and possible unpleasantries of travel. If you’re feeling nervous about taking a family vacation, or are considering your first trip with a child, know that you can do it and it will be fun!
Lastly, I didn’t add a tip for carrying breastmilk or formula through security because I’ve always had smooth experiences with TSA by following their recommended procedures. I hope you’re just as fortunate!