As we gear up for 2020, you may be thinking about taking a family trip and bringing a baby with you. The thought of traveling with a baby may overwhelm you. So many moving parts, so many things to remember, so many things to pack. I hear you.
However, I’m one of those weird moms who loves traveling with her kids. I’ve got a lot of tips for you to simplify the process and give you all of my best tips for traveling with a baby.
I’ve talked about this a lot, but we have been traveling with our children since they were small infants. (My kids are almost 8, 5, and almost 4 months old.) We’ve taken them on road trips, planes, cruises, and trains. We’ve taken them on mostly domestic flights, but there were a few international flights, too. I’ve written about this multiple times on my blog and I even have done a whole video on flying with kids ages infant and up.
With that being said, this blog post is full of personal experience and tips I’ve learned throughout the years. This isn’t a “I traveled one time with my one kid so now I’m an expert” type of post.
For this blog post, we’re going to focus on traveling with an infant and all of the things to consider before the trip, on travel days, and helpful hints while you’re at your destination. I know all babies are different, and many just can’t handle being out of their element. But if you’re determined to do a little travel and have a little fun, this blog post is for you.
Traveling with a Baby – Before You Go
The biggest piece of advice out of everything here is to stop thinking about how much you can’t do with a baby, and focus on what you can do. While you may not be able to be “on the go” all day like you can with older kids, respect the fact that you may need more breaks. Welcome the rest and breaks. Having a baby is such a short blip of time, and forcing yourself to rest can actually be a good thing!
A mindset shift makes all the difference. Now that you’re on board with this and thinking positively, here are a few things to consider before you leave.
If You’re Flying…
- Consider getting TSA Precheck or Global Entry (comes with 5 years of TSA Precheck) if you plan to do any sort of international travel. I will never be without either ever again. Flying with kids can be stressful enough, but getting through security with TSA Precheck makes life so much easier. No taking items out of your carry on bag, no taking your shoes off. It’s such a time and sanity saver. If one adult on your air reservation has TSA Precheck, the entire family can go through the line with that person. Both Greg and I have it, and I would advise both parents to get it just in case one parent ever has to travel alone with the kids.
- Always check your airline’s policies for lap infants.
- Make sure you have proper documentation for the baby. A lot of airlines will ask to see a birth certificate (again, check with the airline). If in doubt, call them. We have rarely been asked to show a birth certificate when we’ve traveled with our babies/kids, but it’s better to be safe than sorry if it’s in the airline’s policies.
- If you’re flying internationally with a baby, make sure you call the airline and get the baby added to your reservation. Even though they are a lap child and are not charged for a seat, you do pay a small customs tax and you need to have their passport information on file.
Packing for Baby
It’s crazy how such a small little human needs so much stuff. It can be very overwhelming! My best piece of advice on packing for your baby is do not wait until the night before to do it. Start the week before. Make a list of things you think you’ll use while traveling and on your trip and start setting them aside and packing baby’s bag. If the baby ends up packed with more than everyone else, it likely is too many items. Scale back and reassess.
My Favorite Packing Hack
Create a note on your phone with a packing list that can always live on your phone! That way you always have a list handy and you’re less likely to forget important items. This is a huge timesaver for me, especially now that I’m packing for three kids and myself!
To break it up even further, create a packing list per person and always have it stay in your notes app. You’ll obviously add to/edit the list based on where your travel destination is (I also like to be very specific on clothes so I do not over pack).
When I started doing this, I rarely forget items and I rarely over pack. Such a simple idea, but a lifesaver!
Packing a Carry-on Bag for Baby
I am not a fan of overpacking, but packing the right things for baby to make travel easier. Here’s what I’d recommend packing in your carryon for baby. I’ve also written about this before in my How to Pack a Carry On for Kids blog post (great suggestions for toddlers and preschoolers)!
- Nursing pillow – super helpful if you’re flying and it gives the baby a place to rest comfortably. I stow mine in the bottom of my stroller when I’m in the airport.
- Baby carrier – This was very helpful to have when I flew alone with Logan and needed to do things hands free. I’m so glad I had it!
- Muslin blankets – breathable and nice to have if the plane is cold or you need to nurse the baby.
- Diapers and wipes – Pack more than you think. Much more than you think you need.
- Changing pad – to lay down on a public changing table
- Change of clothes – You never know what kind of messes will happen
- Medicine – I prefer to put this in my carryon bag for the baby in case something happens. You don’t really need to bring medicine unless you’re worried baby is getting sick and will need it. If baby gets sick on vacation, I just buy medicine when I’m there.
- Hand sanitizer
- Feeding essentials – anything you may need to feed your baby (formula, bottles, age-appropriate snacks, etc.)
Other Helpful Baby Items to Pack
Over the years, I’ve realized there are a few things that are really helpful to have on hand when packing for your baby. Here’s what I’ve loved having!
- Velcro swaddles / sleep sacks (depending on age)
- Portable white noise machine
- Swim diapers (dependent on destination!)
- Mineral sunscreen
- Natural insect repellant (also dependent on destination!)
Strollers & Car Seats
You’ll obviously need a stroller or car seat (or both!) depending on where you’re going, and having a great travel system makes a big difference. After Logan was born, we started using UPPAbaby products for our travel system needs. I now totally understand why these products are cult favorites among many moms.
Here’s what makes UPPAbaby stand out to me, and why we ultimately chose to go with this brand of gear:
• High quality products that are stylish and look very sophisticated and modern
• High standards of quality and safety in each product
• Warranty on all of their products
• Incredible customer support (I had a minor issue and they helped me within minutes!)
• Lightweight products, never bulky, and easy to use and maneuver
• TravelSafe program that ensures and guarantees the safety of your UPPAbaby products when you travel by air and use their travel bags.
The MESA car seat is the best infant car seat we’ve ever used. Not even exaggerating here. The base installs effortlessly into the car (no pulling and tugging at the latch system), pops onto the CRUZ stroller frame in a snap, is not super heavy, is very stylish, feels well-made, seems comfortable, and is very safe.
The VISTA is the most popular travel system UPPAbaby carries, but we decided we wanted to go a more compact route, and we did not need the bassinet. Since Logan is our last baby and we did not need the option to convert it to a double stroller, we decided on the CRUZ stroller frame to use with MESA car seat. The CRUZ can be used from birth on, if you have the SnugSeat installed. The MESA car seat snaps right in, as well – no adapters needed. This is a beautiful, well-made stroller but it folds down compactly.
I am so happy we went with the CRUZ because there is no sacrifice in quality and how well-made the stroller is, but how easy it is to use. This is especially a lifesaver for travel. When I traveled internationally alone with Logan, I was able to put him in the baby carrier, fold down the stroller and leave it on the jet bridge for it to be put under the plane while we flew – no problem doing it, either.
I really love how huge the storage basket is on the bottom of the stroller. I also have the Carry-All Parent Organizer installed, which can hold quite a bit!
While having a great stroller is helpful during your days of travel, it makes a huge difference when you’re at your destination! My CRUZ stroller was a breeze to use around Beaches Turks and Caicos and I was so happy I had it with me.
You’ve Got This, Mama
Traveling with a baby requires extra planning and extra gear, but the memories you’ll make will be ones you cherish. I’m so happy we’ve taken our children on so many adventures, and I don’t think we’ve ever regretted a single trip. You’ve got this, mama. Make those memories.