For many people (me included for many years), the idea of traveling with a baby is overwhelming. In fact, many people just assume that travel won’t be possible in the first few years with baby.
Certainly, travel doesn’t get easier with an additional small human who needs to be carried everywhere, but it is far from impossible! Plus it has some perks like typically an easier time getting through airport security.
After almost 11 years of traveling with babies both domestically and internationally, I wanted to share some tips we’ve learned along the way. These tips are by no means foolproof ways to make a baby easy to travel with, but they’ve been really helpful to us.
The Most Important Thing
Adaptability is the most important thing for traveling with a baby. You know what they say about the best laid plans of mice and men, and never is this more true that while traveling. For instance, in our first major travel disaster where we had to quickly rebook a flight back to the US and were up for over 24 hours. We had kids who were great sleepers when they were on a routine and that routine was thrown completely out the window.
On other trips, flights were delayed, weather happened or other things disrupted our plan. Be adaptable and always have a backup plan for food and sleep. Babies feed off their parents energy so stay calm if at all possible and keep the mood light.
Don’t wait until baby is older to travel, as it can be tough at first, but traveling really helps babies learn to be adaptable.
Tip 1: Find a Good Travel Bed and Get Baby Used to It
Nothing makes travel tough like a baby who won’t sleep. We learned the hard way that when you have a baby who is used to a very specific crib, routine and sound machine, he doesn’t sleep so well when you take those things away and change the schedule.
Now, we keep our babies in a nice and comfortable travel crib in our room for their early months (until about a year old). This way, the bed goes with us wherever we go and is some stability for the baby.
Tip 2: Always Have Extra Clothes on Hand
This applies for you and for baby. With babies, poop happens and so do other messes. Have at least two simple outfit changes for baby if needed and at least one for yourself. If checking bags, make sure these go in a carry on (another lesson learned the hard way) and have double the diapers you think you’ll need (also learned the hard way).
Tip 3: Stock Up on Food and Fluids
A hungry or thirsty baby is a grumpy baby. I always love traveling with nursing babies because there is almost nothing extra to pack and food is always available for them, but for older babies, make sure to pack snacks, baby food or fluids. In most cases, there are exceptions to the travel liquid restrictions when flying for these items, but ask ahead if you aren’t sure.
Travel is also not a good time to introduce new foods. Baby may have an upset stomach or other reaction and it is hard to tell if it is from the travel or the new foods. Stick to the basics and the favorites while traveling.
Tip 4: Bring a Good Stroller (but a small one) & Sling
I’m yet to ever hear someone complain that they wish they’d packed more luggage to carry on a trip. When traveling, minimal is easier, but harder with a baby. I’ve seen parents trying to lug a massive stroller through airports and not being able to quickly go up escalators because they couldn’t lift it.
We started this way too, thinking we had to bring tons of extra gear for baby. Our easiest trips have had the least amount of gear and we use this really light 13-pound stroller with 5-point harness for babies over a few months old. It is light enough to carry up stairs and get on escalators but sturdy enough to hold baby safely.
We also bring a neutral ergo sling (or similar sling) for littler babies and for hiking with older babies.
Tip 5: Be Ready to Throw It All Out the Window and Improvise
Of course, all the planning in the world is great, but sometimes life with baby is unpredictable.
As an example, while we are traveling this time (and while I was writing this post), my baby got a 105 fever for a day. We had to change the schedule, drive near our natural remedies, and me just hold her all day until she felt better.
Tip 6: Stock Up on Natural Remedies
I have a whole post on this coming soon, but natural remedies have been so helpful when traveling with babies. Often, they’ll catch a small cold or start teething during traveling. It isn’t enough to warrant medical attention but they’re uncomfortable.
I always keep a little eagle cube with things like chamomile, homeopathic arnica, Omega-3s and lavender essential oil (for too much sun exposure), probiotics, charcoal and other remedies. Basically it is a pared down version of this natural medicine kit.
So, that’s my list in progress. What are your best tips for traveling with babies?