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At some point, most moms will travel with their baby.
It can be a daunting experience if you've never done it before.
Whether it's your first time taking a trip with a little one or you're looking for tips to make the experience smoother, this guide is for you.
We'll cover everything from what you actually need to pack to what to expect on your travel day.
So whether you're planning a cross-country road trip or just a short weekend getaway, read on for advice from a seasoned mom on how to make traveling with a baby as easy as possible.
Part 1: Preparing for Traveling With a Baby
Most of the work in traveling with a baby comes in at this stage.
Get your plans made, educate yourself on what to expect and count down until travel day!
Choose Your Destination Wisely
When you're choosing a destination, it's important to consider how baby-friendly it will be.
Are there activities that the whole family can enjoy? Will the weather be an adjustment for a baby?
Answering these questions ahead of time will help you choose a destination that everyone will enjoy.
If you're flying, try to pick a destination that isn't too far from home—the shorter the flight, the better for your baby.
If you're planning a road trip, keep in mind you will need to make frequent stops to feed and change your baby.
Pick a route to your destination that will have plenty of places to rest. We prefer turnpikes with travel plazas.
Travel during off-peak days and times if possible. This will make it easier to get around and will also help you avoid crowds.
Make Sure You Have All the Necessary Documents
If you're traveling by plane, most airlines require a birth certificate for your baby.
You will especially need this if your baby will be sitting on your lap and need to prove they are under two.
If flying internationally, you'll need to bring along your baby's passport. Be sure you begin the process of obtaining a passport well before your trip – and allow extra time for it to arrive.
It's also a good idea to make copies of important documents like your baby's birth certificate, both your passports and your driver's license in case you lose them while on vacation.
Keep copies at home as well as a copy with you while traveling.
Pack Light by Bringing Only The Essentials
You don't need to bring everything but the kitchen sink when you travel with a baby.
In fact, it's actually better to pack light so that you don't have too much to keep track of.
For your travel day, stick to the essentials like diapers, wipes, and changes of clothes, and you'll be all set.
Don't forget any items to help comfort your baby such as a blanket, pacifier, and favorite toy.
You should also pack some clothes for yourself in case your baby has an accident – trust us, even if it's never happened to you, it will happen on your travel day!
Also, be sure to pack any medicine that your baby may need – especially when flying because they always seem to pick up some sort of cold or virus!
See our full list of essentials for traveling with a baby.
Renting Baby Equipment
Perhaps you are out of trunk space or don't want to check your belongings on your flight.
There is another option! Renting baby equipment at your destination can save you a lot of hassle on your travel day.
BabyQuip is a reputable company where parents rent thier baby gear to other parents.
Not only do they offer full-size cribs, car seats, strollers, and high chairs, but some providers also have toys, books, and playmats.
Each provider is different, but you can bet there will be one in the area you're traveling to.
Make arrangements with the provider to deliver to your hotel or rental or even meet you at the airport.
It's a huge convenience to arrive for your trip with nearly a full nursery set up for your baby.
Bring Your Own Food for Baby
Of course, you will be bringing formula or breast milk for your baby.
Both of these can go through TSA as medically necessary liquids – no need to restrict the ounces.
However, if your baby is old enough to be eating solid foods, it is best to bring their snacks with you.
One of the challenges of traveling with a baby is finding food that they will actually eat. If they already have a few favorites, pack them up!
It is also best to avoid introducing new foods while traveling in case they have an allergic reaction.
To avoid these issues, bring your own food from home so that you know your baby will have something to eat whenever they get hungry.
It also serves as a great distraction on flights and long drives!
If you need ideas, check out our road trip snacks!
Part 2: Travel Day
The day or days of your travel can bring extra challenges. Mostly the unknown.
It can be one of the most stressful days of your trip, but it may also surprise you with how smoothly it goes!
If you're flying, aim to arrive at the airport at least two hours before your flight. Maybe even a little more if you are traveling through a larger airport.
You will want plenty of time to get through security with your baby and to your gate.
You'll want to make sure you are ready to board early because you are traveling with a baby and are usually allowed extra time to do so.
If you're traveling by car, give yourself extra time to account for traffic and frequent stops.
Map out the times when you will be traveling through major cities and avoid rush hours if possible.
Try to Keep Your Baby's Feeding and Nap Schedule
It's important to stick to your baby's regular feeding and sleeping schedule as much as possible when traveling. This will help avoid meltdowns and crankiness but it isn't always possible.
If you're flying, try to book a flight that coincides with your baby's naptime so they can sleep on the plane.
I'd also recommend flying with a car seat as they will be able to get more comfortable sleeping in their own space.
And if you're going to be driving long distances, make sure to plan your stops around wake windows so most of your baby's sleep is happening during the drive.
It can be difficult to keep a schedule on vacation, especially on your travel days. Do your best and try not to stress if the day doesn't go as planned.
During Your Flight
If you're flying with a baby, knowing what to do during your flight can help make your trip as easy as possible.
- Nurse or feed formula to your baby during takeoff and landing. This can help with any pressure changes in their ears. If they are not interested in drinking, at least offer a snack.
- You can babywear through the airport and during your flight. However, you will be asked to remove your baby for takeoff and landing due to safety procedures. If your baby prefers to be held close to you, babywearing is a great way to comfort them and keep your hands free.
- If your baby is fussy or needs to move around, walk up and down the airplane aisles. As long the seatbelt sign is off, there are no issues with giving them a change of scenery.
- Flight attendants are usually very helpful. If you need something for yourself or your baby or have a question about doing laps on the plane, they should be able to help you out.
- Make sure your baby is dressed in layers. Airplane temperatures can change drastically and keeping your baby comfortable will help keep them calm.
Car Travel Tips
If you're on a road trip with your baby, there are a few things you can do to make the experience go more smoothly.
- Dress your baby in comfortable clothing that is easily accessible for diaper changes.
- Size up diapers to avoid compression leaks. This will also give you a bit more time between diaper changes.
- Keep an eye on the car's air temperature. If the air conditioner will be running, be sure to have a blanket over your baby's lap. If the heat is on, be sure your baby is not too bundled and overheating.
- Pack your car with your baby in mind. Ensure everything you need for your baby during the drive is accessible and not buried in the trunk when you need it.
Have a Plan and Backup Plan
Traveling with a baby can be a lot of fun, but it's important to be prepared for any potential bumps in the road.
One of the most important things to do when traveling with a baby is to have both a plan and a backup plan. That way, you'll be prepared for anything that might happen.
Perhaps you have planned to use an Uber when you get to your destination. If one is not available, what is your backup plan?
If you planned to change your baby's diaper and nurse during your layover, but your plane arrived late, what can you do?
Don't overthink, but always have a couple of options open if anything unexpected happens during your trip.
Be Flexible and Have Fun
When you're traveling with a baby, it's important to be flexible and go with the flow.
Things might not always go according to plan, and that's OK!
Don't let one issue ruin your whole trip. Keep going and make the best of a bad situation.
Travel days are not our favorite, but it's something you have to do to get to your destination!
Just roll with the punches and remember that your ultimate goal is to relax and enjoy your time together as a family!
Traveling With a Baby
Traveling with a baby can be a lot of work, but it's definitely worth it in the end!
By following this guide, you'll be able to make your trip as smooth as possible.
Remember, things don't always go as planned, but having a plan for multiple scenarios may help!
The most important part of traveling is spending time with your family and creating lasting memories.