Having a baby can make traveling a bit difficult. Trips will never be the same as they were during your childless years. Taking your first trip with your baby is a huge deal, and you’ll feel a mixture of excitement, nervousness, and sheer terror.
A thousand questions race through your mind. You wonder if your baby will enjoy himself and if you’ll forget something important at home. Visions of a screaming baby on an airplane fill your mind. It’s hard not to be a bit nervous and scared.
Our family loves to travel, whether it’s a beautiful beach location or a new city to explore. That means I’ve traveled with a baby several times, and I’ve come up with my favorite tips for traveling with a baby. These tips will make your experience just a bit easier.
Make Sure Your Baby Can Travel
Before we get to the tips, make sure your baby is old enough to travel by airplane. Some airlines require an infant to be at least two days old, and others require the child to be at least two weeks old. However, your doctor might have a different recommendation, such as waiting for a few rounds of vaccinations.
Check with the airline requirements. They might ask for a note from the doctor stating that your baby is allowed to travel. Also, babies need passports as well, so make your plans ahead of time. The price to expedite passports is enormous.
12 Tips for Traveling with a Baby
Fly at the Right Time
When you’re booking your airplane tickets, think about how your child typically acts during that time. Is that a happy time or is he usually grumpy? If it’s a grumpy time, you don’t want to book a flight then, A fussy baby in a crowded, noisy airplane is far from an ideal situation.
What about overnight flights? That can be tricky as well if your child is used to a specific environment to fall asleep. If you can’t recreate that environment for your baby, falling asleep on the airplane will be tricky, disturbing everyone else.
So, that’s why I suggest everyone thinks about their unique child. My first child could fall asleep anywhere, so long as she had her blanket and mom to snuggle. My last baby needs the right environment, lighting, and music. She wouldn’t do well on an overnight flight.
Pick the Right Airplane Seats
Where you sit on the airplane matters well. If you’re bringing a car seat, you’ll need to purchase a separate seat for your baby. Make sure the seat works for airplanes because some aren’t meant for air travel. Make sure you book the window and middle seat or aisle and middle seat to ensure you are sitting next to your baby.
If you can, request an empty seat beside you and have a baby in arms. If there are, most airlines are obliging. Having the extra space is such a nice thing during a trip, especially for older, squirmier babies.
Get the Airplane Bassinet for Flights
If you are on a long flight, most airlines offer bassinets for babies under a certain weight limit. The weight limit varies between 20-30lbs, depending on the airline. Baby bassinets fasten to the bulkheads. You can call and reserve them or request one, but it’s not always a guarantee. Most parents don’t have a problem getting one though! Some airlines offer bassinets on a first come, first serve basis which is why it’s important to call ahead and find out.
Always Bring Entertainment
No matter how you’re traveling, your baby needs some entertainment. Pack plenty of toys and books. Use them! I always buy a few new toys or interesting items for my babies and kids to take with us on a trip. They get them en route to the destination, making the traveling portion just a bit more tolerable.
Pack Some Snacks
If your baby is old enough to have snacks, don’t skimp on them. If you’re traveling by airplane, make sure you can bring the snacks through security. If not, some airports offer little stores where you can pick up stuff. Don’t always rely on airplane food. Airlines don’t cater to children. If you do travel overseas, make sure you pick an airline that offers a kid menu for dinner.
Think about Foreign Food
One of the harder things about traveling overseas for kids and babies can be the differences in food. If you use formula, I suggest you bring plenty in your luggage because European formula companies are different than what you will find in the United States. Baby food brands are different as well.
If your child is particular or has a particular brand of food needed, you need to consider foreign food. Pack some typical snacks your baby loves to keep him happy!
Pack the Stroller
You might think you won’t need a stroller, but you will. I babywear 90% of the time, but I still like a stroller, even if it’s just to carry the shopping bags.
That doesn’t mean you should bring a full-size stroller. Instead, I suggest you bring a lightweight, umbrella-style stroller. Umbrella strollers are cheap and easy to transport. Some allow you to fold them up and carry over your shoulder, which makes getting on and off of buses nice.
If you have space and plan to do a lot of sightseeing, a full-size stroller might be a good idea. That can be tricky on an airplane, so look at the rules and regulation to determine if you’ll be charged any extra fees.
Wear Your Baby
I know; this goes against number 7 tip, but hear me out! In some cities, strollers can be more of a hindrance than a help. If your baby is young and you think babywearing is going to be easier, I suggest you bring a stroller and a baby carrier. You have the option to use a stroller if necessary, but a baby carrier is a must-have choice.
I take a baby carrier everywhere I go. My babies and toddlers can take naps in them. I know how to breastfeed in a carrier, and most babies and toddlers are content to watch the world around them from the safety of their mom.
Bring the Car Seat
If you’re debating whether or not to bring a car seat for your baby, bring one, trust me. On an airplane, it makes it more comfortable for everyone. Your baby has a spot of their own when you need to eat or just so they can stretch out a bit. Plus, it’s required for infants and children to be in car seats in almost every country in the world. So, unless you don’t plan to be in a vehicle at all during your entire trip, bring one.
The exception to this is if you can get a car seat with a rental car. Some companies offer car seats as well, which makes it easier for you so you don’t have to haul it through the airport. If you do decide to bring your own, get one that hooks on your stroller for ease.
Check to See if The Hotel Provides a Baby Crib
Don’t assume that the hotel you selected provides a baby crib. Always call beforehand and ask, or read their websites. If they don’t, make sure you bring a pack and play for your child to sleep.
Make Sure Your Child is Up-to-Date on Vaccinations
When traveling to foreign countries, it’s typically recommended that children are up-to-date on their vaccinations. Look to see if there are any outbreaks where you’re traveling. Always research your destination ahead of time to see if there are any travel advisories.
Pack Light and Be a Minimalist
The lighter you travel, the easier traveling will be for you. Hauling a bunch of items with you is tedious, especially if you need to catch trains or take buses. You don’t have to bring a huge supply of diapers and wipes. Almost anywhere you’re going will have baby diapers available for you to purchase.
Packing light is for you as well. Try to pick versatile items as well that you can be paired with multiple outfits. Now is not the time to take your entire closet with you.
Traveling with a Baby Doesn’t Have to Be Hard
You’ll be nervous until you get on the airplane or pack the car to go. Traveling doesn’t have to be complicated with babies. Babies require a bit more luggage and some extra planning. You have a future of grand adventures with your child ahead, and it starts now.