Traveling with baby; must haves, must nots and lessons learned

IMG_8319In my little one’s 6 months earthside, we’ve now taken 3 trips together! Two road trips with Mommy and Daddy and one airplane trip with just Mommy. Gone are the days of impromptu trips and traveling light. But that doesn’t mean the days of traveling are gone altogether. Am I taking my infant on a sailboat in Croatia? Uh, not a chance. Does that mean it can’t be done? Not at all, but my mom anxiety isn’t ready for that. I’ve had a lot of people ask me for feedback on traveling with baby so I figured I’d do a post on it!

For the sake of honesty, I will tell you traveling with my baby has had moments of complete joy and also moments of crippling anxiety, exhaustion and the feeling of losing all control. Every parent has their own parenting style, but keeping my baby on a eat/play/sleep schedule has saved my mom sanity over the past few months.  He’s now an excellent sleeper and barely ever fusses. THANK YOU Mom’s on Call.  When he does get fussy, it’s usually because it’s passed his scheduled nap or feeding time. When you’re on the go, it’s difficult to keep the schedule in place, resulting in a fussy baby (usually in public) and a panicked mom trying to hold it all together. The anxiety and panic of it all is something I’m REALLY working on and I feel I’m getting a better grip of, but motherhood is an ever changing, ever evolving progression. So, stay tuned on that one.

Roadtrips and airplane trips are two different animals. Depending on the size of your car, you have a little more leniency with how much baby stuff you can bring if you’re driving. A weekend trip can easily look like you’re moving a family of 8 to Africa, but tiny babies need lots of stuff to keep them safe. I think the best way to share the tips that worked for us would be in a list format, so I’ll go ahead and get to it!

Traveling with baby – things to consider:

  • If you have the option, I’d recommend booking a place that has a washer & dryer if you’re traveling for longer than a few days. We recently spent a week in Saratoga Springs, NY and booked a wonderful Airbnb with space for baby (he had his own room) and it also had a washer & dryer. Babies generate a TON of laundry so that made it a little easier to pack lighter in the clothing department. I bought Dreft laundry detergent in powder form and put in small ziplock bags. If a washer and dryer isn’t possible and you plan to be away from home longer than a few days, I recommend these for hand washing in the sink! Dreft Single Packs for hand washing in the sink.  *Note, this is coming from a reflux mama and my baby spits up all the time. Your baby may not generate as much laundry as mine does!*
  • If you’re flying to visit family or friends consider using Amazon Prime to ship a lot of things to your destination. Think diapers, wipes, formula, etc. Diapers take up a TON of space so that will save you a lot of valuable room in your suitcase! And unless you’re going off the grid, you can also buy a lot of these things once you reach your destination so you don’t have to pack them.
  • If you’re flying to visit family that you know you will be visiting again in the future, consider purchasing a second car seat / pack and play to leave there. One less bulky thing to deal with at the airport will be a huge help, and I’m sure Grandma and Grandpa will be excited to see a carseat in their rearview!

Must-have travel items:

A few items that were great on all 3 trips!

  • Boon Travel Bottle Drying Rack – Check it out here
  • Inflatable infant bathtub. This is great for bath time (Spa Time!) if you don’t know if the destination has a safe space to bathe baby. Our first trip was just 3 days in a hotel, so I got in the tub with him every night, but that is really not convenient after a day or so.  Plus, Emmett LOVES splashing in this thing! Check out the one we use here.
  • Clip-on high chair. This is great IF the destination has a good place to clip it on for baby food feeding times. If not, I recommend strapping them into their stroller and doing it there! With feeding them bites while seated on your lap as a 3rd but totally doable option. The clip-on highchair we use can be found here.

 **Notable mention for feeding baby on vacation –  one silicone bib like these. This will help reduce the amount of laundry! **

  • Portable video monitor. If your video monitor at home is not mounted, you can just bring that one! But ours in mounted so I got a second one to bring with us on trips and it’s been such a lifesaver. That way, we can put baby down and still enjoy a glass of wine in the other room while still keeping an eye on him. This one has worked great, it’s small, super easy to set up and gets the job done at a more affordable price than many of the others.
  • Pack and Play. We chose a pack and play that was considered a “travel one” so it’s SUPER easy to set up and break down and it comes with a carrying case for easy travel. We use the 4MOMS Breeze Go – you can find it here. It would be easy to check with your checked luggage at the airport, but my mom had one she borrowed for our visit, so I did not need to fly with it this time. It did come with us on both road trips though.

Flying tips:

  • Pack as light as you possibly can. I know this statement is pretty much laughable, but as I mentioned above, try to ship things ahead of time, or purchase when you get there.. If you can do laundry, do it. Plan outfits ahead of time so you don’t over pack.

** Notable mention for help packing, use packing cubes! I’ve been using cubes like these for years. I allowed myself one cube and baby one cube for our clothes. It also helps keep things tidy and organized in your bag.

  • Pack your patience and grace. Someone told me this travel tip and I took it to heart. As mentioned above, I tend to let anxiety get the best of me when I feel I am not in control. I did my best to stay calm and stress free. Babies feed off your energy so I did my best to be cool as a cucumber. It could have been luck or coincidence, but baby stayed calm pretty much the whole trip!
  • Try to book flight times that work with baby’s schedule and even if it’s a little extra, try to book direct.
  • Wear pants with back pockets – I cant tell you how helpful this was when I had a baby strapped to my front, a diaper bag on my back and a stroller in hand. I shoved phone and boarding passes in my back pocket in a pinch.
  • Put your hair in a mom bun and rock it. Once that baby is on your lap on the plane you wont have two hands to put your hair back, and babies like to pull hair.
  • Ask for help. I asked shamelessly for help with my stroller and both airline employees and fellow passengers were both eager to help. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the human race. They’re not as nasty as you think and many have been in your shoes before. (Minus the one nasty witch who looked me in the face and rolled her eyes before she scoffed about there being a baby on her flight.  Ps- I gave her a big smile and kissed my baby on the head as I cut in front of her in the boarding line *babies board first* Plus she was wearing stilettos at 8am on a Sunday so I know she was some kind of psychopath anyway) .
  • Ask for an empty seat next to you (if possible) This. was. HUGE. This goes along with asking for help but it was MAJOR. I very kindly asked the agent for mercy and help getting an empty middle seat when checking in. If the flight isn’t full, they’ll be happy to accommodate. I got lucky both ways, and honestly it would have been a lot more difficult without that extra space.
  • Bring a small stroller, but baby wear during boarding and de-boarding. I was traveling alone with my baby, and I found that having a small travel stroller (we use this one) was super helpful to keep me hands free in the airport. For those asking, I did not get a stroller bag and we did not have any issues (this time at least). Having the stroller and not just the baby carrier allowed me to use the restroom comfortably, feed him and have a safe space to put him down and it was much less cumbersome than the travel system I use at home. During the boarding process, I wore him in the baby carrier (we have this one) so my hands were free to fold and gate-check the stroller, get my diaper bag stowed away, etc.IMG_8796
  • Limit your carry-on items if you’re traveling alone. I boarded the plane with an overstuffed diaper bag, my baby and the baby carrier. Nothing else. Any more bags would have made things a lot more stressful.
  • Bring sanitizing wipes and wipe down your whole seat area. Tray tables, windows, arm rests, your seat mate (kidding)…Baby will touch EVERYTHING and it’s so gross.
  • Download some baby shows to your iPad or phone. My baby LOVES Little Baby Bum so I downloaded a few episodes to my iPad so they worked without service. It was a lifesaver during the last hour when he started to get restless.
  • PACIFIER. Keep that thing in baby’s mouth as much as possible, I’ve been told it helps their ears and little EJ seemed unfazed during takeoff and landing.
  • In the event of an in-flight diaper change, leave the bulky diaper bag at your seat and only bring a diaper, wipes and a disposable bag to the lavatory. It’s no surprise that those bathrooms are tiny.

*Things to ALWAYS keep on you even for an overnight. Thermometer, infant Tylenol, diaper rash cream and any medications*

What was in my diaper bag at the airport:

  • Tons of diapers and wipes + bags to dispose of the poopie ones.
  • Change of clothes for baby and an extra shirt for me.
  • Pacifier + Paci clip. Clip it onto baby so they don’t spit it on the floor.                         This is Emmett’s favorite Paci                                                                                                This is the clip we use – Paci clip  – the clip can double as a toy.
  • 2 burp cloths (again, my baby is a spitter and drools a ton)
  • Baby’s birth certificate. Some airlines need this, but they did not ask me for it.
  • 1 bottle plus MORE than enough formula pre-measured into servings.
  • 1 small toy – don’t bother with more. They just throw them on the dirty floor.
  • iPad preloaded with Little Baby Bum
  • Wallet / Phone
  • Small swaddle blanket. I laid this on my chest on the plane for him to sleep. *Probably wasn’t necessary.
  • Room temp bottle of water purchased at the airport for mixing bottles.

I hope these tips are helpful. Traveling with a baby is no doubt a lot of work. Vacations will not be as relaxed as they used to be. My main take home is to give YOURSELF some grace.  I’m a huge hypocrite for saying this because I’ve given myself very little since becoming a mom. I’ve struggled with anxiety and am trying very hard to be more relaxed.  I want to be in control of every nap, bath, bottle and burp but thats just not always possible. I’m working on my chill y’all, and honestly I think Emmett feels it. He was much less fussy on this trip than my last, and the only thing I did differently is control my anxiety a little bit more, and let go of my control freak mom attitude.

Happy Travels! You got this!


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