Motherhood

Motherhood Mondays: Ten Tips for Traveling With a Baby

For today’s Motherhood Monday post, I’d love to talk about traveling with a baby (and hear your tips). We just got back from a week in San Francisco, and we also took Toby to California last Christmas. During those long trips, we learned a few things (on the fly!) that helped us travel more smoothly and with fewer freak-outs. :) Here are 10 things that we discovered make traveling with a baby much easier…

On the plane:

1. If you’re traveling domestically within the U.S., babies fly free until they’re two. They just sit in your lap. (Note: Be sure to give the airline a head’s up when you book your flight.) If you’re flying internationally, you have to pay some extra taxes for the baby, but it’s much less expensive than buying a full ticket, of course. (Note: You can also purchase a full ticket for your baby and have them sit in a car seat next to you, which would be an awesome option, if you have a bigger budget.)

2. Fly during naps or at bedtime. Flying with a sleeping baby is exactly 1 million times easier than flying with a baby who wants to bounce, walk, crawl, sing, screech, and play for the entire flight. We try to book flights leaving around 7:30 p.m. (Toby’s bedtime), or, if it’s a short flight, around lunchtime, and then cross our fingers that he’ll curl up on our shoulders and nap.

3. Feed during take-off and landing. Babies don’t know how to pop their ears, so it’s helpful to offer a bottle (or boob:) when the plane takes off + just as the plane begins to descend (which is when you’ll notice your own ears popping), to help ease the ear pressure.

4. Sit apart on the plane. This is a random tip (and sounds counterintuitive), but we swear by it: If you’re traveling with your husband/wife/partner, don’t sit together; instead, get two aisle seats far apart on the plane. Here’s our story: When we arrived at the airport for our San Francisco flight, Alex and I realized that we weren’t sitting together on the flight. It was too late to change our seats, and I was bummed at first, since I figured it would make the flight more difficult. But we were actually surprised to find that it made things MUCH easier for all three of us. Alex and I agreed to switch off with Toby every hour. It was GREAT for us (we each got frequent breaks to sleep/read/eat/watch TV/etc. and weren’t on co-baby-duty for the entire flight) and GREAT for the baby (it was fun and refreshing to see mom/dad each time we switched and kept things interesting throughout the long flight).

During your stay:

5. Consider renting an apartment/house. Hotels have their perks (indoor pools! room service! ice machines!) but the rooms are often quite small, and with a baby, you need space. Our friends went to L.A. a few years ago and stayed in a beautiful hotel, but they laughed afterwards about how, once the baby went to bed, they were stuck eating sandwiches in the bathroom. :) Renting a apartment or house lets you watch movies, cook dinner and even invite friends over after the baby is asleep. And house rentals are usually really budget-friendly! Check out homeaway, airbnb or vrbo for great options.

6. Skype babysitters. When we were planning our trips to California, we asked friends and relatives for babysitter recommendations. Then, before we left, I interviewed the potential babysitters on Skype from our New York apartment; I would even hold Toby up to the computer to say hello! It was a nice way to “meet” them and feel comfortable about them before leaving on our trip. And it was GREAT to have babysitters for a few evenings during our vacations. We loved spending the days with Toby, of course, but at night, Alex and I were excited to go out to romantic dinners without a baby in tow (and it really helped make the vacation feel like a true break). Toby was fast asleep anyway, so we felt fine leaving him, and the babysitter would just hang out and guard the fort. :)

What to pack:

7. Car seat + stroller frame. We’ve had a great experience with a Graco car seat and a Graco stroller frame. (The stroller frame lets you turn the car seat into a stroller.) In the airport, you can load the stroller up with both your baby and your bags, and then you can check the car seat and base for free* right at the gate. During your trip, you can use the car seat in taxis and rental cars; and then you can turn it into a stroller for walking around parks and museums. (P.S. For older babies and young kids, the GoGo Babyz Travelmate looks awesome.) * You typically can check 1-2 baby items for free on flights, in addition to your regular bags.

8. Baby Bjorn travel crib. I’ve mentioned this before, but the Baby Bjorn travel crib is amazing. It’s comfy, light and incredibly easy to pack/unpack, and Toby sleeps comfortably and soundly. We initially hesitated to splurge on it, but now we’re so glad we did; it’s so helpful and easy when traveling. (A side note: We also use it in New York when going to friends’ houses for dinner or movies, so we can take Toby with us and put him to bed while we’re there.) I’d highly recommend it.

9. White noise for your computer (or phone). Toby is used to sleeping with white noise, but we didn’t want to schlep our heavy noise machine along on our trip. So Alex was psyched to find this awesome white noise CD. We just downloaded it on our laptop and played it in the bedroom. Bonus: You won’t have to tiptoe around at night, since the white noise will block out any noise you make, as well as any startling street noise or house creakings that your baby isn’t used to. (P.S. This made me laugh:)

10. Order Diapers.com to your destination. We typically order a box of diapers, wipes, whatever we might need during our trip from Diapers.com. Bonus: Delivery is free, and the box always magically arrives the next morning. (I don’t know how they do it:) That way, you don’t have to carry everything on the flight with you (and can avoid trekking to a grocery store as soon as you land).

I hope this is helpful (and doesn’t seem overwhelming when it’s written out)! Traveling with a baby definitely has its crazy moments, but it can be wonderful, magical and revitalizing, and I usually find that the handful of things I’m most worried about (chaotic flights; crying in the car seat)…don’t actually happen. Overall, I’ve found traveling with a baby to be easier than I had expected, which was a nice surprise! :)

Do you have any favorite family-friendly destinations? Do you have any advice about flying or traveling with little ones? Baby items you swear by? Any major travel triumphs or disasters? I would LOVE to hear your thoughts…

Happy travels!

(Top photo from Playsam; the bottom photo is of Toby in the morning:)

  1. Johnny Adam says...

    Amazing post, I do really enjoyed reading it, actually I think the tour operator selection is very important that’s why I don’t think about any details when I travel with Moonline Travel and Trade for example. it’s such a great company!

  2. Love reading your posts. Informative and applicable. Thanks !

  3. Hey, great post. Recently I and my wife got our first baby and we are planning to go for travel abroad. So, I’ve a question when traveling with babies for the first time internationally, how do we make sure that the baby doesn’t cry during take offs and landing?

  4. Martin says...

    It is very hard to travel with children. It is even worse if you are headed to destinations that are remote. This is an important article to those traveling with there young ones. If you are on an African safari tour holiday with childrenyou may have to ask your tour operator if there are facilities to handle children in the lodges

  5. I always look forward of getting escapade with my husband and children. It doesnt mean if we have a baby, we can no longer travel and have a good time. Its just a matter of good management.

  6. Great money saving advice for kids under the age of two. I am aware on all international flights there is a bassinet available, is that included free of charge for children under two or is that an extra fee?

    • Kelly says...

      I took 2 loug haul international flights with my 10 month old and despite multiple attempts asking, we were not arranged with a bassinet seat on either. It is worth asking and asking again if there is any accommodation they can provide to make traveling with a baby easier. We lucked out and Delta gave us an extra seat on the trip out of the U.S.,which combined with it being a night flight made it far more pleasant than the 8 hour return trip with no extra seat and stuck in the middle of a row.

  7. Thank you so much for these amazing tips! They are great! We will be traveling soon for the 1st time with our 6 month old baby and will definitely put many of these tips to good use!

  8. It is really challenging for anyone to travel with small kids or children while you are on trip to your holiday destination. Because they need so much care and attention and they will bother your freedom to do any fun activities. Things become more tough when you choose to travel in air with your small kids or children.
    But here you have given perfect and complete solution to this problem so i hope this post will help people a lot especially to me.

  9. Very nice tips and fun to read! I’m a new parent and this will be helpful when me and my family will go traveling. Thanks!

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  11. Love these tips! My son Anders (who flew 50 flights before the age of 3!) loved entertaining himself with the little plastic beverage cups from the flight attendants. Of course I would have my diaper bag packed with toys and treasures, but he only had eyes for those plastic cups.

    One tip that can be tremendously helpful is to bring a couple of empty Ziploc bags for particularly large/smelly/messy diaper changes. Seals the smell away completely, which is so helpful when traveling long distances.

    My Site: Cute Puppies

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  13. Whenever I travel with my baby, I always make sure to bring a stroller with me. It makes the whole trip convenient. Not only I enjoy it, my baby also feels comfortable while we are strolling around. The current stroller that my child is using is from dorel.com.au and I love it because it’s light and compact!

  14. Nice post! Check seat pockets yourself before leaving the aircraft or oversee your children while they do it. This is a good routine to do while landing.

    Flug

  15. Nice post! Check seat pockets yourself before leaving the aircraft or oversee your children while they do it. This is a good routine to do while landing.

    Flug

  16. I got my child’s car seat from http://www.safety1st.com.au/ and it’s a Sentinel II. So far I have been very impressed with the features—the old car seats that we got for him always makes him upset (we reckon it made him feel uncomfortable) but the current one he’s using is good and it makes our road trips really fun.

  17. Graco is a good car seat brand, but if you want an alternative, you can also look into the car seats offered on http://www.babyvalue.com.au/ . Thanks for the wonderful post!

  18. Were Americans currently living in Europe and one of the best products I’ve been using is TOTSEAT. Its a foldable infant seat you can drape on regular chairs. Theres usuallu no high chairs around in restaurants over here so it really helps! ;)

  19. Great article, so many useful tips. For UK mums http://www.littlelogistics.com can deliver UK baby products such as milk, baby food, nappies etc directly to your holiday destination anywhere in the world.

  20. Your post is such a sweet, I love it. You know what a baby needs, and he/she deserves to be comfortable and happy while travelling. Such helpful travel tips for a more enjoyable family travel experience.

  21. Thanks for the information… I really love your blog posts… specially those on Niceneotech