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. Abby says...

    I love your comment at the end that things end up being much easier than you thought they would be.

    I have a business trip (three cities!) in a few weeks and will be taking my 5 month old along on my own. Somehow reading that phrase helps my anxiety a bit :)

  2. I’m years late to this post, but I just had my first baby and these tips make me feel so much better about taking my first trip with the kiddo. My husband and I went to Europe 2-3 times a year pre-baby, and although I know that will slow down somewhat, I want to be able to take those trips as a family of 3!

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

  4. 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?

  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.

    • kate h says...

      There’s no charge, but you’ll have to arrange with the gate agent or while booking to select a seat at the bulkhead – and then ask for a bassinet once you board.

  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!

  10. 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

  11. 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!

  12. 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! ;)

  13. 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.

  14. I know this is an old post, but just to say thank you for the tips – I’ve just flown for the first time with my small one and your tips were such a help. Also an Ergo Baby Carrier is a god-send!

  15. Wonderful post! As an expecting mother, my husband and I were just discussing a trip next summer with new baby to Europe…I also wonder if flying first class helps..larger seating areas maybe?

  16. These are such great tips – I particularly LOVE the tip about sitting separately on the flight. A great idea for next time. We’ve recently been on a 7 day holiday to Gran Canaria with our 8 month old. I took a bunch of things but tried not to take tooooo much! Here’s what I took, what I didn’t need and what I wished I’d taken: http://www.mumsdays.com/travelling-with-baby/

    The main thing I wish we didn’t take was baby rice – we didn’t use it and it exploded all over our suitcase on the way back – ricey knickers anyone?!

  17. Just accomplished my first tri with a baby! Just linked back to this post. Thanks for all your helpful tips! peacelovemusicgrows.blogspot.com

  18. Excellent tips – especially the SKYPE with babysitter part for those moms that want reassurance that baby is doing just fine!

    I took my first trip with our little one at 8 months and we hiked through the beautiful canyons of Utah (Bryce, Zion, Glen, and Antelope). You can hear more and see pictures of our trip by reading the article at http://www.allmomsareperfect.com/southwest-tour-zion-bryce-antelope-and-glen-canyons.

    It was fantastic and more doable than a new mom could have imagined. We also won the Southwest Airlines contest and our pictures will be featured in their advertising campaign this Spring 2013!

  19. I am nervous about traveling by myself with my 8 1/2 month old next week. I read through your post and the comments and feel better. Do you have any advice or extra things to know when traveling alone versus with another adult?

  20. Wow, good tips! If only the lovely couple with the upset baby had read this when I was on a 5 hour flight recently (across Australia). The little bub starting crying as soon as the cabin was pressurized… any helpful hints with that one? (For future reference :P).

  21. It cannot have effect in actual fact, that is exactly what I think.

  22. Anonymous says...

    Love all your tips for travel. However, I would not recommend the feeding during take-off and landing. I learnt my lesson on this one, when my daughter (who was 5 months old at the time) sicked up as we became airborne! I was lucky that she had a blanket covering her legs and it all landed in that! My suggestion … always pack plastic bags (and extra clothes) for any emergency moment like this (you never know when you will need an extra bag to dump dirty laundry in!). I used a pacifier after that incident. Less messy! Happy travels!

  23. Anonymous says...

    For kids under two-
    My sister and i went on a flight with my nephew just before he turned two. Since she didn’t pay for a ticket for him, she had to hold himw the whole time.
    But, since there were two of us, we picked a empty row of three seats to sit in. It wasn’t a full flight, so everyone else went around us, since they didn’t want to sit by a baby anyway.
    Obviously this wouldn’t work if it was a fuller flight, and we would have moved over in a second if anyone had asked us to, but since that didn’t happen, we had a seat between us for him anyway. :)

  24. Great tips! Saving this post for when I have kids!

  25. I took Lucia to Argentina by myself when she was 7 months old! I wanted to take her to visit my family and my husband couldn’t take time off of work…everyone thought I was nuts but it actually wasn’t that bad. I was a bit stressed anticipating it but once we were on the flight, late at night when she would have been sleeping anyway, it was fine. I took her as a lap child and then found out you can apparently ask the airline to block the seat next to you! who knew?! So they did and Lucia got her own seat and she slept pretty much the entire (almost) 11 hours!

    I’m also obsessed with Diapers.com. We use their diapers and they are the best we have tried. I really do not know how they do it with the overnight delivery. One time I placed an order at 10pm and the next afternoon it was already here! amazing. why can’t all online shops do that??

  26. j says...

    When we’re staying away from home, I usually tune the bedside clock radio into a white noise “station” and crank the volume up. It SAVED me when I found myself in the hotel with two kids not napping because the “quiet is too loud.” Interestingly, I now curse good reception. haha!

    Now that the girls are older (3 &4), I have to introduce new markers, sketch pads, coloring books and movies for the plane. Lotsa fresh fruit to snack on, and I ALWAYS fly Jet Blue because it has the TV. Since we don’t watch TV at home, they’re g l u e d to it when flying! THat’s the only time I encourage TV watching.

    The girls have their eye on the prize when flying however, because I always reward good behavior on the plane with a toy of their choice upon landing. I think that this one is the clincher for them. THey really try hard for it.

  27. Truly awesome advice, Joanna! We’ve been wavering about travelling with our little one (we’re in desperate need of a vacation) and you’ve made me feel 100 times more confident. Thanks!

  28. Oh, we also have the Pea Pod Indoor/Outdoor Travel Bed which we bought on Amazon. It’s a small tent with an inflatable pad and it weighs about 5 lbs. So easy to pack it up (the size of a dinner plate) and take with us to grandma’s or friend’s houses!

  29. Great tips! And your readers have good tips as well (I just stopped reading half way through because there are so many!)

    The BabyJogger CityMini is an awesome, lightweight stroller when Toby grows out of the Gracos. It’s a one hand fold and light enough that you can carry the baby in one arm and collapse the stroller in the other.

    And when our son was little, we downloaded a white noise mp3 from the internet and just played it on the ipod in his room! You could do the same on your laptop in the hotels. :)

    We’re traveling this summer and anxious about all the stuff we have to schlep!

    Cheers!

  30. ps: how cute is Toby is that photo? I wanna eat him all up! ;)

  31. Useful post! I like the idea of ordering nappies online. I’ll have to see if there’s an equivalent website in France or else where in Europe. We’ll be travelling with Liam by plane for the first time this summer and I hope it will go well!

  32. great tips! wish i read this when i traveled with my young son a few years ago. i was so stressed out.

    now, that my son is three it has become a little easier (although now there are new challenges). we actually visited San Francisco in March with my son, and he has a food allergy. in case any other parents are interested, i wrote a post about traveling with a toddler with food allergies (which may not seem like a big deal, but complicates the trip in a lot of ways). the details are available here:

    http://sweetspectacle.blogspot.com/2011/03/ready-set-go.html

  33. 1. Peapod travel crib is way better. Lighter and lasts longer.

    2. The Combi Corcorro and Flame stroller works exactly like the Graco version, but is for older kids.

    3. Bring your Ergo or whatever. Ruins on the Greek coast of Turkey: 20 times better with arms free.

  34. Jo, Thank you, thank you for the great advice in the post. And for all of the great advice in the comments here. I’m flying solo from London to Salt Lake City in a few months with my 9 month old. I’m terrified about the whole thing, but desperate to go home and see my family who still haven’t met my baby girl Tess. I love hearing about diapers.com Yay, that’s brilliant!

  35. heemmaa says...

    Brilliant ideas, Johanna!

  36. great tips, thanks Jo :) although I haven’t got any kids yet, i can tell these tips for my cousin who looked hectic while traveling with her baby and no nannies around.

  37. Wonderful tips! Can’t fathom it’ll be that hard to get LO from point A to point B! Thanks for sharing!

  38. Great tips, esp the Diapers.com! Thank you.

    I just wanted to add that we love using the CityMini stroller on our travels. We have a big (27lb) 13 mo old and as much as I loved to carry her in the Ergo, I cant do it all day long, esp now.(ouch!) We took the citymini to Rome and it held up wonderfully on the cobblestones and FULLY RECLINES which was key to being out and about with a little one who still napped 2x a day. The narrow profile also made it easy to get thru doorways. We bought the raincover and the travel bag and had no problem gate checking it and feeling like we could go anywhere. :)

  39. Thanks for this post (and all of the comments) It has been helpful to read as we are living in Italy with our one year old daughter for a few months. She has been an awesome little camper and besides some serious jet lag, she has adjusted well. Here are a few things that have been helpful as we move around Bologna, Florence, etc…
    1. Stroller – I see that lots of people like the Ergo but if you want a light travel stroller the Uppababy Gluxe has been fantastic. It weighs around 11 pounds, has a great recline & good sun coverage, folds in a second and has good basket. It handles well on cobblestones and sand.
    2. Travel high chair – We brought the Inglesina Fast with us – many restaurants don’t have high chairs or if they do, they are improbable wooden things. We still use the Fast when we go out of town but since we are staying in one apartment for three months we just bit the bullet, went to Ikea and bought a high chair. Best 20 euro spent (no cloth liner to clean)
    3. Snacks – I like the pouches of pureed fruit as quick on-the-go snacks but wasn’t finding them in the baby food section of the grocery stores here. Ah! Check out the health food aisle and there are the same exact things 100% natural apple, pear, berry purees – just marketed differently.
    4. Sippy Cup – Thermos Foogo doesn’t leak and keeps drinks cold. Big fan since my daughter likes to use her sippy cups as little fountains.
    5. Peppa Pig episodes on the iphone. Very important during plane/train/car meltdowns.
    And it is amazing how many people want to stop and talk when you have a baby. I have met so many people and had great talks with random grandmothers on the street and lots of moms in the park. I know my daughter won’t remember this trip, but she has made our time here wonderful.

  40. I travel quite often with my nearly 9 month old son. Some of these tips I use regularly (like renting a house and bringing our own white noise), and some, I’m eager to start trying out (like Skyping with a babysitter=awesome!). Thanks for the tips!

  41. I’ve travelled with kids a fair bit (little ones) and your tip on sitting apart is a revelation! Great idea, I’ll be using it!

  42. thank you, martie and jenni and dani marie!!! and Anonymous, some people do use the travel crib as their main crib, but i think there are reasons why you might not want to: a) it’s small and low to the floor so you have to bend WAY over to pick up your baby; a regular crib is much higher and doesn’t hurt your back (and also looks aesthetically better in a room), and b) a regular crib will often be able to turn into a child’s bed, so you can use it for years and years. xo

  43. i love all these comments, thank you! jenny, we’re also wondering when we should take our first trip *without* toby. my husband really wants to, but i’m not sure if i would love the break or if i would miss him too much. it’s a great question, and i’d love to ask it on a future Monday post.

  44. Anonymous says...

    seriously, your baby is the cutest!

  45. Anonymous says...

    I would say a top tip is to carry a small plastic zip lock type bag with you, to put baby changing paraphenalia in when on the plane and needing change baby in what is ALWAYS the tiniest space. When you leave your seat, put one diaper, diaper cream, one diaper sack and a few wipes in – so much easier than hitting all your fellow travellers sitting in the aisle seats with your big diaper bag.

    I’d also say, when fly at night time, do the whole getting ready for bed routine as usual, on the plane … for us it sort of normalised the experience and got the “now it’s time for sleeping” message across.

  46. 2 more tips I thought of:

    1. For formula fed babies – the ready to feed bottles are awesome for travel as they are shelf stable and don’t need refrigeration! Diapers.com carries them too so you need only carry enough for the flight.

    2. If you have the option to take Southwest, choose an aisle and window, if your flight is not full most passengers will opt to not sit in your row and you can give the middle seat to your child.

  47. Great tips. My oldest son flew 7 times before he turned 1…so we figured out a lot of those little tricks along the way.

    Once the babes are older and more distracted/less likely to sleep, we found that snacky finger foods helped tons. We would clean or use a cover on the pull down table and let him eat to his hearts content.

    We also would get a new toy. It doesn’t have to be expensive at all, but something that he has never seen or played with. It would occupy him for awhile.

    We also learned not to pull out all our “tricks” in one sitting. Spreading out the snacks, toys, books, and movies (if applicable) would keep things fresh and new.

    Also, hotels always have pack n plays..so if you don’t want to bring your own, you can use theirs. I just bring my own bedding and sheets and LOADS of wet wipes/antibacterial sprays.

    Also, if I was happy and relaxed, the baby was. Traveling can be stressful, but just roll with the punches and you can handle anything for a few hours!

  48. I am sad that my kids are 7 and 9 if for no other reason than I can no longer take advantage of your genius “sit separately” trick. Man those flights were so stressful when we were all on top of each other. Where were you when I needed you in 2003 Joanna????

  49. It is like you read my mind with this post- seriously. Genius tips- thank you!

  50. Hi there! I’m not a momma (yet) but I am a flight attendant, so you could say I travel with babies every day! I saw that there was another flight attendant who commented, but I noticed she worked for a European airline. I work for an American carrier, and I think there are several differences, so I thought I’d share some of my tips.

    It’s important to bring everything you might need because we don’t have a lot of stuff for babies on the aircraft. We usually have milk, but we don’t have any sort of baby food or baby snacks. We also don’t have a place to keep passenger food cold or a way to heat up passenger food. We can give you hot water from the coffee machine and we can try to put your bottle in an airsick bag with hot water to try to warm the formula up. And we can give you ice if you have some sort of cooler. International flights DO have a bassinet, but only if you’re seated at a bulkhead and only if your baby cannot sit up on his/her own yet. Feel free to let your baby rip up the inflight magazine or the SkyMall catalog. We usually have extras around and babies love to look at pictures. If you do, go head and hand it to me as I’m picking up trash instead of putting it back in the seat pocket for the next passenger.

    Not all of our aircraft have changing stations in the lavatories. I don’t know why this is, but it is. I realize that’s inconvenient, but please don’t change your baby in your seat row and especially don’t hand me your baby’s dirty diaper after having done so. What I’ve seen a lot of parents do is just lay a changing pad on the toilet lid. It’s not the best, but it works.

    I don’t know how often the carpets are cleaned on an aircraft. So put some socks on your baby’s feet if you’re going to “walk” them up the aisle and please please please don’t let them crawl around and especially not in the galley or the lavs. I don’t even like to see grown people go into airplane lavs barefoot, and I shudder when I see little babies crawling around and then sticking their hands in their mouths.

    Oh, and a quick little note for families traveling with older children. iPads and DVD players and laptops are great ways to keep your child occupied. But the sound will have to be turned off if he/she doesn’t have headphones, same as any other passenger. I’ve seen at Target that Sony makes child-friendly headphones and they aren’t too expensive!

  51. Minnesota Mama says...

    We’ve flown 3 times with our 8 month old, and he has always done really well. I would add that you should always gate check the carseat because if the flight isn’t very full you can have a seat for the baby without purchasing a ticket. Just ask at the gate. I would also recommend changing diapers right before boarding and protecting his tush (we use aquaphor) otherwise I think the warmth from being held so long is really rough on his bottom.

    I love the painters tape idea. If you’re traveling alone you could also use it to hold up a light blanket for a privacy screen (I never liked nursing covers).

    An alternative to a carseat frame is a lightweight stroller like the <a href=”http://www.bumbleride.com/strollers/flite-home.php>bumbleride flite</a>. You can attach a carseat to it quite easily, but it has a longer lifespan than the frame. We’ve used ours on all 3 flights.

    How did you travel with your Baby Bjorn Travel Crib? We’ve flown with ours once. They let us gate check it flying out, but we not on our return. I’ve thought about trying to bring it as a carry on or buying a bigger suitcase to put it in. We almost like it better than our regular crib because our son can’t throw his pacifier out in the middle of the night!

    We plan on renting an apartment/home next time, but at least consider if you might need a refrigerator in your room. Especially if you plan on pumping milk to leave with a sitter or if you need it for baby food. Or a 2 room suite so you aren’t stuck playing on your iPhone silently in the dark after 7pm. A baby monitor can be useful too depending on where you’re staying. And don’t forget to borrow what you can if you’re visiting someone.

    Love the Motherhood Mondays posts!

  52. Anonymous says...

    I hope this isn’t a stupid question but is there any reason that the travel crib couldn’t be the full-time crib? It just seems so handy and at that price, could it do double duty as the baby’s crib at home and away? I am not a mom and know very little about being a mom so forgive me if this question is a bit off :)

  53. Anonymous says...

    once your child is out of the infant carseat and into a convertible this product is amazing http://www.gogobabyz.com/products-c26-gogo_Kidz_Travelmate.aspx you can use it as a stroller through the airport etc. it saves you lugging the seat plus luggage and a stroller. also for toddlers, using a 4 week pill holder and putting unique snacks in each compartment will keep them busy, opening and closing the lids. if its a long flight i usually pick up a few new, inexpensive toys/books my son has never seen.

  54. Marisa says...

    One more thing that my mom used to do when my brother was little cause he was NOT a cooperative flyer. She bought a large bag of cheap disposable ear plugs at like Costco or something like that and offered them to passengers sitting around her so that even if she could not get my brother to cooperate as much as she tried they couldnt be that mad cause she offered them silence.

  55. Marisa says...

    While I dont have kids of my own I often get roped into traveling with my aunt to help her fly with her three kids and here are some things I have learned from traveling with her:

    -once the kids are more toddler aged some airlines will let you take the car seat on the plane with you and it is an incredible help. Since they are already conditioned to sit still and entertain themselves in the seats they understand thats what they have to do on the plane even though its a new and totally fascinating environment.

    -Also when they are more toddler aged I have found that trying to do a red eye flight doesn’t work as well because they want to stay up and play and then you are ALL exhausted the next day.

    -If you can fly jetblue its a great option because everyone has their own tv screen so you can find child appropriate programming for your little one

  56. Sarah says...

    Glad you had a good trip with your little one. We’ve flown several times with our kids (now 5 and 2, flown twice this year and also when they were infants). I pack stickers and coloring supplies in the carryon, plenty of snacks, and now that they are older a portable dvd player for longer flights. I used to nurse during take off and landings when they were younger. Now, I keep a stash of lollipops in my bag in case their ears start to bother them. The sucking helps, plus they are so pleased to get a treat, they get distracted from any discomfort.

    One thing that I’ve found is that keeping toddlers in their carseats on the plane helps a TON. Not only is it safer, but since they are used to being buckled in in cars without it being an option to get up, they sit much better in the carseat than if they were in a regular plane seat. Also, it really helps with sleeping, b’c they can lean against the sides of their seat and sleep just like they do in the car. We travel with a cosco scenera for my daughter. Inexpensive and super lightweight. The go-go stroller carseats are handy in the airport, but they are pretty useless as a stroller once you get to your destination. Much better to bring a decent, compact stroller.
    Also, be sure to pack empty sippy cups in the carryon!

  57. Wonderful post!! Thanks for all the tips, these are great.

    We went on a road trip from Ohio to NYC when our son was 8 months old. It went a lot smoother than I expected. Traveling during bedtime was key, especially since he was still nursing.

    Joanna, I know you live in NY (we used to live there too!) but for those who are traveling to NYC, some things I learned:

    1. We didn’t need to carry around nearly as much as we thought we did. Try to keep your load as light as possible.

    2. We use cloth diapers (mainly Fuzzi-Bunz) so we used G-diapers with the disposable inserts as an alternative while traveling and they worked great! So convenient!

    3. If you any concern about nursing in public or just want a nice place to sit while nursing, NYC playgrounds are awesome for this.

    Thanks again!
    -Crystal

  58. Joanna,
    I am following your blog quite some time now – officially for a month or so ;) – and I really like your style. Toby is so gorgeous and seems to be such a mellow baby! well done!
    So actually I wanted to tell you that your little man and I share the same birthday – only that I am 28yrs his senior ;)
    So let me say in advance: Happy 1st birthday Toby! Have a great day tomorrow!

    Martie*

  59. Thanks so much for this post!! We’re expecting, and I am learning so much from you already about having kiddos! Big hug!

  60. Jenni says...

    Thanks for the the tips! Your Motherhood Mondays series is a terrific resource and inspiration (as is your whole blog). I’ve been reading for a few years now and have coincidently been a year behind in life’s treasured events like marriage and having a baby. I appreciate your sharing your experiences and always with such a positive outlook!

  61. Great post!!! It’s right on time for me!

  62. Anonymous says...

    Thank you for your always interesting posts.

    I’m Jenny, French, and have started reading you few months ago while I was pregnant like you (my baby girl, Louisia, is 9 months old).

    To follow discussion “travel and baby”, I wonder from which age parents may consider travelling without their baby. From which age we might let our baby with relatives and travel on their own… How difficult the break might be!! (and difficult for me to imagine until now)

    I would love to read your opinion Joanna, and other girl’s opinion too.

  63. Fantastic tips, especially about sitting apart. I never would have thought of that but after traveling twice now with our 7 month old son, I can see how that would be really helpful. I made the very tragic mistake of feeding him right before we got on a flight to Miami recently and it was a complete disaster. He had no interest in a pacifier or anything during takeoff so his started screaming with ear pain. I then spent the next 40 minutes in the airplane bathroom with a totally inconsolable baby. It was horrible…wanted to cry myself! Will never make that mistake again.

  64. first off, that last photo of toby is sooo adorable. it’s too much! lastly, i don’t have kids yet, but this was helpful and informative! i’m passing it on to my mom-friends. the babysitter and sitting apart on flights bit is particularly helpful!

  65. WOW!! Thank you so much for these amazing tips… Some of them I would have never thought… I haven’t traveld yet with my 5 months old baby, but when I do, I will surely read this post again!

    Once again, thanks!
    *

  66. such a sweet photo!! hope you had fun here in sf! xo.

  67. Thanks for the awesome tips! I’ve always wondered what it would be like flying with a little one. My little guy is past the age of flying free and flying doesn’t work with our student budget anyways, so I guess I’ll never have to know how easy/hard it may be. The flipside is, however, that we make long car trips. We survive them with a dvd player and lots of snacks. Although everyone says television is no good for kids, no amount of parental attention or games gets us more than an hour in without some serious tantrums. Only elmo, apples, and bunch of goldfish have the ability to get him through an entire 7 hour drive!

  68. Great tips! We just spent a week in New Orleans with our 8 month old and it was a resounding success. We rented a stroller and an exersaucer from a local company. They delivered them to the room, so they were there waiting for us and we didn’t need to worry about travelling with anything bulky. Will be doing that again for SURE.

    We had four flights total and she slept most of the time, but the one night flight was amazingly fun. She spent the whole time starring out the window at the twinkly lights. So…night flights whenever possible for us from here on out.

  69. Awesome tips! Thanks so much, I’m just considering flying across the world (3 flights, 23 hours of air time) by myself with my 14 months old baby, so this post comes in soooo handy!
    Sitting apart on the plane? great idea, definitely going to suggest it to my husband for our next trip.

  70. My mom swears that you should always have a seat for your baby. When I was one, she took me to Mexico (to live there for a year! Brave woman) and used a car seat–which turned out to be really good when there was a lot of turbulence because people were bouncing around and dropping things but in my car seat I was very safe…
    Just a thought :) Nowadays you can just use a carseat that the airline has a lot.

  71. oh! and i thought of one more tip…if you need to entertain your child during the flight, consider walking around the cabin and chatting with friendly passengers. people often get bored on flights and like talking to babies (and playing games with them, etc.) — we’ve found fellow passengers to be awesome during trips! (cross your fingers that there will be lots of grandparents on your flight:)

  72. paula, i know! i wonder about that too…we’re going to try to phase it out during his naps, and then hopefully at night, too. :) because, you’re right, it’s probably best to learn how to sleep with all levels of noise/silence :)

  73. Thank you Thank you!!!! sooo much for all those great tips! Specially the one for the white noise, our 8 months old usually sleeps with white noise too, which is great to block all other disturbing noises out… I often wonder anyway, could it be wrong that they get used to that? Because sooner or later you have to learn to sleep with some noise around you, specially if you will become a big sister! jajaja Nice pic of toby!… greetings

    Paula

  74. oh, wow, these tips are so great — thank you all for sharing this great advice.

  75. Ahhhhh!!!!!

    I work for the family that created/owns GoGoBabyz (just a mom and dad with two kids who travel A LOT)!!

    Their items really are fabulous, Jo, you should give them a try! :)

  76. thanks for these sweet comments! and i LOVE all the tips, i’m going to come back to these comments before our next trip. and jeanne, i didn’t realize that a seat for a child under two is less expensive than an adult seat — that is GREAT to know!!

  77. ooh, a roll of blue painters tape? genius!! and mama in the city, i agree about changing your expectations about travel and seeing things through your baby’s eyes:) your little one sounds so sweet!

  78. We had a super fussy high needs baby and abandoned travel all together. Then he grew into the sweetest toddler and we are traveling! I find that if you have no big expectations, like the days of single traveling sans kids, then vacations and holidays go a lot easier. Now that my boy is over 2, we had to buy a full priced seat. While it was more expensive to travel by air now, it was SO nice to have him in his own seat!

  79. Must bookmark this one! We have several trips in the works and have yet to travel on a plane with our little Levi. Oh, and this photo of Toby is just ridiculous. It has inspired me to play photographer/model with Levi in the morning… XO

  80. Anonymous says...

    thank you thank you! sending to all the mums I know xo

  81. Love this post! I live in Alaska with my husband and our 2 month old. All of our family live on the east coast so we’ll be traveling as a family a good bit. We took an unexpected trip to Boston when my husband’s father passed away when our son was only 5 weeks old. It was way smoother than I anticipated. I found wearing my son to be very helpful. You don’t have to take a baby out of the Moby through security. I really appreciate your tip about sitting separate from your partner. How smart! This will definitely come in handy for us in the future :)

  82. This is a great article, Joanna! So many people are going to benefit from it.

  83. That is the cutest baby (and baby butt) I have ever seen! How lucky you are to have that picture.

  84. that diapers.com suggestion is genius! I don’t know why I never thought of that!
    I know a lot of parents who say you should give your child benadryl before a flight so they crash, but I had a pharmacist tell me you’re just as likely to have it make your child hyper-active! I don’t think I’m willing to take that chance.
    One suggestion for once your child is 2 and you have to pay for their ticket is to purchase one window seat and one aisle seat– hoping that no one will want a middle– that way you’re more likely to have the aisle to yourself. And if the flight is full and someone does purchase that middle seat, they’re always more than happy to swap with you or your child so you won’t actually have to be apart.

  85. I don’t have any tips or stories since I don’t have a baby yet! But mu husband and I will probably have one in about a year or two so babies are on the brain! (plus I think I am getting baby fever knowing that I’ll be 31 this summer…ha! ;) But i wanted to thank you! for posting this – if i had a baby, this would be incredibly helpful. thank you lots for sharing! I bookmarked it… I hope i remember to read it in year! lol ;)

  86. I’ve travelled to Asia from SF with each of my kids when they were under two and I highly advise paying for a seat for them. It usually doesn’t cost a lot more than paying for a seat ($100 to $200 more) depending upon the airline so make sure and ask how much it would be for a seat for a child under two. It was a lot cheaper than an adult seat and when you’re on a plane for 14 hours it is worth it!

    Also, do if you plan on doing the Benedryl trick do a test drive at home first. I tried it with a 14 month on on a flight to Tokyo and she was up for 12 hours straight – totally backfired on me!

    One more tip if you’re travelling overseas is to bring your own diapers with you. Even though they were labelled Pampers in Thailand they were totally different than the Pampers from home and my daughter developed the worst diaper rash. When we took my younger daughter to Thailand I made sure and packed the diapers she was used to and we had no problems.

    • YES! horrible diaper rash!!!! Take diapers or be diaper rash prepared!!!

  87. awesome tips. i am not a mommy but my boss has 3 children under 5 and i am going to show him this later!! think it will help make his life much easier.

  88. I bring my laptop and go through the Iphoto library with mine. He just loves looking at pictures of our past adventures on the full screen!

  89. Love your tips! I second the diapers.com ordering, have done it many times – it is awesome.

    Some more:
    1. Along the lines of the extra ziploc tip above – Chinese takeout soup container – perfect size for bottle/food warming (add hot water), doubles as a puke bucket (if your little one has bad reflux, ours did). Best part – free!

    2. Happy Baby – baby food pouches. Lightweight, organic, and great for backup food (in case of flight delay, etc.)

    3. For babies/toddlers on solids – I always bring lots of baby sized feeding disposable spoons/forks. For the littler guys, lots of brands make take-n-toss utensils. For a toddler, I love spoutware (made from potatoes, not plastic).

    4. Snacktraps – genius invention. A snacktrap of goldfish goes a LONG way with a toddler.

    5. Crayons – I squirrel away all the ones we get from restaurants, and use them together with the stick-on colorable disposable placemats when we go to restaurants.

  90. BH says...

    I love it! Thank you!
    I was actually thinking of doing a post like this on my blog as we have traveled loads (including internationally) with our five-month-old and we found it to be more pleasant than we expected.
    My big travel tip is to use a travel neck pillow instead of a Boppy for feedings. I have a Cloudz brand pillow that I use to feed Charlie on the plane and we both loved it!
    Also, when diaper changing on the plane, only take in what you need as opposed to dragging in the entire bag. There isn’t much space in there . . .

  91. I love that Toby’s picture ! It’s crazy how babies are beatutiful even without doing anything just to sit still. Love that !

  92. Great advice. Traveling with babies can be such a stressful thing. My daughter who is now 5 was a pro at traveling, but my 18 month old son…not so much. BTW, I love the white noise machine. It’s been such a lifesaver for us as my son’s a light sleeper.

    The Cheeky Cafe

  93. Thanks for the great tips! I have a 5 week old and we are going on our first airplane trip in about a month.

  94. also check out airbnb.com for amazing rental options! :)

    happy travels!

    lindsay

  95. I love this post Joanna! So many things i would never think of – sitting apart- genius! I am not a mother yet, but hope to be. My fiancé and I live in San Francisco but our families are on the East Coast. Of course we’ll want to go see them but I have always been nervous to do so with a child. These tips calmed my concerns, so THANK YOU!

  96. Such fab tips – I’m sure they will be much appreciated by friends & family travelling with bubbas, and I’ll be sure to file them away for that rainy day.

    Thanks for sharing!

    PS. Wish there was such thing as baby mail order – I’d buy the same model you have – Toby is just adorable!

  97. Thanks for sharing these tips. It’s interesting to hear about your experiences.

    I’ve been traveling from England to Germany (and back) with my baby daughter 4 times now. One time we drove out in the van and the other times we’ve been flying, which was amazingly easy. Probably that’s because everyone either ignores you or is incredibly nice.

    Sometimes I think I carry far too many things in her changing bag, but last week, on our flight back from Germany, when we had a bit of a wobbly landing and she got sick, I was pleased to have not only a complete outfit for my baby but also some leggings and a long-sleeved shirt for myself in our hand-luggage.

    I did have some toys with us, but she actually loved playing with paper cups and safety instructions. She also would have loved to play with the life vest she found underneath our seat. :)

    My baby officially turns one today (this would have been her due date, but she arrived on 20th March) and is a big and happy girl now.

    We will be going camping in a few days…

  98. The Skype babysitters is genius! I have to add (not really guiltily, but knowingly naughtily) that I took my old-school pediatrician’s advice and dosed my daughter with Benedryl for her early-life flight down to FL. She slept almost the whole time. And this coming from a natural-birthing, breast-feeding, organic-buying mom. It was so worth it.

  99. These are great tips and I’m no where even NEAR motherhood! You’re awesome! One thing my mom did for us that she said always worked was to buy new toys and games that we hadn’t seen yet and wait until we were on the plane to open them. I guess this was more the toddler stage rather than baby stage, but something to think about as Toby gets older!

  100. You are a PRO!!! Thanks for all these amazing tips. I have not thought of half of these.

  101. Great tips!! I am so nervous about traveling with our little one. Any advice on how to make the trip easier is much appreciated! Cute pic of Toby!!

  102. I love the tip about not sitting together. What a great idea. We will try this next time we take our little guy somewhere. OH, and love, love, LOVE the pic of Toby on his changer. CUTE.

  103. 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.

  104. I’m not a mother, but love this post! I want to save it for when I do have a family. Great tips!

  105. my parents traveled with me tons when I was a baby and after reading this I’m wondering how! haha. I think my first trip was when I was only a few months old and they were super frequent my entire infancy and childhood. hmmm

  106. OMG you BETTER have that photo framed and enormous in your apt, Joanna. I want to eat him, he is so cute!! These tips are fantastic. Forwarding to my best friend who is flying tomorrow with her 10 month old and nervous.

  107. I work as a stewardess during the summer and I would like to contribute some tipps:

    If your Baby is under 2 you can actually request a seat in the “mother and baby” row that includes a little bassinet that gets mounted to the wall that seperates the cabins. Your baby can sleep while you have some extra room. This is true for my airline (Lufthansa) I am not sure about others though. It is important that you request this in advance and speak to the agent at the check-in.

    Please,please,please don’t let the baby crawl through the aisles on it’s own. Seriously it is unbelievable sometimes. There are lots of situations when passengers or stewardesses have to rush through the aisles and little fingers coming out from under a seat are hard to see.

    If you don’t mind, don’t breast feed without any kind of coverage. While we in the crew and possibly 90% of passengers usually don’t mind, certain cultures do not appreciate it at all and are seriously disturbed by it.

    There is baby food on board but if you bring your own and want it to be warmed up, there are no microwaves or stoves or anything like that on a plane. We usually place it in a pot and add hot water so it’s important that whatever you want to heat up the food in is waterproof and can be closed tightly.

    Please don’t hand the used diapers to the stewardesses…. just put them in the garbage bin in the bathrooms…

    Save travels!

  108. Hi! Great tips! My husband and I tend to sit together as we have two( one lap, soon to be seated) and a 3 year old.) though we will split up once we can be 4.

    One thing I HIGHLY recommend is a Skip Hop pronto changing station. (by Skip Hop) It is small changing station that you stock with diapers, wipes, bum cream , etc and much smaller than cumbersome diaper bags(though you can throw it in your diaper bag) On changing tables in the little airplane bathrooms it can give you added, space that is so need, and in general less baggage!
    We also always bring a good dose of healthy and fun snacks. I break out special treats if tears or tantrums are coming. ( love the gift idea!)

    We also don’t let ours watch much video/tv stuff so airplane is when we break it out! Computer, I Pod, or Pad. We have kiddie friendly headphones that regulate volume and do not go into their earsI think they are from Sony, you can usually find them in the airport). This feels extra special as they never get it any other time!

    Our 22 month old does alot of aisle walking, but we try to break it up , nap,food, walk, games, video, books, walk, food, etc.

    We have traveled from CA to New Zealand, to Paris , New York, etc. Once the kiddos are used to the routine of flying they tend to treat it like any other thing. I agree naptime bedtime is KEY a quite kiddie is a happier parent and passenger!
    Thanks!
    M

    • Hi,
      I know I’m WAY late on this reply but we’re considering a trip to New Zealand with a 2 month old…are we nuts? We’re first time parents so we really could be nuts but this will really be the most ideal time to take a vacation for us…if we don’t take it, we’d have to wait about 6 months and eat into precious vacation time from work.

  109. This was a great list! Good thinking on the diapers.com order & not sitting together, wouldn’t have thought of either! I would add two things – 1) When you fly internationally you can usually request a “bulkhead” seat which has a drop down bassinet that baby can sleep in while you fly. Makes paying the taxes well worth it!
    2) Consider traveling with your family. We have taken 2 family vacations with our 1 year old and it’s amazing how much more Mom & Dad get to relax when Grandma & Grandpa are there to pitch in a spoil the baby! Really, it was even worth it to my hubby to be on vacation with the in-laws!
    I agree that it’s really fun to travel as a family, well worth the planning & stuff that goes into it!
    Thanks for sharing your tips, Joanna!

  110. Most memorable family vacation. All you have to know is a)2 weeks driving around Texas with only your parents b)a father with a severe Type A personality c) a grouchy preteen (that would be me).

  111. Totally not motherhood related, but Airbnb is also great for traveling! My boyfriend and I stayed in an adorable and affordable flat while we visited Paris – we would have spent 5x more had we booked a hotel.

  112. Despite the fact I don’t have even have a baby,I thought these tips were super interesting and helpful. I’m thinking of all the mommy friends I can send this to!

  113. I love that you travel so much with Toby and I love your travel tips! I never thought to skype babysitters ahead of time or order from diapers.com. So smart. I saw you posted about the Ergo – this is ALL we used when traveling. No stroller, just the Ergo. Especially when our kids were around 18 months+, it was perfect for when they got tired but were still not too heavy to carry around. I swear by my Ergo!

  114. I’ve told my parents and fiance that I’ll never fly with a baby because it’s way too much work/stress. (Flying by myself is hard enough!) But your tips are really making me reconsider my stance. Awesomely helpful post!

  115. we love to travel with our crumb, and she has been on 32 flights {and only 3 years old }. You are right, it does get easier. The Ergo saved us so many times and while she could still fit in it, I catried her through security, and they could not make me take her out ~ a head security official shared this info with me in hopes of saving us time and effort through security screenings.

    Also agree with home rental versus hotel because being able to have a kitchen and space similar to a home environment works wonders for ease of mind and happy baby.

  116. My favorite “travel” accessory for baby is the Boon Spoon. You can get it on Amazon or at walmart for about 6 bucks. BEST BABY PURCHASE EVER. The baby food is right in the handle of the spoon, so you don’t have to try to hold the baby (who is wrestling to get his paws into the food), the spoon, AND the jar at the same time.

    You can read more about it here:
    http://blog.doublejones.com/2011/05/baby-gear/

  117. Anonymous says...

    great post! we have a 3 year old and a 10 month old – we have traveled with them a ton! we live in SF and our families live on the east coast, plus we LOVE to travel. but that means a lot of long flights with the little ones.

    destinations:
    we took our 1st son to hawaii when he was 2 months old and to paris when he was 14 months old – both are GREAT place to go with kids! so much to do. we went to portugal last fall when our 2nd was 3 months, another great place to go with kids, and the portugese LOVE kids + babies.

    here are a few things i would add:
    the best thing i have done with our 3 year old is to always have “new” toys for the flight. he LOVES playing games on the ipad, but when he gets sick of that, i always have something to surprise him with. i wrap all the gifts individually – it has stopped meltdowns and kept him entertained! i plan for one gift per hour – just small things, like small books, crayons, mini play dough, etc.. i also try and bring “new” snacks – he always loves to see what’s in the food bag.

    love this discussion. i am always looking for new tricks. we have four upcoming trips this summer, each with 5 hour flights!

  118. the bottom photo (no pun intended) is so cute it huuuurts me!

    i’ve never even thought of #4…good idea. makes sense.

  119. Amazing advice. I love that you give specifics on what to pack for your baby — I know many moms who find it seriously overwhelming!

  120. These are excellent- never thought of sitting apart, but that is GENIUS. We found getting a seat for the little man easier as he got bigger (still under 2, but FEISTY), and a roll of blue painters tape is a fabulous entertainment tool- rip pieces off and stick them around the seat (no mess), let him ball it up…we busted that out several times to huge success.