I am so excited to finally share with you all my top tips for traveling with an infant! If you regularly follow along with me and my little family, you know that we travel a lot. Family is a huge part of our lives and my “why” in my business; the majority of the reason why we travel is because of them. We have family in several different states and find so much joy in traveling abroad together. Babies are being born. Milestone birthdays are happening. Needless to say, we hate to miss out! Plus, Vince and I love to take yearly vacations together abroad and weekend trips around the U.S. Before I became pregnant with Ellie we had planned on a trip to France for our cousin’s baby’s baptism. So, when we found out I was pregnant, we knew we would have to move fast with a passport and figure out a game plan if we were going to make this trip. To be honest with you, I wasn’t so sure I wanted to go anymore. I was terrified to say the least. I’m a frequent traveler, but flying abroad with a 6 week old? Talk about anxiety. Ellie is my first baby and she was delivered by C-section because she was breech. I didn’t know how I was going to do it all. I didn’t know how I was going to feel and recover after my c-section. There were so many unknowns and it scared me. But I decided that I was going to take the leap, trust in God, and rely on my husband and family to help me as much as they could. Being the type-A person that I am, I learned that I had to let go of things I couldn’t control. I needed to ask for help and try to let the anxiety go.
And I’m SO thankful I did. Looking back on these photos makes me so happy and gosh do I feel like a freaking rockstar! Mommas, if you I can do it… so can you. Now, obviously if your body and mind are all telling you not to do it, by all means listen. But I do want to encourage those of you that want to travel with your newborn or HAVE to, that it IS possible.
In Ellie’s first 10 months, she had been on 16 flights and 12 road trips. She’s visited 4 countries and 9 states. Believe me when I say this time last year, I would have never thought this would be our reality. But it was a huge learning experience and one that I wouldn’t trade for anything. By the beginning of her 2nd birthday, we had surpassed close to 50 flights and roadtrips.
After our first trip with Ellie to France at 6 weeks old, I felt like I could go anywhere and do anything with her.
I have received numerous Instagram DMs, Facebook messages, and texts asking about how we traveled with a newborn and continue to travel as she grows. There’s a lot to think about! “What do you bring? What stroller did you use abroad? Do you bring the car seat or rent one? Do you need a passport for a newborn? How do I adjust her to the time change? How can you prevent her ears from hurting during the flight?” And so much more…
Let me preface this post but saying that every baby is different, so these tips may or may not work for your little one. This is what has worked for Ellie though and I hope that it’s helpful as you plan your trip with your baby! If I didn’t answer a question in this post that you’d like to ask, feel free to post it in a comment below, PM me on instagram, or join The Business Mom Community where I plan to talk a ton about traveling for work and leisure with your kids. Continue on to read about my top tips for traveling with your baby under the age of 1 (infant age).
Tips on flying with an infant:
WHAT TO BRING
- “How do you travel with everything? What do we check and what do we bring on the plane?” We check two large suitcases: Ellie and I share a large size suitcase while my husband has a carry-on size suitcase. I carry Ellie’s backpack diaper bag onto the plane and pack all my essentials in this so I don’t have to bring a purse. If I do bring a purse, it’s a small wristlet that is easily packable. My husband carries his backpack onto the plane which has our computer, headphones, extra clothes, snacks, etc. We take the stroller, car seat, and travel bag for the stroller through the airport so we don’t have to carry Ellie the whole time. It’s also an easy way to carry loose items and the smaller bags. We then gate check our Uppababy Vista stroller (putting it inside the travel bag for protection) and Mesa car seat. I traveled alone with Ellie at 6 months old and only carried the stroller, travel bag, car seat, and diaper bag. Everything else was checked. On international flights, we brought all of the items I mentioned above and 1 more large suitcase, which we checked.
- My best advice is to pack as light as possible! I know that can be difficult when you have a newborn, but you try and think about only the essentials. What you are actually going to use? Also think about what you can buy once you get there instead of packing it. This may vary depending on your destination and how long you’ll be going for. Either way, you’re going to be bringing a lot more than you normally do when traveling without a baby so just get used to it! I will say though, the fewer bags the better. Not all places have elevators!
- This goes for whether you’re traveling for the day or just heading out of the house to shop for groceries. Write a list of what you typically need in your diaper bag (I’m obsessed with this diaper bag!!) and place it in the diaper bag so you can check off your list before you leave the house each time. It’s so much easier especially so you don’t have to rely on your wonky mama brain. I never forget anything now!
- You can bring already-mixed formula, water bottles, and breast milk through security. Just let them know it’s for the baby. They’ll check the items but will let you through with them no problem. For the travel packing list – see below!
BEFORE YOU FLY, SECURITY, AND THE FLIGHT:
- If you know you’ll be traveling abroad in the first few months of your baby’s life, apply for the passport as soon as the baby is born. For domestic flights, you won’t need a passport, only a birth certificate. However, if you have a passport already you can use that instead. That’s what we do since we already have a passport for Ellie.
- Try and travel during nap time if you have a scheduled nap time set
- Call ahead and request bulkhead seating or bassinet seating on international flights. Do this ASAP because they book up fast! We were lucky enough to get these seats on the way to and from Ireland and it was a lifesaver. We were able to let her sleep in the bassinet in front of us for 6 out of the 8 hour flight. It freed our hands to do other things and to sleep without worrying about dropping her.
- Be sure to family or pre-board. Some flights require you check in with the gate attendant prior to boarding so make sure you do that! We booked United once and got a basic economy ticket, which did not allow us to pre-board so make sure your ticket allows for family boarding privileges.
- Bring as many diapers as you are hours traveling plus 5-10 extra in case of delays. Make sure this is in your carry on bag or diaper bag!
- Bring an extra pair of clothes for you and your significant other in case of major accidents. No one wants to be smelly and wet for hours.
- When traveling with a baby less than 6 months old, I suggest bringing a stroller that is compatible with your car seat and leaving the other attachments at home. We use the Uppababy Vista stroller and the Mesa car seat is compatible. There’s other car seats that work with the Vista too! For babies 6 months and older, you could consider bringing the seat attachment and checking the car seat or renting one later.
- Baby will need a ticket to board, so make sure you go up to the attendant before going through security to get a ticket. They usually attach it to one of the parent’s tickets.
- My husband and I personally don’t mind assembling and disassembling the stroller at security because we are used to it, but if you’re not an avid traveler and this stresses you out, consider carrying your baby in a wrap/carrier (we use this one!) and then checking the car seat and stroller ahead of time. This is definitely a personal preference! The bigger your baby is, you might enjoy having the stroller through the airport. Also, sometimes security doesn’t ask you to disassemble your stroller. Some allow you to simply set it aside and they check it manually. By the way, bringing a carrier is great for places with lots of stairs or no elevator, when you’re traveling in tight spaces, if you plan on hiking, etc.
- Security will ask you to take the baby out of the stroller, so be prepared for that. You and your baby will be allowed to go through the metal detector instead of the standing body scanner. If you’re wearing your baby in a carrier, you don’t have to take it off and wake them up – major plus if they’re sleeping!
- Ask if there’s extra seats in the plane and if you can carry on your infant car seat. This is a great way to ensure no one sits by you, allows for extra room for you and baby, and allows you to put the baby in the car seat giving your arms a break. Note: your car seat must be airplane rated and clearly labeled.
- Buy a travel bag for the Uppababy stroller or see if your stroller company has something like this. It insures the stroller in case something happens to it while traveling.
- Pack up the stroller in the stroller bag BEFORE you board. It’s so much easier than trying to fiddle with it in front of the plane and everyone is around you trying to board.
- Don’t sit too close to the engine/wings. It’s quite loud! We’ve found that sitting a few rows behind the wings works perfectly and creates that nice white noise sound that babies love without it being TOO loud. I also suggest not sitting in the very back because that’s where people tend to stand in line for the bathroom and the flight attendants get food, drink, etc ready which can be noisy as well.
- Bring Purell wipes in your bag for wiping down airplane seat handles, seat belt, tray, etc. This is especially true when you have a baby that likes to touch everything and put it all in her mouth. SO important for traveling during the winter time and flu season.
- FYI: There are changing tables in the restrooms on the plane. They’re super tiny but they do the job. They’re located above the toilets.
- For older babies, bring snacks for when you’re flying or traveling in between and during meal times.
- In your carry on bag, be sure to pack a pair of backup clothes, all the necessities for baby, snacks for everyone, a blanket for the baby (because it gets cold on the plane and for outside if your destination will be cold). This is also smart in case of lost luggage. This happened to me and it was a total nightmare! I never got it back either…but thankfully it was at the end of the trip.
- Pack a manual breast pump for the plane if you’re still pumping. I had an “emergency” on my first flight with Ellie because she was sleeping for about 6 hours and I needed to nurse, but didn’t want to wake her up. This relieved the pressure and then when she woke up an hour or so later, I was able to give her a bottle. I just pumped at my seat with a cover over myself, but you could use the bathroom if you wanted.
- Window seat or aisle? This is a total personal preference in my opinion because there are advantages and disadvantages to both. I personally prefer the window seat because I like to lay my head against the wall to sleep on long flights and prop up my arm if I’m holding her. Ellie now likes to look outside the window and I don’t have to worry about flight attendants bumping her or me as they go past with the carts. The disadvantage to sitting in the window seat is how many times you’ll have to ask the people in the middle seat and aisle to move if you need to walk around with your baby or change their diaper mid flight.
- Taking off/landing: If you’re worried about the pressure hurting your baby’s ears, you can either nurse or bottle feed them as the plane is ascending and descending. Thankfully, Ellie never had an issue with this. I nursed her once before taking off and then we sat on the tarmac for another 30 minutes unexpectedly. She had fallen asleep by then and I was freaking out because she wouldn’t nurse more as we were taking off. She was just fine though and I also heard that even having a pacifier in their mouths can help with pressure.
- You can rent a car seat from your rental car company when you arrive to your destination, but I like to have my own car seat so we have it when we land over renting a used one. By having my own, I know where it’s been and the safety of it. We use this one! I also don’t always rent a car, so I like to have the car seat handy so we can hop in an uber or taxi. I also like to use the car seat throughout the plane so Ellie can chill or sleep as we go from security to the gate as I mentioned before.
- I’ve had the best luck when I put Ellie in her carseat with a clean diaper and a full tummy. Also be sure to burp her to avoid gas and an upset baby. One trick I found helpful was to have a bottle or pacifier ready for a little soothing if needed. Toys are super handy for keeping the baby entertained especially as she gets older.
- Ask your hotel if they have a crib or pack n play that you can use for the baby to sleep in. If not, you’ll need to bring something. I packed a SnuggleMe for Ellie when we traveled with her at 6 weeks old. As she grew out of that though (2+ months) I have started bringing a Graco pack n play and a sheet for it.
- Adjusting your baby to the time change: Your baby is just like we are. It’ll take some time to get him/her adjusted to the time change. Be flexible with their sleep schedules and take breaks when needed. I won’t lie, it’s going to be exhausting but once you get through the first day or two, you’ll be golden.
- When traveling aboard, I brought the sound machine and ruined it day 1 because I didn’t have the right kind of converter. I suggest bringing a smaller, portable, battery operated one (like this one!!) instead of one that plugs into the wall! This is also great for plane rides and cars where you might need a little white noise for the baby to fall asleep or calm down.
- Buy soap to wash your bottles and diapers at your destination. Don’t worry about packing this, but if you did pack your own, get the travel sizes or small packets.
- Don’t bother bringing toys when your baby is under 4 months old. They don’t really play with them yet anyway and it takes up space. However, as they get older you’ll definitely want to bring toys to entertain them. I try to be courteous to those around me so I don’t bring super annoying and noisy ones, but ones that crinkle or make small noises are fine by me! Plus the baby loves them too 🙂 You could forgo toys altogether if you really wanted to. Ellie is entertained by every day items like keys, my phone, an empty water bottle, etc.
- Be prepared with lots of wet wipes, diapers, and an extra pair of clothes for baby in case of blow outs. We were in a really nice outdoor restaurant in France when Ellie had her biggest blow out ever. It went all over her, her outfit, and the carrier. The restrooms were full and all there was around us to change her on was some outdoor stairs that led to the kitchen. We were hot (hello south of France in JULY! whew!), embarrassed, and to top it all off she was screaming. It was a crazy moment but look back on it and laugh. We learned that this kind of thing happens sometimes and you just have to go with the flow and be prepared. I swore off nice restaurants with kids ever since. LOL
- Be prepared to change diapers literally everywhere. Bathrooms are hard to find when abroad. I got used to changing Ellie on my lap in museums, on the street, in airports, trains, cars, etc. It’s just part of it!
- Bring lots and lots of extra pacifiers. Babies drop them all the time and there’s not always somewhere to wash them off. We bring like 10 on each trip! Elli’s favorite are these Avent pacifiers!
Would you like my ultimate packing list to guide you on what to bring with you on your trip?
Overall, we’ve had really good experiences flying with Ellie. We’ve had a meltdown or two, some stinky diapers with no time to change it, but she’s a really good traveler. She adjusts to change well, loves people, and has learned to entertain herself for the most part. Like anyone, she has her bad days but we just have to breathe through the chaos and remember that we’ll get through it. If you’ve made it this far…THANK YOU for reading. And props to you guys for being adventurous and taking your little one on vacation! Don’t let your mind worry about the what if’s… just be prepared and you’ll start to learn quick what your baby will need while traveling. Remember to give yourself some grace and breathe through the stressful parts. Once you get to your destination (or heck, even on the plane!) relax and have a glass of wine – you did it, mama!
The lists in this blog post include some Amazon affiliate links throughout. If you click on the link and decide to purchase an item, I do get a small amount of money in return. It took many, many hours to pull this blog together so if you found this blog post helpful and decide to purchase anything because of this post, I would be oh so grateful if you decided to click on my links 🙂 Thank you!
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