After 9 months of life my baby has been on 44 flights (including layovers) and has been to more states than I can count and 6 countries – so I am finally sharing all the tips I have learned along the way! I have traveled alone overseas with my boy multiple times as well as cross country etc. It is definitely a treat to have a husband or partner with you but if you don’t, don’t worry – you got this!!! I know that seems like a crazy amount of flights and a lot of people think “poor baby!” but honestly you don’t have to have their schedule all out of whack to travel. In fact he is happiest when we are out and about and around people so he loves traveling and has grown accustomed to it. Most of my friends always gave the excuse that they couldn’t go because of the baby. I always thought that was silly and didn’t ever want my baby to hold me back from life experiences, I wanted him to experience them with me and it is 100% doable. So here are some things I have learned…
1. WHITE ONESIES: (applies to 1-6 mo.) Atticus was an explosive pooper when he was exclusively breastfeeding would have multiple blowouts a day! So when traveling I would stock up on white onesies and used them as disposable onesies. It makes it so much easier to just throw them away after then to deal with dirty, stinky, wet laundry! You can find them cheap on amazon, here.
2. BRING YOUR BUMPERS!!!!: (applies to 5 mo. +) By now your baby is (possibly) rolling over and what not. MOST cribs in hotels are rod iron cribs with no bumpers, I think it might be a liability thing in the US because most abroad have bumpers. Atticus always has his head up against the side and I can tell he is so uncomfortable in those cribs and wakes up. We now bring our bumpers with us and he sleeps like normal! Definitely suggest this if you want to keep your normal night routine going 😉 It is also smaller than a pack n play! Atticus has soft sheets that he really loves and sleeps best with so we bring his fitted sheet as well.
-If you do choose to bring a pack n play I have found that reviews say this is the best one to travel with.
3. CARRY ON: I personally like to always have a carry on with me even when I travel alone with Atticus because if my luggage got lost (this has happened to me before and it is a nightmare, I never got it back!) I want to have all of his necessities on me and don’t want to worry about finding diaper cream, socks, onesies, bottles, binkies, books, etc. in a foreign country or foreign city. I also like having extra sweaters and snacks and toys in there in case he gets cold on the plane or something! I know it is something extra to deal with so if the thought of it stresses you out then don’t worry about a carry on and just check everything but see next tip for how I handle it through the airport..
4. GETTING THROUGH SECURITY: Like I said in #3, I always have a carry on bag so it can be a handful with a stroller, carseat, carry on, baby, etc. so here is what I do when I am alone (if you have your husband, its a breeze just take the baby and let them do the rest 😉 )….
-Put the laptop in the basket of the stroller – carry on above the basket and then attach the carseat on top of all that then put the diaper bag and anything else in the carseat and on the handles
-When you get to the line keep your baby on you til you have everything ready to go.. They will make you put the carseat through the belt and then you will fold up the stroller and someone else will carry it through. If you are having trouble folding the stroller with your baby wrapped on you, just ask someone to help!
-TAKE YOUR TIME!!!! People can wait, don’t get stressed. And I can’t tell you how many times people have helped me through security! Once Atticus was crying in line and a TSA agent told me to leave all my stuff and go through and wait on the bench on the other side.. he did everything for me and I cried. It was so so unbelievably nice.
-They will also make you take your baby out of the carseat/stroller before going through but having them in a wrap is fine. So keep that in mind for naps. Don’t let them fall asleep in the carseat right before you go through security because you will have to wake them up. This is another reason a carrier is nice.
-You will also have to get a hand swipe after. Every time. They will swipe your hands with a wand thing and test it for explosive materials. They will also test any liquids you bring.
-If I had the umbrella stroller I would just carry Atticus and put the carry on in the stroller!
**Note that you can bring as many liquids as you want – juice, water, milk, etc.
5. STROLLER LINE: Always ask a TSA worker if they have a line designated for strollers, many do! And if not then 90% of the time they will let you go through TSA Pre or First Class line.
6. IF YOU’RE BRINGING A CARSEAT, DON’T CHECK IT: First of all it would be a pain if they lost it, and second, if the plane isn’t full they will let you take your carseat on with you! (SCORE!) I had this happen on my flight to Paris and the flight was a BREEZE!! It is worth having the trouble of lugging it around in my opinion if could potentially have it on the plane.
7. INTERNATIONAL TRAVELING W/ CARSEAT: (applies to 6mo. +) When they get older I suggest bringing an umbrella stroller and leaving the carseat at home! You can rent carseats from Rental Car companies and it is a pain to deal with an umbrella stroller + a car seat. Although you won’t be able to have them in the carseat on the plane 🙁 so that does stink! Kind of have to weigh your pros and cons with that one because there are definitely both pros and cons.
8. RENT APARTMENTS, NOT HOTELS: We love to use HomeAway.com because you can rent entire homes/apartments! This is a complete lifesaver because it is nice to have a separate room for a baby to sleep in so you can put them down at a decent hour and they won’t be disturbed. It is also nice to have a kitchen so you can wash bottles, etc. in a sink NOT connected to a bathroom. I hate washing bottles in a sink in a bathroom it seems weird! They also usually have a washer and dryer so its nice to be able to do some laundry and feel more at home.
9. ELEVATORS INTERNATIONAL: Other countries are not like America and most don’t require ramps or elevators. Make SURE your hotel has an elevator and if possible check to see the dimensions of the elevator! A lot of elevators abroad only fit one person (NOT A STROLLER! And definitely not you and your stroller and your bags) and you will end up making multiple trips up stairs multiple times a day and it is exhausting! Trust me.
10. TIME ZONE: When traveling within a 3-4 hour difference in time zone, we keep Atticus on the same or push it back/forward one hour. This is just personal preference because we travel often and want to make it easy on him. But if you are worried that your night routine you just established will go out the window then I suggest doing this! Atticus always went right back to normal but i think it just makes it easier on them. Obviously, abroad is a different story and you will adjust accordingly. Atticus didn’t have a problem adjusting either time, knock on wood. I just made sure to book a flight during the day (nightime in Europe) and then tried to have him sleep most the time or as much as possible. Then when we got there it was day time and I tried to continue his 1.5 hour schedule (see his schedule here) and then by nighttime he was super tired so I gave him a bath and put him down – once we did that he was already on Europe time. Then same coming back.
-For naps I continue to do them like we would at home. On vacation it is obviously a lot easier if your baby will nap in the carseat/stroller.. Atticus does so while we were out and about I tried carrying him or keeping the sun shade open so he would be awake and then close the sunshade and make sure it was nice and dark for him to sleep. It helps if you plan your day in a way to accommodate naps.. for instance.. go to a museum during nap time so you can be walking and moving while they sleep and then head to a park afterwards when they need to up and playing. We also like to go back to the hotel for one of his naps (or two when he was younger and took more) so he can be more comfy. But again, this is also because we travel so often so if you don’t make it back to the hotel it is not a big deal. It is easiest when they are younger and sleep through anything but we try to keep the noise consistent so he doesn’t notice the change and wake up.
11. TOYS: I was so excited to have a diaper bag with toys etc. for my baby but when they are super young they don’t want or use toys yet so don’t bother with them. I would only bring a book or two for him to look at. He will be much more entertained by funny faces and snuggling. When they get older and love toys, bring a few of their favs and a couple of toys they havent played with yet. Mostly they will love to explore the seat belt, brochures, tear apart magazines, play with your lipstick, etc. haha.
12. MUSIC VIDEOS/SHOWS/ETC: If your baby loves music or a certain music video or a show, make sure you have them downloaded on your phone so you can use them as a recourse if your baby is crying and youre stressed! Taylor Swift ‘Shake it Off’ music video is a must on all plane rides for us. He goes from crying to bobbing his head and waving his arms in seconds.
13. MIND SET!!!!: I think mindset is sooo huge in traveling with a baby!!! Its easy to dread the plane ride and get anxious but they always end up being a million times better than you think! So don’t stress about it and just have the mindset that you are going on a trip with your best bud and try to get excited rather than nervous. It sounds super cheesy but it makes the world a difference when you just adjust your thinking. If you dread it and are stressed, he will know and it will work up both of you. Just have relax and have fun with your little buddy.
14.GETTING TO YOUR SEAT!: By now you have gate checked your stroller and possibly carseat and youre left with bags and a baby. Its easiest in my opinion to be wearing them in a carrier and then push your carryon with your diaper bag on top. If you have your carseat too, then put the carseat (with baby in it) on the carry on (if it has wheels) and push the carseat like its a stroller (does that make sense?!) but just obviously do it slow and carefully so it doesn’t tip over. This is a lifesaver because its 100% impossible to roll a suitcase, carry a baby in a carseat, and a diaper bag all at once!
15. MEAN PEOPLE + WINDOW SEAT: I have been lucky and haven’t been bothered by people. We have had a few rude looks but nothing said to us. I have heard horror stories though! When you are getting looks because your baby is crying its best to be in a window seat and just turn your body to the window and shut everyone out so you can’t see anyone. It makes me less stressed and just focused on the baby and what he needs.
16. WINDOW + AISLE + EVEN MORE SPACE: If you are traveling with someone request the window AND aisle seat instead of two next to eachother and if you are willing to spend a tad extra do it in the even more space section (available on Jetblue and other airlines) because 9 times out of 10 we get the middle seat to ourselves too! No one wants to pay extra for a middle seat so they will take an aisle elsewhere.
17. FIRST CLASS: It is not true when people say that you cant fly first class with a baby because they will upset the people who paid more. A lot of people in first class are being flown on their companies dime or they are people who have kids of their own and get it. Any time a company has flown me first class everyone has been SO nice. It is also so nice to have the extra room and a lay flat seat. So if you can afford it, don’t hold back on first class.
18. BOARD EARLY: Generally you get to board early if you have a baby so take advantage! Some do not let you board early though, and if not, don’t stress. People are happy to help you. It makes them feel good knowing they helped someone so don’t shy away from help.
19. ASK FOR EXTRA SEAT: Get to the gate early and ask the agent if there is an empty seat next to you or if there is any way you can be moved next to an empty seat on the plane. 99% of the time they will if the plane is not full.
20. DOCTORS: I am a worrier so anytime we go somewhere I make sure I know where the nearest E.R. or Pediatrician is located. Especially abroad this is nice to know.
21: DON’T BRING SHOES!: Okay okay shoes are cute on babies and I maybe bring one or two pairs of moccasins that fold up small but I mean they arent even walking yet so save the luggage space!
22. BREASTFEEDING: I would always bring a little cooler with a bottle with frozen milk in case I didn’t want to breastfeed. Sometimes when you are first breastfeeding your boobs are so full and literally squirt everywhere haha see this story for my experience with that. It kind of stressed me out sometimes so I liked to bring a bottle too for the first few months. I also would HIGHLY recommend pumping as much as possible beforehand so your boobs aren’t bursting at the seams!
23. BREASTFEED ANYWHERE: You definitely can’t be shy about breastfeeding while traveling. I have breastfed in cabs, planes, boats, beaches, on the floor at museums, in line at Disneyland, I mean anywhere! I don’t use a cover and I personally think they are more of a pain and more obvious than just having your shirt cover up. I always make sure to wear loose shirts. And it also helps to wear swimsuits that are easy to pull down.
24. DON’T KEEP SNACKS IN THE CUP HOLDER: Anytime you put your diaper bag through security stuff will get knocked over and spilled. If you have snacks with lids (like the puffs that come in tall containers) don’t put them in the side cup holders of the bag because the lids will get taken off and will spill. Can’t tell you how many times this has happened to us! It is sooo annnnoying.
25. RENT A CAR: Renting a car is easiest with a baby so you can just keep some stuff in the car (stroller, snacks, etc.) and you aren’t having to get in and out of taxis all day. Also nice to have change of clothes and whatnot in there but not on you so if you do need it you can go back to the car!
26. STAY AS CLOSE TO THE CITY/ATTRACTION AS POSSIBLE: You are gonna have to go back for nap times or just to relax so its nice to be close to whatever it is you’re going to see. (i.e. Paris – the Eifell Tower, California – the beach, you get the point) So when you are inevitably spending time in the hotel you feel like you’re on vacation still. It is also nice to be close so you can pop in and out of the city.
27. USE THE BATHROOM: Use the bathroom at the hotel to put the crib in so it is quiet, dark, and they won’t be disturbed or woken up! Or wake you up 😉 we always do this when we don’t have a HomeAway. If you are putting them to bed early then you’ll want to either wash your face and brush your teeth before they go to bed or use the bathroom in the lobby!
28. NOISE CANCELING HEADPHONES: The freaking announcements on the plane are SO MOTHER FREAKING LOUD!!! They always wake Atticus up so we got noise canceling headphones. The ones we have found, here.
29. BLANKET OR MAT: When they are little its nice to have a blanket for them to wiggle and roll over on before the flight so they get most of their energy out. I would get to the gate, lay the blanket down and let them play until we boarded. I used this blanket since it folded up so small but was still a good size. I brought it in addition to the one I would use to cover him/let him snuggle with. Obviously you don’t want to use the one he will be sleeping with to put on the ground.
30. BRAVE THE GERMS: Now that Atticus is crawling, I let him crawl all over the ground and airport near the gate prior to boarding. It gets all of his wiggles out and afterwards I just use disinfecting wipes to clean him up. But if you are too worried about germs and try keeping him on your lap the whole time it might be a nightmare on the plane. There is literally NO way to avoid germs when traveling so be prepared for it 🙂 they will be okay!
31. LET YOUR BABY FLIRT AWAY: While getting on the plane face them outwards so they can smile and cheese it up with everyone. If they love your baby they won’t care so much when they cry 🙂
32. TAKE OFF/LANDING: Everyone says to nurse/bottle feed during take off/landing but for Atticus this never bothered him. I always did it and then one time he wouldn’t breast feed and I was soo nervous just waiting for him to start crying and he was perfectly happy. Since then I don’t worry too much if he doesn’t feel like it and he has never fussed about it. I would do it to be safe but definitely don’t wake a sleeping baby to nurse them for take off and if they aren’t nursing don’t stress, it might not bother them and just try to distract them with a toy instead.
**When traveling abroad they will make you attach an orange seatbelt to your seatbelt and fasten the baby in it. So keep that in mind so you aren’t caught off guard.
33. SWADDLING: After I let Atticus get his wiggles out I would swaddle him and push him in the stroller til he was asleep. Then I would get to the gate, take the carseat (with him in it) out, fold down the stroller, then take him out slowly so he didn’t wake up and then leave the stroller and carseat for them to take away. That way he was already asleep for take off. When you get on the plane you can swaddle on your lap or go to the bathroom and do it on the changing table.
34. BRING MORE CLOTHES!: Anytime we go on vacation I always think, “I could have sworn I packed more clothes!” Babies just go through clothes so dang fast so bring way more than you think you will need!
35. BRINGING YOUR PUMP ABROAD: My pump blew a fuse the first day and I had to throw it away. Pumps are expensive so I really recommend bringing a hand pump either as a back up or instead of or a battery powered pump!
36. CHANGING DIAPERS: When on vacation be prepared to change a diaper anywhere – on the ground in museums, airports, ally ways, etc. Just go with it! You can always use hand sanitizer 🙂
-Most airplanes will have changing tables so when they do obviously use those but when they dont (smaller airplanes don’t – whenever we flew out of Alabama they never had them) I just change his diaper on my lap (I had no other option really?) I always ask the people next to me if they mind before I do.. They will always say of course, and won’t mind but I just think its polite to let them know because it is a stinky diaper 🙂 If they do say they mind then too bad haha! You gotta do what you gotta do.
37. FLIGHT TIMES: Get a flight time that works with your babies schedule! When they are young usually red eyes are great because they just sleep in your arms the whole time! However if you are going to a completely different time zone get one during the day and try to help them relax and sleep majority of the time.
38. AVOID THE BACK OF THE PLANE!!!: It is so annoying being in the back where people are standing in line to go to the bathroom or flight attendants are chatting. It is distracting for the baby and they have a harder time falling asleep.
39. GET A TUB!: Make sure where you are staying has a bathtub or make sure you have looked at photos and know the sink is big enough. If you have an apartment usually kitchen sinks are big enough. Bath time really helps calm him down so they are a must for us.
40. GETTING THROUGH THE FLIGHT: Now that Atticus is older he wants to be moving and wiggling. Lots of times I end up kneeling on the floor in front of the seat and letting him crawl around on the seats. Or sometimes David will take him into the bathroom, sanitize the changing table, and let him roll around and play on there for a few minutes. It also really helps to just walk around and let them look at all the people. Luckily most planes now have tv’s so you can turn on a show and let him watch. You can also take down the tray and put snacks and toys on it, for some reason he thinks that is fun. Also I sometime stand him up and let him look at the people behind us and have him smile and play with them.
41. DONT FORGET THE SOUND MACHINE!: This is a complete lifesaver so you don’t have to be quiet or worry about people in the hallways of the hotel being loud.
42. SOME THINGS I ALWAYS PACK: I always like to bring Tylenol, Ibuprofen, Q Tips, diaper cream, thermometer, dissolvable teething tablets, bath soap, baby lotion, infant tooth brush, tooth paste, nail clippers, snot rocket thing, noise canceling headphones, dish soap in travel container (to clean pump, bottles, etc.), grocery bag for dirty clothes, ergo 360, disinfecting wipes, rice cereal, hand sanitizer, 100 SPF, sippy cup with straw, puffs, apple sauce pouches, noise machine, blanket for airport floor, blanket to snuggle, toys, a few books, and hats. (of course clothes too 🙂 )
43. DON’T BRING TOO MANY DIAPERS: You can always go buy more diapers! So don’t bring a crazy amount and it won’t take up too much space in the luggage and instead you can bring things that you won’t want to re purchase there.
44. LAYOVERS: I personally try to avoid layovers like the plague but sometimes they are unavoidable! Don’t pick a layover that is 40 minutes or less because in my opinion that is not enough time! You have to wait for them to bring you your stroller and then once you have that you still have to walk to the next gate and if you are at a big airport, that sometimes involved hopping on an airtran. If you do have a short layover make sure you check all your bags AND stroller and carseat so you can just get off the plane and go. Missing a connecting flight with a baby is awful so if you can plan a longer layover then it is probably the safer bet! We missed ours once and it suckkkked. 🙁
45. BACKPACK DIAPER BAG: Backpack diaper bags are an absolute MUST for traveling!!! They are so much easier when you are bending over so much, going in and out of taxis, walking a lot, etc. I like to use this one.
46. CHANGE OF CLOTHES FOR YOU TOO: Don’t forget to bring a change of clothes for yourself too. I always end up with either breast milk, poop, pee, spit up, rice cereal, etc. or a couple of the above and there have been times I wished I had a spare shirt for myself too!
47. DON’T USE WATER ON THE PLANE: You are allowed to bring as many liquids as you want and if you happen to run out you can always ask a flight attendant for a water bottle. Don’t use the water in the bathrooms for rinsing or anything, apparently it is purified with chemicals and can get you sick! I read this online and was pretty surprised. I obviously do not know this is 100% true but I would say to not risk it! Flight attendants will give you as much water or juice as you need!
48. WHAT STROLLERS I LOVE: I use the Uppa Baby G Luxe and love it. I have heard really great things about the Maclaren strollers as well and have wanted to try one. Before I used an umbrella stroller I loved traveling with the Quinny Buzz Extra and the Maxi Cosi Carseat. It folds up really nice and still has storage underneath. It also is pretty light compared to the Uppa Baby Vista that I also used. The Uppa Baby Vista is nice because it has all that storage underneath. I liked traveling with both but I would probably say I liked the Quinny more!
49. OTHER COUNTRIES SECURITY LINE: Getting through security in each country is different. It would help to maybe google the particular country beforehand if you are nervous about it. I sort of wish I had becuase I was all alone with Atticus when he was 3 months flying out of Barcelona airport. They kept speaking in different languages and telling me to do something I didn’t understand. To me it sounded like they were saying to put Atticus on the conveyor belt haha! I started crying because they were getting so frustrated with me and I didn’t want to put my baby down but they were telling me to! Apparently you can’t go through the sensor holding your baby.. Someone else had to hold Atticus while I walked through and then they handed him to me. It was really stressful and I had no idea what was going on and to make matters worse I was SO tight on time for my flight! So be prepared for anything when traveling abroad!
50. REQUEST A BASSINET: I have never been lucky enough to get one of these.. on my flight home from Barcelona it was broken and the other flights they weren’t available. They basically move you to an exit row and they fasten a bassinet to the wall. You can put your baby in there to sleep and it would be nice to give your arms a break! You don’t always get lucky but definitely ask!
Hopefully this answered most of your questions!! I tried to cover everything possible but if you still have any further questions let me know! Also remember that if your flight is canceled or something there is (almost) ALWAYS something the airline can do. You may have to cry and pull a “my baby needs to get home, we don’t have any spare diapers, etc.” card but they WILL accommodate you if you are persistent enough. They canceled our flight home from Jamaica and said we had to leave the next day and have a 7 hour layover. That was completely unacceptable in my opinion so after LOTS of going back and forth with the workers and manager, they booked us on a different airline that night. Don’t mess with mama bear! Just kidding… sort of. But honestly, at the end of the day we just want to make our littles happy so hopefully this helps you with your trip! xo