Life with a baby will change. Completely. There will be things you will seldomly get to do again (like sleeping in) and things you will NEVER do again (like binge watching shows without regard for time or anything else, shout out to 2017 ME). I say all this with the happiest heart. Whatever change comes your way will be sooo manageable. Some of these huge life shifts and transitions will come with its very own set of strengths. Like giving birth! Your body knows exactly what to do. And some of these huge life shifts will need tools to help you manage. Like traveling. Traveling with a baby is one of those.
I always knew I wanted to continue our travels with our baby. It’s good to take your babies to different places, to explore. They may not remember much, but they’ll learn and absorb so much more than we give them credit for. And as we travel more and more, they’ll learn how to travel easy with you. You’ll develop a routine, a sort of travel mood as a family that you’ll get to take with you wherever you go. Teaching a child HOW to travel is one of the best things you can do. To adapt to changing surroundings, to immerse themselves in a different culture with a different menu and language, and that sense of exploration and wonder we all get in a new place. Travel cheaply, travel close or travel far, but travel! Even if they’ll never remember specific images from the trip, they’ll pick something up. I promise.
Below are a few tools that help make our travels easy, streamline the process, and condense the amount of things we need. You think you used to overpack before? Wait til you see what traveling with a baby is allll about. You’ll have like 7 carry-ons and gate checks. But here’s how to do it smartly and as compactly as possible.
| Flying with a baby. |
Flying with a baby is an ART FORM. Forget the crazy, panicked stares you’re gonna get from people boarding along with you when they see you’re bringing an infant on board. You’ve got a million things to carry. You don’t have time to be anxious about public opinion. First, there’s the car seat. You’ll need that for wherever you’re going. Unless you’re walking everywhere? But that’s totally unheard of. So back to the car seat. Make sure it’s an FAA airline car seat. Most stewardesses will check. You don’t HAVE to get baby his own seat on board (to save $), but it’s obviously safer if you do. Here’s a trick for getting a free airplane seat for your infant (but it’s sort of like playing the lottery): go to the gate before boarding and ask if there are any unoccupied seats on the plane. Usually airlines won’t sell every single seat. If there are any unsold seats, ask (nicely) if you could have one for your baby so that he can ride in his car seat. Holland has been (so far) on 4 flights and each flight gave him his own car seat (United + Southwest). We flew right before and after Christmas too, during peak travel days, and we were still able to score a free seat. It’s worth a shot!
If you’re not able to get your baby his own seat, you’ll need to check his car seat at the gate. I also recommend checking his stroller at the gate. If you check it with your luggage at the ticket counter, you risk your stroller getting damaged AND FORGET about checking your car seat at the ticket counter. DO NOT DO IT. They say that any car seat checked at the counter is basically totaled after a flight. It gets manhandled and the integrity is risked after a mere flight. Just take both the stroller and car seat with you to the gate, try to score a free seat so that you can keep your car seat with you at all times (and get your arms some rest), and call it a day. Here are some excellent travel bags for both your stroller and car seat.
Click on the pictures for links. They’re 25 dollars or less for each, not the highest rated but they’ve got good reviews, and I picked these specifically because they have carry straps. Other ones with higher reviews don’t have straps which means you’re carrying the bag from the top! I’ve been here. Not fun. Get the straps.
You can also rent both a car seat, a stroller, and a pack and play where you’re traveling. This cuts down on all the baggage you’ll bring along. I’ve never tried this but I have a few friends that swear by this. A few sites you can visit:
- babyquip.com, babiesgetaway.com, travelmamas.com, and babysaway.com.
Feeding + diaper changing on a plane:
– If you’re breastfeeding, just whip it out. If you’re bottle feeding, it’s all the same as any other feeding. I just made sure to have pre-filled my bottles with water so I could quickly mix the formula in. I left him in his car seat for all of this and have even completely fed him while in the car seat on one of our flights (dream feed). I’ve changed both of Holland’s diapers in my seat as well. Piece of advice: do not worry about making everyone else on the plane comfortable. You don’t know them, they’ll never see you again. Do what you and your baby needs. Who cares about the rest.
| Where baby sleeps during travel. |
I’ve heard a lot of mom’s bring along a pack and play, but that’s honestly too bulky for me to even consider. With a stroller, diaper bag, car seat, and a carry-on, adding in a pack and play to mentally keep track of would be too much. You can always rent a pack and play when you arrive to your destination, you could buy one and then return it (shameless mom hack, a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do), or you could invest in a good stroller travel system. Which is what we opted for.
We have an UPPAbaby VISTA. You all see me rave about it over on my IG often. It was provided to us by the company so that we could run a few ads on my page, but I swear by it. I was going to purchase it ANYWAY (God’s honest truth), but the company and I were able to work together instead, which has been really fun.
You can learn more about the vista here. Some of my favorite features are the bassinet, the extra large basket that can carry up to 35lbs (I use it for grocery shopping and it’s AMAZING), forward and parent-facing toddler seat, leather handles, and all around aesthetic appeal. I kid you not, everywhere we go, people are always complementing our stroller. It has made being out and about in a busy city so simple, and Holland is absolutely comfortable in it.
While we’re traveling, we don’t bring along any other bassinet or pack and play. The UPPAbaby Vista’s bassinet has been tested and graded safe for sleeping, and it helps us simplify our travel load. We just pop all of this into the travel stroller bag and we’re ready to go. It’s a two-in-one. It’ll transition with us in more ways than just for travel, too, because it can hold up to 3 children with various attachments. It’s truly a one stop shop. It’s an investment worth every penny. Check out their instagram for more photos.
Another alternative is the Lotus Everywhere Travel Crib. Click photo to learn more about it.
We don’t own it and I’ve tried to work with the company but let’s just say they’re not exactly blogger friendly so…, unfortunately I can’t review it authentically for you. However, it seems like a great on-the-go crib if you travel often so it’s worth a click and a hop over to their site!
| Out and About In A New City. |
– Make reservations to whatever restaurants you’re hoping to try (so there’s less waiting around time with kids).
– A great car rental site is Turo.com, its like an AirBnB for cars and, by far, the cheapest car rental service I’ve found. We’ve tried it, can vouch for it, and will only ever use Turo!
– Making and printing a spreadsheet of all the baby items you’re bringing along so that you can make sure everything is accounted for before you leave for home and (hopefully) can avoid leaving anything of importance behind!
– Staying patient with those kiddos, they’re in a new place. Sleep and eating habits may waver. Don’t go on a trip expecting to be go-go-go, or to be relaxed often, haha. Go on a trip with your kiddos to take pictures, to make memories, to laugh together and be goofy. The trip is mostly for them (unless they’re infants), and a little bit for you. You can rest and be back to your norm when you’re home. Give them more space to throw tantrums… they’re trying to process this mini transition. Give them more leeway to be out of wack. Just find a way to laugh and roll with it!
– You can not avoid them getting sick. Making sure you’re careful in airports (don’t let anyone touch them, don’t touch their face or nose with your hands unless you’ve washed them, try to keep them from touching too much stuff), but we can’t control every move and curious minds want to know! Sooo take the necessary precautions but breathe easy. They’ll be okay. Every year has a few sick days.
| Advice from my more experienced mom followers |
- All the snacks. And a backseat mirror to put over the airplane tray.
- Board last. Play with baby and change diaper while everyone else boards. Pre-fill formula bottles with water + put in a big ziplock bag. Bring way more than you think you’ll need.
- Bring sound machine and swaddle on board. It was a lifesaver.
- Call airline ahead of time – see if they can do a curtesy block on the seat next to you.
- Lots of snacks!
- Take all the things that make “away” seem like home – white noise, sleep sack, night light.
- Bring a “Dockatot.” Fits overhead, light, easy to set baby down when waiting, use pillowcase to keep clean/whip off to wash later. Baby can sleep in it on plane, lounge/play while waiting in gate.
- Pack a spare shirt for mom/dad in case baby has any accidents on you.
- Baby wear throughout the airport. Hands free, can rush if short connection, easy for security.
- New books they haven’t read, mini first aid kit, keep same schedule as home.
- Never underestimate the power of a little junk food, iPad time, or a new snack to give them at the airport/while flying.
This post was sponsored by UPPAbaby. You can find more info about UPPAbaby at www.uppababy.com! As always, all opinions and thoughts expressed are only ever my very own 🙂