Are you getting ready to travel with your baby? I know how overwhelming and stressful the idea of flying or taking a road trip with a baby is, but don’t worry! With some prep work, it is possible (and even has its perks sometimes). I’ve put together a complete guide to help you prep for your trip with baby. Here’s what you need, what you don’t need, and how to handle everything to make your trip smooth sailing.
We flew for the first time with our oldest when he was not quite five months old. Though that first trip with him took so much more work than any other trip I had previously taken, it was a wonderful family vacation. We got to be first to board the plane, and we got to take our stroller through handicap entrances to museums, often skipping long lines (perks!). We’ve now gone on several road trips with him, and we are now thinking about a family trip with our new twins. These tips and products were lifesavers for me.
Make a list and start packing early.
When I get stressed, I get stuck on packing the obvious things like diapers, wipes, and clothes, and I often can’t think of what else is important. Some things that you might not think to bring are hand sanitizer, sunscreen, bug repellant (I love this natural one!), a carrier to wear your baby, a pacifier clip, plastic bags, infant’s Tylenol, and diaper rash cream, among other items that may be unique to your baby. Only you know what your child needs, so brainstorm early to save yourself from a panic attack if you’re like me.
Know what resources are available to you at your destination.
- Will there be a crib where you’re staying?
- Even though Pack’n’Plays are pretty easy to travel with, you still don’t want to lug one around with you if you don’t have to, especially if you’re flying. Almost all hotels and most condos will have a crib available for you. Be sure to request one in advance.
- Will you have a chance to go to a convenience store at your destination?
- If so, don’t pack as many diapers. Make sure you have more than enough to get to your destination, and then buy diapers there. You will save so much precious cargo space!
Bring a stroller with good utility, but don’t bring your most expensive stroller. Even though we went all the way to the gate with our stroller, it was still broken as it was loaded off the plane. Luckily, it was on our last flight home, so we made things work as we went through the airport to get home. (We also filed a claim for damaged baggage and got a new stroller paid for by Delta.) We flew with our Graco Travel System, which worked well because our son was not yet sitting up, and it was super convenient to snap the car seat into the stroller. We’ve taken an umbrella stroller on every other trip that we’ve taken since then. The Pockit stroller is amazing because it is super light and folds into a cube that can fit underneath a plane seat! This stroller has the best travel stroller design I have ever seen.
Anticipate your baby’s needs.
You will need to be ready for diaper changes, feedings, clothing changes, and naps. This is the time where a detailed packing list comes in handy. Be sure to have the following key items:
- A changing pad is a must because you may not always be near a bathroom with a changing station. Even when you are, I often prefer to change my baby in the back of my car or on my lap rather than in a public restroom.
- Having the right diapers matters! We got to DC and bought a bunch of the cheapest diapers while our boy, Alden, was transitioning sizes. Our son had a major blowout right as we were trying to go through security to get into the Capitol. That was only one of several blowouts. Needless to say, it was a disaster. I have tried a lot of different diapers, and Pampers Swaddlers are by far the best at keeping everything in. The mesh liner on the inside does wonders. Oh, how I wish we had Swaddlers on our DC trip . . .
- Despite our best efforts, wet messes are often unavoidable. Be sure you have a way to store wet or messy clothes until you have a chance to do laundry. I love the Planet Wise Wet/Dry bag: With two pockets, it’s perfect for my everyday outings and an absolute must-have for travel. If you know you won’t have a way to do laundry on your trip, pack a bunch of cheap white onesies that you can just throw away if you have a U.S. Capitol disaster moment. You can buy some cheap ones here from Amazon.
- If you’re breastfeeding, my very favorite trick is to use an Aden + Anais swaddling blanket as a cover. I just tie two corners together, slip it over my head, and nurse. Then, when your babe is ready to sleep, you can use the same blanket to swaddle him cozy and tight. I also ADORE Little Remi Bamboo Swaddles, which are super soft, super cute, and a bit less expensive than Aden + Anais.
- We brought baby ear protection muffs to help Alden nap, and they really did the trick. He normally startles so easily, but he slept so well with Baby Banz earmuffs that I seriously considered using them at home, too. Sleep is precious!
- Breastfeed or bottle-feed your baby during takeoff and landing to ease the ear pressure. I figured this out after our first takeoff with our baby screaming at the top of his lungs, the sound reverberating through the entire airplane. Trust me, if your babe is not asleep, feed him during elevation changes to prevent that painful cry.
- Don’t check your car seat and stroller with your bags. You can take your stroller all the way to the gate, and you don’t want those things tossed around along the conveyor belt with the rest of the luggage. Plus, navigating your way through the airport is easier with a stroller.
- Use a Baby Bjorn, sling, or another baby carrier when you go through security. You are required to take your baby out of the car seat or stroller so that TSA can check those items. It helps so much to be hands-free while you’re carrying your baby through the hustle and bustle of security.
ROAD TRIP TIPS
Road trips are a bit easier to plan for since you probably already know exactly what your baby needs to stay happy in the car. My #1 tip for road trips is to let your little one stretch at every pit stop. They need breaks from sitting in the car just as much as you do. Besides that, be sure to be stocked up with bottles, snacks, toys, and books to keep baby entertained. It really helps to have a backseat organizer to hold everything together and a window shade because sometimes the sun beats right on you or your baby for HOURS.
Once you have everything ready to go, enjoy your trip!
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