I am so excited to finally share with you all the many MANY travel tips I have for traveling with a baby under six months. Annie has already been on ten flights, five road trips, a few hikes, a river boat cruise and even a safari ride through Animal Kingdom in Disney World. From camping trips, to visits with the grandparents to hotel stays in both budget friendly one-nighters & resorts, we have experienced quite a bit of different situations and I’m here to tell you all the ins & outs of them!
Curious about what to pack and what to leave behind? Need some tips on getting through a flight (& a layover with a cranky baby?) I’ve got the scoop below as well as my must-have gear for adventures with your little one!
Shop the Look:
I’m going to break it down by the method of transportation, location & our favorite products for an on-the-go family below. Now I’m no expert, but everything below is what I learned from trial & error and what works best for our family. As we all know, each and every kiddo is different so maybe these tips might not work for you guys but here’s to hoping some of my wisdom can help you out before an adventure with your bebe!
5 Tips on Flying With Your Tyke
- Arrive at the gate at least 45 minutes prior to take off. Not thirty. If you have a child under 2, you can board before first class passengers. There’s only a short window of time where they’ll call you up for this and if you miss it, you might have to wait with everyone else.
- Use that extra time you have after you’ve boarded to change diapers, feed or nurse & get 100% situated. We’ve experienced blowouts upon boarding and it was great to be able to head to the bathroom on the plane while the plane was still pretty much empty.
- Did you know that most newer planes have changing tables in those tiny bathrooms? It’s true! I’m a bit claustrophobic so when I’ve had to change Annie I’ll often ask the flight attendant if I can leave the door open for the extra space. If you happen to be flying an older plane without a changing table, you can ask the flight attendant for a blanket to put over the closed toilet seat. Then you can lie your changing pad on top of that to do your business. It sounds hardcore/cramped/and awful but it really wasn’t all that bad. Your kiddo’s facial expressions will surely entertain as he or she tries to get his or her balance in mid-air.
- Allow an extra half hour to drop off your bags and go through security. Gone are the days when we could arrive at the airport an hour and a half before our flight left. Now we play it safe and show up two hours prior to departure, or even earlier. Getting in and out of cars, going to the bathroom, changing diapers, taking elevators instead of escalators and even putting baby in a carrier add up to a lot more time than you realize.
- Always have an exciting toy to entertain in case of emergency. For the first few months, the same few toys would entertain Annie at almost any given time. Then she hit four and a half months and it was on a flight that I realized for the first time that WOW was she over that particular toy. Luckily I had a few back ups in my bag. But …. even those bored her after a while. It was then that we discovered how fascinating the Delta in-flight magazine truly can be, ha! Going forward I’m going to plan to bring something shiny & new on our next long flight that will *hopefully* captivate her attention for longer than 15 minutes!
4 Must Haves for Flying
- Ergo Baby Carrier. I always carry Annie when flying as opposed to hauling a stroller through security. Nothing beats the Ergo Baby Carrier in my book! It’s so easy to clip on and slip off. The first time I carried her through the airport I used a cloth wrap and it was so much more difficult getting her in and out of it when I was by myself. I also like that Annie can face forward in this carrier. I’ll have her face out during layovers so she’s entertained … which will hopefully lead to a nap on the next flight to follow!
- Portable Changing Pad. What would I do without this!? I have no idea! I stuff an extra diaper and wipes into the pocket on the changing pad and pull this out on the airplane to bring into the bathroom with me. It’s also great for regular restrooms because I don’t have to dig through my diaper bag to find just what I need, it’s all in the changing pad. And when you’re solo and don’t have anywhere to set your baby down … this is a must!
- This Car Seat Backpack. At only $35, this was one of our best purchases this year. First of all, It’s free to check your stroller and car seat at the ticket counter before you go through security. And I’ve heard they can get pretty banged up back there so we have the stroller bag for our UPPAbaby VISTA & this bag for our car seat. Let me tell y’all why I LOVE this car seat bag: It can hold SO much more than just your baby’s car seat. I often pack all of Annie’s clothes in a duffel bag and throw it in the car seat travel bag too. This way I don’t have to pay to check her suitcase. We’ll throw all of her extra diapers, wipes and whatever else she needs in here too. Maximize space & save $$!!
- Fawn Design Diaper Backpack. When you’re carrying your baby on the front, a backpack with all of your gear in it is key. I love that the Fawn Design bag is big & roomy, comfortable & stylish too. There are so many pockets, clips for your keys & it’s easy to clean too. Which is something I tend to think about more & more these days. 😉
5 Tips on Roadtripping with a Baby
- Leave as early as possible! We’ve traveled quite a bit and tested leaving at all different hours of the day. Leaving first thing in the morning, even before your baby typically wakes for the day, is best. When we do this with Annie, she generally sleeps for a pretty great chunk of the first part of the trip. Plus, we get to our destination before the dreaded “witching hour.”
- Allow A LOT of extra time. A three-hour trip turns to five and an eight-hour trip easily turns into twelve with a baby in the back seat. A quick gas station visit is now a half an hour event when changing, feedings & a bit of stretching those chunky legs are involved.
- Pack snacks & drinks for yourself. I always load up a little cooler and bag with granola bars, fruit & snacks for myself. This way if I get hungry I don’t have to stop. And stopping tends to wake a sleeping baby! Plus, if Annie is down for a good snooze, I can prolong my lunch break an hour or two if I need to.
- Set up a changing station in your car. As we all probably know, not all rest stops are … the nicest. When we have to make an emergency pit stop to change a diaper, depending on the location-I’ll choose to change Annie in the back seat or the trunk. We have a space cleared where we’ll pull out her changing pad & wipes to switch out diapers in a pinch.
- Keep Calm. There’s nothing more frustrating being in the car with a screaming baby and having absolutely no place to stop to take care of them. This is only magnified when you’re on the highway without an exit in sight. To stay calm and try not to freak out while Annie’s freaking out, I’ll turn on classical music really low and just focus on getting us to the next stop as safe as possible. This was pretty hard when I was driving with her solo. It was so frustrating not being able to hand her a toy or adjust her paci while I was in the front seat. But safety always comes first!
5 Tips on Staying in Hotels with a Baby
- Pack or borrow a Pack n Play. Almost all hotels have cribs or pack n plays for guests to use. (At our Disney hotel, they even came with Mickey Mouse sheets!) Most of the time you can reserve them when you book or you can ask for one upon arrival. If we’re flying, I’ll always do this. If we’re driving, I’ll bring my breeze GO play yard. At first, I was nervous how Annie would react to a new bed in a new room each night, but each time it’s been completely fine … thank goodness!
- Request a corner room. I’ve noticed that when we’ve told hotels we will be traveling with a baby, we are almost always put in a corner room. This way only one wall is shared with sleeping neighbors. Whether Annie cries or not, staying at the end of the hall makes me feel a bit better about the possibility of disturbing others during the night.
- It’s okay if the baby cries. Annie was 8 weeks old the first time we stayed in a hotel with her. I was soooo nervous and paranoid pretty much the whole night that she would scream and cry and that we’d get kicked to the curb! Sure, she cried here and there but it was never constant. And when she was crying, I just had to tell myself, it’s okay … she’s a baby … this is what babies do and there is nothing I can do about it! We did our best to soothe her & she would eventually stop & go back to sleep. Annie wasn’t the first baby to stay in a hotel and she won’t be the last.
- Take advantage of the valet & the bellman. In the past, I would always park my own car & carry my own luggage to save a bit (more $$ towards the fun, right?!) Well, these days the valet and the bellmen are my bestttttt friends. Babies come with SO much luggage and when you take a stroller into account it is almost impossible for one or two people to carry everything up to a room. When we stay at places with this type of assistance I’m just so grateful!
- Set up your own changing station. Patrick and I will sometimes request a room with two double beds instead of just a king. This way we can use the other bed to change Annie on and to keep her necessities handy. We’ll pack towels, a changing pad, a ton of diapers, lotions, toys & more. Having a spot set up in the room with everything she needs makes traveling that much easier.
Hope these tips & tricks that we picked up help you on your next travel adventure! It’s always a little bit harder traveling with a baby but once you do it and get the hang of it, it is soooo worth it!! And as always, thanks for stopping by the blog!