No matter what your travel day consists of, traveling with a baby is no joke. Anytime you're out of your space and off schedule their is room for anything to happen. I can't say Kirby and I are experts (yet), but after a few road trips and our first flight we have learned so much. It's just like anything else, once you go through the process you immediately see places for tweaks. Packing efficiently and organized is so key. You don't need to bring everything for your babe, but it's hard to not feel as though you're packing the whole house. I swear I can feel so prepared thinking about something and then when I actually start pulling things out I get overwhelmed. It's obvious that being unprepared is something no parent wants when traveling. Looking back I'm impressed with how well packed we were (for the most part). I'm sharing below some of my best tips for traveling with a baby.
I went into our first flight knowing very well that Addison would most likely not sleep. Shocker... I was right! Both flights went without naps. One went really smoothly and one was filled with a complete meltdown. My biggest tip overall: no matter how prepared you are, you just have to learn somethings as you go. As I always say, each baby is so different. What might work for one could be a total failure for another. Try to stay calm in every situation and take care of yourself. Eating food, drinking water and taking a second to breathe is just as important for you as it is your little one.
Diaper Bag Necessities
I will be the first to admit that we made a big mistake with the whole diaper bag decision. Instead of bringing the one we already loved, we tried a new one. On the outside, the new bag was perfect and super functional. In reality, it was terrible and totally didn't work for us. Tip one: if you have something that works, don't keep thinking there is something that might work better. Just stick with it! Everything listed below is basic in my mind, but took a long time to gather and pack efficiently for traveling.
- Our trusted diaper bag is the Fawn Design (large size) Backpack. It's functional, stylish and perfect for fitting everything you would need for a full day with a baby. Highly recommend! Plus, it can be transitioned into a should strap.
- Diapers & wipes - I always have 4-5 diapers in my bag and a little on-the-go wipe pouch that I can continually refill.
- Burp Clothes
- Extra set of clothes
- Blankets & Sleepsack - Even though I was prepared for a no nap plane ride, I still wanted to make things as comfortable as possible. Having the sleep sack was really nice because it just help him snuggle up a little. I just got this affordable organic cotton sleep sack before Arizona and it's by far my favorite one we've ever had!
- Disinfecting wipes & hand spray - I like using the On Guard hand spray from DoTerra.
- Hand & face wipes - I'm sure this can seem a little excessive, but I prefer not to use his butt wipes on his face on hands.
- Snack pouches or thermos - We ended up not using the thermos on the trip, however we have used it on day trips since then. Snack packs were just too easy not to use. The thermos is great for homemade food that we'll use for more family travels (like roadtrips, etc.) this summer.
- Travel utensils - It was key for me to find some with a case. These are a little big for Addison, but he didn't struggle at all.
- Travel Bib - Having a silicone bib traveling was the easiest thing. The one we have rolls up making it really compact.
- Toys - Addison is really into buttons and things that he can chew on. We brought some of the toys listed in my 7-9 month playtime post. Favorites: his own "ipod", a Cat Tail book & his corn teether.
- Nookie - Ever since we found MAM nookies we never went back to another!
- Strap connectors/chewer - The Loulou Lollipop silicone nookie clips have been our favorite! I use them for teethers or nookies. I also found these larger strap connectors that work great with bigger toys or sippy cups, hats, etc., but didn't order them in time. Will be great on our next trip!
- On-the-go sound machine - We don't have the one linked, however, plan to get it for our next trip. We have the owl one (pictured below) which worked great for the first 4-5 months. Now that he is way more aware of his surroundings, having something with a little more power (volume) is needed.
- Important Documentation
I debated for a while what or how I wanted to share what to pack for a baby. It's hard because things different so much depending on what your travel consist of, how long it's for, weather, etc. So instead of sharing everything I'm just going to try and breakdown the basics so it can help no matter what type of travel you're planning for.
- 2 extra pajamas & 2 extra outfits - I plan looks for myself when I go on vacation to try an avoid over-packing (too much, lol). So I did the exact same thing with Addison. It made it super easy to get him ready each day and I personally looked forward to styling him. We had the option of washing clothes if need be (we never had to), so 2 extra's of each was plenty.
- Light jacket, socks & beanie hats for layering
- Sun protective pieces - hat, sunglasses, UV swim shirts - Obvious pieces for a a pool/beach vacation. Some of the clothes we brought him did also have UV protection, but I didn't search those out. I just lathered him in SPF all day.
- Shoes - We brought two pairs of sandals for Addison (birks & flip flops), but he never wore them. We did bring his Zutano booties and he wore those in the early mornings with shorts to keep him warm. If you have a young babe, I would skip on the unnecessary shoes. Once he's walking we will get more use out of them!
Sleep, Eat, Poop
- Bassinet & Sheet - On this trip we rented a house that provided a bassinet, but we love our Halo bassinet and will travel with it when needed.
- Day diapers, night diapers & swim diapers
- Books - Story time is a big part of Addison's bedtime routine. We brought 4-5 different ones we filtered through on the trip.
- Music player - For Addison, it's his Scout puppy. It plays 15 minutes of sleeptime music & has been apart of our bedtime routine for months. It's what helped me in getting Addi to fall asleep on his own!
- Camera & screen - The monitor we have was highly recommended from so many readers. We have liked it for the most part and it's super easy to bring along.
- Food planning - Since we had a house rented (& a huge family) we all meal planned and ordered groceries to the house. At that time Addison was only eating 2 meals a day and very lightly snacking (like, not really at all). So I planned ahead and made baby food upon arrival. If that wasn't the situation, I would have brought more prepackaged food and planned ahead with my own baby food. My tip: don't try to be a perfect mama and use some of the useful things created for traveling ease, like a food pouch!
Things to Remember
- Stroller & car seat - Again, the house we stayed at provided a stroller so we lucked out on having to travel with that, but did bring our infant car seat. Both of these can be checked at the front terminal counter or the gate when flying. We checked our car seat at the terminal counter and I just strapped Addison up into a carrier. You know your baby, so make sure to just do whatever makes it easiest for you! Tip: If you do check it at the front gate & get it "yellow tagged" the airline will make sure to have it out and ready for you right when you get off the plane!
- Lotion & SPF - I was raised on Aveeno lotions so I immediately chose that for Addison. We use the Eczema one daily (he struggles with dry skin) and the baby SPF. I also really like this Baby Bum face stick for quick reapplying on the go.
- Bath time accessories - Addison doesn't need much in the bath, but I did bring a few foam letters to play with. I also packed his hooded towel, wash clothes & shampoo/body wash. I probably could have skipped his towel and wash clothes, but both were nice to have. For travel containers, we used these silicone ones.
- Carrier - As I stated above, we used this most of the time in the airport. This trip was a little different because we traveled with so much family. Lots of hands to hold Addison, lol.
- Handheld mini fan - My family has been loving these things for the past few years. Great for outdoor summer events and perfect for keeping a baby cool during hot days!
Random Travel Tips
There are so many tips I could give about traveling with a baby, but I'll spare you an essay. Everyone's experience will be completely different. Traveling with a baby, or living with a baby in general, is all about going with the flow. We don't always have a ton of control over the situation & getting worked up about something will do more harm in the end. I laughed throughout our trip because I was silently taking notes on things I wanted to write done for this specific blog post. Lesson one: you live & you learn!
Plan out your travel time according to your babies schedule. This seems like an obvious one, but figured I would put it out there anyway! W didn't have control over this because my family booked all of the tickets. Our first flight was perfect. Addison was able to get his first nap in & was most happy during the flight time. Even though he should have slept somewhere in that time, he was fine and passed out the second we put him in his car seat. The flight home was a different story. We basically took off at the time Addi would normally be going to sleep (our timezone). He had a total meltdown mid flight, could sit still and was just so tired. I felt bad for him and to be totally honest, cried at one point. Being stuck in a seat with a screaming baby and not much to do to solve it is tough.
Be ready with a bottle for take-off & landing! #1 tip I received for you and an old trick my parents even used. Just like us, babies ears can pop during take off & landing. By having them suck on a bottle it prevents that from happening! Addison wasn't hungry for landing so we simply made sure to keep a nookie in his mouth which worked just as well.
Prepare yourself for a weird schedule (or no schedule), skipped naps & patience. I myself get anxious traveling so reminded myself that it was okay & expected to be a weird day for him helped me. I can get so in my head about timing & throwing him off to much because I know he is at his best when rested. However, babies will be okay & need to learn to go with our schedule of life.
Communicate with friends & family joining in on the travel day. Whether you're flying, road tripping, boating (whatever), make sure to be straight up with the people coming with. You know your baby best and need to always be the one leading the way. It was nice having extra hands, but also threw Kirby & I off our game sometimes. There were a couple times I wish I would have stood my ground more on trusting that I knew what to do in that situation. Nothing at all big happened, just little things that may have made for smoother travel looking back.
Show up early & take your time. Another thing we didn't totally have control over with the specific trip, but highly recommend. Having the time to get through the airport, stop for snacks or diaper changes, and stopping to keep/stay organized is key.
Fully expect to loose sleep on vacation. Okay, I may be a little bias about this, but I figured I may as well warn you! Addison was off on sleep the entire vacation & although we were mentally prepared for that that, physically was a little different. Kirby and I are always on the go while traveling so when Addison napped we kept exploring, taking shots for the blog, hanging in the pool with family, etc. What we should have done at least once, take a nap! We were up at the craziest times with Addison and learning to sleep ourselves is something I want to work on for the next trip. We were so exhausted by the end of the trip that we couldn't wait to sleep in our own bed. We had a blast, but sleep is important!
Really think through the "necessities" & make a list! Looking back, I definitely could have packed a little better. There are little things I brought that could have been left behind. We did have a little extra room because of the baggage situation, but having the least amount of clutter while traveling is most efficient. If you are traveling for the first time and do have the room, test drive it! We feel so comfortable going into our next flight trips after having that done! It's easy to know what works & what doesn't after going through it first hand. If you don't have extra space then this is definitely something to focus on. I started by making a list and pulling the essentials out first. Once I saw how much space I had left I began knocking things off the list. Super easy!
Laugh it off. There were so many times Kirby and I just looked at each other and laughed. Parenting isn't easy and you should not expect vacationing or traveling while being a parent is any different. I had a friend who said it best...
Traveling with a baby is no vacation; It's an adventure.