Looking for baby travel tips and advice on what to pack? Whether you're packing for the plane or car, we share our best tips, essentials, recommended gear, and hacks for smooth sailing!
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I love traveling. In fact, for many years I was a food and travel writer, getting paid to travel to some of the coolest, most beautiful places in the world.
While I've always known that I wanted to be a mom, part of me was afraid I'd lose my freedom and love for traveling. What would traveling with a baby be like? Would it be worth all the extra planning, packing, and dealing with an unpredictable infant while on the road?
I've been so relieved to discover that I've still been able to travel a ton over the last 18 months since having a baby! Sure, it's certainly different than before, but it's not stopping me and my family from going to California or Texas or Cape Cod or the beaches of Florida or my parent's lake house.
If you're intimidated about traveling with your baby, don't worry! You just need to plan ahead and be prepared. Here are nine baby travel tips I've learned that have made our lives so much easier that you can apply, too!
9 Baby Travel Tips (For Road Trips + Flights!)
Tip #1: Plan as best you can around your baby's sleep schedule.
If you can travel during normal nap times or at night, it's the best-case scenario so your little one can sleep on schedule and you don't have to deal with a cranky, screaming baby.
When possible, we often choose evening flights and treat it like normal bedtime. We put my son Jackson in his pajamas and I give him a bottle or nurse him, just like we do as part of his normal routine at home. We also try to book direct flights whenever possible to shorten the trip and overall make it much easier than having to deal with layovers.
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Tip #2: What to pack? Always have a change of clothes!
I learned this one the hard way! If you're flying, you absolutely must must must keep a change of clothes in your carryon WITH you. Not in your checked luggage!
The one time we didn't do this, Jackson had a massive blowout and we were stuck with the mess and embarrassment (sorry fellow plane travelers!). Lesson learned!
Tip # 3: Packing Essentials: Diapers, diapers, diapers.
Speaking of poopy diapers, it may sound obvious to pack diapers, but so obvious that you might forget them!
Double-check that everything you have is small enough to be approved for carryon (when flying), and if not, buy travel-sized versions.
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Tip #4: Always pack tons of snacks and food.
A hungry baby is an unhappy baby! Depending on your child's age, you may need to just pack breast milk or formula, or for older babies you'll actually need to pack food and snacks.
I always pack a small cooler for my pumped breast milk (it's allowed through TSA), as well as plenty of liquids to keep myself hydrated. For plane travel, I recommend nursing or giving a bottle at takeoff and landing (it helps their little ears adjust to the pressure!).
Tommee Tippee bottles are my favorite–they're BPA-free and it’s super easy to get the tops on and off. They’re also the only brand with black lines on the outside so you can actually see how much milk you’re putting in each one. It’s these small details that make such a big difference (because who doesn't love easier prep and cleanup)!?
If your babe is already transitioning to some solids, I love Munchkin's Snack Catcher–it's a spill-proof cup that your baby can put their little fingers in without making a mess. One of my favorite crunchy snacks to pack is Happy Baby Organic Superfood Puffs, or food that already comes in pouches like Sprout brand organic baby food purees.
Tip #5: Pack essential medicine and remedies.
Just in case, I like to keep some meds in my diaper bag. The only “clean” brand I’ve ever found for this (meaning it’s paraben-, dye- and gluten-free, plus has no corn syrup) is Little Remedies. Try their New Baby Essentials Kit for a mix of every remedy you might need for various symptoms (my favorite is the Infant Fever + Pain Reliever).
Oh, and don't forget a thermometer!
Tip #6: Packing hack: your stroller is a must!
Even if you're flying, packing your stroller is a must! The easiest way is to take it all the way to the gate with you and then gate check it before you board. That way, you have everything you need with you throughout the airport and don't have to carry your baby for hours.
I absolutely adore our UPPAbaby Vista Stroller! It's especially perfect for traveling with an infant because it includes a full-size reversible seat that we use as a car seat once we get to our location (the seat fits babies up to about one year old). It's definitely expensive, but well worth the price!
Tip #7: Get your car seat ready for baby travel and road trips.
Of course if you're traveling by car, you'll already have a car seat ready to go. We have the convertible Clek Fllo, which is beautiful and eco-friendly. But it's expensive! We also have the Graco Extend2Fit which is much more affordable and super comfy for babe.
When baby is still rear facing, we like to put a mirror on the headrest of the seat so we can see what's happening back there.
I also recommend getting sun shades for the windows if your car doesn't have them built in.
What to do when you're flying? As shared above, the UPPAbaby Vista Stroller can double as a stroller and car seat for infant travel. Once your baby is past the infant stage, I recommend one of the two convertible car seats I mentioned above. We ended up shipping this to my mother-in-law's house across the country so that we'll always have it when we go to visit.
I also recently heard about this company called BabyQuip on Shark Tank, a baby gear rental company that makes your packing and planning so much easier! I haven't used it yet, but it could be worth checking out.
Tip #8: Pack books, toys, and entertainment.
Pacis, rattles, teethers, lovey, books–you know, all the things to keep your little one entertained and comforted when they start screaming bloody murder.
Sophie La Girafe is a cute-as-can-be 100% rubber teether with a dynamic shape that gives your baby multiple size options for teething. For pacifiers, I like Wubbanubs, which double as toys and entertainment 😉
The best books for traveling, hands down, are the Indestructibles series. As the name suggests, they're chew-proof, rip-proof, and you can even throw it in the washing machine or dishwasher!
Tip #9: Adapt air travel as your baby ages.
Babies grow so fast that your travel will look different when your babe is 3 months vs. 9 months vs. 18 months. If you're planning a trip far in advance, there's a lot to consider.
First, we didn't fly with Jackson at all until he was three months old and had most of his shots.
When he was six months old and younger, it was actually much easier to fly with him because he couldn't get into stuff; we'd bring a blanket and he would just sit in our laps. Now that he's at 18+ months, we've decided he's too big for just our laps and needs his own seat moving forward.
When you're at the airport and deciding when to board, many people say to take advantage of pre-boarding so you can get settled in on the plane. In my opinion though, my husband and I wanted to be the last to board–we didn't want to spend more time than necessary in tiny airplane seats! So find what makes you the most comfortable and know that there's no one right way.
There you have it–my best baby travel tips! Share your advice in the comments below.