It can be done, and stress-free, too! Check out my tips and our FREE packing checklist.
Traveling with a baby or toddler is not as daunting as it seems. We have been traveling with Baby Bear since he was 4 months old. We started off slow…a one hour flight from New York to Maine. He did great! Since then, he has been to many places in his little life, and even has two stamps in his passport. The key to baby travel is being prepared and feeling confident!
The younger the baby is…the easier it is to travel.
Let’s face it…as your baby turns into a toddler, they just want to move, move, move. It’s easier to travel the younger your baby is, because he or she sleeps more, is less mobile and easier to entertain. Once you hit the toddler years, traveling requires a bit more patience (but still totally doable). Here are some tips and tricks from our travel experiences with our (now) 15 month old.
Take advantage of the “Under 2 is free” policy
Many airlines and other travel agencies allow children under the age of 2 to travel domestically for free on a parent’s lap. Take advantage of this while you can! Be sure to bring along a copy of your child’s birth certificate in case your airline asks for proof of age. You can call your airline directly to have them add a “lap infant” to your flight reservation.
Choose your seat wisely
If you are flying, try to get the bulkhead (first row) seat in your section of the plane. Yes, it’s annoying to have to put everything in the overhead bin for takeoff and landing if there isn’t storage in front of your feet, BUT, bulkhead makes up for it in having the extra legroom and space for your little one to crawl around. We had bulkhead seats on Baby Bear’s first cross country flight. It was great to throw a blanket on the floor and let him crawl around with his toys.
Don’t worry about being near a bathroom, especially if you have a walking toddler. They will appreciate the extra opportunity to get up and walk around mid-flight.
Bring some sanitizing wipes and wipe down every area that your baby or toddler will be touching, including the seat back, arm rests, and window. Yuck.
If driving, plan for breaks
This almost goes without saying…but you can’t drive as far as you could before the baby entered your life. Be realistic about how far you can drive each day, if doing a multi-day drive, and prepare to make stops along the way and build in time for these.
Bring Snacks. Lots of Snacks.
Especially for toddlers. There are so many fun containers and portable snack options available now. The key is to bring a variety of items, keeping in mind a balanced diet but also what will keep your child happy! Now is not the time to worry about eating 3-5 servings of vegetables in a day (unless of course, they’re your child’s favorite).
I usually bring a stacking container of various crunchy snacks and sliced fruit. I also bring a couple of fruit/vegetable squeeze pouches, to-go yogurt tubes (you can freeze them before you go so they stay cool for longer), ready to eat baby meals, Cherrios (of course), a cup for milk or a bottle, and a cup for water. Keep in mind that on planes, you are limited to liquids that are 3.4oz or less (except for formula and milk, just let TSA know – for more of their guidelines on traveling with babies, visit their site here).
Be sure to bring lots of wipes, spoons, forks, and bibs!
Toys – some new, some favorites
Keeping your child entertained for the ride is the most important part of your journey when traveling with kiddos – so come prepared with toys. Have a variety on hand, some favorites that are small and portable, but also BRAND NEW toys that they have never seen before. This will keep the interest level high and will hold their attention for longer. I usually pack a small separate backpack for Baby Bear just with toys in it. He usually likes to pick out what he wants to play with.
In Baby Bear’s backpack (small child-size backpack), we fit:
- Cars interactive book
- Pencil pouch (great for storing little pieces)
- Magnetic farm (watch the magnets)
- Water Wow book (GREAT for planes! All you need is water, and no mess!)
- Mini magna doodle (so cool that they still make these)
- Music shakers/maracas
- Indestructible books (great for travel, no worries)
- Little board books (Baby Bear is all about these right now)
- Shaker with balls inside
- Dollar store materials (see below)
Random dollar store objects can be played with as toys
Head to your local dollar store and pick up some finds that will hold a baby’s attention. Think Easter Eggs that open and close, flash cards, measuring tape, and even a container with a lid and pom pom balls inside (practicing fine motor skills by taking them out, putting them back in). The one pictured is a salad dressing container from the food container section of Dollar Tree. Baby Bear loves remotes and buttons, so I also picked up a calculator.
Use a packing list and check it twice
Check out my ultimate baby packing list here. Definitely check that you have packed everything on your list…and always bring extra outfits and diapers.
Order a crib
Ask your hotel for a crib or pack and play for your room. Even if you think your baby will end up sleeping in bed with you (it happens), it’s nice to have a safe space for them to play in while awake too. Hotel rooms are not baby proofed!
Don’t forget your stroller.
Yup, we’ve done that. It’s an easy item to leave behind in your other car’s trunk. Now I put ours blocking the door so that we don’t leave without it!
When we travel, we like to use an umbrella stroller for ease of transport and less usage of space.
Take photos and enjoy the journey
Your baby is only small for a little while…enjoy this precious time and remember to take lots of photos of your adventure (even if you are tired and feel like you look horrible – which you don’t – you will WANT these photos when your kids are grown!).