So you’re taking a trip with your baby! It’s #momlife at its finest. We started traveling pretty early the first year of my daughter’s life and have since been on quite a few airplane rides and road trips, so I compiled this guide to help you get prepared and feel good about traveling with your little one.
When getting ready for a trip, preparation is key (you’re a mom, so you already knew that). Knowing what to expect and anticipating the next step will help you nail it. It’s all in the right mindset, dude. It’s so normal to be nervous, but you got this! Traveling with a baby is SO doable, certainly not as daunting as you think, and even fun! It just takes a little preparation. And for that, you’ve come to the right place.
Every time I pack, I run the entire day’s scenario through in my head: from wake-up time, to airport maneuvers, to destination arrival and everything in between. There are lots of details that run a lot smoother if you’ve put some thought into it beforehand. Having exchanged tips with other moms and taken time for lots of research, I hope to keep you from some of the trial and error mistakes I’ve made.
Most of these tips are geared toward air travel alone with just mama and baby. If you’ve got a husband or friend traveling with you, it will obviously be tremendous help. But I’ve primarily traveled just the two of us, so that’s what I know best!
From packing your suitcase to enjoying your destination, I separated it out for the different stages of a trip and included plenty of my own personal travel photos and clickable links to my favorite things that have worked for me while traveling.
This post contains affiliate links to products I love and recommend. Purchases through some of these links result in a small commission (at no extra cost to you!) Thanks for supporting lacyg.com in this way. Love what you see on the blog? Pin and share with your other mama friends!
HOW TO TRAVEL WITH A BABY (UNDER 2):
PACKING & PREPARING
1. Pack light! I almost giggle when I suggest this because well, it’s hard. “Light” may have a completely different meaning now than ever before, but my point is, try to err on the side of less. Don’t bring things you don’t regularly use just because you think you “might” like to have it. Remember everything takes up space and weighs something. It adds up quick! Consider what your destination will already have that you don’t need to bring. Essentials, baby, essentials. Which brings me to my next point…
2. A functional carry-on is everything. My carry-on is always a backpack diaper bag, which really frees up your hands for the trip. On the night before a big trip, I always go back through to see if I can remove anything else, just to make it the slightest bit lighter. Remove things you’d normally keep in your diaper bag, but that aren’t absolutely necessary for the flight. When you’ve got a baby in one arm, the last thing you want to do is dig through a ton of stuff to get to what you need.
Scroll down for my full packing list!
3. Toss a small cross-body purse in your checked suitcase to use at your destination and only pull out the essentials to pack in your carry-on. That way you just have one bag to keep up with. I prefer not to fly with a diaper bag AND a purse – it’s pointless!
4. I obviously don’t recommend carrying on your luggage, unless you just have to. You’ll have your hands full enough without having to worry about getting a bag to and from the overhead bin while holding your lap child.
5. All that being said, remember that the misfortune of lost luggage does happen sometimes. If you had to go overnight (or even a several hour delay) without your checked bags, what would you absolutely have to have? I still take my chances most of the time, but that’s just me. Aching back and shoulders at the end of the day aren’t worth it.
6. Some airlines charge for checked bags and some allow one free, but most charge for overweight bags (over 50 pounds). I normally pack one suitcase for both of us when possible, her stuff in one side and mine in the other. This luggage scale comes in handy so you don’t have to pay an extra fee or unpack/reorganize at the check-in counter!
7. If you’re going on an extended trip and need more suitcase space, pick up some luggage straps that secure bags together so they don’t take up both your hands to pull. Even when you check bags, remember you may still have to get them from the car to the terminal and vice versa. These straps have come in handy several times when attaching all kinds of stuff!
And make sure your luggage has 360 spinning wheels.
The majority of our trips are packed up in this iFLY rose gold suitcase from Walmart & I absolutely love it!
8. Review your airline’s website for traveling with a baby. They should list requirements and guidelines that will help you prepare. Something I should’ve done before our first trip! The TSA website is also helpful.
9. Generally, you should wait until your infant is 6 weeks of age or older for air travel, just due to the exposure to germs. If you have a healthy baby with no respiratory or ear problems, your doctor should clear your baby for plane rides.
10. Select the best travel times. This seems like common sense, but just thought I’d toss it out as a reminder. Layovers with babies are kinda like dog years. Three hours in an airport with a baby seems like 6, or 21, or whatever. They’re marathons. Carefully choose your flight schedule based on nap time, total travel time, layovers, and meal times. I like to travel mid-morning when I know nap time will closely coincide with the flight. My second choice is the super early flight.
-If baby falls asleep, then sit back and relax! Have a mimosa!
-This goes for car travel too. Well, everything but the mimosa. Plan ahead your departure and arrival times and when and where you’ll stop for food, gas, nursing, etc. Consider the safest route and rest locations, especially if you’re traveling alone with your child.
11. Try to avoid connecting flights altogether and pay a little extra for non-stop if possible. It might seem like a long time on the plane at once, but I definitely prefer it. Airports and babies are a lot of work, no matter how you slice it. The walking alone is pure exercise when you’ve got your baby strapped on the front and backpack piled on your back, not to mention the crowds and time constraints. Even if it’s a long flight, it’s much easier once you get settled on the plane.
12. Some airlines have the option to click “Infant in Arms” when booking your flight online, some don’t. For the latter, you can just add your baby to your ticket upon arrival.
13. Utilize your extra “arms.” I’m not going to lie and tell you this trip is exactly like your college girlfriend getaway to Napa, because it’s not. You’re going to have your hands full regardless of how lightly you pack. You might feel like you could use a couple extra hands that you don’t have, so be sure to put to use what resources you do. Diaper bags, backpacks, strollers, and baby carriers are often designed with pockets, hooks, snaps, pouches, and straps. Use them! You cannot carry everything and you shouldn’t try. Hook jackets and teething necklaces through diaper bag stroller hooks. Tuck wipes and tissues in pouches. Store boarding passes and ID in a secure outside pocket so they’re easily accessible. Think about when and where you’ll need to access these things and pack them accordingly, making it a cinch to grab on the go.
14. Wear practical shoes. Plan to remove your shoes, jacket, and hat at security. I despise walking through barefoot, so I usually opt for hands-free slip-on shoes with socks. You don’t want achy feet or blisters at the end of the day, and neither does your little one! If your babe is a walker, go with lightweight, comfortable shoes for him or her (kids under 12 do not have to remove shoes) or socks for non-walkers. This isn’t the time to break in those cute new sandals. In fact, I personally try to avoid sandals at airports altogether because, well, it’s dirtier than WalMart. I love you, WalMart, but you dirty.
-My sister (also an avid traveler) swears by these Skechers and I like Roxy slip-ons or just good ol’ tennis shoes with leggings.
15. As far as comfort goes, dress both yourself and your baby for the utmost. Don’t be afraid to dress your baby in pajamas, especially for early morning flights. Keeping yourself and your little one as comfortable and fuss-free as possible is going to minimize stress in the long run. This isn’t the 80s and you don’t have to dress to the nines to travel anymore. 😛
-Think simplicity – I avoid necklaces and big earrings and usually wear my hair pulled back.
-Nursing mamas, consider a nursing top, simple tank, button-up, or soft t-shirt with a cardigan and comfy nursing bra. (I’ve taken more trips in this shirt and this bra than anything else.) Airplane temperatures normally reflect the weather outside, so a light layer or two in mild weather is usually perfect. Holding a baby all day usually keeps you on the warm side.
16. Wrap up! Having at least one hand free is a lifesaver at the airport, which is why I’ve always traveled using a ring sling baby wrap. Think about managing luggage, accessing travel docs, washing your hands, and being able to shield your baby’s face from the chronic cougher in the next seat. Wraps are lightweight and fold down small into the carry-on when not in use (the two reasons I recommend a sling over a standard carrier for as long as you can). And even with a tiny infant, I always preferred this method to trying to manage a stroller through crowds. Plus, a wrap can be used as a blanket if needed.
17. A stroller can certainly be helpful if your baby likes to nap in it and to help shoulder the weight of any extra carry on items. I’ve always preferred baby-wearing to strolling most of the time, but I can see how it would be nice to have a stroller in the airport. Babies always have to be removed from a stroller at security. Depending on the size, it will be folded up and sent through on the belt or a TSA agent will push it through and manually inspect it.
18. Most baby items (strollers, carseats, etc.) can be checked for free regardless of the number of bags you check. You can either check it with your other luggage or gate check it at the jetway and pick it up as soon as you get off the plane before walking back down the long tunnel. Just get a tag from the counter at your gate before boarding. I’d recommend the latter so you can use in the airport. (If you’re looking for a good travel stroller, this Maclaren one is comfortable, lightweight, fits easily through security, and still has storage space!)
19. Carseats. Here’s the scoop: The FAA “Flying with Children” guidelines does state that the safest way for an infant to fly is in an approved carseat (check the seat for an approval sticker). That being said, I’ve personally never taken my carseat on the plane and I haven’t seen many other babies in carseats either. Interestingly enough, this FAA article offers explanation as to why carseats are not actually mandatory. This is an opinion post, so just read on, do your research, and make your best decision.
-If you’ll need a carseat at your destination, but don’t wish to fly with it, rent one. Rental car companies rent carseats by the day if you’ll be renting a vehicle at your destination. Especially if my baby will just be in it for short car rides, this is the option I would choose all day long. Still, this doesn’t work if you aren’t renting a car.
-If you choose to fly with your carseat, you have a couple options. I personally prefer checking it at the ticket counter. I’d rather get it off my hands from the beginning than lug it through security and terminal. I normally fly Southwest and they sell carseat covers right at the ticket counter for like $17. I think I own four of them because, well, I just do and that’s not the point.
Here are some other options or a large garbage bag would do in a pinch!
-The airline is responsible for loss and not damage, but our seat has never been damaged (or lost) thus far and I figure they’re designed to withstand much more than a luggage carousel.
-Your next option is to check it at the jetway. I’m sure it stays a little cleaner and less banged up, but again, I don’t see the sense in taking it through security and THEN checking it.
-You can take it on the plane and buckle your baby in during flight. Personally, I’ve never done this, but I understand the safety advantages and why some parents prefer it, especially for smaller babies that will stay put or sleep the whole time. Just confirm with your airline that the flight is not full, because a “lap child” or child under 2 that does not require a separate seat, technically has to share your seat. But if the plane isn’t at max capacity, they may let you keep the carseat in the seat next to you without purchasing another ticket.. just don’t be afraid to ask a few questions at check-in because the airline employees are usually pretty helpful! You can always just buy a child’s ticket too, which is usually cheaper than an adult seat.
-Read about other types of child restraint systems and harnesses here.
Whew, there you have it – car seats are a necessary obstacle in my otherwise carefree life. (Ha!)
20. Arrive early. Things just take a little longer with baby in tow, so cushion your trip more than you would a solo one to account for longer check-in process, diaper changes, etc.
21. Take note of your parking location and tuck your parking stub in the same place every time, like the console or sun visor. If you take a trolley to the terminal, you’ll get a parking lot location ticket from the driver. Put it somewhere safe like your wallet so you know right where it is when you return all sunkissed and refreshed from your vacation. (Haha jk, I meant haggard and foggy-brained. JK again, you’ll be fine, just keep swimming.)
22. Bring baby’s birth certificate. True story: the first time I took my baby girl on a trip, I didn’t bring any documents because I didn’t think I needed them for a baby under 2 without a ticket. I momentarily freaked out and thought they weren’t going to let us board. Now I cannot promise you’ll always get an employee like I did, but she was wonderful. She calmed me down, asked me a few questions about her age and birthdate, and made sure I knew what to bring for next time.
-Also, before I got her birth certificate in the mail, I used shot records from the doctor, which they accepted as well.
-And remember that if you’re traveling outside the U.S., babies need passports too!
23. Always go to the full-service check-in lines at the ticket counter. Most airlines won’t let you do curbside or kiosk check-in with a baby under 2.
~Keep scrolling for complete carry-on & checked bag packing lists~
24. Security can be a handful, especially if you’re traveling alone with your baby, and extra especially if you’re traveling with a carseat, carry-on, stroller, etc. It’s sometimes a little stressful, but take your time! Try not to feel rushed even though there’s a long line behind you. People are pretty good at waiting and most are super helpful!
25. Keep liquids easily-accessible at the very top of your backpack to unload and send through the belt. (diaper cream, hand sanitizer, baby Tylenol, formula, juice, etc.)
26. Liquids for baby (water, juice, milk, formula, etc.) are exempted from the 3.4 oz. rule and TSA says you can bring as much as you need in “reasonable quantities.” I just assume that means don’t try to haul your gallon jugs of OJ through. They may just ask you if they’re for the baby, then run a safe, non-invasive test on the bottles and sippy cups (yes I’ve asked about the safety). Pack food and drinks in one thermal bag so you can just pull it out easily at security. They had to go through my bag once because of a rogue bag of graham crackers hiding out at the bottom.
27. If you’re wearing your baby and your carrier has metal on it, you may need to unwrap before walking through, but it doesn’t hurt to just ask beforehand. Still, keep your baby wrapped in the line until you have everything ready to send on the belt. It’s tempting to start unwrapping when you get close, but remember the line moves pretty slow.
28. Don’t let little one fall asleep in a carseat or stroller right before security, because you’ll always have to take the baby out of those.
29. With baby in tow, you can walk through the alternate metal detector rather than go through the Advanced Imaging (arms-in-the-air) one. Again, you’ll have to remove your shoes, jacket, and hat, but your little one will not.
30. Then you’ll get your hands swiped with a little cloth to test for explosive materials, so lay off the handling of explosive materials before flying.
-Read more about what TSA has to say about traveling with children.
Here are ideas for creating family memories & fun traditions!
ON THE PLANE & IN THE TERMINAL
31. Take advantage of family/early boarding when available. Some airlines that don’t assign seats offer this courtesy after the first boarding group in order for children to sit by their parents. Once you board, I would suggest sitting toward the front of the plane because by the time the flight is over, you and your baby are likely going to be ready to DEPLANE as soon as possible. This is all dependent on preference though.
32. If your airline assigns seats, it’s worth paying a little extra to secure a window (or aisle) seat, because sandwiched between two strangers with a lap child is not ideal. Also, if you’ve reserved an assigned seat beforehand you might want to wait until the end to board! Especially if your child is restless or fussy, less time on the plane sometimes helps.
33. I prefer the window hands down – it’s nice to have your own little nook for so many reasons (breastfeeding, watching out the window, stuffing a jacket or toys between the armrest and wall..). Still, an aisle seat does allow you to get up a move around easier, so it’s really just personal preference. Note you won’t be able to sit in the emergency exit rows with a baby.
34. Regardless of seat placement, walk the aisle with your baby if it helps! As long as the flight crew allows you to get up, walking can sometimes soothe a fussy baby. Just keep a free hand in case of bumps and turbulence.
35. Sitting in the front row or bulkhead seats provides a lot more leg and play room, but you won’t be able to keep your carry-on with you because there’s no seat in front of you. Either try to board early and find a spot in the overhead bin or ask the flight attendant for help (they’ll likely find a spot for your bag and then help you retrieve it after landing).
36. Best case scenario, the plane won’t be full and you’ll have an empty seat next to you. But even if you don’t, it’s no big deal, just get comfy and settle in. My baby LOVES playing with the magazines and brochures, plus crinkly peanut bags are always a big hit.
37. After takeoff, you won’t want to keep bending over to retrieve your things throughout the flight. Pack a couple toys, sippy cup/bottle, snacks, burp rag, and nursing cover where you can easily grab them out of your carry-on (designate a quick-access bag or gallon ziploc!). Loop several toys on a rubber teething necklace so they don’t up on the floor of the plane!
38. I rarely change diapers on the plane unless we have a leak. Normally there is a tiny changing table above the toilet in the bathroom, but I would just do it in my lap instead.
39. Take disinfecting wipes to clean your space on the plane first thing. Now you can’t avoid all the germs, but I will say that the first time my baby got sick was after we’d been traveling. I figure you do what you can do and so I always have wipes handy right when we get seated to wipe down our tray table, the tray table next to us if empty, arm rests, and window area.
40. Nurse at takeoff and landing. If you’re a breastfeeding mama, this is a good way to help keep your baby’s ears from aching/popping due to altitude change. I always wait until the plane begins to taxi to the runway because it always takes longer than you think. A bottle or pacifier does the trick too, as the sucking motion helps prevent ear pain when the cabin pressure changes.
41. Ask for the whole can of water. Airplane water is often served out of aluminum cans, so instead of being served an open cup with ice just waiting to be spilled, request the entire can so you can refill the sippy cup and reduce the risk of spills. It’s amazing the things people will say yes to when a lady with a baby asks for a favor.
42. Attendants are normally very helpful and can provide you with warm water for bottles, an extra hand for bags, and I’ve even seen them walk a baby up and down the aisle! Even fellow travelers have been overwhelmingly helpful and compassionate toward us on trips – for the most part, people love babies. 🙂 Most travelers that willingly sit next to us on the plane end up sharing how they have children or grand babies of their own and don’t mind the noise at all.
43. Practice plane safety. I’ll admit it’s a little frightening to think of a small baby on an airplane. Just remember to be aware of your surroundings at all times!
44. Remember luggage and people can shift at any time. I always try to sit by the window so little arms or legs aren’t hanging out in the aisle where drink trays pass by and little heads aren’t directly below the overhead bins. Also the window provides excellent baby distraction/entertainment.
45. There are normally 4 oxygen masks per row (on most large jet planes). One time on a full plane, we had to change seats because there was another woman and child in the same row as us, totaling 5 people. Flight crews normally catch this, but just be aware. If you’re on a smaller plane, ask about oxygen and safety features. I always note the location of the exit rows and pay close attention to safety presentations. Just like anywhere else, you’re ultimately responsible for your baby’s safety.
46. Once your baby can hold their head up and focus on things, start pointing out your surroundings and talking about them, so learning about an airplane experience starts from the get-go. Move the window and say, “up, down, up, down.” Sit forward and buckle your own seatbelt (never share with your child) and say, “We have to sit and buckle to be safe.” Simple statements and explanations help babies understand, even if it doesn’t seem like they do.
47. If your child is old enough to be entertained by movies or games, by all means, download the best ones! I sometimes bring along the iPad with some interactive and educational games and apps, plus Netflix with a couple downloaded movies (remember you usually cannot stream at the airport or plane without an additional fee). Don’t forget headphones or earbuds for those babes that will wear them; mine won’t, but a movie at low volume usually isn’t a problem.
48. Now I’ve heard of all these cute notes and candy that parents hand out and all, and I think that’s sweet. But my personal opinion is that children don’t require an apology. Their noises are part of being among the public, which everyone has chosen to do. So unless your babe is just excessively screaming, kicking another seat, or being terribly disruptive, try not to get too worked up. Take a breath and do your best to soothe and entertain. Try not to stress out and remember your little one deserves a little grace too; this is likely new and scary for them too.
49. Layover checklist: find connecting gate, bathroom, diaper change, wash hands, snack or meal, drink (coffee line is usually crazy long), stretch, charge electronics, reorganize bag – CHECK.
-Find a family restroom close to your gate and mark it occupied, Mama. This is the perfect time to regroup.
50. Most airport stores have a toy section if you need to kill some time. Watch the planes through the window, read a book, or just let the sites and sounds do the entertaining – I’ve found my baby loves the giant signs, light-up screens, and colorful art throughout the terminal.
51. If you’ve got a walking baby, let him or her stretch and run off some energy. I recommend this backpack harness and wrist cord to keep them close! (I loop both of these through a backpack clip.) A little exploring never hurt, just remember there are always fast moving people, luggage, and even motorized carts cruising through. Not everyone is cautious or watchful of little ones playing close to the ground.
-Sometimes I like to find a coffee shop corner or big restaurant booth to camp out during long layovers.
52. If your baby isn’t walking yet and you have a long layover or two ahead, consider bringing a blanket or playmat designated for spreading out on the floor and letting your baby play and stretch out. We use this lightweight playmat a lot!
53. Take another break and regroup once you arrive to your final destination airport. Grab a cool bottle of water, use the family restroom, change diapers, etc. To tell you the truth, I’m never in a big hurry unless someone is waiting for us, because if you wait long enough, then an attendant will pull your luggage off at baggage claim and have it waiting for you at the desk! *The perks of being slow*
54. But in case you’re faster than us (likely), make a plan for baggage claim and transportation. Just follow the signs and ask for directions if you need to. If someone is picking you up at your destination, see if they can park and come inside to assist at the luggage carousel. You’ve got a baby strapped to you, plus a diaper bag, possibly a stroller and carseat, and the task of lifting heavy suitcases off of the belt – trust me, it’s not easy. It’s doable, but not easy. If you won’t have an extra hand, then just make a plan for how everything will fit together. Secure the carseat on the stroller and toss the diaper bag in the bottom so you aren’t shouldering so much weight. Stack and pull your bags behind you while pushing the stroller in front. It’s a 3-ring circus, but it works. (This is also when the luggage straps come in handy!)
55. OR most airports rent luggage carts that are well worth it. Oftentimes they take coins, so come prepared!
56. Don’t risk hurting yourself or your little one. Rent a cart or ask someone for a hand! There are usually employees or other travelers happy to grab your luggage off the carousel for you.
57. At some larger airports, like Denver, unconventional luggage, like carseats, do not drop down the regular carousel. There is a separate pick up location usually in the same vicinity. I waited and waited one time, only to finally pay attention to the repeating announcement that carseats and golf clubs are on the opposite end!
58. Trolleys and trains are pretty kid friendly and can actually be fun. Look out the window and tell your baby about everything you see! Be watchful of train doors – they close quickly whether you’re ready or not.
59. If you’re renting a car, then just be prepared to be in it for the long haul. Rarely are car rentals as swift and easy as they’d have you think – sorry – and sometimes you have to take a trolley to the rental facility if it’s not on the airport grounds. Just find the trolley outside belonging to your rental company. Be sure you have plenty of snacks, toys, and water on hand. Oh and a little tip money for trolley drivers that help with luggage is always nice!
60. Installing a car seat into your rental car can get tricky when you’re traveling alone your baby though. Keep your little one wrapped or go ahead and buckle him or her into the car seat and set it in the seat next to you while you install the base. I always ask for help from an attendant to load luggage into the back while I do this.
61. Another option is to just leave the base at home and use the alternative method of running the seatbelt across your baby’s lap, especially if the car rides will be short or infrequent. All brands and models are different, so check the manual or brand website to be sure you can install this way. This YouTube video is super helpful to understand how to do this (watch it now and don’t wait until you get there like the procrastinator I know you’re not!)
62. Start the car beforehand so it can be heating or cooling while you get situated. Unpack any road toys or backseat mirror from your checked bag and get set up. Take your time.
AT YOUR DESTINATION
63. Preparing for sleeping arrangements may look different depending on your destination. Many hotels rent cribs, it’s just a good idea to put in a request when making your reservation. Travel bassinets, rock & plays, portable play yards, or a dock-a-tot make great portable sleeping options, too.
64. Shop at your destination. If you plan to make a stop once you arrive anyway, why not just purchase diapers and wipes there for the duration of your trip! I’m a fan of this method so my suitcase doesn’t get weighed down with things that are easy to pick up, like snacks and food at the local grocery store or pharmacy. That being said, I do pack (in a checked bag) a little of everything just in case we’re too tired to go by the store and need to get through the first night. It happens.
65. Do laundry during the trip if possible. Sometimes pajamas or jeans can take up half your suitcase. Find out if the hotel or resort has a laundry service or if your host has access to a washer and dryer so you can wash some clothes during your stay. This significantly reduces the amount of pieces you need to pack. Yes, I know what you’re thinking and trust me, it will be okay to relinquish a little control of your strict laundry standards on occasion.
-Try to conserve and re-wear garments. Pack one set of pajamas for every two nights.
66. Rent a hotel or apartment with a kitchenette and refrigerator. You’ll want to wash bottles, bowls, and sippy cups, plus have a cool place to store milk or baby food.
67. Portable high chairs can come in super handy and most are pretty easy to travel with. We have this green Summer one that’s great to use in restaurants, waiting rooms, and outdoor events. The only thing was we eventually had to cut the leg holes to better accommodate chunky legs!
68. If you have a pretty solid nap schedule that works, try your best to stick to it while on trips. We took my 11-month-old to Las Vegas and it was near impossible to fit in our usual 2 naps per day. As they say, what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, but sometimes I still mourn the loss of that glorious second nap.
69. Take jet lag into account, even for your baby. The first night or two might be difficult, but they usually acclimate pretty well! This applies to coming back home, too.Just be flexible and try to keep the best routine you can.
70. Be flexible. There’s simply no way to intricately plan every day of the trip with a baby in tow. Sometimes schedules change or outings get cut short, but try not to get disappointed and just enjoy what you are able to do.
Now, what to bring…
CARRY-ON MUST HAVES
1. Diapers and Wipes – My rule of thumb is 4-5 diapers for a 6-hour trip, which covers a couple wet diapers, one dirty, and an extra, just in case. But this ultimately depends on your travel time and how many your baby normally goes through. Maybe it’s just the nature of traveling, but I’ve noticed we use fewer diapers on travel days because we’re on-the-go so much. You definitely don’t want to run out, so this is one thing you could cushion a little, but also remember you can usually buy more of if necessary. I always try to change her into a fresh diaper right before boarding the plane and during layovers, so consider the number of plane changes and length of layovers, then add one or two more.
-There are two kinds of wipes I always bring: baby wipes AND a small pack of sanitizing wipes for the plane (little hands are interested in everything and germs are everywhere).
2. Lightweight, Interactive (but not too noisy) Toys – I’m all about baby noises being part of life, but even I draw the line when it comes to extra loud music, beeping, or anything obnoxious and repetitive. Try to respect the fact that you’ll be sharing airspace with other people and choose quiet but interactive toys, instead of ones that will end up driving everyone crazy (including you).
I like to fill a small zipper bag with small, inexpensive stuff for the baby to unzip and pull out. These are usually things that won’t cause heartache if they get lost somewhere along the way! I’ve learned to not carry on sentimental or special toys, just in case they don’t make it.
3. Paci with Clip – And extra paci with extra clip. Some things disappear when traveling, never to be seen again.
I couldn’t resist this cute little airplane clip! 😀
4. Extra Clothes – A couple of simple and comfortable changes: onesie and cotton pants or a one-piece romper with easy snaps for diaper changes. I’m a big fan of one-piece baby outfits without all the binding elastic. Comfort is king! Toss these extra clothes in a ziplock, then you can replace them with any wet or soiled clothes during the change.
-Consider outside temperatures; most airplanes are warm in the summer and cool in the winter (shocking). Extra baby socks and light jackets for both of you might be required if the weather is cool.
-And roll up a lightweight t-shirt for mom in case of spills!)
5. Burp Cloth – Be prepared for unforeseen spills, spit ups, and sticky stuff. (I’ve reordered these like 3 times, no joke.)
6. Snacks & Drinks – Depending on how long your flight is and at what time of the day, always pack some sort of favorite snack or treat. You probably don’t need as much as you think though. I use plastic snack bags to pack 2-3 different options like puffs, yogurt melts, or these cheddar bunnies my daughter is obsessed with. Save space by just bringing one snack catcher bowl, instead of each snack in a separate bowl. Fruit pouches are a great travel-friendly option, too.
-We usually stick with water to stay hydrated. Pack a sippy cup with a lid (airports are dirty) for milk or juice. We have several of these mini Contigo water bottles that work perfectly for both of us, once your baby can use a straw (these with the hard plastic straw are best because the straw stays put!). You’ll have to take all food and drinks out at security, so we use this thermal bag for easy removal, which is also perfect for milk, bottles, and a small ice pack.
7. Nursing Cover – This stays in my diaper bag/carry-on because I hate needing it and not having it. It doubles as a blanket on the plane or for layover naps, and I’m pretty sure I even used it to mop up iced coffee from my seat once. I have two Milk Snob classic covers and love them because they’re so versatile and take up minimal space.
-Once my babe was a little older (aka: refused to nurse under a cover), I got to where I would just wear a long, oversized cardigan. Unless it was super cold out (if so, toss in a light blanket), I would just use the tail as a blanket and the top as a cover – win, win! I found this one on Jane.com awhile back and they still show up pretty regularly.
8. Changing Blanket/Mat – I cringe at the thought of airport changing tables against my baby’s bare butt. You can get disposable mats that are very similar to puppy pads (pretty sure their just labeled different) and they’re awesome. Most diaper bags come with a changing mat inside or you could just designate a thin blanket or the playmat for this purpose.
-I have to be honest, I’ve used all of these, including just changing her on my lap. And once my baby could stand on her own, we did away with all that mess and mastered the art of stand-up diaper changes! Mom status = MASTER.
9. Wet/Dry Bag – An extra ziploc and plastic bag stay nestled down deep in my diaper bag and they’ve actually been used a time or two. (These fancy wet/dry bags are genius.) If it can happen, it will likely happen on a travel day. Come prepared for battle.
10. Travel Documents – For children under 2 years of age, baby’s birth certificate is required to check in. A copy has always worked for us, rather than traveling with the original. Again, it’s always a good idea to read over your airline’s baby travel guidelines on their website, because they’re all different.
-Your ID (generally driver’s license or passport). Starting in 2020, identification must comply with REAL ID.
-Printed boarding passes and hotel & car rental confirmations, if you’re the printing type. Otherwise digital copies on your phone are easier to keep up with.
11. A Small “just in case” Bag – Tissues, bandaids, travel size diaper cream, Benadryl and Tylenol with syringe, adult pain reliever, extra contacts. Just be sure everything is under 3.4 ounces. (You could add extras such as boogie wipes and nasal aspirator if necessary, but on normal days I just check these items.)
12. Mama Basics – Grab your essentials and check your purse in your suitcase so you only have one bag to tend to. Mine always include my insurance card, ID, any other travel documents, phone, wallet (credit cards and a little cash for tips), sunglasses, chapstick, water, earbuds, ink pen, hand sanitizer, phone charger. No makeup, no planner, no old receipts or cracker crumbs.
-It’s up to you, but I place my bet on the airline not losing my checked luggage and don’t pack a ton of extra junk. A heavy carry-on makes the trip harder.
Here’s my ragtag assortment of bags I pack for inside my carry-on, each designated for specific contents.
But I recently found these sets that are so cute and functional!
(Think liquids for baby, quick-access bag, just-in-case, mama basics, and small toys.)
When packing for your trip, be sure to allow yourself enough time. I despise being rushed when I’m packing, because there’s just so much to think about and not forget. Making a list is vital, so here, let me get you started. 🙂
Remember each checked bag needs to be under 50 pounds to not incur additional fees.
COMPLETE PACKING LIST
The last and most important rule of mama travel is to ENJOY. Have fun showing your little one the world!
I’d love to hear about your travel adventures and advice.
Drop your comments below!
by grace & grit,
You might also like: