Now that our third family vacation has come to an end I wanted to share the top 20 things I have learned when travelling with a baby! Our first couple family trips were the 6 hour road trips to Canada to visit my family and our third trip was flying to California to visit my in-laws! I wanted to combine both flying/driving travel do's and don'ts.
Lets just dive right into it!
1. TRAVEL TIMES:
Always travel around bedtime/naptime! I can't emphasize this enough. Having a baby that is nice and sleepy makes for an easy trip.
PLANE: Make sure he is on his normal daily schedule and has had his regular nap. My son sleeps about 12 hours at night and will have a 2-4 hour nap during the day. I took him off that schedule the day of our flight and had him skip his nap, thinking that he would be extra tired and would be in a deep sleep on the flight making it hassle free... that just wasn't the case. He was fussy because he was so tired and was way too distracted to even fall asleep since it was his first experience flying. Asher was flirting with every girl he saw. He was trying to talk and play with everyone, he wanted to hitch a ride on the food carts every time they came by hahaha! He was just so curious. Had he napped he would have been more mellow during the flight, maybe just as curious since it was his first time but we would have skipped the fussiness. On the flight back home he was awake the first hour, slept the next 3.5 hours and was awake for the last hour of the flight. He was so refreshed and sweet!
CAR: When Asher was 6 months old we took a trip to Canada. We made sure to leave at his bedtime and he basically slept the whole time (it was a 6 hour ride!). He woke up to eat and for a diaper change and went back to sleep. Travelling by car is always nice because there aren't as many distractions and you can travel at your leisure.
2. ENTERTAINMENT: Distractions are always nice to have when travelling with a baby.
CAR: As I previously mentioned, we traveled to Montreal with him a couple of times. Asher was sleeping the whole way when he was 6 months old since we traveled during his bedtime. The second time he was a little older and was distracted looking out of the window until he fell asleep, he also had a toy to hold onto.
PLANE: On the plane we brought my hubby's tablet. What we didn't plan for was not having stable wifi. On the flight back home we made sure to download episodes of his favorite show, Elmo. He loves that show so much and it did a great job at distracting him. We also had his stuffed toys and some toy cars that he always loves to play with.
3. STROLLER/CARSEAT: My first big tip for getting through the airport would be to contact someone that you are visiting beforehand to see if they have a stroller or carseat available. We got lucky because my husbands cousin had these to spare. When we were planning the trip I called her to see if she had an extra stroller & carseat and she did! So we got to go though the whole airport without them and it was SUCH a relief! Which brings me to my next point..
4. BABY CARRIER:
This was so nice to have because we had a few bags that we needed to carry and being hands-free is always convenient.
Asher has been walking a lot lately, but he is only 1. You can't rely on him to actually walk at a quick pace in the airport for a long distance- it's just not going to happen, especially if your baby is tired. I just strapped him onto me and had two free hands afterwards! My son is a pretty big kid but the carrier I used was so comfy! It had just the right shoulder and back support. He is 26 pounds and honestly it was not that bad at all to carry him around. It was also nice when we landed in California because he was asleep. I just attached him to me and went on my merry way. I swear when he is asleep, it feels like his weight has doubled! It was nice to not have to carry him on my arms.
5. CARRY ON BAG: When travelling with a baby it's so important to be able to have everything you need at arms reach. It would also just suck if you were to lose your luggage when flying, so having the necessities are just really convenient. I made sure to bring diapers, butt-paste, wipes, onesies, socks, two extra outfits ( he always manages to get himself wet or covered in food), and a blanket in case he got cold on the plane. I also packed a couple of his favorite toys, 2 bottles, formula, milk, and water.
NOTE: You can bring as many liquids as you want on the flight when travelling with a child under 24 months old – juice, water, milk, etc. You can also bring any snacks and food for the baby that you think they will need. They will test any liquids that you bring through security.
6. GETTING THROUGH SECURITY: Like I said in #5, a carry on bag is a must! It can be a handful with a stroller, car-seat, carry on, baby, etc. Luckily I was travelling with my hubby so it really wasn't bad. I was with the baby and he basically did the rest. So here is what I would suggest if you are travelling alone with your baby.
** Carry your baby on you. If you are travelling with a car-seat they will make you put it through the conveyor belt, you will also have to fold up your stroller and someone else will carry it through (unless you are with your hubby then he will bring it through.
** if you are travelling with your stroller and car-seat I would suggest that you put the carry on in the basket at the bottom of the stroller. Next, attach the car-seat on top of that stroller and then put the diaper bag and anything else in the car-seat and on the handles. This is the most convenient way to make everything compact, and you can just push it along in the line.
** TAKE YOUR TIME!!!! People can wait, don’t get stressed. Whenever I am concerned or focused on what other people must be thinking I end up just fumbling around and not doing things as quickly as I could if I was just focused. Plus I always feel like Asher can sense when I am stressed and then he starts to get stressed.
** While your bags, electronics, car-seat, and stroller are being checked out they will have you stand on the side. The TSA will also do a hand swipe after, every time. They will swipe your hands with what looks like a wand and test it for explosive materials.
7. TRAVEL ATTIRE: I would suggest wearing shoes that you can slip on and off easily. I made the mistake of wearing strappy/lace-up shoes. When going through security it was a hassle to take them off while wearing my baby lol.
8. GETTING TO YOUR SEAT!: It's easiest, in my opinion, to be wearing them in a carrier and then push your carry-on with your diaper bag on top!
9. BOARD EARLY: Sometimes you get to board early if you have a baby so take advantage! It is nice to know that you aren't slowing anyone down and don't have to worry about having too many people waiting on you. This also gives you a little bit of time to settle in with your baby/toddler.
10. ASK FOR AN EXTRA SEAT: If you are travelling alone, get to the gate early and ask the agent(s) if there are any empty seats next to you or if there is any way you can be moved next to an empty seat on the plane. Luckily on the flight we ended up with an empty seat next to us so that was nice.
11. TAKE OFF/LANDING:
Nurse/bottlefeed during take-off/landing. When we were taking off on the first flight, Asher was fine but when we were landing he woke up and started rubbing his ears and crying. It made me so sad but before I got to get him a drink he yawned and that made him feel SO MUCH BETTER. He fell right back asleep. On the flight back home when we were landing again he had trouble but luckily we had a juice box so every time he touched his ears we gave him some juice. We never give him juice so I think he was also faking it towards the end to trick us into giving him more juice haha, that kid is way too smart!
12. AVOID THE BACK OF THE PLANE: On our flight back home we were in the back and it smelled like pee lol. People were standing in line to go to the bathroom and flight attendants were chatting. It was distracting but i'll say this- when it came time to put Asher to sleep I actually had room to stand up and lean against the wall to rock him. He is so heavy so it was nice to have something to lean on and he fell asleep almost right away.
13. DON’T BRING TOO MANY DIAPERS: You can always go buy more diapers! Plus, I feel like when travelling with a baby- the more room you save, the better!
14. DON’T USE THE WATER ON THE PLANE: You are allowed to bring as many liquids as you want for your baby. If you run out of bottled water, just ask the flight attendant. Do not use the water in the bathrooms for rinsing out anything! They purify it with chemicals and it can get you sick! I read this online and just didn't want to risk it.
15. BRING SOMETHING SOOTHING: It is so important to make sure that your baby feels as comfortable and as safe as possible on the flight. Definitely pack some of your child's favorite toys and one that they haven't played with in a long time. Asher loves anything that is fleece. He is obsessed with fleece blankets and stuffed toys! If we are going anywhere with him that is more than 30 minutes away I always have either his fleece blanket or a really soft stuffed toy. He just holds them and cuddles them and is instantly relieved. If it is hot out we just have a small fleece toy or stuffed animal. At night we make sure to have one near him so he can reach for it and touch it, this was crucial on the flight too.
16. IDENTIFICATION: When travelling with a baby you don't need a passport when going to Cananda or staying within the U.S. We traveled with his birth certificate when we went to Canada and that was all they needed. When we were travelling to California they didn't ask us for any identification for him when we were at the airport, I remember thinking how strange that was haha. We will have to get him a passport soon but for right now we don't need it and it is nice to save on the expense especially since there is an expiration date on it.
17. MOMMY HOOK: This is nice when I am out shopping or running errands, it's nice to have somewhere to place your shopping bags.
18. FORMULA DISPENSER: I can't tell you how nice this is to have! There are 3 slots in it and in each you can put 2-3 scoops of formula depending on the bottle size you are trying to make. This is nice because measuring formula is already done and you won't get distracted with your baby's cry. I would pack a water bottle and pour it in his bottle, then pour in the formula. Next, shake it up and VOILA!, milk is ready. Another thing you can do is travel with the milk in a cooler bag. As Asher got older it was nice to just leave the house with milk that was already ready because he didn't mind drinking it cold.
Rent or borrow a car, if possible. When travelling with a baby, having a car with you just makes life a lot easier, especially if this is somewhere you have never been to. When we were in California we got lucky and got to borrow a car from my husband's cousin. Whenever we were out looking for adventure we would just pack up the car and head out no problem.
It was also nice because Asher falls asleep easy in the car so he also got to get his daily nap while we were fighting traffic. Public transportation is just a bit of a hassle because Asher wouldn't be able to nap, he would just be too distracted and would be fussy because he would also then be tired. When you have a car you can sight-see easier and not have to worry about working around a bus/train schedule.
20. WEATHER UPDATE: Always check the weather of the place you are travelling to in advance. There is nothing worse than not being dressed appropriately, especially when you have a baby, and plan to walk around anywhere.
And there you have it!
Hopefully this addressed most travel questions you have!! I tried to cover everything possible that we have gone through, but if you still have any further questions let me know! At the end of the day we just want to make our babies happy while keeping them stress-free, so hopefully this helps you with your next trip!