Leo took almost 30 flights during his first year of life. My tips vary slightly depending on their age, so this post will be more towards the babies that are not moving much yet in the 3 months – 6 months old. Photos mixed in are from our California trip at 3 months, our Disney trip at 6 months, and our Cabo trip at 9 months.
I have provided my top tips that worked well for us below. A lot depends on your child’s personality. I am lucky that Leo is very even keeled and not easily upset – I don’t think he got those personality traits from me. But don’t hate me, we have challenges of our own! I have heard and do believe that the earlier you take your babies traveling, the more it is a normal thing for them. Also, you know your child’s personality- You can apply what you know to travel. Leo tended to be more tired on vacation, due to the extra stimulation as well as the waking up earlier than usual. He responded to time changes really well. I would worry about so many things that could go wrong when we would travel, and a lot of times those things I worried about would be fine. But something else might go wrong that I didn’t expect. We never had a bad trip though! Traveling is exhausting with a child, but once we arrived at the destination we really enjoyed our time. Like I said, traveling looks a lot different once you have a child, but I still really enjoyed the destination once we arrived.
Leo’s first flight was when he was when he was three months old, and we flew from Houston to California with our new baby. Here are my tips as I think of them that applied to us.
1. Plan for ease of travel!
-Simplify packing as much as possible – I think we even Amazon Primed some diapers to different locations before we arrived to save luggage space!
We would definitely try to make our trips as easy as possible. Non-stop flights were important to me.
-WHAT WE PACK-
We would check all our luggage- clothes, baby gear (Leo slept in the bed with me in a snuggle me organic – we brought that with us in the luggage for those early trips). I would think you know some of the obvious things- diaper cream, big hat, baby sunscreen, diaper cream, extra clothes, basic bath stuff, warm clothes if needed. These are tips for before they are eating solids, but after we just add snacks and water bottles to the mix. We did bring our white noise sound machine on those early trips because that’s what we used at home. We just tried to keep everything the same as much as possible. I have seen parents bring their baby monitor, and they will go out by the pool with the monitor while their kid naps in the hotel crib. I think I would be too paranoid, but if you are right next to your room then maybe! We did not bring a big heavy stroller (below I talk about our travel stroller). We don’t check a car seat. We rented a car and used the carseat from the rental car company. We are AAA members and you get a discount off of Hertz rentals and a free car seat with rental… I think. You should let them know rear facing when you arrive if you do that. You are welcome to check the car seat or have her sit in it on the plane if that is important to you. I always try to think about how many hands we have to carry things. If I am carrying the baby, then my husband has to be able to carry all the luggage.
-WHAT TO BRING ON THE PLANE –
All we brought on the plane was the big diaper bag backpack with diapers, wipes, hand sanitizer, sanitizing wipes for plane (sometimes we use, sometimes we don’t), a few quality light weight toys/books, breastfeeding cover, lightweight blanket, and a heavier blanket, an extra outfit, diaper changing pad, bags to put dirty clothes in if needed, pacifier. Blowouts were common for Leo in those early days. He usually pooped twice per flight during those first flights. On his 6 months flight, he totally blew out his diaper. You can ask the flight attendant which restroom has the diaper changing station. Those restrooms are cramped.
Often times on those first flights, I would need to stand and bob up and down some to get Leo to fall asleep. I uncomfortably did that from my seat sometimes. Like I said, you know what your kid usually needs, and that might apply while in the airplane. Leo hated the car seat for like the first year, so we also brought some light up soft music things for if we were driving at nighttime. Those were helpful on the airplane too. At some point I brought like teethers to chew on, crinkle toys, peekaboo forest book.
-Breastfeeding an infant during airplane travel- (Note: There is no judgement here. This is just my experience)
Breastfeeding is your BEST friend during travel. I breastfed on the plane, probably more than usual, maybe it was for comfort, and I think Leo sleeps more than usual on the plane. I think all the sounds were very calming to him. I always try to sit in the very back row of the airplane by the window and my husband sits on the aisle. He will move to the middle if he has to. I use the thicker blanket on my arm so when Leo falls asleep, my arm doesn’t fall asleep. I put the light blanket over him. I use the breastfeeding cover, but try to take it off as much as possible when it is hot. I breastfeed on takeoff and landing. I have not once had issues with him crying on takeoff or landing. My pediatrician told me not to feed him on takeoff and landing. I forget the reason. She told me to use a pacifier instead. I talked to so many Moms that told me they breastfed on takeoff and landing, that I didn’t worry about it. As he got older, I wouldn’t always feed him on take-off or landing, and sometimes I would give him a pacifier. He has never really taken a pacifier, but sometimes he would suck on it a little during takeoff and landing. We have never had any issues with his ears- Thank goodness!
I never brought pump stuff if I was on vacation. That was just a whole new set of gear that needed to be lugged around during travel and a whole new set of issues to worry about. Breastfeeding on demand was my friend. Breastfeeding on vacation actually made me more comfortable doing it in public when I was back home. I just want to encourage anyone nervous about breastfeeding during travel, just to do it. I used a cover because that is what I was comfortable with. The more you do it, the more normal it feels to you. You can also look for mamava boxes at airports. I never really had a chance to use them, but I did look inside. I usually try to wait and feed Leo till we were on the plane. Sometimes that made for a bit of a stressful time getting onto the plane. You can usually tell how long you can push it!
2. Have what you need in your Hotel room
I would ask hotel for crib/pack in play. If you want high quality stuff, most cities have services where they can deliver nice and clean quality baby stuff to you if you don’t want to pack certain things or want something nicer than what hotel provides. This might be appealing to y’all if you wanted a nice crib or stroller… not sure what all else they offer.
3. Lots of breaks in the room!
I always liked to plan on our trips where we have breaks to come back to the room. It’s like wake-up, get ready, go to breakfast, back to room for nap, go to pool, back to room for nap, go to lunch, back to room, etc. Maybe a little less frequently, but I always felt a little more relaxed in the room. It also might be nice to have the baby sleep on you outside on a pretty day under an umbrella with a tropical fruit drink nearby… I digress…
Usually on these trips, you just take it easy, enjoy the family time, pretty weather, good food, and lack of to-dos. I never liked to plan any big activities more than a walk and taking pictures of each other with Leo. Often times Leo would sleep on me while we were at a restaurant reservation, and I would just eat like that.
I never really got into baby wearing, even though I expected to. If you like Baby wearing, I think that would work well for travel. The only downside to it is maybe getting hot, especially on that hot airplane.
Definitely look at your schedule and try to anticipate any issues and think about ways that would make them easier. Like I said, often times what you worry about most isn’t even an issue at all.
Good luck! Have fun! I know it will be great! I am feeling jealous already!
Let me know if there are any specific things you are feeling concerned about or have questions about. I am sure I am forgetting something! E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions!