Traveling is the best! Getting to take time out of our regular grind to relax, see a new site or do something adventurous is the only thing that gets us through the hum drum of our 9-5 life. Whether it's sitting by the beach, roaming a museum or bungee jumping off a cliff, we live for vacation.
But what if we add a baby into the mix? With a baby comes a stroller, car seat, diaper bag, toys, bottles, etc. Plus there's nap time, diaper changes, feedings and bathing to schedule into your vacation itinerary. Add in some crying, squirming and screaming and it sounds like travelling has gone from nice to nightmare when you add your little one. But before you give up collecting frequent flyer miles and shred your passport, check out our travel hacks below for making vacationing with a baby as simple and sane as possible.
15 Avoid Ear Popping
You know that annoying sensation you get during take-off and landing when the air pressure changes and your ears pop? Yeah, well your baby knows the feeling too. Only, they can't do anything about it. We're advised to chew gum, suck on candy or swallow to keep our ears from popping. We can encourage our baby to adopt this same sucking/swallowing motion by breastfeeding or giving them a bottle or pacifier.
However, some airlines require infants to be strapped in during take-off and landing so you'll need a back-up plan if you were hoping to breastfeed. Also, remember that not all babies, just like not all adult passengers, find the ear popping uncomfortable. Maybe your kid is super chill! Or, better yet, maybe your baby is fast asleep and won't even notice their ears popping. In that case, the golden rule applies: never wake a sleeping baby.
14 Bring Plastic Bags. And Then Bring Some More.
If you don't already know, resealable plastic bags are a travel essential. They come in a variety of sizes to hold everything from tiny earrings you don't want to lose to full-sized bottles of shampoo. Plus, when not in use, they are light and can easily be crammed into a full suitcase. When travelling with a baby, these resealable plastic bags are essential.
We advise keeping a few handy in the diaper bag to use as temporary laundry. Your kid puked on his shirt? Take it off, shove it into a Ziploc and seal it up so the smell and mess don't get on everything else. Bonus: the larger size plastic bags are perfect for keeping baby outfits all together so you don't end up turning your luggage inside out to find that one missing sock.
13 Do A Trial Run
Just like test driving a new car, you want to do some trial runs at home before taking your brand new gear on vacation with you. If you've picked up any items for your baby to use while travelling, it's best to sort out all the kinks while you still have time to return them (the items, not the baby).
For example, some families like to bring a portable travel bed on vacation so they don't have to rely on whatever "crib" the hotel promises to provide. Bust out that travel bed a few weeks before your trip and get your baby used to sleeping in it. There's no point lugging a bed halfway around the world if your kid won't touch it with a ten foot pole. The same goes for any strollers, carriers or other items you'll need your baby's seal of approval on before you leave home.
12 Packing Formula?
If you're on team formula, you'll want to make sure you pack more than you think you'll need. This is especially important if you're travelling in an area where formula is hard to come by or your baby is loyal to a specific brand. If you'll need formula in-flight, make sure you read up on your airline's restrictions.
But formula takes up a ton space, right? Wrong. Empty your formula into those resealable plastic bags we talked about (see? They're perfect for everything) to avoid lugging around a heavy canister. To save even more space, you can skip packing formula all together and have it shipped to your destination through sites like diapers.com or babiestravellite.com. These sites also let you order other baby essentials, like diapers, or rent gear like strollers and car seats.
11 Go For The Early Bird Special
Travelling with a baby often means making a few changes to your usual vacation routine. But you don't have to give up all of your vacation traditions, like a romantic meal out. You might just have to tweak them a little bit.
Instead of a glamorous 8:00 pm dinner for two consider a slightly less glamourous, but still lovely, dinner for three (can't forget baby!) at 5:00 pm. At 5:00 you'll have the restaurant to yourselves which means faster service and more room to bring all your baby extras (stroller, diaper bag, etc.). Having the restaurant to yourselves also means fewer stares if you need to attend to a crying baby or do some mid-appetizer breastfeeding. And if you do manage to fit in a mid-appetizer feeding, odds are your baby will sleep through the entrees and dessert giving you the romantic dinner you were looking for.
10 Play Santa
Do you remember Christmas as a kid? Waking up early, running downstairs and ripping into anything covered in wrapping with your name on it. Sure, the food and family were great but, let's be honest, getting new toys was the best part.
Well, the same is true for your baby. Make Christmas come a little early this year and surprise them with a new toy on your travels. A novel item can be the perfect distraction for a baby who might be getting fussy or bored. If your baby isn't quite playing with toys yet, a stimulating book or object to hang off their stroller can do the trick. Want to take advantage of this hack and still save money? Swap toys with a parent friend so both your kids get something new and exciting to play with.
9 Pack The Birth Certificate
Now, we don't recommend this just to satisfy those birthers out there who might debate whether or not your baby was actually born in the country they may want to run for president of one day. We recommend this to save you money!
If you're travelling on a domestic flight with a slightly older baby, we strongly recommend you bring a copy of your child's birth certificate. Why only on domestic flights? Because you'll need a passport for international flights that covers this problem. And why only slightly older babies? Because if your child is mistaken for a two year old, you may be charged full price for a seat! Most airlines allow babies under two years old to fly for free and spend the flight sitting on the lap of mom or dad. But if you can't prove your baby is under two? Pay up!
8 Dress For Success
This tip applies to both parent and baby - and it has nothing to do with wearing a sharp suit.
For baby: You're going to want to dress your child in something that will make travelling a breeze. Do you want to be stuck changing a diaper on a cramped airplane for a baby who is wearing lace up shoes, socks, tights and a skirt? Absolutely not. Do yourself a favor and put that kid in an easy-access onesie.
For you: Speaking of shoes, you'll also want to be mindful of your footwear. Can you imagine having to take off your knee high laced boots at security when you have your baby in one arm and diaper bag, stroller and carry-on in the other? Stick with slip-ons.
For both: Pack a change of clothes (or two) for both you and your baby because messes happen and you don't want to be stuck wearing baby puke for an eight hour plane ride.
7 Choose The Long Layover
In your pre-baby travel days you may have relished booking a 20 minute connection where you dashed fearlessly through the airport to make your next flight. Whatever gets you to your final destination sooner, right? Well, not anymore.
With a baby, we'd recommend going for the longer layover. You'll need that extra time to change a diaper or squeeze in a feeding. And while you can do both of those things on the plane, the cramped quarters don't make taking care of your baby any easier. Plus, if you arrive at your next gate early, it's the perfect opportunity to give your baby a break from their carrier. Spread out a blanket and let them roll or crawl around before they're cooped up in another plane again. The more time they spend awake and moving pre-flight, the more likely they are to sleep on the flight.
6 Putting A Price On Privacy
If you have the extra dough, consider booking a room that has a door between the living area and the bedroom. Think like the larger suites in hotels. If that's not an option, you could consider booking two adjoining rooms with a door in between.
And here's why: imagine putting your baby, who is a notorious light sleeper, down to bed. You give her a bottle, sing her a song, turn off the lights and place her gently into her crib. Only, it's 7:00 pm. And her crib is just a few feet from your bed. Now you're stuck in the dark and forced to stay silent for the rest of the evening so as not to disturb your child. With a separate room, your baby can sleep while you noisily raid the mini-bar and channel surf all night long just on the other side of the door.
5 Getting Through Security
Even without a baby, airport security can be a pain. Here is how to get through hassle-free:
Step 1: wear your baby. Put that kid in a sling or carrier and keep your hands free. Bonus: most airlines allow you to walk through security scanners with your child in a sling whereas if they're in a stroller or car seat, you'll have to take them out. This is hugely inconvenient if your baby has just fallen asleep.Step 2: load up your stroller. Put your laptop in the basket beneath the stroller, hang your purse from the stroller handles, and throw your diaper bag into the seat. That way, you just have to navigate one thing through the lines.Step 3: don't let others rush you. It's not your fault they showed up late. You do you. And then politely ask them to help you fold up your stroller :)
4 Skipping Security
Or even better, skip the long security lines all together! (Note: we are NOT encouraging anyone to actually evade security and sneak onto a flight. If you thought travelling with your baby in a foreign place was tough, imagine being arrested abroad.)
Ask a security worker if there is a designated line for families and strollers. Many airports have a special, usually shorter, line that will be filled with understanding faces who won't mind when your baby cries and can offer a helping hand with folding up your stroller. If your airport doesn't have this, it still doesn't hurt to ask as you may get redirected to one of the shorter priority lanes. There you can give your baby a taste of the first class lifestyle: no waiting in long lines to get through security. You better remember this moment, kid.
3 Book Window & Aisle
There are two types of people in this world: aisle seaters and window seaters. But when you're travelling with a baby, we say choose both!
So let's say you're a window seater and your partner is an aisle seater. Every plane ride, you toss a coin for who gets their preferred seat and who gets the middle seat. Next time, book both the window and the aisle, leaving the middle seat empty. If your plane isn't full, odds are that middle seat will remain un-booked because who wants a middle seat? So you end up with all three seats for the price of two, which means extra space for your baby. And if the middle seat does get booked, you simply ask the person if they will switch with you. You're back where you would've been and you've made someone's day by getting them out of the dreaded middle seat.
2 Scrub A Dub Dub
If part of your baby's nightly ritual is a nice soothing bath with lavender essential oils and rose petals (or maybe just a rubber duck), make sure the accommodation you book has a bathtub. If not a tub, ensure that the sink is large enough for bathing.
If you're stuck with only a shower, it's time to get resourceful. This could look like bringing the baby into the shower with you (you may want to utilize your partner as a soap dispenser so you can keep both hands on the baby). Most infants actually find showers very relaxing. Or if you're desperate for a bathtub, head out to a big retailer like Walmart and pick up a cheap plastic tub big enough for your baby to sit in comfortably. Put the tub on the floor of the shower, fill it with water and, ta da, you have a bathtub!
1 Backpacks Are Back
While you might usually tote a messenger style diaper bag that hangs off your shoulder, we recommend switching to a backpack diaper bag for travelling. Backpacks are a million times easier to carry, especially when you're walking around exploring a new city. Plus, a backpack keeps your hands free for eating, shopping and sipping Mai Tais by the beach.
Backpacks are often discouraged while travelling because they're easy prey for pickpockets. If you're worried, you can invest in a secure backpack with locks on the zippers or made out of fabric that can't be cut. We also advise only keeping diaper bag items in the backpack and storing passports and money elsewhere on your person. That way, if you do get pickpocket-ed, the most they get away with is a pack of wipes and a diaper or two.