My husband and I were pretty well-traveled by the time our baby came along – we were living in Japan following a tour in Guam, which led us on adventures in Saipan, Seoul, Manila, Phuket, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Germany, Amsterdam, Paris, Provence, and the French Riviera.
I feel privileged to say my parents began my lust for travel with high school spring break trips to London, Paris, and a tour around Southern Spain (including a memorable trip to Tangier). My Dad lived in Paris for many years, so we made fairly frequent trips there as well.
Then came baby. But fear not, travel with a baby (and by baby, I mean newborn to pre-walking) is not all that bad. In fact, the actual act of traveling was easier than expected – albeit heavier. We traveled from Japan to Bali, and San Diego (twice) before Estelle hit 9 months – and I traveled just recently with her at just over year, which was a bit of a different experience, but most of these tips are still holding true now.
Here are my Top 5 Travel Tips with a Baby:
- Call the airline and request a bassinet/bulkhead seat (long-haul flights only). You know those seats located right behind the bathrooms at the very front of each cabin? The seats that face a wall in front of them? Those are the bulkhead seats, and there is some seriously great leg room to be had here! There are wall attachments in the bulkhead for a bassinet attachment, which is awesome! Each airline has their own weight/age limit requirement for these bassinets. Estelle was well within the limits at both 5 and 8 months old. By calling ahead of time, we nabbed these seats free of charge for our trip to Bali, which was an 8 hour flight. Of course, Estelle didn’t sleep much in the bassinet, but the extra leg room was heavenly. Call your airline and see what their specific baby policy is. Our airline to Bali was Garuda Indonesia, and they provided baby food, toys, and a small tote for her.
- Bring your Baby Carrier. Estelle didn’t sleep in the bassinet, so we resorted to walking her up and down the aisles in our baby carrier — with a muslin blanket covering her face. It worked like a charm. In fact, as soon as the cabin lights went off, all the parents on the plane got up and started walking the aisles in hopes of putting their kid to sleep. Solidarity. Pro Tip: Pack your iPhone with new Podcasts and music. I walked the aisles and listened to my podcasts. It was exhausting, but at least I was being entertained!
- If your baby is squirmy, seriously consider buying a ticket for them (especially if you are traveling alone). This is financially more realistic if you are traveling domestically — and after having just traveled solo to Indiana with an EXTREMELY active 1-year-old, I can say that the cost was worth it. I brought her car seat with me, and she actually slept on the plane. My daughter sleeps NO WHERE except in the carrier and the crib – but the magic happened, and it was SO worth the cost. A Pro-Tip on car seats: I highly recommend the Cosco Scenera Next Convertible Car Seat. Yes, the evil Wal-Mart sells it, but it is LIGHT, CHEAP, and FAA approved. There was NO way in hell I was going to lug my heavy-duty everyday car seat by myself onto an airplane. Buy this car seat – and buy a backpack car seat carrier while you’re at it. I carried Estelle in her carrier through the airport on my chest, and the car seat on my back. Mom-ing like a pro – BOOM! Oh, my baby carrier is also oh-so-soft, comfy, and beautiful.
- Don’t skimp on Carry-on items, but ‘meh’ on the Toys. A few more diapers than you think you’ll need. Wipes. Diaper Cream. Sanitizing wipes to wipe those seats DOWN. Snacks. Pacifier. Lovey. Two changes of clothes for baby. One change of top for you. Bottles. Formula. Milk. I mean, really, it’s SO much. Your baby will either sleep most of the time, or will love looking around and playing with the plastic drink cup. Bring one or two. Just throw the rest of the toys in the suitcase for when you get to the hotel.
- There are Perks. You are doing Great. In almost every airport we were escorted through security and immigration like celebrities because we were traveling with a baby. It was wondrous. Expect the worst, but know that many well-traveled mothers will tell you that travel while they are so little is actually fairly breezy. Now, stay tuned for travel with a toddler, which should prove to be a little more complex!
Please add more ideas in the comments.
I neglected to add tips like bottle or breast feeding during take-off, but, while great information, I found those tips on most other lists. I hope you find something new and helpful in this list! Happy Travels!