Let’s talk about traveling with a baby or toddler. It can bring a lot of stress to parents. Good news is I have a few tips that will make traveling with your little one easier and hopefully ease your mind. Keep in mind that these tips are for traveling short distances. We have never flown or driven more than 4 hours. Hopefully we’ll be able to give you tips for international travel with a baby/toddler soon.
First up is planning for your trip. I think this is the most crucial part of your travel. You want to set yourself up for success if at all possible.
Booking your flight
I look for flights that coincide with our little one’s nap time. Good news is she’s down to one long nap. Now, that does mean that either me or my husband have to hold her while she sleeps during the flight and are restricted in moving. We just help each other out (give each other sips of water and such).
She pretty much sleeps the entire time which is awesome! But, in the event that she doesn’t or needs some entertainment, we’ll talk about some of the things I pack to keep her entertained.
I always ensure that I have a bottle or a sippy cup that I can fill with water just in case her ears pop on the flight. Babies and kids don’t know how to relieve the pain and it helps if they have something to suck on. Pacifiers may work if your child uses one. Fortunately? Unfortunately? Ours doesn’t use one anymore.
While booking your flight, ensure that you select “lap infant” if your child is under 2 and will not require an additional seat. There is no additional charge.
Reminder: Bring a copy of your child’s birth certificate for the flight. They may need it to confirm that your child is under 2. We didn’t need it last time, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. I don’t want to be told we’re going to miss our flight for something silly like forgetting documentation.
When you’re booking your flight, it may be better to book an airline like Southwest where baggage is free.
TSA Pre-Check: Is it worth it?
Abso-freaking-lutely. You don’t have to take off your shoes or remove your electronics plus wrangle a toddler? Yes, please. Where do I sign up? No, seriously, it’s super simple and will pay for itself in no time.
TSA Pre-Check costs $85 and is valid for 5 years. You can apply online at tsa.gov. You’ll enter some preliminary information and then you’ll need to schedule your in-person interview where they’ll verify the information you already provided, take your picture, and finger prints. In DFW, there are multiple locations you can select to get this done. However, most airports are the point of contact for TSA Pre-Check interviews.
My approval came in pretty quick: less than a week. However, it can take a couple weeks to get your approval.
Here are a couple things to consider when deciding on accommodations. Little ones can be messy and go through multiple pairs of clothes and bibs in a day. If at all possible, I look for a location that has an in-room washer and dryer or has access to laundry facilities. This will also help lighten the load on how much you need to pack. You’re already lugging around a ton of things for the baby: car seat, stroller, pack n play.
I also try to look for a kitchen or kitchenette. I like having the option to cook if we want to and you definitely need the room to wash and store bottles and utensils. I’ll link my travel set below.
Next, don’t forget to ask your hotel about cribs and high chairs. Most have an option to request them when you book. And just think, a couple less things you have to worry about.
Here’s a travel high chair we love in case your accommodations don’t have one:
Another perk to air travel is that you can check a car seat/stroller for free! One per adult. So if you and your spouse are traveling together with your little one, you can bring both a stroller and a car seat. Unfortunately, you cannot check a pack-n-play for free. I’ll explain how we get our pack-n-play there further down.
Amazon has these cool large travel bags for your car seat/stroller. This way they don’t get dirty from the belts and carts. Also, I’ve never had an airline check the car seat bag, so you could put some additional clothing around the car seat and not have to work about checking an extra bag. This is definitely one of the best travel items I’ve purchased!
Think about how long you’re traveling for, if you’ll have access to a washer and dryer, and if where you are staying it’s easy to get additional things you may need like Formula, Baby Food, and Diapers.
Some hotels will allow you to ship items to the front desk and they’ll hold it for your arrival. Like I said earlier, you’ll want to check to see if you can reserve pack-n-plays and high chairs. If not, pack-n-plays are one of the items I’ve shipped before. Check out the pricing on pack-n-plays and shipping costs. I spent $50 on a pack-n-play from Target and had it shipped for free to my mom’s house. That was a big win. Otherwise, it would have cost us $60 to check back and forth on American Airlines. I’ll link a similar option below.
This is where you’re going to want to focus the bulk of your attention. If you put an item you need in the checked bag, there’s no getting it back, especially if something goes wrong and your flight is delayed.
I always bring extra sets of clothes just in case she spills something on her or we have a blowout. Pro-tip: Keep extra sets of clothes in gallon zip-lock bags. This way you can put the dirty clothes in a sealed bag away from your other clean items.
Big one! Never underestimate the power of snacks. We’ll typically bring dry snacks like Cheerios, Cheese Puffs, and Belvita Bites. Whatever will keep your little one entertained. Check out these reusable snack bags below. They’re even machine washable!
I always try to either hide a few of her favorite toys a week prior to traveling so they’re “like new” or get a few new things to catch her attention. It’s important to looks for toys that don’t make a lot of noise, otherwise it defeats the purpose of keeping them entertained without distracting other passengers.
Here are some of the toys I would recommend:
Our little one doesn’t really watch TV, however she does love Sesame Street. Now, it only holds her attention for 15 minutes or so, but sometimes that’s all you need. No judgement if your child loves shows/movies. Here are some kid friendly headphones:
If your little one still drinks a bottle/milk, you can bring it through TSA no problem. You just need to let them know you have it and they may have to run it through some additional testing, but it doesn’t take very long.
Like I mentioned earlier, I always bring extra formula just in case there is a delay. You never know. I’ll link my travel containers below. Remember, you may need it for take-off and landing too for the air pressure changes in the baby’s ears.
These are awesome sippy cups:
Hand Sanitizer/Sanitizing wipes
I do my best to keep the germs away. Especially with a little one. They touch everything and then they put those little hands in their mouth. Yuck! I wipe down everything I can from the tray table and beyond.
Of course, don’t forget extra diapers and wipes. You may even consider putting your child in an overnight diaper just in case you can’t change them as soon as you would like.
I plan car travel just like plane travel. The only difference is if your child falls asleep easily in the car, expect them to nap often and long. This can be good or bad depending on when you’re traveling and for how long.
In our case, we planned what time we left around her nap schedule. Plan for extra stops. Sitting in a confined car seat is safe, but really how comfortable can that be? I like to make sure we take plenty of breaks to get in some stretching and stimulation. Even if that means just a quick lunch break.
Ensure you have some good toys and snacks to bring along for the ride.
One awesome find was this suction cup toy holder. Y’all know babies throw everything. And they think it’s hilarious. It’s just not so funny when it’s their favorite toy and now it’s been on the gross floor. The “Grapple” is perfect for the tray on the plane or when out to eat at a restaurant. If I lost this today, I would order it again, today!
One thing I love to get for eating out are disposable placemats. Not only are they entertaining for babies and kids, but I don’t feel as bad putting snacks/food on the table for her to try.
Another favorite are these disposable bibs.
Other items to consider:
If the baby is going to be sleeping in another room, do you want to bring a baby monitor? Here are some affordable options below. I knew that I would want to keep an eye on my little one just like I do at home, so this one was important to me. Some parents are fine just listen out for their little one though and that’s ok too.
Does your little one sleep with white noise? Consider looking for a travel option. We normally just bring our regular Hatch Baby Rest. It doesn’t take up that much room and it’s a sound she’s used to having.
Are you going to be gone long enough that your little one will require a bath or two? I bought this inflatable baby bath tub on Amazon and I absolutely love it. It’s easy to use and easy to store. I also bought a baby travel toiletry set, so I don’t have to lug around full size products.
If your baby is teething, it may be wise to bring along some Tylenol or whatever you use to relieve their pain. Maybe that’s refrigerator friendly teethers, baby orajel, or my favorite teething pods.
Lovey. Does your little one have a favorite stuffed animal or blanket? Make sure to bring their favorites to make them feel at home. Ours loves blankets, so we make sure we have a couple just in case an unfortunate accident happens to one and we can’t wash it right away.
Here’s the deal. People have babies everywhere. If you need something, you can get it where you’re going, so don’t stress. Hopefully, I gave you a great start on what to think about when planning your travel.
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