Hi Mommas and Mommas-to-be! Today I wanted to share my tips & tricks for traveling with a baby. Evelyn is almost 3 months and so far we’ve already done three trips with her! Two traveling by car, once to Big Bear and once to Solvang (which are both about a 2.5 hour drive each way). And a few weeks ago we flew with her for the first time.
Traveling with a Baby by Car:
I sat in the backseat with her so I was on hand to soothe her, give her a pacifier, feed her, see if she had a dirty diaper, etc – without us having to pull over every time she started fussing to check what was going on with her.
If you can, try to schedule the drive right after a big feed when baby is likely to sleep for the next few hours. If you are going to be driving 4 hours or more i’d recommend doing the drive at night. However, both our trips were only 2+ hours away, so we left after her 10am feeding. In preparation for these trips, we had started getting her used to bottle feeding. I made sure to have a bottle ready to go in the car (in a cooler bag) and when she got hungry again around 12 I could feed her in the car instead of us having to stop for me to breastfeed her for 30+ mins on the side of the road. After I bottle fed her I just pumped in the backseat while the Husband was still driving (tips on that below). What slowed us down the most were diaper changes. She HATES a dirty diaper and of course right after a feed she’d pee so we’d have to pull over. Then she likes to poop in her newly clean diaper and we’d have to stop again… and the cycle would repeat itself.
If you are breastfeeding like I am, bring a car power plug for your pump and these sanitary wipes that don’t require water. Also, don’t forget to pack milk storage bags! I did and then had to call different drug stores to see if they carried them. Nothing like asking the male employee, “Do you sell storage bags for breastmilk?” I think he thought I was a prank call..
Get a roof rack and/or cargo carrier. We have an SUV and we still needed the storage at the top. If you have a hard top, you can fit the suitcases. If you get a soft shell you can fit awkward fitting baby items – like an infant bath tub. Another note on this, even if you can cram everything in the car, if you got in an accident everything would go flying and could seriously hurt everyone in the car, so it’s safer to put stuff on the roof if you can. On our first car trip we crammed everything in and all this stuff was piled high, like her rock & play with the metal legs. It made me seriously worried if we stopped suddenly that it would fly out from the back and hit her. So I made us buy a roof carrier on our way.
Pack a ton of snacks and water for momma – especially if breastfeeding! My massive snack bag also came in handy when I was starving in the hotel in the middle of the night after feeding her.
For the car trips, we brought her rock n play to sleep in and then the dock-a-tot for the trip back East. Both she was used to sleeping in and were more portable than a pack-n-play which wasn’t necessary to lug with us while she’s still super tiny.
Traveling with a Baby by Plane:
Get to the airport at least 2 hours before your flight. We almost missed both our flights and we had TSA pre-approved tickets.
If you can, get Global Entry and TSA Pre-checked. You don’t have to go through as much screening, shorter lines – so much easier with baby!
I used this mommy travel site to help make a list of what to pack. SO HELPFUL!!!
Usually, you don’t need documentation for a young infant, call your airline to go over their policy as it changes airline to airline. Your pumping stuff and diaper bag shouldn’t count against your carry on items. You can go through security with breastmilk but it will mean extra screening time.
We took her through the airport with the stroller and car seat. I used these awesome clips to clip all our extra small bags so our hands were free. We then checked both items at the gate. You can get a car seat cover to protect it. I think checking both at the gate VS at ticketing was the better choice because with the clips I could just pile all our crap in/on the stroller and it was so much easier getting to the gate.
We didn’t travel with her car seat base. Instead, Tim learned how to use the seatbelt to secure her seat. This is what we did to travel with her in the Uber to the airport and what we did once we were back East.
We got her 2 month vaccines before flying.
For her first flight, we didn’t know how she’d do so we decided to do a day flight (we usually do the red-eye). I figured people would be less pissed at a fussy baby at 1PM than 1AM. This also actually worked out because when we landed on the East Coast she was exhausted from the flight (she was overstimulated and didn’t sleep much) and fell right to sleep. It was an easy switch for her to get on EST where I think if we’d done a night flight it wouldn’t have been as easy of a transition.
There are companies where you can rent baby items (pack n play, baby bath tub) and have them delivered to your hotel. We were able to borrow the items we needed (pack n play, swing, baby bathtub) from family & friends. We did fly with her dock a tot.
I can’t recommend the dock-a-tot enough. It was easy to travel with and gave her the security of sleeping in something she was used to as she sleeps in this at home as well. The bumpers “cocoon” her and she often “nurses” the side to comfort herself back to sleep. I’m a little offended she can’t tell the difference between me and her dock-a-tot but it helps her sleep through the night so whatever. We plopped this down on a couch, in the pack n’ play at night and on a desk in the hotel.
Again, refer to the list from this travel site but my must have mentions would be:
Pack 3 additional onesies for baby and an entire change of clothes for you, I packed two extra shirts & 1 pair of pants- this is in case of spit up or blow outs that get on your clothes as well. Pack 1 large trash bag and one plastic grocery bag for possible soiled clothes.
Fly with enough diapers to cover you for 24 hours (I would say 15). Put diapers in a sealed plastic bag (one mom had her bottle leak in her diaper bag and all her diapers got soaked!)
Layers for the Plane – you don’t know whether it’ll be over-heated or over air-conditioned. Socks & a hat too!
Baby Carrier. Even at 10lbs she got heavy to hold. Having a carrier saved our arms and helped “bounce soothe” her when she got fussy. Tim wore this Lalabu shirt. FYI – It only fits babies up to 12lbs.
You might not be able to get to the bathroom for a diaper change- have a grab bag ready to go with a liner, diaper, rash cream, wipes, hand sanitizer, a plastic bag for dirty diaper (or onesie) and a clean onesie. This is a popular liner with a storage pouch. I use the liner & storage pouch from my Honest Company diaper bag which I feel is less bulky.
Even if you are exclusively breastfeeding, pack a pre-made formula bottle. I had signed up for some formula samples. I didn’t need to use them but if you end up having supply issues for whatever reason you want to have these. I also have this pack for our “Earthquake Prepared Kit”.
Other Travel Tips:
For lodging, my first choice is renting an Airbnb with a dishwasher & washer/dryer. Self explanatory why necessary. The washer/dryer saved me from having to pack an insane amount of onesies and burp cloths as I could just do a load of wash every other day.
If you have to stay in a hotel make sure to ask if they have a mini fridge & microwave. I really like Best Westerns and Marriots, they are clean and usually have a decent kitchenette. The mini fridge is for storing ice packs and your breast milk. With the microwave you can sanitize your pumping stuff and bottles with this reusable steam bag from Medela. Each bag can be reused up to 20 times.
Put baby’s outfits in labeled gallon size ziplock bags or space saver bags. For weekend trips, I packed each bag by outfit. In the morning, I could just grab the bag & it would have her clothes, socks, hat, hair bow, etc. Separate bag for burp cloths, PJs, a bath bag (with washcloths, comb, soap & lotion). For our 2 week trip back East I did it by clothes categories (sweaters, pants, PJs, Hats/mittens/socks, etc).
Practice & Communicate – For Evelyn’s first flight we were lucky and it was 3 adults to 1 baby. So there were a lot of hands to help. We discussed ahead of time who was in charge of what – someone to hold the baby through security, who was in charge of grabbing the bags, who would handle the stroller & car seat. Having a game plan helped but in the end, no matter how much you prepare sh*t is going to hit the fan – possibly literally. Evelyn had a huge blow out when we went through security both times. So we were running to our gate, with a poop covered baby and laying her down on a chair at the gate (no time to find a bathroom) to change her in time to make the flight.
Let me know any tips or tricks you have in the comments!
P.S. To see more pictures from our first trip back East with Evelyn you can see them here: http://mariapelletier.com/our-trip-back-east/