Once Riley Ann hit the three month mark, she hopped on a plane to visit her Mimi and Grandpa, earning her first pair of wings. Since then, she has flown from sunny Tulum to snowy Jackson Hole, and she has been the happiest, little traveler. Many of you have reached out via Instagram, asking about infant travel and for any tips or tricks. The below is all just personal opinion, and what has been working for us – there are plenty of ways to skin a cat, or so the saying goes! But here is my best advice, broken into four categories: general, flying, sun and snow. I should also note that the bub is exclusively breastfed, and only from the source – so I am not much help when it comes to the logistics of traveling with bottles/ formula, or pumping on the go. And lastly, if you are expecting, you can find my tips for traveling while pregnant here.
- Just go! Packing everything the baby needs and simply getting through security can seem incredibly daunting at first, but the best way to learn how it all works is to just go through the process yourself. Once you have tackled that first flight, it will all make sense, and will be so much easier than you anticipated. And it will be such a confidence boost for all the trips to come!
- Don’t plan too much. I used to create full itineraries for every trip, cramming 36 hours of to-do’s into each 24 hour day. Now we go with a loose idea of what we would like to see and do, and really only plan one “must” for the day. Much more relaxing, and much more realistic!
- Pack a baby kit in your carry on, just in case. I have a big pouch that has everything Riley may need, and includes Infant Tylenol, Nose Frida, Nail Frida, Travel Shampoo and Baby Wash, Thermometer, Baby Aquaphor and Baby Neosporin.
- You can never take enough photos. These are the moments worth capturing, so snap away! I love to print our travels through Artifact Uprising, and can’t wait to show Riley all the places we’ve been together when she is older.
- Purchase an infant car seat that can be secured with a seatbelt. We have the UPPAbaby Mesa, and love love love it. It takes less than a minute to strap in, and makes taxis and transfers a cinch.
- Along with the Mesa, we also love our stroller, and have this travel stroller for when she is a bit older. I recommend checking these at the gate, and using them as a tidy little pushcart through the entire airport.
- Be sure any planned activities are infant approved. For example, we are headed to Cartagena in April, and had planned a boat trip to some beautiful beaches off the coast. We later discovered the boat ride can be really bumpy and may not be the safest for a 5 month old, so were able to cancel far enough in advance. Another example is from Tulum – we had planned on visiting a specific cenote, but the concierge said it would not be great with an infant, and was not very accessible. They recommended a more child-friendly option, and we had such a nice time! So just be sure to do a bit more research than you typically would, and don’t be afraid to use your hotel’s concierge if you are unsure.
- For international trips, we much prefer hotels over Airbnb, as we love the amenities hotels provide. The daily cleaning, the food / drink at our fingertips, the transfers to and from airports… definitely pros when traveling with an infant, at least for us!
- On a similar note, we have begun to book larger rooms, whereas previously, we would really only book a standard room type. Having an outdoor space to sit and enjoy room service while the baby sleeps is such a treat, and can be just as romantic as a dinner out.
- For time changes, just go with it. We have only had a 2 hour time change, but rather than worry about a schedule or adjusting, we just followed the babe’s lead. Fed her when hungry, and let her sleep when she was tired. It worked well, at least this time! We are headed to Japan in May, and are going to try the same tactics.. just read her cues and go with it. I am sure it will come with some tears, as the time change is significant, but hopefully she will adapt and just nap on the go.
- Pack more for baby, and less for yourself. I used to be a serial over packer, and I am getting really skilled at only packing what I will wear. As for Riley, the opposite is true – I literally throw every, single bodysuit and burp cloth into our suitcase. Nobody wants to do laundry on vacation, and I wouldn’t want to use a hotel’s detergent that may irritate her skin.
- Find a souvenir for baby from each trip. It can be something as simple as a seashell, or a piece of local art, but it will be really special to have these tiny treasures saved.
- When we arrive home, we make it “Riley time” before we focus on ourselves. We’ve found that by dropping everything in the entryway and focusing just on Riley (bath, jammies, nurse, book, bed), we are a happy team with little stress. Once she is asleep, we then focus on ourselves, getting organized and ready for the week ahead, and for our next adventure.
- dockatot extra cover and carrying case
- solly baby wrap or ergo baby carrier
- external charger
- pack ‘n play (only if hotel does not have, or not staying in a hotel)
- infant car seat
- travel stroller
- travel bathtub
- tripod for iphone (for family photos)
- white noise machine (we use this at home, too)
- What to expect: I recommend wearing your baby once you get to the airport. Check in and check any luggage, then head through security. We have TSA pre check, so we don’t remove shoes, bag our liquids or remove laptops – definitely makes it easier. You can walk through the detector wearing the babe, and an agent will bring your stroller through for you. Car seats, diaper bags, etc. all go through the belt like usual. Once you have collected your things, you just head to the gate, and ask an agent for gate check tags (for car seat / stroller, etc.). Many airlines no longer call for “children under 2” to pre board; rather, they advise you just walk up as soon as boarding begins. At that time, you can leave any gate check items where they direct (most often right by the plane door), and find your seat. Flight attendants, prepare for take off!
- Nursing during take off and landing is widely recommended, but according to one of our pilots, it is really only the descent which tends to bother ears. Nursing during those times may not always work with feeding schedules, so bringing something else for baby to suck on (a teether, a binky) is a great alternative. Riley loves her thumb, and she has used it to self soothe on every flight so far.
- Pack extra extra diapers and at least two extra footies in your carry on. We had an unforeseen 5 hour delay on our first flight home, and the airport did not sell diapers. We would have found ourselves in a very sticky situation, had a JetBlue agent not been kind enough to track some down. Crisis averted!
- Give yourself more time than you need, and leave for the airport an extra 30-60 minutes ahead of time. I always prefer a calm check-in with time to grab snacks versus a frantic sprint through security.
- Bring the baby’s passport just in case. We have not had to show any ID except when traveling out of the country.
- Book an aisle seat if possible. I love being able to stand in the aisle rocking her, and that I am able to easily jump out and change her diaper if needed. We also ask if there are any empty rows we can move to, and often, the very last row will be empty. It is nice having that extra seat for privacy, even if it means we are last off the plane.
- Enjoy it if you can! While the days of snacking on pretzels with two hands are long gone, you now get to have a (hopefully) sleeping baby in your arms, and (most likely) a sleeping husband on your lap. And when the babe is awake, fussy or not, at least you won’t be bored! So enjoy those precious moments, because they are better than any in-flight movie.
- I had read that midday flights were ideal for a happy baby, but having flown at all different times, I can’t say there has been a noticeable difference. Personally, I preferred our early morning flight to Tulum the best, as she slept most of the way there, and the day seemed to flow a bit more seamlessly when she woke up.
- Don’t be afraid of a mid-air blow out. They’ll happen, and it really isn’t so bad.
- Sanitize everything before you get settled. We pack these wipes, and use them on our armrests, seat belts, screens, tray tables… if it’s in arms reach, it’s getting wiped down!
- If baby cries, so what – it’s a baby! They are just trying to communicate, and they can’t help it. Riley has been an absolute snuggle bunny gem, except when we go to change her. No idea why, but the poor little bean is terrified of airplane changing tables, and screams the entire time. As long as you are attentive to your baby’s needs, and give them the comfort they need, then it is what it is. Babies will cry! Every mama will know how heartbreaking it is for you to hear, and will have nothing but sympathy. And most people have headphones on these days and won’t hear the crying at all. So don’t focus on what others are thinking, just focus on soothing your precious, little babe. If anyone shoots you a mean look, then bad karma for them.
- Don’t forget to ask for wings. Your baby earned them!
- Keep baby out of direct sunlight, at least for the first six months. I wore her when we went for walks, covering bare skin with an SPF blanket, and we made sure to sit in the shade while on the beach. If you are going to be in the sun, I love this sunscreen for babies.
- If budget permits, look for hotels that have shaded cabanas and air conditioning. These are amenities that are well worth it.
- Don’t bother with a stroller if you don’t think you will use it. We didn’t pack one for either of our warm weather trips, and just chose to wear her or carry her.
- If you are worried about mosquitos, we love this natural bug spray, and this netting for the pack ‘n play.
- A stroller is safest for snow and ice. I won’t wear Riley if it is slippery, because I am way too scared of falling.
- Buy a cover for the car seat / stroller. Love this Skip Hop one to keep baby warm!
- Pack a play mat for baby to play on, since you will most likely spend a bit more time in your room when it is below freezing out.
Hope these tips help a bit, and encourage you to get traveling with your little one. It really is the best!