When I was pregnant I thought we’d be able to travel a lot to see family. Unfortunately due to the pandemic we didn’t start flying with Scarlett until very recently. We’ve also done a couple of road trips and didn’t realize how different it is to travel with a little one. I’ve gotten several messages on Instagram asking for travel tips, so I wanted to put together what I’ve learned. We have now flown 3 times with Scarlett. I am by no means an expert, so please share your tips in the comments too. I also wanted to share some pictures from her first trip to Texas for her birthday (you can see also her birthday party post here). I recently traveled alone with Scarlett and added some tips I learned.
Tips For Traveling With A Baby:
- Put them in a night diaper: For flying or long distance driving, I highly recommend putting baby in a night time diaper. This will hopefully help prevent leaks. I also change her right before we fly or drive because I cannot imagine changing a diaper in a tiny airplane bathroom.
- If possible, send supplies to where you’re going: When we visit family, we order diapers/wipes from Amazon to be sent to their house or they pick some up from Walmart. We also have a crib or pack n’ play, stroller and high chair at both sets of our parents’ houses that stay there. We also just bought a Guava Lotus Travel crib that is very compact and folds into a backpack for when we are traveling to places other than our parents houses. It’s coming sometime this week and I’ll be testing it out very soon.
- Allow extra time: Especially when driving, the journey will take a lot longer than you think. They need to get out of the carseat every so often for safety, and diaper changes/feeding can add a lot of time.
- Backpack diaper bag: I have found it’s a little easier to travel using her backpack diaper bag (instead of an over-the-shoulder one) to be be hands free since the diaper bag is pretty full during travels.
Favorite travel products/packing tips:
- Portable sound machine: We just got the Hatch mini for our bedroom and we use it for traveling. It has been much easier since it’s a lot smaller than the regular Hatch.
- Packing cubes: These help keep baby a lot more organized rather than having everything loose in the suitcase.
- Go through their daily routine/make a list: I have found that going through Scarlett’s daily routine helps me remember what is necessary to pack. I make a list as I go through her routine and update it when we’re traveling. That way we make sure we’re covered for every step of her day, from waking up in the morning, to lunch time, and on to naps and bed time.
- Bring extra clothes, sheets, sleep sacks, etc: I have noticed she wears more outfits than I think, so I always throw in extra pair of pjs and a few extra outfits just incase. I also throw in some extra sleep sacks, sheets, etc.
- Take advance of pre-boarding or family boarding: We discovered that we were able to pre-board on our most recent flight and it’s amazing. It’s so nice to have extra time to board and not be rushed in the main line. I don’t know why we didn’t realize this until this weekend.
- Let people help you: There are a lot of good people out there and I always accept any offered help, especially soon when I’m traveling alone with Scarlett. The flight attendants especially are happy to help you carry a bag/car seat when traveling with a little one.
- Check as much as possible or gate check: I’ll admit that I have major trust issues with the airlines (they once lost a bag with my bridesmaid dress, but luckily found it before the wedding). I am personally not comfortable checking her expensive car seat or anything special. I try to keep our carry-on to a bare minimum of necessities and special clothes that I’d be devastated if lost, then I check the rest. You can also gate check a car seat/stroller. I’ve heard you can check a pack n’ play and car seat for free (check with airlines to confirm that).
- Baby wear: we fly with Scarlett’s car seat and she’s way to heavy to be carried in it. I have found baby wearing the easiest since your hands free. I’m sure before long she will be too big.
- Distractions: snacks/toys help keep them entertained and distracted.
- Direct flight if possible
- TSA Pre Check: I cannot recommend it enough. We’ve had it for over 4 years and will always use it. I’m also looking into Clear as well. It’s so much easier because I don’t have to take my liquids out, take my shoes off and most TSA agents let me continue to wear Scarlett in her carrier. It’s a huge convenience for a fairly cheap price ($85 gets you 5 years of Pre Check).
- Dress baby in layers: You never know if the flight will be hot or cold, so I’ve found dressing them in light clothes that can be layered with a jacket and a blanket or pants over their legs.
- Feed baby during take off/landing: This is advice that many moms have given me. It’s supposed to help with ear pressure. Scarlett has been fine with me not doing this. I personally like to keep her in the car seat during take off/landing since it’s the safest spot.
- Buy baby their own seat if you can: Lap babies fly free under 2, but we personally have found it’s much more comfortable to buy Scarlett her own seat. I know this isn’t always a possibility for some families. I am not comfortable checking her primary car seat because if it gets damaged it’s no longer safe to use. We are thinking about ordering a car seat to keep at our parents’ houses and if so, we will fly her as a lap baby soon.
- If possible try to avoid flying during nap time. Sometimes the available flight times have worked in our favor, but it didn’t this past trip. If your kid is like ours, there’s a good chance they won’t sleep well on the plane, so we always try to schedule our flight times to avoid times she should be asleep/napping.
Tips For Flying Solo: (updated July 19th)
- Bring all the snacks: I also recommend bringing a sippy cup as well
- Bring a lot of toys: I’m sure it drove everyone crazy on the flight, but toys with sounds help keep Scarlett occupied. It may annoy other people, but it’s much less annoying than a screaming baby. I brought a variety of toys, with things like stuffed animals.
- Don’t over-pack: I had to bring my laptop and camera for an upcoming campaign, so I ended up having that in a backpack plus her diaper bag. It was a lot to carry and I was sore after traveling.
- Doona Car Seat: If I could go back in time, I wish we had gotten the Doona car seat that has a built-in stroller. At this point it’s too late since Scarlett is close to being too long for the infant car seat, but I am going to consider getting one in the future for our next kid.
- Backpack diaper bag: This helps you be hands-free
- TSA Pre: This was a lifesaver. They let me wear Scarlett through security.
- Baby wearing: I wore Scarlett through security and on the flight.
- Gate Check a Stroller: I didn’t bring a stroller this time and It would have been nice to have after security.
- Buy a seat for the child: I personally found it a lot easier for Scarlett to have her own seat (we carry her car seat on). I can’t imagine holding her for the whole flight and not having someone to pass her to.
Traveling solo is not easy, but it is doable. I just want to emphasize not over-packing. It was a lot for me to have my computer bag and camera on my back and to wear her on my front.
Diaper bag Must-Haves (Besides of course the obvious necessities):
- Change of clothes
- Sippy Cup/Snacks: Flying can make you dehydrated, so I always offer her a sippy with water for extra hydration.
- Gallon size ziplock: I always keep at least one in my diaper bag for dirty clothes, dirty sippy cup, or dirty toys to be cleaned.
Do you have any tips for traveling with a baby/small child? Please share them in the comments. I’m about to be flying solo with Scarlett for the first time and need all the tips.