Most jet-setters have heard similar refrains when a little one is on the way: "Get your travel done now, because once that baby comes . . ." it's hasta la vista baby. Traveling with babies sounds like such a hassle, but, given the right practice, patience, and planning, it can be done! To help you along the way here you can read our guide to flying with a stroller and some recommendations for nappy bags and totes to make that trip that bit easier.
Babies bring joy with their adorable smiles and are definitely easier to travel with compared to energetic toddlers. It's a case of eat, sleep, rinse repeat when they are babies.
Table of Contents
The Ideal Age for Baby Travel
The age can vary depending on airline policies. There are airlines that require the baby to be at least two weeks old while some let a two-day-old baby fly. On a different note, it is recommended by pediatricians to wait for the baby's immune system to develop and get stronger. The most ideal age to travel with a baby is to wait until he/she turns three to six months old as this help ensures that your baby's health and well-being are better protected during the journey.
"Wear" Your Baby
Using a baby carrier and wearing your baby provides greater mobility and freedom to move. It also helps fosters a strong connection and physical bond as babies loves being close to their mothers and/or fathers. Babywearing offers numerous benefits and can soothe infants and promotes better sleep while allowing you to navigate, move, eat, reach and carry things as you please.
Packing and Traveling Light
It is a given that packing light is always the best way to go when traveling (without or with kids!) But traveling with babies has a lot of prerequisites. There are changing clothes, milk, pumps, medicines, and the likes. Apart from that, parents also need to bring their own belongings too. Given the right checklist, planning and bringing only what's necessary will ensure a smoother and lighter trip! On that note, here are our minimalist baby travel essentials:
- Baby Carrier
- Extra Clothes
- Pacifier & Pacifier clip + back up
- Zip locks bags/trash bag
- Changing Blanket
- Hand Sanitizer/Disinfecting Wipes
- Travel Stroller
Look for the Best Mode of Transportation
When in another country, it is best to opt for the safest mode of transportation. Depending on the location, renting a car is ideal as it gives you the freedom to go anywhere you want and in your own time (please request a baby car seat). Alternatively, in Europe for example, hopping on a train becomes the next favourable option for families on the move as they provide a convenient and efficient means of transportation, with extensive rail networks connecting various cities and regions.
Place Dinner Reservations Early
Booking a restaurant early is highly recommended when you have a little one in tow. Restaurants can be a busy place and you'll never know how crowded they can be whether is for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Booking early allows you to secure a table in advance at a time you want and also enables you to choose family-friendly restaurants that offer amenities and facilities for children. Avoid the hassle by planning ahead to sidestep issues to help ensure a smoother dinning experience.
Research Local Nanny Services
It is always best to be prepared when things go sideways. Having a backup nanny when you travel with a baby will come in handy. Before you fly with a baby, look for reputable nanny services online. Hiring from an agency is safer than just entrusting your baby with a random applicant. If you are staying in a hotel or resort, enquire about their babysitting services as most hotels nowadays try to accommodate traveling families. You definitely deserve that candlelight dinner with your partner for one night! Also, if you have friends at your destination, you can ask them for assistance too.
Request a Baby Crib in Your Accommodation
If it's not ideal to bring a crib with you, upon booking, you can include a crib in your package. So, when you get to your hotel or Airbnb, your baby's bed is already in your room.
Be Willing to Pay a Little More
If you can afford it, be willing to pay a little extra to get the best flight that suits your family travel. Traveling internationally can be a drag when on the plane especially with a lap child. So, if you want to travel with convenience, book your flight in advance so you will get a good deal. If you failed to do so, you can opt for adding a little extra to upgrade your plane tickets.
Fees When Flying with a Baby
Not all airlines let babies sitting on their mother's lap fly for free. There are companies that will ask for a fee if you are flying with a baby. So, to avoid misunderstandings, delays, and hassles in the airport, it is best to inform the airline that you are traveling with a baby. Doing so will save you time and the unnecessary hassles at the airport. You can pay the fee online or pay the lap child fee over the phone. The price could go around $200 depending on your destination.
How to Deal with Gate Check with Strollers
Parents usually bring strollers when traveling with their babies, it just makes it easier. A stroller will give your arms and shoulders a rest when your baby is having a nap. Most airlines will let you check in your strollers without hassles. Just make sure you get a tag for your stroller or car seat. Alternatively grab yourself a travel stroller or even better still a hand luggage stroller to help you simplify family travel. This ensures you have your belonging and stroller by your side at all times.
Security, Customs and Boarding with a Baby
It's easier to get through the priority lane when traveling with infants. You get the convenience of organizing your things in the overhead bins without a lot of people bumping onto your left and right. However, not all airports can be this generous, so, for a family who travels with a baby, it is best to organize your things when in the airport, wear your baby, and prepare necessary documents.
How to Deal with Baby Jetlag
If you're traveling with a baby on long or international flights, it is best to stay at your destination longer to help your baby get over jetlag. Although babies sleep a lot during the flight, sometimes it will be harder for them to adjust when you get to your destination. Baby jetlag is not a major concern, but parents need to embrace that this could happen too. On a brighter note, babies can overcome jetlag faster than adults because they are still more attached to their physical bodies. So, when baby jetlag happens, keep your baby awake as long as possible when you get to your hotel. Wait for the evening before you put them to sleep so their body clock goes back to its usual schedule.
Bring Only Your Baby's Favourite Toy
Infants can't really tell the difference between a toy or a random empty plastic bottle. Every inanimate object is a subject of interest for babies. Even insects or cars will entertain the eyes of your child. Anything new really. Thus, traveling will open your child's eyes to countless new images that he/she will not see back home.
Don't Stress About Nap Schedules
If your infant has a strict schedule for nap times, try to alter it a little bit when traveling. You'll never know how they would react to all sorts of noise such as white noise or random people chatting. Family travel is a fun time for everybody and that includes your baby. If your infant is enjoying the moment as you do even if it's time for a nap, let him/her be. it's not all the time your baby gets to be in that place, at that moment, savouring every minute of it.
To easily deal with the napping schedule of your baby, have your luggage-stroller hybrid with you. Let your little one take naps when he/she is sleepy. Don't push them to sleep because the itinerary says so. Keep in mind, your baby is also learning from your adventure, so let your little one enjoy as much as you do.
It's Okay to Get Dirty
It is normal for parents to want their baby clean all the time. However, when you are gallivanting with your baby in an unfamiliar city or country, it will be quite a drag to have to clean your baby every time he/she gets dirty. But, given the fact that babies' immune systems haven't fully developed, they are more prone to nasties. What parents can do is keep their hands clean and have wet wipes ready after going through a dusty or open space. Also, clothe your baby appropriately so he/she won't get dirty easily and bring extra clothes in case you need to change them.
It's also always great to be prepared, especially for medical emergencies. Before the trip, list down the doctors and hospitals near your accommodation so you have them handy with you.
Laundry on the Road
Instead of bringing a lot of clothes with you when traveling with your infants, it's better to do laundry at your destination. It will give you more room for other essentials and you need not bring or carry too many things. Most hotels nowadays have their own laundry area or laundry services so please make use of it.
Don't Worry About Changing Diapers in Public
When you have a baby, it is given that you will be changing diapers here and there and in the most inconvenient time and place. Most people get that. It is something parents do when they have to. So, for parents to feel a little more at ease and comfortable when changing diapers in public, have small trash bags ready, or any plastic bag you got from a grocery store that you can dump dirty diapers in and straight into the bin. It is also a great idea to have a blanket or changing pad handy for your baby to lie on when changing.
Take Advantage of Sinks and Buckets
When traveling, you will need to make use of what's available. It's not all the time you get to enjoy the convenience of hotel room amenities when bathing your baby. So, if you're someplace where buckets or sinks are your only option, take advantage of it. The only time you really need to bathe your baby is when he/she is stinky because of his/her loaded diapers.
Instil an Adventurous Spirit
Traveling with a baby is an effective way to instil an adventurous spirit at a young age. So, break the status quo and unleash your wanderlust. Gift your baby an experience that will help shape his/her consciousness. Let your baby see, smell, taste, and hear things out of the ordinary. Let your baby learn through experience by traveling. They're never too young to learn and you're not too old to gain new experiences.
If you have enjoyed this article, please share it with your family, friends, colleagues, and neighbors down the road.
Stay well, be well and stay social