Having a new baby can be overwhelming, and the thought of traveling with an infant may seem completely impossible to you. However, with the right prepwork you can totally travel by plane, train or car with a baby — you just have to do your research and plan ahead. Here are some of our top tips for traveling with a baby, from packing cute baby boy clothes to getting a passport for your infant:
Start with a road trip.
This will be the easiest, least stressful way to travel with your baby for the first time. Traveling by car allows you to pack a lot of luggage and means that you don’t have to fuss with airport security or trying to get a coveted bassinet. If you are planning to fly with a baby anytime soon, try doing a short weekend trip by car first as a test run so that you can work out what luggage you need and how you want to organize things.
Know the airport and airline regulations.
Usually, people traveling with small children will be allowed boarding priority, and there is often a priority option or sometimes a dedicated line at security for families as well. Sometimes you might have to pay an extra fee to fly with an infant in your arms, but this varies from airline to airline and you might have to call to confirm the charges and pay the fee (if there is one). If you need more space but don’t want to pay for an extra seat, you can always ask at the ticketing counter if there are any empty seats on the flight and if you can be seated next to them.
Be early for long flights.
Most long haul flights have baby bassinets that attach to the bulkhead, and these are usually given out on a first-come, first-serve basis at the gate. You can call ahead to try to reserve it or at least put in a request for it, but your best bet is going to be showing up early in person. Each airline has different size bassinets and therefore different weight restrictions on how large the baby using it can be, so do your research ahead of time to make sure that your baby will actually fit.
Choose your lodging wisely.
Many hotels and Airbnbs provide a crib or pack-and-play upon request, making this one less thing that you have to bring with you. Some also feature in-house laundry units, which means that you can pack less clothing for both you and baby. Try to book far enough in advance to maximize your chances of finding lodging with these helpful perks.
Pack the essentials.
Once you know what your lodging will provide, make a list of the essentials that you need to take with you. Obviously, there will be some items that you will need with you en route, plus some items that it would be expensive to buy duplicates of (like a breast pump). However, there will also be items that you can pick up once you arrive, such as diapers and formula. You can also minimize the number of cute baby girl clothes you have to pack if you can commit to doing laundry while you are there.
Rent a car with a car seat.
If you plan to get around by car, ask the rental company if they provide car seats for renters, as many companies will. If this isn’t a possibility, then get a car seat that can clip into the stroller seat so that you aren’t stuck carrying an extra heavy, bulky piece of gear on the plane or train.
Wear the baby as much as possible.
While your baby is still small, wearing them (vs. putting them in a stroller) is often the easiest way to travel with them, especially in airports. Strollers can be difficult to wrangle through security and they’re difficult to fold and unfold while trying to hold the baby, so you might as well put off using one for as long as you can until your baby gets too heavy to carry around.
Get a noise machine or app.
If your baby is a light sleeper, a white noise machine or app will help mask distracting background sounds so they will fall asleep and stay asleep. If you don’t want to sacrifice one of your phones to do this all night, you can get a dedicated white noise machine that is precisely designed to do this. Be sure to choose a small one that will easily fit into your luggage.
Get them a passport.
If you are traveling internationally, remember that babies need passports, too! Start the passport process well before you plan to leave so that you don’t have to go through an expensive and stressful expediting process. Note that there are some extra documents and requirements for getting a passport for a baby, so it’s not exactly the same as getting a passport for an adult.
Plan for jet lag.
If you are moving across time zones, then it’s going to take you and the baby time to adjust to the new schedule — and the farther you go, the longer it will take. If possible, try to schedule your flight or drive during their bedtime so they will wake up at your new destination. Build a few days into your schedule to give the whole family time to recover from jet lag. You can try to change their schedule before you leave, but it’s up to you whether you want to attempt that or not.
Turn traveling with your baby from a dream into a reality with these expert tips. Got more advice for traveling with a baby? Share it with us in the comments below!