Traveling with Littles: The Big, The Small, The Nasties

If you’re getting ready to travel with your little one in tow, there is a LOT to think about. Fear not! We’ve got you covered. If you haven’t read our post about air travel for breastfeeding and pumping mamas, click here. And make sure to get caught up on air travel with baby food and snacks here! Today, we continue our Traveling with Littles series by sharing all of our other favorite travel tips and hacks.

Getting Checked In and Checked Luggage

If you are flying, check with your airline about documentation you may need for your baby. We needed a birth certificate for domestic travel. I’ve heard that others don’t. Your baby will need a passport for international travel. Don’t arrive without your proper paperwork!

While you’re at it, check with them about their checked luggage policy about children’s items. On Southwest, your car seat, play yard, and stroller can all fly free as checked luggage and this DOES NOT count against an adult’s baggage allowance. Pretty generous!

Consider packing vs shipping. If you are paying for checked bags, it may make more sense to order diapers, wipes, or an inexpensive play yard online and have them shipped to your destination.

If you’d like your child to fly in their own car seat, infant fares are available with most major airlines. You will have to carry your car seat through the airport, but if you have a model that attaches to your stroller, this may not be a big deal!

Navigating the Airport

Some parents wear their baby through the airport in a carrier. We used a stroller and are glad we did. There’s no right or wrong answer here. Just consider your child’s weight, the other luggage you’ll have, and your travel itinerary. We liked having our stroller because it gave her a place to comfortable sit and we could stow the diaper bag or purse under her. We just collapsed and bagged it when we were lining up to board.

You will need to collapse and scan your stroller and car seat at TSA and carry your baby through the metal detector. The agents were really kind and gave us tips but also did not make us feel rushed in anyway. Nice!

We also found that people will make way for the family with the stroller. Just saying!

The Carry-On

Pack items “just in case” in your carry-on. You’ll have more peace of mind:

  • Diapers: We packed enough to get through the flight, any delays, and a few hours after we’d arrive. If our bags got lost, we figured we would go buy more.

  • Wipes: Pack a ton. We used them not only for diaper changes, but to wipe down our entire seating area on the plane, tables, and chairs in the airport. Or to wipe our hands or freshen our faces. Wipes. Everywhere.

  • Extra clothes: Blow outs, throw up. They happen. You may even want an extra shirt for yourself, Mama.

  • Chux, blue pads, or puppy pads: Hear me out. Not all planes have a changing table. You may have to change your baby on the airplane floor or on the toilet in the plane's lavatory. Or you may encounter a seriously grody bathroom on your travels. Yes, you have a changing pad, but those are pretty small. Line the area with disposable pads!

  • Nappy sacks, or disposable diaper baggies: If there is a nasty diaper, it’s courteous to tie it up in a baggy so it doesn’t stink up the airplane or airport bathroom. Additionally, if you are using open top waste bins in a hotel room, these work well at keeping your room smelling fresh!

  • Pajamas & all Sleepytime stuff: If your bag gets lost, at least baby can get to sleep comfortably. And I always pack a clean pair of undies for myself in case of a lost bag!

  • Pump: At the very least, your manual pump, if you’re a breastfeeding or pumping mom.

  • Toys and books: We bought a few new toys and board books at the dollar store before our trip. This kept things interesting during the flight!

  • Pacifiers, if you use them. They will hit the floor of the airport and plane, so pack plenty!

  • Food: enough breastmilk, formula, baby food and/or snacks to get you through your flight, any delays, and the first night.

  • Medications, prescription and OTC: for anyone! Again, bags get LOST. You do not want to deal with getting a prescription filled in another state or country. Additionally, I liked having infant Tylenol with us just in case she got a fever so we didn't have to sweat it while traveling or at our destination. I also packed her diaper cream and that tube was over 3.4 oz. I just put her Tylenol liquid and cream in a baggie and took it for screening at TSA.

  • Patience and a sense of humor: Travel can suck. Sure, the destination might be dreamy, but there is plenty that can turn a trip south when you are on the road or in the air. Then add a baby to the mix! It’s hard. But you can only control what you can control. The rest is out of your hands.

We both had pretty intense anxiety before our flights. We didn’t want our little ones to be scared or miserable, and we also didn’t want to have the screaming baby on the flight. But they both did great! I think sometimes babies are a lot more flexible than we imagine they will be. But we also think that being as prepared as possible can help parents feel more at ease. Essentially, "I've done everything I can do," and leave the rest to go however it is going to go.

Safe travels!

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