11 Tips for Traveling with a Baby Solo & Surviving
Earlier this month, Owen and I went to Aspen to visit my parents for a week. We’ve traveled a lot with Owen and this trip marked his 13th & 14th flights! The biggest difference on this trip? I was alone with Owen. It actually wasn’t my first solo trip with him, but since this one ended up having a few bumps along the way, I figured it was the perfect time to share my tips for traveling with an infant babies solo!
Tips For Traveling With A Baby
Try to Plan Trips around Nap Time
When you plan you trip, take a look at the different options for travel times. If you can get a flight that coincides with your baby’s nap time, grab it! It’s amazing if your flight takes off about the same time as they’re going down for a nap. They’ll be easier on the plane ride and make your trip a little smoother!
That being said, it’s not always possible! Sometimes there’s only a few flight options, so just do what works best. The airport is a busy place and I find that even if our flight isn’t right at nap time, Owen will end up falling asleep for at least 30 minutes or so because he’s wiped out from all the action!
Preparing for Travel
Before Owen I would pack at the last minute, but now I like to get a head start a few days before so I don’t forget anything! It forces me to think of everything! Depending on where you’re on your trip, make sure you bring essentials. Think sunscreen, sunglasses, sun hat and swimsuit for your little one if you’re going to the beach. Or, sweaters, pants, socks, and hats for winter.
After doing multiple trips with our little guy, I like to think I’ve gotten pretty good at this! I went ahead and made an all-inclusive packing list that you can download here. If you’re traveling for the first time with your baby and you’re worried about forgetting stuff, definitely print it out and go through it as you’re packing!
Before you hit the road to the airport that morning, I recommend doing one last run through of the list to make sure you don’t forget anything. This is when I grab any last minute things—extra bottles, formula in the diaper bag, pacifiers, etc. Then we leave for the airport with plenty of time to spare.
On our trip to Miami, we left a little late because I was trying to pump before we left. We hit a ton of traffic and then the airport lines were insanely long. We were racing through the airport and made it to our flight with 45 seconds to spare. Needless to say, that was not a good way to start our trip and made me never want to be in that position again! Now, we leave with extra time because I’d much rather hang out for a little longer in the airport than be stressed that we’re not going to make it.
What To Pack In Your Carry On Or Diaper Bag
I like to think I’m a bit of a minimalist here, but it really depends on your baby. Some kids need specific toys or extra things, so of course add what your baby needs! These are the things I always have in my diaper bag:
- Extra Outfit
- Baby Food/Snacks
- Burp Cloth
- Extra Outfit
My biggest suggestion is to bring a little more than you think you need! We’ve been on so many delayed flights, missed connections and had diaper blowouts! I’m always so thankful for packing a little extra! I made a very extensive packing list that includes everything from the diaper bag to clothes, toiletries and baby gear! Click the button below to get the list!
The Chicago airport is always pretty busy and can make me instantly feel stressed-anyone else feel this way at the airport? If you can avoid it, check-in at the kiosk to get your boarding passes and drop your checked bags. Most airlines will already have your lap infant on your ticket and there’s no reason to wait in line. The only exception to this that we’ve had is with Southwest. If you’re traveling Southwest, you’ll need to wait in line to check-in and bring a copy of your baby’s birth certificate!
You can of course check your stroller and car seat, but I like brining the stroller with us and gate checking it. This is especially true when I’m traveling alone! I already have my hands full with my bag and Owen’s diaper bag. The stroller has a ton of extra space underneath and gives me a place to set Owen down that’s clean. It’s also great if he gets sleepy as he can easily nap in here!
Other than that, I check our luggage. It’s usually too big because I pack Owen and my stuff in the same bag, but even if it was smaller, I really don’t want any extra bags to carry! Yes, checking bags can get pricey, but the $25 is worth it in my opinion to make the rest of our travel day a little easier!
Getting Through Security
Getting through security without a baby can be a pain, but traveling with babies? Ugh, haha! My best tip, is to just remain calm. Everyone always starts rushing to get their stuff out of their bag and shoes off. Don’t let it get to you. Take your time because it’ll definitely take you longer to get through, so if people behind you are getting annoyed, just tell them to go around you.
You’ll have to take your baby out of the stroller or baby carrier if they’re on your chest. Strollers must be folded down and put through the x-ray and same goes with car seats. If you have liquid milk, put it in its own bin. You can bring as much milk for your baby as you need, but they will have to check it on the other side. It doesn’t take long and they don’t touch the actual milk!
Other than milk, try to carry on as few liquids and technology as you can. With less of that, you won’t have to take as much out of your bag. I also recommend that you wear sneakers or shoes that are easy to take on and off. Sandals would be great, but my feet always get too cold for sandals on a plane!
Lastly, ask for help! I’m always pleasantly surprised by how many people offer to help and when you’re struggling, just say yes! Trying to hold a baby with one hand and pop your stroller open with the other is REALLY hard. And again, don’t worry about taking forever, generally, people get it and they don’t mind!
Best Toys To Bring On An Airplane With A Baby
Avoid bringing noisy toys on the plane. Babies are already prone to screaming and crying—loud toys will only make the other passengers more annoyed, ha! Owen’s been teething, so I bring toys he can chew on and a couple of small board books. He loves looking at the pictures and also loves holding them, and yes, chewing on them!
For older kids, an iPad might be a good solution, but Owen doesn’t have that kind of attention span yet!
Should You Choose The Window Or Aisle?
We always pick the aisle—it gives me a little bit more space which is nice when he’s on my lap. It also makes getting up to walk the aisle or going to the bathroom to change a diaper much easier.
Most airlines, have an early boarding section where families with children under two can board before everyone else. This is great because it allows you to get situated with all your junk before everyone else gets on. Owen also loves standing on my legs and looking at everyone while they board. Shortly after that, he’s usually tired and takes a nap!
The flight attendants are always really excited to see us when we get on and are usually incredibly sweet and helpful. It’s nice that you get to meet them real quick before the craziness of boarding really begins.
Feeding & Changing on Plane
Unless you plan just right, you’ll likely have to feed your baby on the plane. If you’re breastfeeding, make sure you have a cover. If you’re bottle feeding, make sure you have extra water with you to mix formula. I always try to avoid feeding him solids while we’re on a flight because it’s just so messy. When he’s older I know that will be inevitable, but he’ll have more hand eye coordination too!
As for changing diapers—ugh, I have to admit, this is not that easy in an airplane bathroom. It’s small in there, but most planes have a fold-out tray above the toilet that pops down for changing. I try giving Owen his pacifier when we’re in there because he gets really upset. I think it’s the combination of the small space, loud plane sounds and just being unfamiliar with everything, because normally he doesn’t mind if his diaper gets changed!
One other question I get all the time is people asking if Owen’s ears hurt while we fly. I was so worried about it, but after our first flight we learned that the pressure isn’t an issue until their skulls are fully fused. As they get older, it may become a problem, and I’ve heard that feeding or breastfeeding them during takeoff or landing works well. Or try a pacifier! It’s the sucking motion that helps keep their ears clear!
Staying at a Hotel
During our last trip, we stayed with my parents who generously offered to buy a crib and crib sheets for us! If you’re staying at a hotel, you can of course bring your own pack n’ play, but if you don’t want to lug one more thing along, have the hotel bring a crib to your room. You can call ahead and request that a crib be brought to your hotel room so that it’s there when you arrive too. They’re a little smaller than normal cribs, but it’s worked great for us in the past. Owen might be getting a little long for it now though.
Baby Sleep While Traveling
If you’re traveling with a baby, their sleep schedule is likely to get disrupted. We stuck to a pretty strict schedule before traveling, and the day after travel, Owen’s naps were a mess. But, after about a day or two, he was back into a normal swing of things! Don’t get too worried about it! All your sleep training won’t be lost forever.
Have you traveled with your baby a lot? What tips do you have for staying sane while traveling alone?!