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I put together this series of 55 tips from my own personal experiences with my two sons while traveling and those of my family and friends. These tips are extensive and super helpful. Use them as needed, and as always, use your best judgment and consult your pediatrician when necessary.
–Danielle Dalgin, Creator of Easy Baby Travelers
#1 When you start car trips, start small
If you have a very demanding baby, or even a little angel, start with baby steps, by taking small car trips on a weekend. That way, you’ll know what to expect on longer trips.
#2 Bring familiar toys to reduce travel stress
Sometimes your baby or toddler may sleep for the entire trip. Some trips may be a stressful. Bring familiar toys or other objects to decrease stress. Make toys readily available using the Entertain Me Easy Baby Traveler.
#3 Use the the right baby stroller / car seat for car trips
When you travel by car, your baby should be in a baby car seat appropriate for your little one’s age and weight. A stroller that transforms into a car seat can be pretty handy by helping reduce the number of baby items you need to carry.
#4 Put your bags in the car one day before
Pack your car one day before doing your car trip and avoid the stress of doing things in a hurry. You will then time to double check that you’ve taken everything you needed for your little one.
#5 Keep an “emergency” bag with you
Keep a bag with you with a changing pad, diapers, wipes, ointments, a change of clothes and other items that you may think that are useful, like medications and copies of important medical records for your baby while traveling.
#6 Bring an inflatable baby bath
Not confident about the hotel room’s bathroom for your little one? Bring an inflatable baby bath with you and you won’t have to worry about any reservations with bathing your children while traveling.
#7 Remember to bring snacks – FOR YOU!
Breastfeeding? Some moms get pretty irritated if we don’t eat something in the short term. Bring snacks and water and avoid having to stop and buy something to eat when your little angel is sleeping.
#8 Plan ahead. Don’t regret it when you get there
One week before a trip make a checklist with all the things you will need (Don’t forget to check the checklist to see if you didn’t leave something important behind).
#9 Travel when your baby sleeps
The best time to travel is when your baby is normally sleeping. Avoid times with traffic jams because babies tend to be more irritated when the car isn’t moving.
#10 Protect your baby from the sun
If you opt to travel during very sunny days, put a car window shade to protect your baby from the sun. You can apply sunscreen if your little is more than 6 months old. If not, you can dress your baby with clothes that offer protection from the sun.
#11 Create your baby travel entertainment system
You can sing, read books and play with your baby, but if you want to rest a little bit and don’t want to entertain your baby the entire car trip, you can use a mount to secure your smartphone or tablet to the back of your car seat. Download your baby’s favorite series to your device to avoid the show not playing due to internet connectivity issues. Or, if you have a subscription to YouTube Red, you can download YouTube videos to your device and play them without worrying about an internet connection.
I had been initially against my first son watching video on a tablet or smartphone. But, after several multi-hour trips to family where my son became inconsolable, I caved in and downloaded seasons of Barney, Yo Gabba Gabba! and Elmo to our tablet. Our next car ride to Long Beach Island included a nap, some signing and an hour of Barney. It was there when we needed it and our son was happy.
#12 Reserve an extra seat on the train
Traveling by train can be quite relaxing. No one needs to drive and you and your baby can enjoy the landscape outside. Consider buying an extra ticket so you can have more room for you and your baby. Do not sit in the quiet car. Your baby will ultimately cry at some point and you may be asked to move. In addition, consider traveling during off peak times and you may have access to an adjacent extra seat without having to pay for it.
I once took a three hour train trip with my son to Boston from Stamford. He was an angel the first hour and then started throwing a tantrum. I had unwittingly sat in the quiet car and immediately felt horrified. I moved my son and I and our luggage from the back car to the the empty front-car where extra seats were available for my son to play in.
#13 Avoid traveling alone with your baby
You will need to transport your luggage and your baby inside the train. It isn’t impossible to do with a baby stroller or a sling, but can be a bit tricky. Dragging a suitcase, bag, stroller and baby down the narrow train aisle by yourself is going to result into bumping to a lot of your fellow passenger’s elbows and knees (people like to sleep on the train and extend their arms and legs into the aisle) Therefore, travel with your spouse or invite a friend or family member along to help you navigate the tight spaces and carry some of your stuff.
#14 Avoid traveling issues with a permission letter
Even if you travel together with your spouse, the CDC advises you to carry a notarized permission letter for your spouse, in case you get separated for some reason. By doing this, you will avoid further complications if you need to prove that you aren’t kidnapping your own child.
#15 It’s obvious but never leave your baby unattended
We know we’re overstating the obvious but, although you may need to rest, go to the bathroom or some other activity, you should never let your little one out of your sight or give them to a person you don’t know. Travel with someone you trust and that can take care of your precious little one when you need to do something else.
#16 Bring or send your own formula
Baby formulas available abroad may not be the same as the place where you live, and even if you buy an international brand of a baby formula it may be hard to find it in the place where you are going. If you’re not breastfeeding your baby, bring enough baby formula or make arrangements with your hotel to have them accept an a deliver of formula for you. Some hotels may charge a fee for the service. Call and confirm.
Some people choose to ship formula internationally to their hotel for longer trips. On one trip, my husband and I took an entire suitcase of formula with us. It was overweight and paid a surcharge. On another trip, this time to Montreal, my husband and I ran out of formula. When we went to buy more in the pharmacy we learned that even the same brand was formulated differently in that country.
#17 Avoiding diarrhea and other stomach illnesses
To avoid diarrhea, the CDC advises to give disinfected water to your baby, including water used to prepare infant formula. You should also remember to hand wash and clean bottles, pacifiers and other baby items, that fall on the floor or are handled by others with disinfected water. You can use disinfected bottled water, but be careful because, depending on the area you are traveling, this water may also be contaminated. Here are some techniques to disinfect water. In addition, food served to your baby should be thoroughly cooked and eaten while still hot in order to avoid diarrhea.
One trip our first son developed a horrible stomach bug and it ended up affecting me as well. Let’s just say we had to clean up after him every few hours. Surprisingly, he acted like nothing happened a smile would quickly return to his face, We could have picked it up from ice or our bathing or sink water. We drank bottled water the whole time.
#18 Check with your doctor about vaccinating for your travel destination
The World Health Organization (WHO), states that you and your baby, and all travelers should have their vaccines up to date, whether you travel locally or internationally. It is important to immunize yourself against the common diseases of the country you’re traveling to. WHO also points out, that you and your baby may need other vaccines, depending on the place you’re traveling to. You and your baby may need to take other vaccines like the Japanese Encephalitis Vaccine, Rabies Vaccine, Typhoid Vaccine and Yellow Fever Vaccine. You should check with your doctor and/or pediatrician if it is required to take a special vaccine for the place you’re traveling to.
#19 Don’t get surprised, confirm your reservations and arrangements you made for your baby
Surprises may happen, but when you are with a baby it is a little difficult to react to them. Phone the hotel or the place you booked to check if everything is ok a week before traveling. That way if the hotel doesn’t provide the same facilities you booked (the hotel may not have a crib available although stated otherwise), you can cancel your reservation for free and go somewhere else.
#20 When is the right time for your baby to take their first plane trip?
Although many airlines accept babies more than seven days old, your baby may be too small and hasn’t received their vaccines yet. You may want to wait until your little adorable angel is at least three months old. Consult your pediatrician.
#21 Consider an FAA approved child “seat” when flying due to turbulence
An accident or turbulence may cause severe injury to your baby. The CDC and FAA recommend in order to prevent those injuries to place your baby in a rear-facing Federal Aviation Authority–approved child-safety seat if your baby is under a year old and weighs less than 20 lb. If your baby is more than a year old and weighs 20 lb. to 40 lb. you should use a forward-facing Federal Aviation Authority–approved child-safety seat.
#22 Bring your own baby formula, breast milk or juice on the plane
The TSA states that you can bring your baby formula, breast milk and juice– and they aren’t limited to the usual 3.4 ounces or 100 milliliters that are allowed in the carry on baggage. You should inform the TSA agent that you’re bringing these liquids with you, and if you don’t want them to be X-rayed or opened.
#23 Avoid undue stress, buy direct flights when possible
Yes, direct flights are usually more expensive, but are less stressful than changing flights with your baby. With some luck your baby will sleep the entire flight.
#24 Travel when your baby is sleeping
Like in the car, it is better to travel when your baby usually sleeps. Schedules may not always permit, but when they do, you’ll have a happier baby.
As a baby, my son loved when we sat right by the engine. As soon as the plane took off and the engines were thrusting, he immediately fell asleep. Best shusher ever!
#25 Choose the window seat
Consider the window seat for your little one. The scenery can keep them occupied. For tots that are sensitive to flying, looking out the window may help with motion sickness.
#26 Get travel insurance for international medical expenses
Check your medical plan’s international health coverage and/or consider a travel insurance that covers possible medical expenses for you and your baby. Some places, like Qatar, have expensive health care, and in some other places, like Thailand, it may be the difference that saves your life.
#27 Have an “Emergency” handbag
Like in the car, you should have a handbag, tote or Easy Baby Traveler for your baby changing supplies (Yes, babies also need to change diapers at high altitudes!), baby food and other things you think that are essential.
#28 Consider a 2 in 1 baby stroller when flying
Many airlines allow 1 or 2 baby items. If you usually use a baby stroller, bring it with you. If you have a 2-in-1 stroller with a Federal Aviation Authority–approved child-safety seat, even better. Contact your airline to understand what they require when traveling with a baby.
#29 Keep your baby’s nose clean
If your baby has a stuffy nose, you can clean it with saline solution and an aspirator or NoseFrida to avoid discomfort during a flight. Consult your doctor.
#30 Go to the Pediatrician
Before flying, you should go to your pediatrician to check if it is safe to fly with your baby. The pediatrician may request some medical exams to check if everything is ok. Write down all the doubts you may have about traveling with your baby, so you don’t forget to ask something important. Seize the opportunity to ask for any prescriptions that your pediatrician determines would be necessary for your travel destination.
#31 In-flight hygiene is important
Keep changing your baby’s diaper like you were at your home. If the airplane doesn’t have a place to change diapers, change it on your seat. Just put a changing pad on it. The rest, you know how to do it!
#32 Wear comfortable clothes and dress your baby in layers
You and your baby should wear comfortable clothes. If you are breastfeeding, use a shirt that allows you to do so easily. Besides wearing comfortable clothes, you should also dress your baby in different layers, so you can take them off if it is too hot or dress them again if is too cold.
#33 Check if our airline has a baby/toddler policy
Before buying your plane tickets, check the airline’s babies and children policy (if one exists). Policies vary from airline to airline. Some airlines may have cribs and may offer some types of services that may be helpful.
#34 Buy an extra seat
Babies and toddlers under 24 months old don’t need to pay for a ticket. However, if you are considering traveling with a low-cost airline the taxes they charge may be almost equal to buying a ticket. So, even if you aren’t considering buying your baby a seat it may be useful to do so, because you will have more space to stretch out and manage your baby supplies.
#35 Helping with ear sensitivity on the plane
Feeding or a pacifier can help relieve pressure in the ears when taking off and landing. Dr. Sears recommends keeping infants comfortable by administering a saline nasal spray every hour to prevent a dry, itchy nose. Only wake sleeping children on descent if they have a history of ear pain.
#36 Dealing with your crying baby on the plane
Let’s face it. If you travel with a child at some point your child is going to cry and may be inconsolable. Most people can relate to you. Especially those with kids. Feel rest assured that the anxiety and worry you feel about how the other passengers on the plane feel about your little one is more than what the other passengers feel. Flight attendants are also generally helpful and will sometimes ask if they can help.
#37 Flying? Hand sanitizer is a must!
Even if a plane looks clean, it’s likely not to be. The air is usually filtered but upholstery and door handles can harbor bacteria for weeks. Have your hand sanitizer ready to go and absolutely use it for yourself and the seat where your baby will be.
#38 Add travel wheels to your car seat
Headed to the airport? Check your stroller with your luggage. Tote your baby or tot around in their car seat by attaching travel wheels. This way if you bought them a seat on the plane you can use your airline approved car seat or check it at the gate to ensure proper handling. Be sure to have a protective bag when checking the seat.
#39 When your baby can go on a cruise
Ages may differ depending on the cruise operator. Some allow babies four months and older, others six months and older, and some don’t allow babies at all, only toddlers. Confirm this and some of the other tips below when booking.
#40 With your crib, you may not be free to move about the cabin
Some cruise companies offer a crib, but you may not be able to move about your cabin while the crib is in there. Make sure to clarify both the crib and the space for it before you book your cruise.
#41 Sling vs. Strollers
Ship corridors may be narrow and a baby stroller may be difficult to navigate throughout the ship. A sling of some type may be an option. Make sure to check with your cruise operator if they have any guidance on where and if strollers can be used on the ship.
#42 Enjoy the nanny service
Many ships have a nanny service. Take an evening to enjoy a romantic dinner with your significant other and to take part in late night festivities. This service is usually extra, but worthwhile. Confirm the service with your cruise operator.
#43 Check if your baby is allowed in the pool
Many cruise ships have a pool, but your baby may not be able to enjoy it because the cruise operator may not allow babies or toddlers due to diapers in their pool. If you want to go to the pool with your baby check this issue before you book your cruise and confirm if your child can go in the pool if they wear a swim diaper in the pool.
#44 Address motion sickness ahead of time
To avoid motion sickness, choose a cabin in the middle and the upper floors. Confirm available options with your pediatrician if your baby gets motion sickness while on the cruise.
#45 Try your own thing
Although the above tips can be helpful, they aren’t written in stone. You should do what works best for you and always use YOUR BEST JUDGEMENT as a mom! Every little one has different needs and different personalities, as well as their parents! If something works with you, keep doing it. If something doesn’t work, try something new.
#46 You may get frustrated, take a breath and be patient
Traveling with the baby is not the same thing as traveling alone. You will do things more slowly than you used to do. This is completely normal. Try to prepare things ahead and put an extra “baby hour” in every plan you make.
#47 Enjoy your trip
Someone once said to me, “Vacations become trips once you have a child.” Fully enjoy those moments you are blessed with where you can just relax and enjoy your trip with your little one.
#48 Ask your significant other to take pictures of you with your baby
It’s not a enough to remember to bring a camera or to keep your smartphone charged. As moms, we find we don’t have as many pictures with the kids because we’re usually the one taking the pictures. Make sure to hand the camera or smartphone to your travel partner in order to get those special memories captured forever.
#49 Be mindful of changes to your timezone
Remember when you your baby was first born? They may not have learned the difference between night and day. Be prepared and patient to deal with your baby’s ability to adapt to a new timezone.
#50 Bring toys, have them ready to go
Always keep some of your child’s favorite toys in your travel bag in order to keep your child happy and occupied on the plan.
#51 Check ahead for medical care when traveling
It is always useful to know the medical specialists at the place you are about to go. Call your hotel ahead to understand how they can help if their is an issue and to find out what pediatric doctor(s) may be in the area. Some hotels offer on premises care and have relationships with local hospitals.
#52 Understand the weather and pack accordingly when traveling
Climate can vary from day to night. Temperatures in your hotel can fluctuate as well. Ever feeling freezing in your hotel even in the dead of summer? Make sure to pack for the climate and some extra clothing for the unexpected.
#53 Don’t forget soap for your baby when traveling
I know. Obvious? As moms, we use special soaps for our babies. You usually won’t find these in one of those little bottles in your hotel room. Sometimes you can find baby soap in the gift shop. Ingredients can vary by country. If you’re comfortable with your brand make sure to pack it with you.
#54 Get a hotel near the sights you intend to see
Sometimes a hotel near all the attractions may cost you a little more but you will have the security of being able to get back to a safe place if you need to take care of your little one if they are having an issue.
#55 Understand if it safe to travel at high altitudes with a baby
Your baby will have the same tolerance for high altitudes as you do, provided that she has no special health concerns and is beyond 3 months of age. (Babies under 3 months do not have mature enough lungs to handle the altitude stress, so wait until the baby has reached that milestone to take your trip.)