20 Tips for Travelling with an Infant or Newborn
Travelling with an infant really doesn’t have to be as scary as it sounds. In fact, it can be an amazing bonding experience making beautiful memories. Did you know that children under 2 don’t need a full ticket on a plane? Take advantage while you can! Below you can find our best tips for travelling with an infant.
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Should you travel with an infant?
You have probably heard people telling you that travelling with an infant won’t be a positive experience. In fact, many parents just assume they can’t travel anymore when they have a child.
What if I was to tell you that it actually isn’t as scary as you think? That you can travel with your baby, and still have an amazing time! Well you can. Travelling with kids while they are young has some amazing benefits.
My first born was just 6 weeks old when we took him on his first holiday and he was just 3mths old on his first international trip, a 24 hour flight from Italy to Australia. It didn’t stop there, I travelled to Australia with him again when he was 18mths old, and I was 4 months pregnant!
When he was 2, and his little brother was just 5 weeks old, we travelled on an overnight train to the French Riviera where we hired a car and explored for a week. Yep, we travelled with an infant and a toddler and we did fine.
Since then we have continued to travel with our kids as much as possible and they (and we) have become quite good at it. The experiences we have had along the way are memories we will never forget.
So, I thought would share my tips to help other parents who are thinking of travelling with an infant to make your travels easier too.
Whether you’re hopping on a train ride, flying across the world to a remote island, or boarding a cruise ship, you can simply tweak these tips to fit your itinerary to make taking your baby with you easier.
20 Tips for Travelling with an Infant
Below you can find our best tips for travel with an infant. Travel with a baby doesn’t need to be difficult. You just need to travel differently.
1. Travel with the right attitude (and expectations)
First and foremost, the most important tip when travelling with a baby is to keep your expectations low but your spirits high. When you keep your expectations low, it’s difficult to be disappointed.
Take for example when you’re travelling with an infant on an airplane. With a great attitude and your expectations set to low, a 14-hour flight might not feel as painfully long. You’ll disembark thinking that wasn’t bad after all! As cliché as it sounds, in all things, a good attitude matters immensely in the way you react, the way you feel, and how your day goes.
2. Breastfeed if possible. Or pack enough formula or baby food
If possible, breastfeed. This eliminates having to lug around several bottles and worrying about washing them, carrying cans of formula, and figuring out where to get water.
However, if breastfeeding is not an option, ensure that you’re packed with enough formula or baby food. There’s nothing more devastating than a crying, hungry baby while you’re thousands of feet up in the air or driving in the middle of nowhere, and you have nothing to feed your little one.
3. Use Packing Cubes
Packing cubes, or travel pouches are functional and help keep your items organiseed in your nappy bag or suitcase. Have you ever packed your suitcase and organised the items only to open your bag and you can’t seem to find what you’re looking for? You even folded them neatly but they all got jumbled up anyway? Being able to sort quickly through your bag helps your travel become more efficient.
4. Bring a Lightweight stroller
If you travel with a baby you need to think about how you will get around. Depending on where you’re going, you’ll most likely need a stroller. You’re probably thinking you don’t want to have to carry yet another item, but it will also be quite difficult to carry your baby all day every day during your travels.
Airlines check in strollers for free, so it’s no cost to you and your comfort. And strollers can hold your other belongings too, so it’s a win win.
If your baby can sit up well, consider using an umbrella stroller. It’s cheap, lightweight and not bulky, so it’s easier to take when you go out and about especially in crowded areas. If not, you will need to look into a light weight pram which can lay down.
5. Use baby carrier or wrap where possible
If you’re heading to a really crowded destination and you want to avoid the hassle of a stroller, use a baby carrier or wrap. Your hands will still be free to hold your other kids’ hands, carry your souvenirs, take photos, or eat.
Baby carriers are great especially if travelling with an infant who is still tiny, they may even sleep the entire time all snuggled up with you. Just ensure there’s proper support to save your back from aching. You’ll be tired at the end of the day whether you use a carrier or a stroller, but at least with a carrier, you don’t have to worry about where to put the stroller or finding an elevator.
6. Decide if you will bring a car seat or rent one on arrival
If you plan to rent a car your baby will need a car seat. Most airlines will allow you to take your car seat free on the plane which is great. You just need to think about where you are going, how much you will use it, and if it is easier to just rent one on arrival. Rental car agencies usually charge extra for car seats so you need to take this into account.
7. Stay in self contained accommodation where possible
A self contained apartment will be much easier than staying in a hotel room. While a hotel room may seem nicer, it won’t have everything you need when travelling with an infant.
Having a kitchen with a fridge and microwave is great for storing bottles, snacks, and preparing your little one’s food. There is also usually extra space for a porta cot if you are bringing one along. Some even may have a washing machine where you can wash your babies clothes.
Having your own “home away from home” is just more practical when travelling with a baby.
8. Bring spare Pacifiers / Dummies if your child uses them
Using a pacifier or a dummy is a topic as controversial as breastfeeding vs formula, co-sleeping vs cry-it-out method, and others that don’t aid in relief or support to the complex and difficult task that is parenting. So let’s not get into that.
Bottomline, if you as a parent choose to use a dummy, take extras, because it will only help when you’re travelling especially if you are flying. Though, don’t wait until you start travelling to introduce it. Get your baby used to it from the get-go, so by the time you go on your adventure, your baby will be soothed. None of my kids used a dummy generally, however I always had one on hand when travelling.
9. Eat healthy and hydrate
No need to mention it’s scientifically proven that bad food makes you feel your worst and good food makes you feel your best. When leaving the comfort of your home, you want to feel refreshed, alert, and happy; not sluggish, moody, or irritable.
Eating healthy food is self-care that boosts your energy to keep you going all day long so you and your baby can better explore the world. It is also quite important to hydrate.
10. Get plenty of rest before travelling
Just like eating healthy and drinking lots of water, you want to get plenty of rest before you travel. This means getting enough sleep, so you don’t wake up groggy, tired, and irritable.
Remember that while you may be lucky and have a little one who sleeps through the whole journey, you might also have to walk up and down the aisle for the whole duration of your flight rocking your baby.
It’s hard enough to travel on your own tired, but to be tired and travel with a baby – now, that’s a whole new ball game.
11. Be flexible when you travel with an infant
When you’re travelling with an infant, whether it’s driving to the next town over or catching a red eye, you need to be flexible. Many parents get anxious about their babies not getting their sleep right on the dot, but my advice is to throw that schedule or routine out the window, at least until you get back home.
It will be difficult to stick to a strict routine in an unfamiliar setting without the items your baby’s accustomed to like their own cot, swing, or sleeping in their own room. Especially if you travel far and there is a time difference.
Expect spontaneity. Expect your schedule to be all over the place. Expect your baby to have a hard time in a new environment with new sounds and smell. You’re venturing out to new and exciting places; if things aren’t going the way you planned, just go with the flow.
Be flexible and keep the fun in your adventure. You can get back on track when you get home.
12. Wear comfortable clothes
Remember that no matter where you go or how you get there, you will be cramped and trapped in a metal compartment for at least a couple of hours. You will also be lugging around several heavy items that you and your baby will need during your trip.
You may also be met with travel disruptions such as flight delays, car breakdowns, heavy flow of traffic, terrible weather, and other unforeseen events. In those cases, you most likely do not want to be wearing high heels or a suit and tie. So, get out the runners, put on those leggings or track pants, and get as comfy as you can possibly be.
Over preparing seems counter intuitive especially after reading that you need to pack light. But you can still pack light and over prepare by packing smart. This means packing the essentials first. By over preparing, you will be able to swiftly resolve an issue should one arise.
If you’re flying: Make sure you have an extra pair of clothes for you and your baby in your carry-on.
If you’re travelling on land: Make sure these clothes are in a travel pouch and easy to grab should anything happen like your baby spitting up or leaking out of the diaper.
14. Bring Lots of water and baby snacks
Ensuring you have plenty of water and baby snacks. You’ll never know what will happen, so it’s best to have these on hand. If you’re flying, immediately after boarding, simply ask the flight attendants kindly to fill up your water bottles. Also, save breastfeeding or bottle feeding when the airplane takes off and landing to help relieve air pressure. There are also many types of food pouches that keep that you can pack and grab easily.
15. Bring wet wipes, first aid kit, baby medicine
Wherever you go, especially if it’s frequented by the public, is always going to be a cesspool of germs. Keep your trip fun by avoiding getting ill. There’s nothing worse than travelling while sick and travelling while sick with a sick baby. Wash your hands often. Use sanitary wipes. Pack a first aid kit and baby medicine for worst case scenarios.
16. Pack extra clothes for you and baby
This is where your packing cubes shine best. Surely you pack an extra change of clothes for your baby when going out and about knowing that little one will either spit up or leak out. But do you ever think about packing extra clothes for you as well? Pack these extra clothes in a travel pouch so you can easily grab them. Also make sure the clothes you pack can easily be taken on and off. You don’t want to be struggling putting on a complicated outfit in a tiny space among strangers.
17. Bring enough nappies and wipes
Or at least more than enough for a few days until you can get yourself to somewhere you can buy more. Better to have a few extra than to have a baby with a wet nappy, or worse, and not have anything to change them with.
18. Bring your baby’s favorite items
Bring items that your baby associates with sleep like a stuffed animal or blanket, a favorite teether, and favorite toys. Try to space these things out and only give your baby one thing at a time. You don’t want them getting bored with everything right away leaving you with nothing else exciting to keep them entertained and occupied for the duration of your trip.
19. Ziplock bags will be your best friend
You don’t need to bring a whole box of Ziploc bags. In fact, just a few should be enough. These can come in handy for several occasions like a dirty nappy with no rubbish can around, putting unfinished food pouches in, securing a dirty nappy, or holding a few snacks at a time.
20. White noise/baby monitor using phones
To avoid having to carry too many things, use your mobile phones for white noise or as baby monitor. There are several apps available for download featuring different sorts of white noise. And you can FaceTime your partner’s mobile phone from your mobile as a temporary baby monitor.
Travel with an Infant isn’t easy, but doesn’t need to be difficult!
Travelling with an infant is a feat in and of itself. Preparing your body and mind, as well as your travel essentials are as necessary as organising your itinerary. You want to make the most out of your trip and you want it to go as smoothly as it possibly can. Pack smart, plan well, and schedule as much as you can. But more importantly, be flexible and know that if you or your baby is having a hard time, it won’t be for forever.