Travel Tips

Claire is a pretty well-traveled baby. In her first year of life, she took three car trips and ten plane rides {well, if you count connections, which I totally do}. She's been to five states and two provinces. Whoa! The vast majority of this traveling happened before she turned five months old. Let me tell you, if you're planning a trip around the country to introduce your new addition to the family, that is the time to do it. Claire slept anywhere, anytime and was a breeze to travel with. My only flying advice is to just rock the baby-wearing and you'll both do great.

Our next trips didn't happen until Claire was nine and ten months old. In the mean time, she'd learned to sleep on a schedule, in her crib. She was now very mobile and very opinionated. Those flights at nine months were challenging, to say the least. But, we learned a lot from them and, thankfully, the flights at ten months were so much smoother.  A few tips we picked up along the way:

Flying with a mobile baby. 

- Just pay to check your bags. Half the hassle of traveling with a baby is all the extra stuff you have to haul through the airport. If you think about how much babies cost in their first year, it's really not a big deal to shell out $25 for the checked-bag fee. 

- Use car seat and stroller travel bags. Not only will they protect your baby gear from damage, but you can stash as much you'd like in there and nobody will be the wiser. No more carrying your bulky winter coats onto the plane! We check our car seat right away {for free} and use the stroller right up until we drop it off at the gate. 

- Think about what your baby likes to do while sitting in your lap. Claire never sits in our laps and plays with toys at home, so why would we expect her to do that on a plane? We brought so many little toys, but she was only amused by a car and spinning top, both of which could move across the tray table. She was, however, greatly entertained by a plastic cup and a water bottle. She normally only sits in our lap at home to read stories, so we learned to pack far more books and far less toys. 

- If you'd like them to watch tv on the plane, let them watch a little at home first. When Claire turned nine months old, we started letting her watch some Curious George every day. Less than a week later, we left for our Christmas trip to Houston and hoped that Claire would watch an episode on the plane. No such luck. When we traveled again a month later, she had grown attached to the antics of that silly monkey and was much happier to sit still for almost a whole twenty minute episode. We bought some toddler-approved headphones, but she wouldn't have anything to do with them, so we didn't worry about it for now. I think our seatmate preferred Curious George over Claire's whining!

- Don't plan to eat or drink on the plane. Over Christmas, both of our flights occurred during meal times, so we tried to quickly eat a sandwich on board. I don't know why, exactly, but there is something so stressful about eating a meal in a tiny space with a grumpy baby on your lap. It's just so not worth it. We also found it really hard to drink our complimentary beverage without Claire knocking it over, so we came prepared with water bottles the next time around.

- If you use formula, don't bring every single bottle you own. We have six bottles and brought all of them in Adam's backpack on our first flight. What a waste of precious space! Instead, bring a couple bottles, a travel formula dispenser, and a tiny bottle of dish soap.

- Schedule a diaper change halfway through the flight. It doesn't matter if their diaper needs changing or not, it's such a good excuse to stretch your legs and get out of your seat for a few minutes. Even if you have to balance your baby on a toilet seat to get them changed...

- If they're not thirsty during take-off and landing, try Cheerios. I'm sure you've all heard to give your little one something to suck on to help their ears adjust to the pressure during take-off and landing. But as babies get older, it gets harder to align their feedings with those instances. We tried feeding Claire a constant stream of Cheerios to keep her swallowing and that seemed to work well too. Sometimes, though, they won't be hungry or thirsty, and instead of force-feeding them puffs, just don't stress about it. Their ears will be just fine. 

We are not the most calm and collected travelers, but those are a few things that have worked for us. Along with remembering that we're a team and turning on each other doesn't make anything better! And what works for one family definitely might not work for another. I'd love to hear what's worked for you guys! Anybody have any wisdom to share about traveling with a toddler?


  1. Thanks for all these tips - we have to fly with the kids in April, and I've been stressing about all the details. I'll probably be asking for more tips on my blog in the near future, but these were helpful!

  2. Oh, gosh, I'm so glad I looked for this post. We are flying with Maria in a month (and its a nearly 5 hour flight! yikes!). Any other tips you've learned? She'll be 10.5 months, and I'm kind of dreading it...


You are awesome.