Tips for Traveling with a Baby (alone or with a partner)!
We just got back from our first trip with Amira and it was SO NICE! My husband was traveling for work and we decided on a whim to just meet him down in Orlando Florida at the end of his work conference and make a long weekend out of it. The only hiccup about this grand plan was that I had to fly down with Amira by MYSELF for her very first flight and I was absolutely terrified.
I'm not a nervous flyer at all but I was just completely overwhelmed by the idea of carrying all of Amira's gear and getting through a 2.5 hour flight alone. Believe me, I thought about just skipping out on the trip all together but after hearing A LOT of encouragement from family and friends I started feeling confident enough to do it! We planned it so that Matthew would be with us on the flight home. I just had to get through traveling one way alone and boy did I learn a lot form this experience (yes tears were involved)!
Here are my takeaways + tips for traveling with your baby alone or with a partner!
- Make a comprehensive list of all of your baby's needs and really consider the level of necessity for every item you bring. It's tempting to bring it all but ask yourself will you REALLY use it or can I rent or purchase while there?
- Pack as light as you can especially if you're traveling alone with your baby. I was able to pack a lot of our things in Matthew's suitcase that he took with him a few days before my flight so I wasn't overwhelmed with luggage.
- Bring travel size EVERYTHING especially for all of the baby products.
- Check your carry on suitcase! I needed to bring an additional carry on with me and I thought I could manage it alone with the stroller, car seat, baby, and diaper bag, but I couldn't. I just gave in and checked it! Worth every penny.
- Use a backpack diaper bag instead of a traditional tote. I was able to wear my diaper bag and have Amira in the baby carrier at the same time.
- Bring a protective case for your stroller and car seat and practice stowing them away before you travel. These items get tossed around when they are gate checked so you want to protect them!
Airport Security + Boarding Tips
- Make sure you add your baby to your ticket as a "lap child"! For some reason when I bought my ticket there was no option to add Amira's name. I thought maybe I didn't need to put her info since she was a baby? However, I called my airline (United) just in case and they in fact needed her information as she would need her own boarding pass to get through security.
- Travel with identification for your child. Amira doesn't have her own passport just yet so I traveled with her birth certificate just in case I was asked to prove her identity. Some airlines don't ask for identification for children but some do, so just be prepared.
- BRING YOUR BABY CARRIER, I REPEAT BRING YOUR BABY CARRIER. You will need your hands to take your shoes off, put everything in bins, get the stroller / carseat situated, and that is impossible without using a baby carrier. Also, you can go through the metal detector wearing your baby which is great! I decided to go with my Ergo 360 instead of a wrap because I needed something more structured and that could distribute her weight evenly.
- Take your sweet time! Do not let anyone make you feel rushed when going through security, they can WAIT!
- Feel free to bring bottles and baby food with you through security! You can bring as many bottles or jars of baby food as you want with no ounce restriction. My airport did not test my milk or food but I've heard that some do so be prepared for that. I brought all frozen milk and baby food (except one bottle for the plane) and TSA allows ice packs to keep it cool.
- TSA will test your hands every single time you go through security and I'm not sure why! I had a false positive test (pretty sure it was because I cleaned our apartment the morning of) and it was the most intense 15 minutes of my life.
- Gate check your stroller and car seat! You are allowed to bring your stroller and car seat through security without it counting as a carry on or personal item. I wore Amira in the baby carrier and loaded everything on to the stroller to make it easier for me to get to our gate.
- If you're traveling alone, speak to the gate attendants about your seat assignment as soon as you get your gate. They can move you to an empty row if the flight isn't full. I was moved to business class and had no one next to me. It was GLORIOUS! Also, if there is an empty seat you can ask to bring your car seat on the flight if you want your baby to sit in it!
- Set your flight time as close to or during your child's nap time! This is so crucial especially if you have an antsy baby like mine that can't sit still for a second while awake.
- If possible find a seat towards the front of the plane so you can get off ASAP! We made the mistake of sitting in the back of the plane on the way home and it felt like an eternity getting off.
- I had a window seat for both flights and I think it's the best way to go. This way if your baby is napping you won't be disturbed by someone needing to get up. Also, if your baby is having a meltdown or you need to breastfeed you can simply turn your body towards the window and shut everyone out.
- A lot of travel sites say to board first with the “special assistance” group but I say board LAST. Who wants to sit on a cramped flight for 20 extra minutes with a baby while everyone boards?! I waited until the last possible second to board for both flights.
- Protect your baby’s ears by giving them a bottle or pacifier during take off and landing. Amira wasn't bothered at all by the change in pressure but some babies are super sensitive!
- Bring a few toys and download their favorite movie on your iPhone. Don't go overboard with the toys though because the plane itself is stimulating enough, especially if you have a window seat! Amira could’ve cared less about her toys and only wanted to bang on the plane window LOL! Having a movie to watch was the only thing that chilled her out.
Accommodation / Hotel Tips
- If possible, rent an Air BnB to keep your accommodations as close to what you're used to at home! We chose to go the hotel route since it was short trip but for future trips we will absolutely go with a rental home.
- Bring painters tape to baby proof the hotel room. That way you can just pull up the tape when you leave without fear of damaging anything.
- Call your hotel ahead of time and ask about the crib, pack 'n play, tub, and sink situation in your room. Our hotel had pack 'n plays only and Amira actually NEVER slept in one before this trip (lol my luck). I made sure to disinfect the hotel pack 'n play, bring our own sheets from home, and brought a travel pack 'n play mattress for extra comfort.
- Keep your nap and nighttime routine as normal as possible. We made sure to bring our sound machine and the baby's wearable blankets!
- If you decide to go the hotel route and not an air bnb, consider a suite if your budget allows. That way you won't have to go to sleep at the same time as the baby! We had a suite our first night (Matt was still on his work trip) and had a regular hotel room when we switched hotels the next day for our vacation. Needless to say we were in bed super early with the lights out and had to watch tv on our iPad under the covers LOL! We almost bought this blackout pack 'n play cover but it was sold out before our trip.
- Don't be afraid to use Uber to get around! We didn't rent a car because we weren't staying for long and our hotel was close to EVERYTHING! Don't get me wrong I wasn't super thrilled about having someone else drive with my child in the car (control issues) but we made it work! We strapped our infant car seat in using the seatbelts and left our base at home.
- If you're traveling alone with your baby have someone bring you to the airport, do not take an Uber. My dad actually parked and helped me check in and brought us all the way to the security line. THANK GOD he insisted on doing this because I thought I would be fine getting dropped off curbside. NOPE!
- Ignore mean grumpy people during your travel. I had a gate attendant try and lecture me about bringing "too much baby gear" and I literally did not respond to her because it was obvious that she had never traveled alone with a baby. I also got stares from people on the plane when Amira was getting fussy (I was right behind first class) and I just had to ignore it! It took so much energy to get on my flight and I wasn't going to give whatever energy I had left to ignorant people.
- Accept the help of strangers! I'm one of those stubborn people that likes to do everything themselves and when you're traveling alone with a child it's virtually impossible to do that. When I was struggling to put our stroller in it's case some sweet woman came over to help me! We both still couldn't figure it haha out but it was a nice gesture.
- No matter how much planning you do there will always be hiccups that you never saw coming. For example, going through TSA security alone was a nightmare and threw me off COMPLETELY. I went from being an organized and prepared traveler to a frazzled mess in less than 10 minutes all because my hands tested a false positive for "explosive residue". My neatly packed belongings we're now ALL over the place and I was getting aggressively frisked in front of EVERYONE and my child as a "safety precaution" (as you can imagine, I was so upset). These are the things you can't plan and unfortunately they happen to the best of us. My best piece of advice is that babies pick up on your energy so staying as calm as you can in stressful moments during travel is KEY!