We just returned from Brecken’s second official vacation but his first time on a plane! We went to Montreal for five nights and, despite he and I starting off quite under the weather, we had a great time walking around and eating lots of delicious food. Traveling with a baby definitely requires some adjusting, but it’s totally manageable and worth it. If you are like us and love to travel, don’t let having a baby hold you back! Some may seem like common sense, but here are my general tips and must-haves for traveling with a baby…
Of course Baby needs somewhere safe to sleep! Many hotels have cribs available for use (sometimes for a small fee), but you should always call in advance to reserve one. I think that’s a great option to have, but being a bit of a germaphobe, the thought of using a random crib doesn’t sit very well with me. That paired with the fact that we travel quite a bit, a travel crib was a must for us. We opted for the Baby Bjorn Travel Crib and love it. Setup and take down takes three seconds, literally, and it folds up nicely into a secure bag that can be checked with your luggage. The Lotus Travel Crib is another great, very similar, option. Bring an extra sheet, too!
Travel Tip: Make sure Baby feeds or has a pacifier during take-off and landing
This will help keep the eustachian tubes in the ears open during the changes in elevation. No one likes to have their ears plugged up! Feeding and pacifier use promote sucking and swallowing, which helps to “pop” the ears.
Must-Have: Travel drying rack and dish soap
It’s no secret that we formula feed, so we always need to have bottles available. We brought six total, which was plenty. We were able to wash them and keep them ready for use with the help of this drying rack which is intended for travel and even comes with brushes. I also filled with a small squeeze bottle with dish soap (always a free and clear brand!). These items were super easy to toss into a suitcase and keep in the bathroom of our hotel room. The drying rack is also great to use after washing pacifiers and small toys.
Travel Tip: Stroller, Baby-Wear or Both?
Depending on what you’ll be doing on your trip, it may make more sense to use a stroller instead of baby-wear or vice versa. Think about your plans in advance to figure out what will work best and which option(s) you should bring. In our case, we did both comfortably. Brecken was able to stretch out more in our UPPAbaby Vista (we brought the bassinet with us, which he has almost outgrown… **brb crying**), so we used that a lot, but we also used our Tula carrier at the airport and on a day when we visited a more crowded area. We always brought the stroller to dinner because he slept in it so well, so it allowed us (and those around us) a bit of peace and quiet during our meal. (There was one dinner he didn’t sleep through and was a little feisty instead! More on that below.) As I mentioned, I wore Brecken in the airport, which made things very easy. It allowed us to have his stroller packed up in its travel bag and checked with our luggage, too. We didn’t have to deal with packing it up at the gate.
Side note: Both the stroller and travel crib were free to check with our luggage. Most airlines allow a couple of baby items to be checked for free (e.g., stroller, car seat, travel crib), but it’s best to check with the specific airline you will be flying with.
Must-Have: Extras of everything!
I think this goes without saying but bring extras! Clothes, burp cloths/bibs, pacifiers, diapers, wipes, little toys, etc.
Travel Tip: Pack baby essentials in carry-on(s)
While we always hope that we see our luggage coming onto the conveyor belt when it’s time to pick it up at the baggage claim, we all know that there is always the slightest chance that it doesn’t show up. (Ugh!) We packed nearly all of Brecken’s things into a carry-on suitcase and our backpacks. We were in a major city on this trip, so we could’ve walked to a store if need be, but that’s not always an option, like when we visit the Caribbean or Mexico. It’s always better to be over-prepared than under-prepared.
Travel Tip/Must-Have: Check the weather forecast ahead of time and bring appropriate clothes
You want to make sure you are packing appropriately for you and Baby! It was cold in Montreal, about the same as home for us, so we were sure to pack plenty of layers for Brecken. We are so happy with our recent 7am Enfant purchases. We used the Doudoune bunting in the stroller and the Pookie Poncho over the Tula. The Pookie Poncho can also be used as a car seat cover and as a stroller seat cover. So, win-win-win! (Who doesn’t love a good multi-use item?!)
Travel Tip: Plan for breaks and try to stick to your normal routine as much as possible
For us, this meant returning to our hotel at least a couple of hours before dinner each night so that we could all relax and refresh. Brecken would stretch out, play for a bit, eat and take another nap during this time. That nap usually carried over into the stroller at dinner. Then, we’d go home after dinner and repeat. Put on jammies, play and stretch out a bit and feed him one last time before he went down for the night.
Travel Tip: Explore accommodation options
We stay at hotels/resorts most often, but renting a place through a reputable site like VRBO is a great option, too. (We rented a cabin when we went to Gatlinburg in November, and we have used VRBO for other trips, too.) If you are staying in a hotel, make sure you check out the size of the room. Take time to find a hotel with larger standard rooms or, if necessary (and possible), upgrade to a slightly larger room category that will allow for the crib and your belongings to fit more comfortably. Also, take note of other amenities you may want or need in your room like a mini fridge or bathtub.
I think what is perhaps most important is to be as flexible as possible and adjust accordingly. Even the best of babies, Brecken included, will have meltdowns, get fussy, need extra attention, get hungry earlier than expected, need to nap… you name it! It’s okay to have set plans for each day, but give yourself extra time to navigate through them and cut yourself some slack if you are in public when one of these meltdowns occurs. We were very fortunate that Brecken slept through all but one of our dinners. During the dinner he was awake, we were right on top of another table and he was really needing attention. We held him throughout the meal, switching off between Matt and myself. While he didn’t have a full-blown meltdown, he was definitely fussy on and off. (At one point, he was all smiles, grabbing my cheeks and smashing his face into mine. That part was pretty cute.) I was so worried about disturbing everyone else’s dinner. In retrospect, Brecken was just acting as normal babies do, but it sure seems like all eyes are on you when this happens. (They weren’t, though. It was just my own worrying.) This is another situation that will get easier to deal with in time. It’s also why I highly encourage people to get out with their babies from early on. It helps you learn how to handle certain situations better outside of the comfort of your own home and it helps Baby get used to noises and being in different environments. It seemed stressful at the time, but looking back, it wasn’t really that big of a deal. Adapt and adjust.