Thinking of taking a trip with the newest addition to your family?
We’ve put together the top travels with baby tips to help you have a smooth journey.
Whether you’d like to show off your new arrival to the family, have to travel for work, or simply want to take your baby to see the world, your baby’s first trip could be the beginning of many exciting adventures.
We’re not going to sugarcoat this—traveling with a baby can be challenging.
Navigating airports, foreign cities, and the uncertainty of not being in the comfort of your own home can be overwhelming.
Not to mention the near-inevitability of delays along the way—all while you may still be really sleep-deprived.
And of course, there’s all the paraphernalia you have to cart with you. Phew.
These little ones don’t travel light.
But rather than this scaring you off, it just means getting as prepared as possible so that you and your adorable passenger can have a safe and happy trip.
In this article: 📝
- What is the best age to travel with a baby?
- How do you travel lightly with a baby?
- How do you prepare a baby to travel?
- How do you calm a baby when traveling?
- Top 23 tips for traveling with baby
What is the best age to travel with a baby?
It’s generally agreed that the best time to travel with a baby is when they’re between 3 and 9 months old.
At this point, they’re over the tiny newborn phase and have had their first lot of immunizations.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) outlines that one of the greatest risks of traveling too young is that babies’ immune systems are not fully developed yet, and they may be prone to infectious diseases.
That’s why it’s always best to check with your doctor first.
On the other side of the equation, once your baby is mobile, you have a new set of potential challenges on your hands.
Airports and stations aren’t baby-proofed or controlled.
And as soon as they’re on the move, you might find you have to stay extra vigilant to keep them safe—and off the baggage carousels.
But of course, life happens, and you may need to travel on either side of this window.
How do you travel lightly with a baby?
Okay. Traveling light and baby don’t necessarily go that well together—but there are ways to travel lighter.
Prep is your best friend here.
Contacting your accommodation to find out what they have and what you need to bring is a great first step.
And then opting for travel-friendly, portable items. (Details on all of this are below.)
And, where possible, buy items at your destination rather than bringing them all with you.
The rest you can get on arrival.
Another pro tip? While their bedroom at home may be filled with all sorts of earthly delights, you don’t need to pack them all to keep them entertained.
There will be much to stimulate them on your adventure.
How do you prepare a baby to travel?
The one thing that’s for certain about traveling with a baby is that nothing is for certain.
While there’s a lot of prep work that you can do ahead of time, it’s hard to know how they’ll react when on a plane or in a foreign land.
Follow our tips below for making your journey smooth, but also be gentle with yourself.
There’s only so much you can do.
One thing that’s a pre-departure priority? Rest up! Both of you.
We know this is easier said than done, especially if you’re dealing with fun chapters like sleep regressions.
Add to that the stress of planning a trip, and getting the Z’s you need can be tough.
But do what you can to prioritize rest and relaxation before you head out.
How do you calm a baby when traveling?
Travel comes with a lot of stimulation and not always that much comfort.
Imagine trying to understand the weird goings-on of an airport or airplane when you’ve never encountered one before!
And then there’s the infamous ear-popping as the plane takes off.
While you may be well-versed in how to deal with that weird sensation through yawning and swallowing, for your baby, this may be a little more challenging.
And if they have any congestion—something which babies are prone to—it can feel even worse for them.
So, yes. There are many reasons for your little one to let out a continuous yell.
Things that can help? Feeding them or using a pacifier at takeoff and landing.
And distractions with their favorite toy.
Above all, be kind to yourself.
This is stressful for you too. You’re doing what you can.
Top 23 tips for traveling with baby
Here’s your cheat sheet.
1. Check-in with your healthcare provider before you go
This is top of our list.
Make sure that they’re happy to give your little one the go-ahead for their big adventure.
They’ll also be able to provide advice on keeping safe and healthy along the way.
2. Sort out passports with time to spare
Yep, even your tiny little human needs a passport for international travel.
For US citizens, head to the government website to get the process started.
Passports for children under the age of 16 are valid for five years.
Both parents must show consent before their child can get a passport.
The easiest way to do this is for both of you to go in person, but this isn’t possible for everyone.
The government website will take you through contingency arrangements should you need them.
If you’re flying domestically, you don’t need to provide ID for your baby.
But double-check with your airline to see if they have specific needs.
3. Get all your other documentation in order
Check the requirements for the country you are traveling to.
You may need visas for entry.
If you aren’t traveling with your baby’s other parent, travel with a consent letter from them.
It’s also a good idea to have copies of their birth certificate.
4. Check public health protocols for where you’re traveling to
Have a look at the CDC’s Travelers’ Health website for information on your specific destination.
Make sure that you and your little one have the vaccinations and medications you need to stay safe and comply with your destination’s rules.
5. Invest in travel-friendly baby items
You’ll usually be able to check your larger items, but it’s a good idea to make your life as compact as possible.
You don’t need to spend a fortune, but some helpful items to have include:
- Portable stroller. Lightweight and foldable will make your life a lot easier.
- Portable blackout shades for their crib and stroller. These can go a long way to helping them get to sleep in busy places.
- Portable changing mat. Check out this option that folds up small and has space for everything you need to change your baby in style.
- Portable baby monitor.
- Travel crib.
6. Loosen up the schedule
The reality is, things may not go as planned.
Totally fine to be a bit flexible over this time.
7. Book accommodation with your baby in mind
This may mean that you look for somewhere with a washer and dryer or laundry service.
Or that’s close to the local store or transportation.
And let your host know that you’re bringing a small guest with you.
8. Research your destination
Particularly if you are going to a country you’re not familiar with, do as much research as possible before you leave.
Find out where the local hospitals are, as well as the grocery stores and transportation routes.
Come up with backup plans should anything not go according to plan.
For example, is there accommodation at the airport should flights be delayed?
9. Research airlines to find the right fit
While in a previous life you may have chosen an airline based on price or schedule, traveling with a baby may change this up a bit.
See what their policies are around flying with babies.
Check if they offer priority boarding.
Find out how reliable they are as an airline.
Do they offer any perks? If you use airline lounges, do they have a family room?
This Forbes piece might help you make your choice.
10. Get them their own seat, if possible
Generally, children under the age of two travel for free, provided they are on your lap.
(The rule is usually one infant per adult lap, and that applies for train travel as well.)
But if money allows and you have a long journey on your hands, it may be worth getting them their own seat.
Holding your little one for the duration of a long flight can add to the exhaustion factor.
11. Schedule flights with their nap times in mind
Alright, this may not always be possible, particularly on international flights, but do what you can.
The higher the chance of them sleeping along the way, the better.
12. Go direct, where possible
Whether you’re traveling by land or air, opting for the most direct route is usually the best idea.
Long layovers and detours can be exhausting for both you and your baby.
13. Get to the airport early (but not too early)
Being in a rush is not fun at the best of times.
Add a baby into the equation, and the stress factor can be high.
That being said, the last thing you want to do is wait around in an airport before you even start your journey.
Three hours usually does the trick.
14. Opt for curbside check-in
Ditch the bags as soon as possible by checking in as soon as you get to the airport.
Check with your airline beforehand to make sure that they offer this service.
Chances are the waits will also be shorter.
This may be money very well spent.
15. Think about your trip through security
There are special allowances for children under the age of two that you can check on the TSA website.
The first thing to do is to let the officer know what you have on you.
You can choose not to have these x-rayed or opened if you like.
They will then be screened separately with this in mind.
Ice packs and frozen gel packs used to cool breast milk and other liquids are allowed in your carry-on.
As is any pumping equipment you might have.
If you have any questions, you can get in touch with TSA Cares 72 hours before traveling.
They’ll be able to answer any questions you have about screening procedures and what you can expect when you go through the security check.
16. Plan your carry-on carefully
Beyond the items you need to feed your little one, consider what you might want for the journey.
17. Plan your child-safety restraint
The AAP recommends either a Federal Aviation Association (FAA) approved car seat or an airline harness device.
The FAA doesn’t require that you have a seat for your little one, but they strongly recommend it (here are their guidelines).
The bonus is that if you have a safe car seat, you can use it if you hire a rental car or if you’re getting lifts with friends and family.
It’s also important to know your rights.
If your child restraint system doesn’t fit in a seat that you have purchased for your baby, the airline is responsible for providing another seat in that same class.
18. Antibacterial wipes!
Remember the part about those little immune systems not quite being in full swing yet?
Do what you can to keep things as hygienic as possible.
19. Dress them in their travel best
For long trips, this often means layers, particularly if you’re heading through multiple climate zones.
And we don’t need to tell you that mess happens. A lot.
Extra changes of clothing will more than likely come in very handy.
As for what to pack for when you arrive at your destination?
Pack for the anticipated weather, along with an ‘unusual weather’ option.
So if you’re going somewhere hot, pack mostly summer clothes with a cooler-weather option, just in case.
And if you’re jetting off somewhere snowy, think layers, which you can take off if baby gets too warm.
If you’re off somewhere with a pool or for some seaside swimming, opting for swimsuits that also offer UV protection is a must.
20. Feed during take-off and landing
That’s because the sucking motion can help minimize ear pain.
This can mean breastfeeding or formula feeding.
An alternative is to use a pacifier.
Unfortunately, infants are not quite ready for earplugs yet, but as your child gets older, this might be an option for your travels.
21. Make a breastfeeding plan of action
Feeding your baby on demand will be the best way to keep them happy and your supply up.
The CDC has these recommendations for traveling while breastfeeding, including how to store and transport your milk.
22. Know that you have a right to be on the plane, train, or bus
It can feel daunting to bring a baby onto public transport, but you have every right to be there, mama.
23. Be prepared for everyone to smile at you
Most people will understand how tricky it can be traveling with a baby.
Plus, your little one is a super cute traveler!
Being a mama doesn’t have to mean giving up traveling. There are ways to do it.
And if you need some support along the way, check in with your Peanut community.
You don’t have to navigate this alone.