In this article, you will know all about:
- factors to consider when planning a trip with a baby
- a complete list of things to pack when traveling with a baby
- what to do about baby’s food
- Trip Preparation
- tips to help you during the trip
- quick tips on flying with a baby and
- tips for a road-trip with your baby
We’ve got a lot to cover, haven’t we? Let’s get started!
If you’ve read some other baby travel articles on the blog, you would know that we took our baby on 10 flights in the first year of her life. This included trips all the way to Bali, Egypt and a few Indian destinations. Was it challenging? Initially, yes! But was it worth it? Absolutely. That’s exactly why, in this post I am going to break down all my learnings on how to travel with a baby into easy actionable steps.
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How to travel with a baby: Top tips
If you don’t have time to go through this long post, here are the top tips on travelling with a baby.
- Plan on a destination that’s safe, has easy access to baby supplies and doctors
- If possible, stay in a property with an in-house kitchen.
- Introduce your baby to food you’re likely going to eat on the trip at least 7-10 days before you travel.
- Invest in a good bag- one that keeps all your everyday baby supplies in a neat organised manner. I used a classic diaper bag (check reviews and color options on Amazon) (Amazon US has a better option here)
- Go easy on sightseeing. Avoid late nights. Make sure your baby gets an afternoon or mid-day nap.
- For places that require walking, use a high-quality baby carrier. (I swear by this baby carrier – check availability on Amazon, for infants, this baby wrap is even better – check colors on Amazon)
- Stay calm. Have fun! (Most important) If not, your nervousness will rub off and make the baby cranky too!
- Know that things won’t go as per plan but seeing your baby have fun will make it all worth it!
Travel with a baby: Planning tips
In this section, we will go over factors to consider when planning a trip with baby.
Number of days
The length of your trip hardly matters when you are travelling with a baby to a local place or a place with minimal time difference.
But if you are travelling to an international destination with a huge time difference, allow a couple of extra days for your baby to adjust to the time difference.
Number of destinations
Avoid destination-hopping. So don’t make or subscribe to itineraries that require frequent hotel changes. It’s not hectic for the baby, but you would get too exhausted to attend to the demands of your baby.
(When I went to Egypt with my daughter, I skipped the famous Nile cruise only because it involved traveling to multiple cities. Instead, I made my own relaxed itinerary that only involved visiting 3 cities in 2 weeks.)
Choice of destination
When you decide where to go, look for the following-
Safety and baby-friendliness: Visit a major town or a tourist hub where you will have easy access to the internet, mobile network, baby supplies and medical help.
Vaccine requirements: Your baby won’t be immunized against many diseases in the early years and so it is best to avoid places that require additional vaccinations. Also avoid places that are known to be breeding grounds of mosquitoes and insects.
Moderate climatic conditions: Babies can adjust to weather changes far better than adults can. But if you don’t want to overpack for extreme cold, worry about travelling with a baby while it rains or expose your kid to harsh summers, opt for a place with moderate climatic conditions.
Freedom to breastfeed: If your baby is fully breastfed, you will need to breastfeed the baby during your commute, in parks and other sightseeing places that are in public areas. Visit a place where breastfeeding in public places is not frowned upon.
Availability of transport: Plans change abruptly when traveling with a baby. So visit a place that has a good transport network or easy availability of cabs and tourist vehicles.
Limited language barrier: Even if you visit a country that doesn’t speak your language, you shouldn’t visit a place where communication of any kind with locals is going to be impossible.
Car-seat laws: Many western countries do not allow you to travel with a baby on lap in cars and cabs. On the other hand, many countries don’t require mandatory car seats. So choose a place that aligns with your safety ideas.
Choice of stay
Where you stay plays a huge role in the kind of family holiday you enjoy. Baby trips are not the time to save money and opt for budget properties. But that doesn’t mean you should splurge either! Look for a property
- with an in-house restaurant or in-room kitchen (great for babies introduced to solids who need homemade food)
- that’s clean and hygienic
- that’s close to the city center or with quick access to shops, markets, pharmacies, etc.
- with baby-friendly amenities (cot, extra roll-away bed, crib, baby gate, etc.)
- with no in-built dangers like an in-room pool, steep staircase, open fireplace, etc.
- with 24-hour on-property staff
- that exudes positive vibes (if something about the property doesn’t feel right, trust your gut and don’t book it!)
Don’t plan on covering every tourist spot when travelling with a baby. In fact, skip a few on purpose.
Leave enough time in your schedule for you to rest else your trip will leave you feeling exhausted instead of rejuvenating you.
Most importantly, don’t make watertight plans. The golden rule of travelling with a baby is to keep your plans flexible.
Best modes to travel
Honestly, babies can do well in almost all modes of transport. So feel free to take flights, go on a road trip, take metros, trains, buses, and local transportation.
But make sure you and your baby are safe when travelling.
Continue reading further for tips on air travel with babies as well as road trip tips for travelling with a baby.
Travel with a baby: Packing Tips
What and how much to pack is the biggest and the most asked question when travelling with a baby.
So here are two rules that I have come up with based on my trips with my daughter:
- Pack more than enough of all baby supplies
- Pack light for yourself
So here is everything you should pack when travelling with a baby-
Things that go in the main suitcase
Enough outdoor clothes (no. of days * 2) and at least one nightsuit per night of your trip. Also carry enough climate-specific jackets and sweaters.
Carry other essentials like caps, socks, mittens, and baby wraps – at least one per day. Carry a swimsuit and inflatable arm bands or float, if needed.
Booties or shoes (1-3 pairs)
Hair accessories – fewer the better
Carry more than enough diapers (no. of. days * 4)
If you are sure about finding your favourite diaper brand at your destination, carry half along with you and buy the remaining at the destination.
Baby wipes, diaper changing mat, bed protector, baby powder, diaper cream and everything that you use when changing your baby’s diaper. Avoid trying out new products on a trip.
Baby soap, shampoo, cream, nail clipper.
You can carry 1-2 bath towels too, if you want to avoid the ones at your property.
Baby toothbrush (if your baby needs one!), baby oil
Night lamp, sound machine, pacifiers (optional, only if baby can’t sleep without it)
Toys and books (optional, only if baby can’t sleep without it)
2-3 bottles for milk/water
Bottle sterilizer (can be avoided – look for ways to sterilize bottles without a sterilizer)
Note on which bag to pack in:
I love packing all the baby stuff in a separate independent bag that’s neatly organised.
I particularly love to use a carry-on sized bag as the baby’s main bag for a week long trip.
Check the one I use on Amazon India and my favourite on Amazon USA.
I also swear by packing cubes. I can keep one category of clothes in each packing cube. It saves space and allows quick access to things I need. We use these ones on Amazon India or Amazon USA
Things that go in your everyday handbag/diaper bag
Packing this bag properly is of utmost importance. Give yourself 10 minutes every morning and evening to pack and unpack this bag properly.
Here are things that go inside this bag-
– Diapers (at least 3) and all diaper supplies you need when changing your baby’s diaper. Don’t forget a diaper mat.
Keep this set separate from the one in the main bag.
Carry a zip lock or a plastic bag for storing dirty diapers till you can dispose them.
– Clothes ( at least 2 full sets)
– Sleep essentials like swaddles, small blanket, pacifier
– Feeding essentials like formula bottle, water bottle, feeding cups with baby’s favourite snacks (keep 2-3 snacks packed for a typical day trip), spoon, bib, face towel, burp cloths, tissues
Note on which bag to use as an everyday bag:
I find using a diaper bag as your only bag helps a lot.
It stores all the baby items neatly.
Also, I prefer backpack-styled diaper bags because they keep my hands free. This is the diaper bag I use, but if you live in the US, check out this amazing diaper bag from Skip Hop.
What food items to carry
if your baby is fully breastfed-
Hurrah, you just need to be around your baby and all your baby’s food demands are automatically met!
If your baby is fully formula-fed baby
Carry enough formula (1.5 times your regular requirement). Or carry half of your requirement and buy the rest at the destination. Double-check the availability of your formula at the destination
If your baby has been introduced to solids –
Carry enough of your baby’s favourite food (Cerelac pack, puree bottles and pouches)
Carry supplies you need to make baby food (if you have an in-room kitchen). Aim to give one freshly cooked meal per day.
Don’t forget to carry ancilliary items like a scissor, packet clips, extra rubber bands, extra spoons, forks, dry and wet tissues, napkins, and a small dish soap.
When I travelled to Bali with my daughter when she was nine months old, I carried one packet of Cerelac for a quick mid-day meal and some rice and daal for daily dinner. In addition to this, I gave her fresh fruits and juices that were locally sourced. Continue reading for more food tips.
How to prepare for your trip with baby
Before you begin the prep, the first and the most important step is to get your baby’s medical check-up done.
Schedule a medical check-up at least 1 week before your trip. Ask your doctor if your baby is fit to travel.
Get a list of medicines from your doctor that you need to carry along with you.
Pack the medicines as well as the prescription paper in your baby’s main bag.
If your baby has been introduced to solids, you need to start feeding your baby, food that you plan to feed at the destination.
So introduce fruits, yoghurts, bread, juices, cerelac, rice or other baby food that you are going to rely on when travelling.
Begin with one ‘travel meal’ per day and start at least 7-15 days before your trip. This way, your baby will get accustomed to the new tastes and flavours and won’t undereat or throw tantrums on the trip.
To avoid last-minute panic, start shopping clothes for your baby, well in advance. This is particularly important to ease your nerves before your first international trip with the baby.
Prioritise buying climate-specific clothes that you don’t already own.
Wash all new clothing items before your trip to avoid irritating your baby’s skin on the trip.
If you are visiting a place with a small time difference, you can try changing your baby’s sleep patterns to align with the timings at your destination.
In all honesty though, this only works if the difference is about 1-2 hours.
So when I travelled from India to Egypt which is 2.5 hours behind Indian Standard Time, I started waking my baby up an hour later than her usual wake up time. I did this for about 7-10 days before the trip until she got used to her new sleep cycle.
This helped me a lot as she didn’t wake up in the wee hours of the morning when we reached Egypt.
Tips to use on your trip with baby
Now that we have covered the preparation aspect of travel, let’s jump to what you should and should not be doing on the trip.
Have fun/Don’t panic
You may be feeling nervous about your trip wiith your baby throughout your trip preparation. But remember to turn off your anxiety mode as soon as you step out on your trip.
Babies pick up on their parents’ anxious vibes and become more cranky. At no point in time should the baby feel that you are nervous about something going wrong.
Your baby will be happy and cheerful if it finds you to be in a pleasant state of mind. While this is true even in non-travel scenarios, it is particularly visible when traveling.
So whether things are going as per plan or not, have fun. Stay positive and cheerful, and you will find your baby adapting to new surroundings, time differences, bumpy rides, or crazy flights without any fuss.
I am going to repeat this because this is so important.
Don’t try to plan out your whole day. Take breaks if your baby is getting cranky and needs a nap.
Skip attractions if you are feeling exhausted.
Stay back at places where your baby is having fun, even if that means missing out on something else.
Basically, don’t do anything that would be too taxing for you and your baby.
Keep talking to your baby
Talk continuously with your baby. Describe what you are seeing to him. Tell your baby where you are and what you would be doing next.
Talking to your baby indicates to your baby that you are giving your baby time and attention. It not only helps your baby cope better with new surroundings, but it also greatly strengthens the bond between you two.
Talking continuously to your baby may seem bizarre to you if your baby is too young to react or understand (under 6-7 months) but your incessant talk to your baby will keep your baby happy. So do it!
Forget strict discipline
One of the reasons why parents stress about trips is because they believe trips would wreak havoc on the baby’s set routines.
But honestly, trips are not the time to hold on tightly to your routines and rules. Go easy.
Do whatever it takes to keep your baby happy.
It could mean meals at random hours, more screentime, staying up past bedtime, or letting your baby sleep in longer – don’t bother with discipline while on your trip.
You can always put on your disciplinarian hat once you are back from your trip.
Go easy on germophobia
Travelling introduces a baby to many new surroundings. Most babies like to explore a place by touching it or holding it.
So give them the joy of exploring new places. Don’t pull them back every time they touch something or crawl around in public places.
If you are constantly holding back your baby from exploring, you are guaranteed to make your baby cranky.
Keep your handbag organised and clutter-free
Baby emergencies can strike anywhere.
From a diaper emergency in the middle of a supermarket to your baby throwing up in flights, expect to deal with a baby emergency anywhere.
For such situations, it is important that you have your supplies handy and quickly accessible.
So make sure you keep your handbag neatly organized. You shouldn’t have to dig through a whole lot of crap to get what you need in such situations.
Dedicate a few minutes every morning and evening to organise your daybag. This includes doing the following
- Throwing away dirty diapers, wipes, and tissues
- Throwing away leftover food
- Cleaning meal containers
- Sterilizing bottles
- Replacing nipples
- Cleaning pacifiers
- Removing used clothes and putting in a new pair of clothes
- Refilling diaper supplies as needed
- Wiping your bag with a dry towel
This may seem like a lot of work, but if done regularly, does not take more than 5-10 minutes per day.
Keep stocking up your baby’s food
Don’t wait until you run out of baby food to buy more.
Whenever you go past a shop selling something your baby eats, stock it up.
So stock up on fruits, yogurt, milk, Cerelac, purees, and jars whenever you find them easily available.
Cut yourself some slack
When you are travelling, you are not going to ace all departments.
Your room would be messy, you will skip your baby’s usual meal times, you may not serve your baby the best food (Food that you would give when at home), your own bag may be messy, you would not have time to dress up or look your best, you will forget to click pictures and so many things that you otherwise get right, would fall apart.
But don’t beat yourself about it. Remember to lower your expectations from yourself and have fun regardless of how things are going!
Let your baby interact with surroundings and people
Babies draw attention from everyone. From airport officials, airline staff, co-passengers to random strangers, you will find a lot of people waving and talking to your baby.
Let your baby enjoy this attention. It’s a great way to help your baby open up and socialize.
Keep your hands free
Sightseeing can feel like a lot of work if you are constantly carrying your baby around.
Invest in a good baby carrier and keep your hands free. I love this baby carrier from Kol Kol or you can read all about the best baby carriers in India here.
If your baby is used to a stroller and does not constantly ask to come out of it, carry a stroller wherever you can. A lightweight, foldable stroller can be of great help. Read all about the best strollers in India here.
But ditch the stroller completely if you know your baby hates it. It’s too oversized to lug around unnecessarily.
Things to remember when flying with the baby
Flying with a baby is honestly not as hard as it is made out to be. Here are a few tips:
- Breastfeed/Bottlefeed your baby during take-off and landing to equalize ear pressure.
- For infants, book a bassinet. It keeps the baby comfortable when sleeping on long flights, and you get seats with excellent leg room! (Read all about the perks of traveling with a baby here)
- For older babies, keep new toys that fit in the bag for entertainment. This post on the best toys for toddlers on a flight is relevant for older babies as well.
- For longer flights, book flights that coincide with your baby’s sleep hours. (Opt for night flights instead of day flights)
- Ask for help from the flight staff whenever required.
- Ask for on-flight baby food.
Things to remember for a road trip with baby
A road trip is one of the easiest ways to travel with a baby. Here are some quick tips
- Start taking your baby out on shorter drives to prepare for long road trips
- Make sure you use a high-quality car seat. (As an Indian, I understand that car seats are not commonly used. But for longer trips, buying a car seat like this makes sense as it is uncomfortable both for the baby and for you to carry your baby on the lap for multiple hours)
- Pack as per the list shared above. Add a sunshade to the list to protect the baby from direct sunlight.
- Feed the baby more often than usual to keep the baby comfortable and feeling secure (babies tend to get cranky when they spend too much time on their own in a car seat)
- Don’t change diapers in a moving car.
- Be prepared for the journey to take considerably longer than usual.
- Take your baby out of the car seat for some fresh air every few hours. Let your baby move around in a safe open space, if possible.
- Avoid long drive hours at night. Your baby will sleep for the most part, but you won’t – making you tired and irritated on the trip.
How to travel with baby – Frequently asked questions
When to travel overseas with a baby?
Generally, once the baby is about two months old, it is safe to travel overseas with a baby. But it is best to check with your doctor before making any plans.
What is the best age to travel with a baby?
Traveling with a baby is a lot less work when the baby is less active and exclusively breastfed. But that doesn’t mean that it’s the best age to travel as every age has its own challenges and rewards. Therefore, it is best to travel with a baby when you feel ready for it and your baby is declared fit to travel.
What documents do you need when travelling with a baby?
For international travel – passport and visa (if applicable).
For domestic travel – it’s better to keep your baby’s birth certificate handy.
Also recommended is a doctor’s medical prescription for various ailments.
It’s great that you are considering a trip with your baby. Introducing your baby to travel from a young age can be rewarding for the baby in the long run. Plus, some of your best memories with your kid will come from your travel escapades together.
So go ahead and plan a great trip.
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TOP TRAVEL RESOURCES
Here is a list of our favorite travel resources- the ones that I absolutely swear by when planning almost every trip. Go through this list to plan a hassle-free trip and save a lot of money!
Accommodation: I absolutely love booking through Agoda. In most countries and particularly in Asia, I often find the best fares on Agoda. But I also love the no prepayment and no cancellation fee policy of Booking.com. For cheap accommodations and hostels, nothing beats Hostelworld.
Car Rentals: You may find and rent an appropriate car via RentalCars. It’s hassle-free and reliable.
Guided Tours: I absolutely love GetYourGuide for local sightseeing tours, walking tours, history tours, and food tours. The booking process is seamless, and the tours are super affordable. But in Asian countries, I prefer Viator or Klook for their affordably priced tours.
Lounge Access: Get Priority Pass – my personal favorite card that gives me unlimited access to premium airport lounges all over the world
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