If there’s one thing more complicated than traveling, it’s traveling with a dog, and if there’s one thing more complicated than traveling with a dog, well, it’s traveling with a baby.
But despite the horror stories and hassles associated with hopping on a plane or hitting the open road with an infant, there are some ways to make life a little easier—for you and the little one—and we’ve compiled 6 tips for traveling with a baby here.
Because while we know your kid is cute, that alone won’t make for a pleasant plane ride.
Baby Travel Tip #1: Don’t Bring the Big Stuff—Rent It Instead
What’s more difficult than lugging your carry-on bag, your suitcase and your baby through the airport? Schlepping a car seat and crib, as well. For the most streamlined, stress-free traveling experience when traveling with your little one, leave the big equipment at home. Instead try rental companies like Babysaway.com or Rentittoday.com, both of which are recommended by Parenting.com and in many cases will deliver exactly what you need—be it a high chair, swing or the aforementioned items—straight to your destination.
Baby Travel Tip #2: Time Your Trip
Whether you’re flying or driving, if at all possible, pick a departure time at night or during your baby’s typical naptime. Coordinating with your baby’s sleep schedule is the best way to ensure that—for at least part of the trip—they’ll be asleep, quiet and relaxed (which, by proxy, is more relaxing for everyone else around).
Baby Travel Tip #3: Be Prepared with a Well-Stocked Diaper Bag
While you definitely don’t want to haul the big stuff on your trip, you still want to follow the Boy Scout motto when traveling with your baby and be prepared. Bring along a well-stocked diaper bag with everything (scratch that—multiples of everything) you might need. Think diapers, wipes, bottles, nipples, pacifiers, extra formula, quiet toys, books, snacks, stuffed animals…anything you could possibly require to survive long hours in the air or on the road with as few meltdowns as possible. Need ideas for a diaper bag? We love this Tory Burch Soft Nylon Messenger Bag.
Baby Travel Tip #4: Dress Your Baby Appropriately
When it comes to dressing your baby, the best strategy is to start with something basic and bring along plenty of layers.
If you’re flying, dress your baby for departure in something simple that’s quick and easy to remove if necessary. After all, if you’re in a hurry and realize that you need to do a last-minute diaper change before jumping on your plane, you don’t want to have to deal with undoing, say, a pair of overalls, no matter how adorable they are. (In this case, you can forsake fashion to guarantee you don’t miss your flight.)
And though we’re stressing simplicity, you also want to make sure you’re equipped for extreme temperatures. Airplane air conditioners are often unpredictable, and you don’t want your little one shivering in their onesie because the flight attendant has set the thermostat on “frigid.” Be sure to bring plenty of layers and blankets to ensure you can keep them warm and cozy on the entire flight.
Baby Travel Tip #5: Allot Extra Time
It might sound like common sense, but we can’t stress enough the importance of providing yourself with plenty of extra time when traveling with an infant. If you’re driving, there are all kinds of potential stops you might have to make—or, depending on how the trip is going, want to make, purely for a change of scenery or some fresh air. Meanwhile, if you’re flying, the check-in process is likely to take twice as long when you’re also toting a child through the terminal, so it’s crucial that you arrive early to allow for any problems or complications.
Baby Travel Tip #6: If All Else Fails, Bribe
About a year and a half ago, a story circulated about a couple who, when traveling on a plane with their twin boys, passed out “apology bags” containing candy and a note from the perspective of the boys, apologizing in advance for any fussing or crying and revealing that their parents had earplugs available for any passengers who were interested.
While this is an extreme example of courtesy (and obviously not required), there is a good lesson there. If you worry you’ll be experiencing some self-consciousness or guilt when your baby cries or screams on a flight, it’s not a bad idea to acknowledge the problem before it arises and do something small and thoughtful to sweeten up the people sitting in your surrounding area.
We won’t even tell the twins you stole their idea.