Kevin and I have been intentional about traveling with Maggie starting when she was very young. (We took our first trip with her — to the beach — when she was just four weeks old.)
The good news is, so far our approach seems to be working! (I think the fact that Maggie is just pre-wired as a pretty go-with-the-flow kiddo has a lot to do with it, but still…)
All our travel until recently had been by car, which allows for lots of flexibility as far as the amount of gear you can take along with you, the number of stops you make, and the amount of crying you’re able to comfortably deal with. Over Labor Day weekend, though, we flew with Maggie for the first time (to and from Chicago). (She did great! Whew.)
Over the course of these last few months, we’ve gathered a few tips on traveling with a baby (with OUR baby, at least), and I thought I’d share some of those here (in no particular order!). I’ll have to circle back and write another post like this one in a few months, once Maggie is mobile and things have changed a bit, which I’m sure they will. For now, though, these are things that help us travel with her (at five months):
- Don’t worry so much about a schedule. GASP! But don’t babies need schedules?? I’m sure as Maggie gets a little older, a schedule will be important. She’ll need to nap at more consistent times and go to bed with more of a routine. But in these early months, she just sleeps when she’s sleepy, whether that’s in her car seat during a long drive or in our arms on the couch or in her crib or pack and play. I’m glad we didn’t try to tie her — or us — down to a particular schedule, which allows us to pick up and go a lot more easily.
- Invest in a good pack and play. We love this one by BABYBJÖRN, because it’s lightweight as well as super easy to set up and take down. It’s great to throw in the trunk and go. (A note here, though: I thought a pack and play counted as a free baby item to check when flying, and even called the airline about it in advance of our flight to confirm. I was told by the representative on the phone that it was a free item, but at the gate they told me that only car seats and strollers can be checked for free. We ended up having to pay to check the pack and play, which was kind of a bummer.)
- Get a car adapter for your breast pump. THIS was a game changer for me in the car travel game. As it turns out, it’s hard to find a place to pump while on a car trip. After all, you’re lucky if a bathroom has a changing table, much less an outlet! This way, too, you can pump while your partner is driving to avoid stopping during your trip. (I never thought I’d type that sentence, but hey — parenthood brings some curve balls.)
- Keep a packing list handy. Because we travel with Maggie so much, I’ve found it’s helpful to keep a packing list on my phone that I can refer to each time I’m packing for her. That way, I’m less likely to forget something essential. I add to it periodically, too, as Maggie enters new stages and needs additional items. This helps with my sanity a TON! (One item to be sure to put on your list: a sun hat! It can be easy to forget if it’s not on the list. I find we’re out and about a lot when traveling, and keeping Maggie’s little nearly bald head protected is a big priority!)
- When flying, rent car seats upon arrival. If you’re already planning to rent a car when you reach your destination, renting a car seat as well is an incredibly convenient option. (I have my friend Christina to thank for this stellar idea.) That way, you can leave your car seat safely in the airport parking garage and just wear your baby in the airport without having to lug around the heavy seat the whole time.
- Bring your baby’s birth certificate when flying. You probably won’t need to prove his/her identity, but just in case it’s a good idea to have it handy.
- Your baby carrier is your best friend. Whether you’re going through airport security, going out to dinner with family while out of town, or exploring a new city, I find it’s always the easiest option to wear Maggie. (Thank goodness she likes it!) That way, she feels safe and secure, she can sleep easily when she wants to, and I have BOTH hands free. A win all around. (Related note: I looooove my Tula Free to Grow carrier!)
- Other mamas: What travel tips have you gleaned in those early months with your kiddos?