This travel post is a long time coming… we first flew with Eleanor back in March! Before having a baby, T and I agreed that we didn’t want to do a complete 180 in our lives (with respect to travel) once our family grew. We have stuck to that, for the most part, so I’m sharing some tips today on flying with a baby in the hopes that it will help you feel a little more at ease about your travels!
First, let’s talk about when is the best time to travel with a baby. For us, 4-6 months was really the sweet spot (so far, anyway!). Eleanor was still napping a lot during the day, she could fall asleep anywhere, and she didn’t mind being in the car seat for a drive. AND it was after she had most of her vaccines, so we felt better about bringing her across the country.
From our San Francisco trip: A PCH road trip
When to fly
I’ve never loved early flights, but now they are our flights of choice. Even though it requires a few alarms and getting up when it’s still dark out, it just makes the day’s schedule easier. If you’re traveling with a 6 month old, the early part of your schedule might go something like this:
- 5am get baby out of her crib at the last possible second when you leave the house for the airport, and hopefully baby will snooze in the car
- 6am you’re through security (more on that below!), grabbing a coffee
- 7am board your flight, feed baby during takeoff because the pressure can bother their ears
If all else fails, a water bottle can be entertaining!
Our travel gear
- Checked bags: T’s suitcase (the smaller 21″ version) and my suitcase (the 25″ version, shared with E’s things) – sold in a 2 piece set on Amazon and separately at Macy’s
- In our checked bags: Packing cubes, separated by color to make things easier
- Carry on bag: Monogrammed duffle
- T’s carry on bag: Swissgear backpack with our laptops
- My personal item: Large tote with my tote/purse inside
- E’s personal item: Eddie Bauer diaper backpack available at Amazon and Target. (Double check with your airline, but when we flew with Eleanor, we were able to bring her own personal item.)
- Gate check: Chicco car seat, stroller (aka caddy) that you can pop the car seat into (but does not function as a stroller on its own), car seat bag
- In our carry ons: A multi-use cover (great for a nursing cover, car seat cover, extra blanket…) and make sure you bring at least one toy that your baby has never seen. The fact that it’s brand new will definitely entertain, even if it’s just for a little while. I had two “last resort” toys in our diaper bag, including this cell phone. Make sure you also have a pacifier clip and sanitizing wipes to wipe down the seats on the plane, as well as a portable changing station
The airline we flew considers a carseat and stroller to be “assistive devices” so those flew for free. You’ll want to gate check your car seat and stroller so you can use them all the way to the plane.
Definitely get a car seat bag so the seat doesn’t get gross! Gate checking is awesome because you give it to them at the last second before getting on the plane, and it’s right there waiting when you get off.
From the same trip: Carmel & Monterey Travel Diary
Other tips for flying with an infant
- Get TSA Pre-Check so you don’t have to take off your shoes going through security! It sounds silly but it does save you from doing one more thing
- We loved using this babywearer for travel because it’s so light and packable.
- Pack your diaper bag so that it’s easy to get to everything you may need without having to do a lot of reshuffling. We made the mistake on our first flight to pack our diaper bag so full that we couldn’t get to anything, and that was a huge pain! Bring only what you absolutely need for the flight, but don’t forget a change of clothes for baby (and you – at least a shirt in case you get spit up on!). We experienced our first (and only) blow out on our first flight, of course, so it was perfect that we had packed a spare change of clothes in the diaper bag.
- If there’s something you use at home constantly, bring it with you! For us this included our sound machine (which came in really handy one night when our hotel room neighbor’s dog was barking in their room for hours on end)
Do you have any tips for flying with a toddler? Let me know! I’m always looking for know-how from seasoned moms 🙂