Travelling with a baby is a whole new adventure in every way possible. Navigating the airport, let alone a new destination, is an experience and with each new trip comes a whole host of learning for future ones.
Before my baby came along, travelling to and from a destination could be tricky anyway! It’s taken me years of adventures to learn that it’s so much easier to travel with a wheeled suitcase, a backpack for my day bag and to dress in my comfies.
In an effort to remember my tips for future trips and in the hope of encouraging other mums and dads to hold off retiring their love of travel, here are 10 of our favourite travel hacks for travelling with a baby…
Tips for flying with a baby
#1 Small Bags
Group items and pack them in small bags before packing into your main bag. So you might have a bag of spare clothes, a bag for your changing stuff and a bag of medicines.
It’s cramped on a plane and when you’re trying to juggle a baby and a million other things, it’s so much easier to grab one little bag rather than having to empty the contents of your bag to find one thing.
It also means that you can just take one small bag with you when you need to change your baby. Those cubicles are tight at the best of times, so you don’t want to end up trying to squeeze a bulky bag in with you.
I have a Paca Pod Changing Bag so it comes with two ‘pods’. Alternatively, you could use big freezer bags and as they’re clear you’ll easily be able to grab the right one.
#2 Label Up
Chances are your baby won’t be impressed at having to hang around at the luggage carousel. Use a white marker pen to write your surname on your travel cot/buggy etc bag.
It’s so much better than using a luggage tag that you fix to your bag, as it can’t fall off and you don’t have to faff about trying to find or read the tag. You’ll be able to spot your item a mile off and it also means someone else is less likely to accidentally walk off with your stuff.
Note from Monica: When I went to Portugal there were four other families on the plane with the same pushchair as us (the Maclaren Triumph Stroller). It’s a great stroller for travel but I’d second this and tie something memorable to it!
#3 Premium Economy
Check the price difference of travelling in the next class or at the very least, premium economy. This is especially worthwhile if you’re breastfeeding.
It can feel quite pokey when you have a baby on your lap, especially if you have a big baby like me! If the price difference isn’t that much and your flight is longer than an hour, it’s worth paying a bit more for comfort.
Babies fly for free up until the age of two, but sitting for hours with an almost two year old on your lap gets tiring very quickly so the bigger seat makes things so much easier.
Check out our travel hacking blog posts so you can get that upgrade for free!
#4 Check it in
Check-in staff sometimes offer you the option to check in an extra bag into the hold that you were planning to take on as hand luggage. This is free of charge and usually happens on busy budget airlines where very few people pay for checked luggage. Chances are you’ll be grateful of the opportunity to rid yourself of a bag. To save you making the same mistake we did, use a marker pen on your bags of liquids so that you remember which ones need to go on the flight with you – that way you can easily whip that bag out before it gets checked in. We lost our precious bottle of Capol by not doing this and we couldn’t buy a replacement in the duty free shops. *Cue panic-stricken parents*
#5 Meet & Greet Parking
It’s worth paying for convenience. Who wants to stand waiting 20 minutes for a crowded and cold bus to a car park? Not a mummy or daddy that’s for sure! Pay the extra few pounds to park as close to the airport as possible. Book early to get the best prices and search online for discount codes. You can often find a 10% promo code.
General travel tips when travelling with a baby
#6 Travel Light
Strip your luggage down to the bare essentials. There’s no point being weighed down by your own luggage when you need to cart your little ones’ belongings around, as well as carrying your baby.
Think strategically and allow enough time before your trip to pack your bags. If you leave it to the last minute you’ll probably just end up panic packing.
Monica’s Tip: When I fly with my baby, I take nothing but my purse, phone, passport, Kindle and headphones in my hand luggage. I can even fit these things in my pockets if I need to.
#7 Teething Granules
If your little one is teething or you think that might be able to start, you might want to pack a box of teething granules. They come in little sachets and offer pretty much instant relief from teething pain.
If you’ve seen (or heard!) a baby suffering with teething pain you’ll understand why these are such a good buy (especially for an upcoming plane journey!). They’re a homeopathic remedy, so they stimulate the body’s own natural healing processes. Teething granules are deemed as a safe and side-effect free treatment.
#8 Giant Muslin
Invest in a supersized muslin for your travels. Similar to the regular sized ones you can mop up any mess, but with a bigger size you can use it as a swaddle, sun shield, pillow and a cover-up if you’re breastfeeding (ideal for flights). These stylish muslins are ideal.
#9 Don’t over-do it
You may be used to packing in as much as possible when travelling without a baby. Daily itineraries begin at 8am and don’t stop until midnight and you’ll see and do as much as you can. Things are about to change.
When you’re travelling with your little one you’ll need to take things much slower. Opt for either a morning or an afternoon activity (depending on when your baby is at their best) and plan to chill out for the rest of the day.
#10 Sling or Stroller?
In line with #6 (travelling light), you’ll need to carry your baby around the airport and wherever you’re going with ease and minimal effort. Slings and carriers such as the Pao Papoose baby carrier are great as it means you can use both of your hands. If you’re travelling with a bigger baby then consider a carrier like the Little Life All Terrain carrier. This is great for when you reach your destination but you will have to put it in the hold of the plane once you reach the plane doors.
If you’d rather have a set of wheels then try to get something super lightweight and compact such as the Maclaren Globetrotter or the Maclaren Mark II. Although you can usually take your stroller right to the plane, you need to consider that you might need to transport it in a taxi, on a bus/coach or your hire car.
The Doona is a worthwhile buy. It’s both a car seat and stroller in one, so solves two problems with ease.
#11 Silicone Bibs
Consider using silicone bibs rather than material ones. That way when they get grubby with food or dribble you can simply clean them with a wipe or under the tap, and reuse. If you use material bibs you’ll take up precious luggage space and end up with a big pile of dirty washing (to add to your even bigger pile of dirty clothes!).
The silicone ones also roll up really easily, so you can carry them in your hand luggage.
#12 Eat Early
Just because you’re travelling with a baby doesn’t mean you need to miss out on fancy meals – just make sure you get to restaurants as early as possible. The restaurant will be much quieter, you’ll be served much faster, it’s less likely you’ll be sat next to a couple trying to enjoy a romantic meal and it’s less likely your baby will have a tired meltdown.
Where to stay when travelling with a baby
#13 Choose apart’hotels
If you want the convenience that comes with a centrally located hotel with daily cleaning, great facilities and check-in staff, but you also want the extra space and a small kitchen that comes with an apartment then opt for an apart’hotel. These are really popular in European cities and make travelling with a baby a breeze as you can prepare meals and bottles and have a separate area to relax in the evening without disturbing Baby. They also often come with washing machines so you don’t need to pack too many clothes.
So, there you have it’ the first edition of travel hacks for baby travel. Do you have any tips to add to this list?
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