Everything you’ll need to know before traveling with kids
Let’s be honest, traveling with kids is HARD! What is a vacation anymore? Here are some tips to make it a (bit) easier!
GENERAL TRAVEL TIPS:
- Adapt to the new time zone as soon as you arrive. This will be HARD. Stick with it, it will get better over the course of a few days.
If you’re following Moms on Call, use the “crazy day tips” to survive. Start fresh in the morning.
- Travel with your sound machine and monitor.
The ROHM travel sound machine is great for traveling, but try to bring the sound machine baby is used to at home as it is not as loud!
The Slumberpod (Buy from the Bumblebaby store for $20 off) is an AMAZING black out travel tent for pack’n’plays – it’s been a lifesaver for us for travel (Beesie didn’t even skip a beat on vacation when she had to sleep in our common room!)
Great for room sharing, daycare, nanny share, travel. The soft, cotton material is breathable and there’s even a spot for the monitor!
Packs up so small you can fit it in your suitcase or carseat bag/stroller bag.
**Check out my blog post on room sharing tips for babies and toddlers!
- Know that sleep and naps will most likely be off (and sometimes just out the window!)
Do the best you can. Naps on the go are ok. Try to get one nap a day in a crib if you can. Extra feeds are ok. Just survive!!
- Adjust to your schedule as necessary.
Move naps and feeds up or down for that first day. JUST SURVIVE!
- Get a travel car seat.
This Cosco car seat is only $49, has high safety ratings, is ultra lightweight, rear-facing starting at 6 pounds, and convertible to forward facing. It’s really easy to install, and when not traveling, we use it as the car seat in our spare car (also great for grandparents’ cars). Highly recommended!
Once your child outgrows the one above, I love this larger travel convertible car seat for taller kids (super light weight) and this foldable travel booster seat (very narrow and great for car-pooling too).
**If you need help installing this car seat or any other car seat/booster seat, book a video chat or in-person consult with Renée. She’s a national certified car seat technician and can help you with any questions that you have! Read this blog post about the 5 things most parent’s don’t know about car seat safety too!
- You CAN use a car seat (that is FAA approved) on the airplane. This is a great option for kiddos who are movement kids! Read this post below for how to use a car seat on the plane. Check to make sure your car seat is FAA approved or call your airline for more info.
DID YOU KNOW? You can use your infant car seat WITHOUT THE BASE!! (besides Nuna Pipa Lite). ***Check your specific car seat parameters and manual. You use the seatbelt to strap baby in in most cases. So most likely, no need to travel with the heavy and clunky base!
- You’ll most likely need baby’s birth certificate to travel with baby
Check in with the birth certificate at curbside or check-in counter before going through security. Check with your specific airline for more info. In most cases, a photo of the birth certificate will be all you need.
- Bring a lightweight travel stroller.
- If you can, ship everything you’ll need there – diapers, wipes, suncreen, formula, etc.
- Bring a pack and play.
Zoe makes the EASIEST and LIGHTEST travel crib called The Cloud.
It has a removable infant bassinet so you can use it during newborn stage
It comes with a backpack carrying case with wheels. It doesn’t get easier than this to travel with a pack and play! Use code BUMBLEBABYZOE for discount.
RENTING BABY GEAR:
Did you know you also have the option to rent baby equipment ahead of time to have ready when you arrive to your destination? I love using the company, BabyQuip (use code BUMBLEBABY20 for $20 off of $100 or more). BabyQuip delivers and sets everything up for you, and picks it up when you’re done! You can rent everything from cribs, high chairs, strollers, etc.! They make the process seamless and it makes it easier for you to travel without all of that baby equipment!
DEEP CLEANING SERVICE OF YOUR OWN BABY GEAR: BabyQuip also came out with a new cleaning service where you can have your own baby gear deep cleaned and sanitized. They have hundreds of certified cleaning experts across the country who come to your house to pick up your gear up, deep clean the dirty gear, and then drop it back off to you in 48 hours or less. They use only non-toxic and baby safe cleaning products. Every nook and cranny of every item is meticulously cleaned! Use code BUMBLEBABY20 for discount!
PLANE TIPS FOR 1 INFANT + TRAVELING ALONE:
- CHECK EVERYTHING.
YES, check everything. At curbside if possible.
- Pack ‘n play counts as a piece of luggage. Car seats DO NOT count as luggage.
Zoe makes a travel crib called The Cloud that is SUPER light and easy to travel with (comes with a removable infant insert and backpack carrying case with wheels). Use code BUMBLEBABYZOE for discount.
- Carry baby in a baby carrier.
I like this ErgoBaby 360 because you can safely wear baby facing you or forward facing when they are a bit older.
This makes it easy for you to relax during the flight by not actively holding a baby. Baby will feel secure, and for some reason it makes me feel better if something was to happen that I can strap baby to me (turbulence etc.).
- Bring a backpack diaper bag to carry on
SO much easier with baby in carrier and that’s it. You don’t have room for much more.
- I LOVE this backpack diaper bag and it’s easy to use during travel. Checkout my blog post on diaper bag essentials with more info about this diaper bag!
- For a budget friendly option, this one does the trick!
- I LOVE this Everywhere belt bag from Lululemon. It’s perfect for crossbody to keep your ID and things you will need to grab quickly.
- Request support with TSA Cares
TSA Cares can assist travelers with special circumstances through the TSA screening process. You can request support for children with disabilities, traveling alone with children, or any circumstance that you may need extra assistance. A Passenger Support Specialist will assist you. If your flight is in more than 72 hours, fill out the request here. If your flight is within 72 hours, you can call (855) 787-2227.
ASCENT AND DESCENT:
- Have baby swallow (breast or bottle) when ascending and descending.
Babies under 1 year of age cannot “pop” their ears; so the swallowing during this time helps relieve pressure in the ears.
- Survive the flight.
Don’t worry about schedules. Let baby sleep, eat, pacifier as they please.
- Children under 2 are considered lap children.
You can purchase a separate seat for your infant/child under 2. This way you can bring the carseat on and strap baby in. This is not necessary, but an option. If you have twins, you will need to do this option. Click here for our traveling with a lap child tips. SAVE THIS!
WHEN YOU ARRIVE:
- Have someone waiting for you at baggage claim if you can to help you with luggage, stroller, etc.
They can park in short term parking.
If you don’t have this option, get a push cart for all luggage, carseat, etc.
- The car seat, stroller and pack ‘n play may come out in the oversized luggage area depending on the airport.
TRAVELING ALONE WITH 2+ KIDS
NO TIPS…GODSPEED. HAHA. Just kidding! I recently braved it and flew SOLO with both Finn + Bee to Florida. I couldn’t take the 60 degree and rainy days in Chicago any longer! This is the first time that I have traveled solo with both kids on a plane. Surprisingly, they were great. A few things contributed to this:
- I brought Finn’s car seat on the plane (make sure yours is FAA approved).
I highly suggest this for movement kiddos like Finn, but just in general if you are traveling solo with two kids.
When we got on the plane, I set up his car seat immediately and acted like we were going in the car. He’s generally good about getting into his car seat (it’s the same as his big cousin Izzie’s, so he thinks it’s SO cool to get in “Izzie’s” car seat).
- Car seats must go in the window seat for safety, which worked to our advantage since Finn loves to look at and count planes that pass.
This FFA Approved airplane harness is a great alternative for “rule follower” toddlers (which, ahem, Finn is not). So if you have a wild movement kid like me, the carseat is a better option.
This car seat travel bag is a MUST have. It has straps so you can use it as a backpack and it keeps your car seat protected.
- LOTS of snacks.
Lollipops, specifically, are bribery in our house (!). Loaded up on dum dums and I am not ashamed of it. It kept them happy, still and quiet for most of the flight. Pouches, crackers, raisins, you name it. My diaper bag was mostly snacks.
I also love these organic lollipops. *lollipops, are of course, a choking hazard, so it’s up to you to weight the risk vs. benefit
- Early morning and late evening flights.
Kids were tired enough to take a nap, plus they keep the shades down and the lights off on the plane. The natural white noise of the jet engines made my kids zzzzzz.
I pushed Finn in a single travel stroller such as the Zoe Trip (if you don’t have this stroller, it’s a godsend. The Tripp fits in the aisle and overhead compartment, can fold and unfold with one hand), wore Bee in the ErgoBaby 360, carried Finn’s car seat on my back in this JL Childress Car Seat bag, and clipped my backpack diaper bag on the stroller with this Mommy Hook.
- CHECK EVERYTHING.
I had one big, rolling suitcase for all of us – this made it much easier to place Bee’s light weight travel car seat (checked in bag) on top of the rolling suitcase.
This Cosco carseat is only $50, has high safety ratings, is ultra lightweight, rear-facing starting at 6 pounds, and convertible to forward facing. It’s really easy to install, and when not traveling, we use it as the seat in our spare car. Highly recommended!
I could then push the stroller with one hand and bag with the other. Fortunately, we already had PackNPlays at our destination, but I would have checked these, too.
- Remember that PackNPlays count as a piece of luggage, car seats do not.
- Some new toys/activities to keep busy.
I brought a few cars and sticker book for Finn and a dolly for Bee. Kept them occupied for bit.
- A little screen time.
In my opinion, this is normal and necessary in these situations. Of course, this is up to you!
- One, single, bag (preferably a backpack) is key.
You really don’t have much room for more. You can stick this on top of the car seat in the car seat bag before you zip it up to save time and an arm.
CAR RIDE TIPS
- Leave at the beginning of naptime so baby is sleepy.
- Stop to feed every 3-4 hours, depending on baby’s schedule. Do not feed baby in the car seat.
- Have some kiddie music ready for meltdowns – always works for me!
- Sit in the back if you’re traveling with someone else – so you can distract, pacify, etc.
- SURVIVE. Do what you need to do to get there – longer naps, less feeds, just keep baby happy!
- Bring a few favorite toys.
- Don’t layer on too many clothes (remember, no bulky clothes under car seat anyway) so baby doesn’t overheat.
BREASTMILK + FORMULA TIPS
- You can go through security with pre-made bottles, milk, and breast milk in any amounts you like.
- Keep to 3 oz baggies/bottles for TSA. If the bottle/baggie contains more than 3 oz, you will be subjected to further pat downs – ask for this in place of TSA individually checking and testing each bottle/baggie (they actually open each container). Click here for official TSA rules regarding breastmilk.
- Get this great freezable cooler bag for traveling – PackIT freezable lunch bag. Keeps milk cold for hours + is so versatile – use it at work, for kids’ lunches, etc. Must be FROZEN to come through TSA.
- Breastmilk/formula can be liquid or frozen. I suggest keeping it fresh – you don’t want to get delayed, have it all thaw, and then have use or discard it within 24 hours.
- I always bring an empty zip lock bag to add ice to the cooler bag if for some reason the flight gets delayed.
- If you are not breastfeeding from the boob (bringing pumped milk or formula), bring 2 extra bottles in case you are delayed and/or cannot get off of the plane.
- If you are exclusively pumping, bring a manual pump with you on the plane. For whatever reason if you need to pump, you’ll be able to. I always travel with at least a manual pump.
- If you are breastfeeding from the boob, you’ll have the source with you.
BREASTFEEDING + BRINGING BABY
- I always travel with at least a manual pump (Medela or Lansinoh) and haakaa, even if I will have baby with me the entire time. Travel is stressful, and I commonly get blocked ducts on vacation (see my post on blocked ducts + mastitis). Plus, it’s nice to be able to go out to dinner without baby if you’re traveling with family or are able to escape for a bit.
- I always bring 1 bottle with me.
- No NEED to bring your electric pump – it’s bulky, heavy and takes up room. But if you feel more comfortable, then by all means!
- If you can, amazon prime formula to your destination.
- Bring ready to feed formula with you on the plane OR prepare powder in this formula travel case (I also like this formula dispenser too).
- The plane will have bottled water to use for the bottles.
- Bring 2 extra feeds in case of delay.
- SNACKS! LOTS OF SNACKS.
- A little screen time.
I am pro limited screen time. Of course, this is a personal opinion. All in moderation.
- A few new toys.
Toys they have never seen before. Keeps them busy for a bit!
**Have you seen my blog post on Busy Bag Kit for Eating at Restaurants with Toddlers? Some of my favorite on-the-go toys and activities are included in there!
**Check out my Amazon store for my favorite car seat safe toys! This list was created by Renée who is a national certified car seat technician. If you have any questions about car seat safety or need help with installing your car seat (virtually or in-person), book a consult with Renée!
Some of my favorite travel toys:
TRICKS + OTHER TRAVEL ITEMS
- Use your car seat bag to your advantage. PACK EVERYTHING IN THERE!
- This clip-on travel high chair is the best – we use it for travel, grandparents’ house, and restaurants. It clips on and folds up so small and is easy to travel with.
- This portable travel high chair is also great because you can use it indoors or outdoors and it also folds up easily to travel with!
- These travel + disposable placemats save so much time + energy. Clean up is a breeze! Perfect for babies learning to eat off of a plate. I’ve tried them all, and these are the only ones that stay put!
- These portable blackout shades are a lifesaver when traveling. They’re lightweight and have suction cups to stick to all windows. I bought two of them to make sure every window is covered when I travel to new places with my kids!
- Travel snack cup, water bottle, and reusable containers. I’ve tried so many different ones and these ones listed are my favorites!
FOR YOUR CARRY ON BACKPACK
- Hand sanitizing wipes for both hands and wiping down surfaces.
- Kids daily probiotic
- Toys + snacks.
- Your wallet, baby’s birth certificate, cooler bag if needed.
- Travel changing pad (for the nasty airplane bathroom)
- Tylenol and Motrin
- 3-4 diapers + wipes
- 1 spare outfit for each child (blowouts always happen on planes)
- One blanket
WHEN YOU RETURN – POST VACATION RESET:
- Know that sleep and routine will be off for at least 3 nights. Stay strong! and stay out 😉
- Stick to your Moms on Call Crazy Day rules if you need to, but try to get back on schedule.
- Be consistent and things will get back to normal.
Traveling with kids can be stressful and exhausting! Give yourself PLENTY of time at the airport before your flight. Remember that your kids will be off of their routine/nap schedules…AND THAT’S OK! They WILL go back to their normal schedules once you’re back home. Embrace the chaos and take a deep breath….you got this momma!
Other helpful blog posts:
- Items to leave at grandparents’, nanny share or second caregiver’s house
- Busy bag kit for eating at restaurants with toddlers
- Baby sleep hack for parents during the holidays
- Diaper bag essentials
- How to safely use baby “containers”
**This post is educational and not meant to take the place of your provider. Bumblebaby makes a small commission on some of the items listed above