Maxwell and I have traveled a lot together in his 11 months of life! Here are our tips for traveling with tiny baby via airplane and our tips for road trips with a baby.) We’ve been to Utah, Colorado, Georgia, New York, Connecticut, and even the Dominican Republic! We’re actually in Florida right now, check out my instagram feed for pictures! So, here’s the deal: There is a big difference when traveling with a 3 month old vs. a very active, walking 11 month old. I’m doing a little update on my original post to share what I’ve learned about traveling with a baby via airplane.
Tips for traveling with a toddler on an airplane
My son is 11 months old and walking! In my opinion, walking is what makes an older baby significantly harder to manage on an airplane. If your kiddo isn’t walking, check out these tips for traveling with a 0-6 month baby tips.
When Maxwell was tiny and sleepy and I was traveling alone, it was much easier to carry him in his backpack through the airport. It’s also necessary to note that I was taking him to places where a stroller/car seat was not necessary, like blog conferences. He was perfectly happy to hang out on my chest! Also, if you plan on renting a car, know that you can always rent a carseat. At 9 months old, and with the help of Andy, we brought the stroller on our New Years trip. It was greatness. Max loves to be pushed around in the stroller and see all of the new airport sites and people! The stroller also acts as a shopping cart carrying all of our baggage. Gate check the stroller and you’re golden! Maxwell also used his stroller as a toy while we waited in the airport! It was also really nice to have the stroller for walks on our trip. You know your baby best, so if your baby will happily sit on your chest in a baby carrier, I still think that is easier, but Maxwell prefers his stroller these days.
2. Family restrooms
Greatest invention ever. Max, Mom, Dad, stroller, bags…we all went to the restroom together. It’s private and big and you can take your time and not feel rushed. This would also be a good place to pump if you needed to do that.
3. Powder formula measured out in a bottle
We still nurse, but Maxwell gets distracted easily so I brought formula for the plane ride. I brought 3 scoops of powder formula in a bottle and then asked the stewardess for 6 oz of bottled water. No issues with security or exposing my boob to the plane. Best of all, no leaky bottle in my bag.
4. Nursing and a scarf
My airplane outfit had always included a scarf, but now more than ever, I recommend brining a scarf. It’s good for covering up the boob if we do decide to nurse, keeping us warm, playing hide and seek, and then it just goes right back around my neck and spruces up my outfit!
5. New toys
We got lucky with this one since we were traveling right after Christmas, Maxwell received lots of fun new toys and books. I threw a few small ones in my bag and he loved this finger puppet book and Indestructible books. It was fun because we could read the book, we could play hide and seek with the giraffe (hide him behind a few pages), I could stick my lips/ nose/tongue through the hole and Maxwell loved it all. This small book entertained us for 20ish minutes per flight. Maxwell also loved an empty plastic cup the flight attendant gave him.
6. The plane as a new toy
Everything about the airplane is very exciting to a curious baby. The window goes up and down, the tray table goes up and down, the arm rest goes up and down, the people in the seats behind you are exciting, the seat belt clanks and clicks, and even taking a walk down the aisle and investigating the common areas. And don’t forget plastic cups, empty chip bag, and coffee stir sticks. Maxwell had a blast with the coffee stir stick, I laid him on my legs and poked his belly, shoulder, leg, arm, foot with the stir stick!
7. Time of flight
If you have a choice, I suggest flying at bedtime. After the flight took off, Maxwell nursed and was lulled to sleep by the airplane buzz on a 7pm flight. He was out for all 3 hours. Nursing on the day time flights did not work out so well. (See tip #3.)
8. Days of flight
Our trip to Florida happen to be a Saturday- Tuesday, which are apparently slow flying days and Maxwell and I scored an empty aisle! Having 3 seats to ourselves on both flights was amazing!
Upon arrival to the airport, ask if it is a full flight. If it is not full, see if you can get a seat with an empty seat next to it. The airport people are usually pretty nice to people with babies, and I promise, more room is always better.
Bring food for your baby. I brought 4 different snacks (yogurt bites, Cheerios, dried blueberries, puffs) in this handy little container. This container is awesome since it houses 5 different snacks and only one compartment can be open at a time. He even enjoyed putting Cheerios back into the container. Another trick he whipped out on the plane was wanting to feed me the Cheerios!
11. Check baby stuff for free
Most airlines allow you to check up to 2 baby devices for free. Baby items like:
- Pac n’ play
- Car seat
Call the airline before you fly to make sure, but here is Delta’s policy for checking kid items for free.
Tips for when you get to your destination
12. Sound machine
We love this sound machine. We use at home and travel with it. It’s small, light weight, inexpensive and makes Maxwell feel right at home.
13. If possible rent a house vs. staying in a hotel room
We’ve done both. And staying in a hotel room means parents hang out in the bathroom and eat room service after baby finally falls asleep. A house just gives you so much more room and flexibility. You can rent houses fairly inexpensively on sites like AirBnB and vrbo. Also think about sharing the cost of a home with another couple with a baby!
Before you go, ask friends and relatives if they have a babysitter recommendation for your little one. I’ve done this in Georgia and Utah, and had great luck with it. It makes me feel so much better that a friend I trust made the recommendation versus a hotel or sitter service. Also, if you decide to rent a house and assuming you have an extra bedroom, consider bringing a younger sibling/ cousin/ regular babysitter along on your trip. Set up a schedule before the trip to ensure that all parties are happy and clear about the expectations of the trip.