Oof it’s been a loooong 18+ months since Covid-19 completely changed life (and travel) as we know it. I’ve personally logged countless hours scrolling Airbnb while daydreaming about the places I’d visit once things felt safer. Of course, what feels safe is different for everyone, but if you’ve decided the back half of 2021 is your time to travel, and you have a new little co-pilot in your entourage – you’re gonna need some fresh travel tips.
Traveling with your baby does require some planning but doesn’t need to be overwhelming. Unless your baby has outgrown their infant seat or is mobile. Then a little panic is reasonable. I’m kidding of course, but there is a big difference between flying with an infant (3-9 months) and an older baby or toddler. I highly recommend the former. The latter requires a little more ingenuity and patience.
Streamline your essentials – for example, travel only with a day’s supply of diapers and buy more at your destination. Borrow or rent common baby items like a crib, pack-n-play or high chair. However, don’t be too minimalist when it comes to clothes. Pack a change for you and baby in your diaper bag. If your clothes are all in your checked baggage, you are practically inviting a full on diaper blowout seconds after take-off.
For younger babies, a stroller/car seat travel system is ideal for getting through the airport. Wear baby in a carrier and load up that stroller with your carry-on bag and diaper bag. If baby has their own seat, simply gate check the stroller base and bring the infant seat on the plane, or gate check both, so they’ll be waiting for you at the end of the jet bridge when you deplane. For older/bigger babies, try a lightweight convertible car seat (like the Cosco Scenera Next) which can be attached to a car seat travel cart – which basically turns that bulky seat into a wheelie ride for your toddler, carried in its own travel bag (some have backpack straps), or slung over your stroller.
For older babies, flying happily is all about snacks and diversions. Portable things like washi tape, wikki stix or a small busy board work well. For an older toddler, triangular shaped crayons (because the round ones will be on the floor rolling away before you can say “cabin pressure”) and something to scribble on are key. Pack a small tackle box with snacks. If you have a new walker, be prepared to pace the aisles. And did I mention snacks?
Most importantly, try not to stress if your baby is crying or making other perfectly reasonable noises that babies make. You don’t need goodie bags for everyone in proximity to your seat as a way of pre-apologizing for your little love’s completely normal behavior. Remember that they’re tiny human people with as much of a right to be there as the other travelers. If a grown adult can’t handle your baby crying, that’s really on them, isn’t it?
Now get packing and have fun!