Traveling with a Baby
We just got back from our first trip with Sophie and it was so great—we’ve done day trips to Sonoma and Santa Cruz before but this was our first time flying with her and her first time sleeping anywhere other than our house, so we were a little nervous to take the leap. I thought I'd share some thoughts here--although one trip with a baby makes me far from an expert, I thought we did a good job packing just the essentials and making things as easy as they possibly could be.
Overall it went really well and people were so nice, especially at the airport. I always worried that people would look at us like “oh no I hope that baby isn’t on my flight,” but I never do that myself so why would they? I always have to remind myself of that—if I’ve never had that thought before, why do I assume most people will? (I do this with my Pure Barre classes too--I used to be so nervous to make a mistake and then I thought okay have I ever been mad at an instructor for making a mistake when I'm working out?) No--generally people are nicer than that, and traveling with a baby is no different. One woman behind me in line even reached her hand out to help hold me up while I was wiggling out of my boots at security, and all the flight attendants on every flight were super excited to see Sophie and asked us to just let them know if we needed any help with anything.
Here are some thoughts I jotted down while we were traveling:
I think I would have liked to have our DockATot for bed lounging and maybe even sleeping--I just wasn't sure how to pack it so I skipped it this time. The first night in Seattle she didn’t know what was going on and I ended up bringing her into bed with me, which I don’t feel super comfortable with. Luckily there was also a daybed so Rob slept there and we had the queen to ourselves.
The travel crib we have was great but she wasn’t used to it so I’d maybe do a few test runs at home first. She definitely wasn't happy to be basically sleeping on the floor (the bassinet she sleeps in at home slides onto our bed, and I think she could tell the difference).
We rented a studio apartment and will probably do one-bedrooms from now on because she didn’t sleep well the first night--there was too much light coming in through the windows and quite a bit of construction on the street. I think when we booked the flights we didn't have a bedtime routine yet so I didn't even think that she'd need a quiet, dark place to go to sleep. We ended up moving the crib to a walk-in closet which felt weird but she slept all night in there without waking up once. We have a white noise machine at home but used an app on our phones. She usually sleeps in a bassinet right beside me so I put the shirt I had worn all day on the floor next to the crib--I don't know if it worked but she didn't seem scared or upset so I think it might have helped.
Naps were a struggle but she did sleep in the baby carrier so we were able to go out and do stuff. We didn’t bring a stroller and wearing her worked just fine. We will be using a travel stroller for our longer trip to Virginia and NC in May--I have my eye on this one. We brought the Boppy carrier and the Ergobaby carrier. I also packed a Solly baby wrap but we didn't end up using it.
She's not quite ready for a high chair yet so we had to wear her or hold her at restaurants but I think by the time we go on our next trip she'll be sitting up better, which will make going out to eat a little easier.
We did bed time baths in the tub with me—it was one less thing to pack and she loved splashing in the water. This is the tub we've been using (it's supposed to be great for travel) but she's pretty much outgrown it so I'm looking for something new.
We definitely packed too many baby clothes for a weekend. I thought she'd spit up and need to change at least twice a day but I packed little baby bib bandanas like these and it saved her onesies. Bringing extra shirts for us was a win, though.
We brought an 8-ounce bottle of milk on the plane and a little cooler with some frozen milk. You can bring milk and/or formula in a bottle through security (they just inspect it), and if it's frozen they don't even need to do anything with it. She drank the bottle at takeoff and then an hour later she got fussy so I nursed her and she fell asleep. We carried the Boppy pillow on and that was perfect for keeping her comfy while she was nursing/napping. I also packed my pump to use when we got there, so we were able to have bottles while we were out and about.
Putting the car seat (we bought this one specifically for travel) in an Uber or Lyft was a little unnerving at first (not to mention letting a stranger drive) but we got the hang of it. We put it in a big carseat cover/bag and checked it when we got to the airport along with the travel crib.
We stayed downtown so we could walk most places--Pike Place Market, to a bunch of coffee shops and restaurants, even to Capitol Hill for brunch one morning. We did want to go to a few other places that weren't walkable from our apartment so we used Zipcar (fsslolif is Rob's referral code if you want $25 off), which was really easy. It got a little more expensive than we anticipated because we kept having to add time on but I think it was worth it to not take the car seat in and out and also lug it around a brewery and pretty tiny restaurant for dinner later, especially in the rain. Our VA/NC trip is 10 days and not in huge cities so we'll be renting a car, which will be nice with the car seat.
Overall the trip went really smoothly and I'm so glad we did a test run for just a few days. I was so proud of Sophie for going with the flow and I'm really happy we got to see some family and friends and eat some great food while we were there.
I'll include my packing list below--I think it's the first time I didn't forget anything and really the DockATot was the only thing I might have brought if I could go back and do it again, although for only one night I don't think it would have been worth it since she slept great in her crib the next two days (and she's never slept in the DockATot overnight anyway).
Carry On (one diaper bag, one backpack, one tote bag for bottles/pump stuff):
Extra set of clothes for baby and adults
Burp cloths (2)
Baby blanket (we definitely used this on the plane)
Bottle of breastmilk
2-3 bags of frozen breastmilk
Baby's birth certificate
Checked luggage (one suitcase, one travel crib, one car seat):
Car seat and cover
Solly baby wrap (ended up not using)
Clothes for us and clothes for baby
Sleep suit (we love this thing and have a very gently-used 6-9M one if anyone's interested in it you can send me an email!)
Breast pump and storage bags
1 extra baby bottle (2 in total)
One final note: I felt weird going to restaurants after 5PM with Sophie--first of all when we're home we start our bedtime routine pretty close to 6PM, so going out to dinner isn't really our thing at this point. We got takeout one night and did an early dinner another, but on Saturday we really wanted to go to Delancey and it was packed so we didn't get seated until 5:45ish. We ordered right away and just went with it--she got fussy so we took her out of the carrier and she was happy to look around at people and have us talk to her. We often get stressed out about what might happen if she cries but again, people don't really care! And it's so simple but Rob and I always tell each other now that if she has a meltdown one of us will take her outside and the other will get the food to go. It's really as easy as that--just wanted to share because I know it can be scary taking your kid somewhere for fear that they'll make a scene. Most of the time she's just fine but it's nice to have a backup plan in place, no matter how simple.
That's all from me! Let me know your travel tips and if I missed anything or if you have any questions! I scoured the internet for baby travel stuff before we left so I'm hoping this post will be helpful to someone.
This post contains affiliate links.