Road Trips with a Toddler – 9 Lessons from the Front Seat

Road Trips with a Toddler – 9 Lessons from the Front Seat

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will receive a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

Until a few months ago, we lived on the opposite side of the country from family and friends.  This means that for every trip to Grandma’s house, we boarded multiple planes and spent almost an entire day on airplanes and in airports.  Now doing this as often as we did with a newborn and into the early toddler years, we were feeling pretty proud of our ability to smoothly travel with a baby or toddler. 

So, when we moved close enough to family to drive and visit on a regular basis, we were thinking it would be a breeze compared to flying across the country.  Well our first 8-hour road trip to Grandma’s was not quite as easy as we expected.  However, I live by the motto, “you win, or you learn”, and we definitely learned a lot on this trip.  Keep reading to find out what we learned when taking a road trip with a toddler, so that you are prepared to hit the open roads.

Road Trips with a Toddler – 9 Lessons from the Front Seat

Toddlers have a really short attention span

Theoretically, I already knew this.  However, at home or the playground where my toddler can run from one activity to the next, I didn’t fully develop an appreciation for how frequently new activities must be furnished.  Airplanes usually have enough good people watching and looking out the window and new noises to keep a little one pretty occupied.  However, my son thought the constant view of fields did not make for a very interesting trip. 

We had taken a variety of activities, but not nearly enough for the entire 8-hour trip.  In the future, we will take many more activities.

Activities that work for other kids may not work for yours

You can easily find recommendations for travel activities online.  However, each kid is unique and what is magic for others likely won’t work for you.  Use all these ideas, to spark ideas of what you think your child will like.   Ideal activities are interesting, non-toxic if eaten, and low mess.  Once you have some ideas of what might work, do a dry run.  Try them out while you are driving across town or take a mini road trip to a nearby city.  See which activities work well in the car and keep your toddler entertained and which ones aren’t worth the effort.  This will help you narrow down your list of activities to pack.

These toddler travel activities can help you start the brainstorming process of what may work for your kid.

Get a travel tray

There are a variety of travel trays available, and you will definitely want to invest in one.  This is the one that we have and really like. When selecting a travel tray, there are a few things to consider:

  • How it attaches, you will want to make sure it will be easy to put on and take off
  • Avoid cupholders that go below the tray base because these can be uncomfortable
  • Waterproof because you will want to clean the tray frequently
  • Compact
A toddler using a travel tray to hold toys and a drink on a road trip.

Know that the travel tray may not always work

The travel tray was really helpful for meals.  It was great to set my son up with his drink and food in a way that he could eat it without making a big mess.  However, when we wanted to sleep, the tray just annoyed him.  It worked well for us, to be able to remove the tray from the front passenger seat.

Plan for a play stop

No matter how many activities you pack, your little one will need to run around at some point to burn off some excess energy.  I suggest planning a stop midway that will allow a break from the car.  There are a number of rest stops with playgrounds now, and many that have big green picnic areas.  Plan where this stop will be.  By doing your research online ahead of time, you can have a good plan that will save a lot of stress while traveling.

A toddler playing on a playground.

Plan your gas and food stops

Similar to the point above, you will want to have a general idea of where you plan to stop for food, gas and restrooms.  Figure out what you want in your idea stop.  Do you want gas and coffee, or a specific fast food restaurant?  You can research these ahead of time to save stress during the trip. 

I love using the iExit app to figure out where to stop.  You can read more about it and my other must-have travel apps here.

Are you starting to see a theme about planning here?  To maximize your efforts, you can grab my Family Travel Planner here.

Take your motion sickness medication

The person in the front passenger seat will be turning around a lot during the trip.  If there is even the slightest chance you will get car sick, take motion sickness medication to prevent it.  The non-drowsy version of Dramamine which contains meclizine, is my favorite.  I can read, work or turn around and help my toddler without getting nauseous. 

Download some baby tunes

Toddlers love music and there is something about Baby Shark and other toddler songs that appeal to that demographic more than any other type of music.  Before your trip, prepare a playlist or CD of favorite toddler tunes. When your little one starts getting cranky, break out his favorite songs.  These work wonders for pulling my son out of a cranky fit while we are driving.

Consider how sleep will happen

Even if it’s naptime and even if you walked your toddler around the neighborhood before getting in the car, there is no guarantee that sleep will occur.  However, to improve your chances, consider how you can make the backseat darker.  Window shades help to some extent.  Does your little one fall asleep best with a full tummy and a cup of milk?  If so, plan a food stop shortly before you want sleep to occur.  Also make sure you get food, gas, drink, bathrooms or anything else everyone else needs before your toddler falls asleep.  The worst thing is for sleep to finally happen and then someone needs to stop for a bathroom.

There are the 9 lessons I learned on our most recent road trip.  Before your next trip, you will also want to check out these tips for traveling with a baby or toddler.

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Road Trips with a Toddler – 9 Lessons from the Front Seat

Disclosure: Some of the links above are affiliate links meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will receive a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

Travel Planning with Kids

Travel Planning with Kids

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will receive a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

I love to travel, but I absolutely hate planning the details of my trip.  I mean, I’m great at saying let’s go to ____________ (insert well known tourist destination), and make sure we see/do ____________ (insert landmark/activity destination is known for).  When it comes to actually planning out the details that will make that trip happen, I’m an awful procrastinator.

I fall into the habit of getting overwhelmed at the thought of planning and everything that goes into making a trip happen.  Luckily, my husband is great at planning out the details of a trip, but he doesn’t like to be left completely on his own to do it.  Therefore, I had to find some way that I could get myself to plan a trip without dragging my feet so much we never went on the trip.

If I thought planning for my husband and me was hard, a baby/toddler adds a whole new level of difficult to the planning.  Despite my initial planning dread, we have had a bunch of great trips as a family, and my 1.5-year old son is more well-traveled than some adults.  Read on for my tips to make travel planning with kids easier and have those family trips you imagine.

Travel Planning with Kids

Plan to Plan

If you want to take a family trip 3 months from now, you will want to start planning soon, so that you can book flights and lodging early enough to get the best rates.  While you are still excited about the trip, sit down and spend 10 minutes making a list of everything you need to do to get that trip planned.  This could include be start off as follows:

  • Book hotel
  • Book flights
  • Book rental car
  • Book baby rental items
  • Book excursions

Once you have a list of everything you need to do, grab your planner, and start scheduling yourself planning blocks.  These are blocks of time where you schedule yourself time to check one item off your planning list.  30-minute blocks are likely sufficient for most tasks.  Once you have a time block for each activity on your list, commit to yourself that you will treat it as a mandatory activity like everything else on your calendar.

Pro Tip: Make sure things that requiring booking something are early in your planning period.  You will want to make sure to book early enough before things fill up or rates increase.

Organize Your Thoughts

To make you planning time blocks as productive as possible, have an idea of what you need to consider and how you want to organize that information to make the best decisions.  I really like using worksheets that allow me to write in specific info for hotels, or flights, etc.  If the thought of creating worksheets is overwhelming, you can grab my travel planner here.

Keep an Idea List

For lists that you need to always have handy, I love using the cell phone app Wunderlist.  I pretty much always have my cell phone handy, so this method ensures my list is always nearby as well.  You will want to have this list to write down anything that jumps into your mind.  Maybe this is a great idea you hear for entertaining your toddler while traveling, or a must-do attraction someone tells you about, or a great restaurant to try on your trip, or something you can’t forget to pack.  Whatever it is, you will want to remember it when you are actually in a position to do something with that information.  The list allows you to make note of it, and when you are busy planning, skim your list to remind yourself about all the ideas you’ve had about the trip.

Enlist Your Family’s Help

If you are taking a family trip, get everyone involved in the planning process.  Your baby may not be able to help, but everyone from toddler age up can take at least a small part.  Planning tasks could range from having your elementary-aged child check the whether for the trip before everyone starts packing, or having your toddler pick out which travel activities he wants to take along.  If you have older kids coming along, you could have the teenagers practice budgeting parts of the trip such as activities or meals. 

Consider what each person is capable of and what would be of interest or a good learning experience and delegate tasks.  The more you include the family, the less you feel like a travel planner, and the more they are invested in the trip.

Go to the Internet

If you find yourself stuck on a particular task, do a quick online search for the destination and whatever it is you are looking for.  Trying to decide which hotel is the best choice in a certain area, Google it!  There are so many travel bloggers around the world that specialize in writing guides to traveling different places.  Be aware that some of these may be sponsored, but many times they do still outline the pros/cons of the location or activity.

Other Great Travel Resources

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Travel Planning with Kids

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Lauren’s ABC’s of Baby Travel Essentials

Lauren’s ABC’s of Baby Travel Essentials

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will receive a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

Lauren’s ABC's of Baby Travel Essentials

“Big A, little a, what begins with A? Aunt Annie’s Alligator a…a…a. Big B little B…” Oh, wait – that’s Dr. Seuss. But the alphabet concept is catchy, so we’ll stick with that.

Here’s my A to Z list of Baby Travel Essentials to help simplify the confusion. Make sure to bring along everything on this list. Also, enter your email below to grab my complete packing list for flying with a baby!

FREE Packing List for Flying with a Baby

Get my ultimate packing list delivered straight to your inbox. I’ve refined it over many trips, so you can benefit from what I’ve learned.

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    Animal (stuffed)

    Every kid has a collection of stuffed animals, but most have one or two obvious favorites.  These favorite stuffed animals can provide comfort for a tired baby or toddler that is having an overwhelming travel day with a lot of non-routine experiences.  Just make sure that the favorite stuffed animal is always accounted for. The last thing you want is to leave it on an airplane.


    A swaddling blanket is perfect for creating a car seat cover to provide some quiet and darkness to help your little one sleep.  A blanket is also great for putting on the airport floor to put your baby on (until he’s old enough to crawl away at least).  Swaddling blankets are also thin, so they can easily be rolled to not take up a lot of space.

    A blanket baby travel essential covering a baby in a car seat on an airplane.

    Car Seat Cart

    Unless you have an infant car seat and stroller travel system, you will want this amazing cart!  You just strap on a convertible car seat and it pulls behind you like a suitcase.  The cart the folds down to a small square that easily fits in a large carry-on.

    A pull along cart is definitely a baby travel essential because it turns the car seat into a roller suitcase.

    Diaper Bag

    You never want to leave the house without a fully stocked diaper bag.  When flying it’s critical that you have more diapers, wipes and baby food/milk than you will need just in case you get stuck with a delay.  For most airlines (except Southwest) a diaper bag doesn’t count towards your carry-on allowance when traveling with a lap child. Make sure you pack all of these items into your diaper bag!

    An open diaper bag and boarding pass.


    These noise-canceling baby earmuffs are amazing.  They block out a lot of noise to help calm down an overstimulated baby or to protect baby’s hearing from loud noises.  We got them for taking our son to a wedding reception.  However, they have come in handy in airports and airplanes many times.

    Baby noise-canceling earmuffs on a baby that's sleeping on an airplane.


    I have this amazing travel fan that is rechargeable.  I got it for labor and delivery, but now it goes on every trip.  Having a fan is super helpful when you end up on a plane that is way too hot.  The fan can help keep your baby from getting cranky due to the heat.  In my experience, it doesn’t matter what the outside weather is like, airplanes can still get hot.  Therefore, I never fly with my son without this fan.

    A fan is a baby travel essential because it keeps everyone cool and comfortable.

    Gate Check Bags

    You can gate check your car seat and stroller free of charge.  However, they will be spending the flight underneath the plane with all the luggage.  You have no idea what dirt and grease they will come into contact with, so gate check bags are a must to make sure baby’s ride stays in great shape.  They make a variety of stroller and car seat bags that fold down into their own small pouches when not in use. 

    Pro Tip: If you have a large jogging stroller, make sure you get one large enough.

    A stroller gate check bag that functions as a backpack makes flying with a baby easier.


    Movies are a great source of quiet entertainment for toddlers and older babies.  Setting your child in front of a screen may not be ideal at home, but when you are on a plane, it’s a perfectly acceptable option.  These headphones have maximum volume that is lower than adult headphones and they are soft and flexible for little heads.  An additional benefit is that the cord is chew-proof.

    A collection of baby airplane travel essentials

    ID for Baby

    You obviously need you ID to go through security.  However, if your baby is traveling as a lap child, they will need proof of age.  You could use a birth certificate for this purpose.  However, carrying around a piece of paper always scared me.  Therefore, we got Paxton a passport card which lives in my wallet.  That way I can just provide that for his proof of age.


    Above I talked about airplanes being too hot.  However, it can also go the other direction with airports and airplanes being too cold.  It’s always a good idea to bring a light jacket for everyone in case it gets chilly.  This is also regardless of the outside weather.

    Related Content

    Kitchen Items (for Baby)

    You will want to bring whatever you need to feed baby.  This could include bottles, forks and spoons, bowls, sippy cups, and food pouch attachments like this or this.  We decide pouches are too messy at Paxton’s current age to travel with.  We also can usually make do without bowls.  For forks and spoons, I like the Take -n -Toss ones.

    Laundry Detergent

    If you have a long trip, it can be easier to wash clothes part way through versus taking enough for the entire trip.  Also, babies are messy, so you never know when you will need to do an unexpected load of baby laundry.  Taking a travel-sized bottle or packet of laundry detergent allows you to select one that will work for baby’s sensitive skin.

    Medicine Bag

    Hopefully, you won’t need this, but if you do, you’ll be glad to have it.  I keep one stocked with baby Motrin, baby Benadryl, nasal bulb, thermometer, medication syringe, and baby nail clippers.  The first time Paxton got sick was while we were traveling, and I was glad to have this little pack.

    A collection of baby travel essentials

    Noise Machine

    White noise can be a helpful sleep aid for everyone in the family.  I have a travel one that is small and lightweight and can hang on a stroller, car seat or Pack-n-Play.  This is great for trying to get baby to nap during a layover and to block out the noise from other people in a hotel room. 

    For more tips on staying in a hotel with a baby or toddler, check out this post.

    Other Posts You May Like


    Telling a toddler or older baby no often doesn’t go well.  Providing options works well when you have a child that wants to cruise the plane despite the fasten seat belt sign being on.  Instead of saying ‘no’ offer two options like a movie or toy, or toy A versus toy B, or snack A versus snack B – you get the idea.  Having plenty of options allows your child to feel like they are still getting a say and you have a variety of things to choose from when one thing becomes boring.

    Pack-n-Play Sheet

    I don’t travel with a Pack-n-Play because I just use one hotel provides.  However, I don’t like using the sheets/blankets they provide.  I bring my own sheet and have found that a traditional Pack-n-Play sheet fits most hotel baby sleeping options.

    Lauren’s ABC's of Baby Travel Essentials


    You should never stick a Q-tip into your baby’s ears. However, they have plenty of other uses for cleaning things like charging ports.  Also, my husband gets really cranky when he can’t clean out his ears, so they help keep him happy to which is a win.

    Reading Material

    Bring a couple of baby’s favorite books.  If they are interactive ones, that’s even better.  Books make a good airplane activity.  You may also want to bring reading material for yourself that you can juggle while holding a sleeping baby.  This may be a little optimistic, but you will be glad to have something to do if your baby passes out from the drone of the airplane.

    A bookshelf with lots of books which are essential when traveling with a baby.


    Everyone is less cranky when snacks are readily available.  You can purchase many items in the airport and on the plane.  However, the cost can add up fast.  Snack packs and bars work well for adults, and many baby-friendly snacks can be packed into snack containers and added to the diaper bag.  The last thing a traveling parent needs is a hangry baby and no snacks.


    Entertaining a baby or toddler for a long flight can be challenging.  Before your trip, start considering what toys would work well on an airplane.  I find it’s a good idea to bring a couple of favorites and a couple of new toys or ones that haven’t been pulled out in a while.  Just try to select toys that don’t make noise and don’t have a bunch of pieces.

    Baby sitting in a car seat with baby travel essentials of a bottle and toys.

    Umbrella Stroller

    If you are using the car seat cart I mentioned above, you don’t really need a stroller in the airport.  However, you may want a stroller at your destination.  In that case, I find an umbrella stroller is usually sufficient and it’s lightweight and small which are perks for traveling.  You can put this into a gate check bag, but then check it for free with your other luggage.

    View Window Formula Bottles

    Liquid formula is helpful for traveling because it’s ready to drink.  However, some bottles are completely opaque while others have view windows.  When going through security, you can bring liquid formula, but they are often particular about being able to view the contents.  If the formula bottle has a spot where the bottle is cleared, you are good to go.  However, if it doesn’t (i.e. certain Similac ones), TSA often requires that the cap be removed or they give you a full pat down.


    Wipes are good for everything when you have a baby.  Bring lots.  That is all.

    X-ray Friendly Clothing

    When you go through security, you will either need to go through a metal detector or the scanner machine.  Clothing with embellishments, and thick heals on boots can be problematic.  When trying to go through security with a baby, the last thing you want is the added stress of setting off a detector.  Play it safe and go with plain clothing and shoes.

    Yes Attitude

    You want another snack? – Yes; You want to watch Frozen again? – Yes

    Limits are a good thing at home, but when traveling you will need to say Yes to a lot more.  It’s important to choose your battles because traveling tends to make everyone more on edge and cranky.

    Zinc Oxide

    Diaper rash is painful and it can come on quickly. Babies seem to be extra prone to it when you are traveling because diaper changes are often rushed and baths may be less frequent. Therefore, you want to make sure you are prepared with diaper rash cream when you need it.

    For more baby travel essentials, check out the YouTube video below!


    There you have my A to Z list of baby travel essentials. For more travel tips, make sure to check out these posts!

    What travel items do you think are helpful? Let me know in the comments.

    Lauren’s ABC's of Baby Travel Essentials

    Disclosure: Some of the links above are affiliate links meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will receive a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

    Checklist for Traveling with a Baby

    Checklist for Traveling with a Baby

    Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will receive a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

    Checklist for Traveling with a Baby

    Once you book a flight, now what? When traveling with a baby you want to be as prepared as possible, so that everything goes smoothly. However, it’s easy to forget little (or major) details in the stress of it all. Use this list to make sure you don’t forget anything. Enter your email below to instantly get a printable version of the checklist for traveling with a baby.

    Trip Planning

    Rental Car/Airport Ride Big Enough to Hold All Luggage

    Babies require a lot of gear. Between the car seat, stroller and luggage you can easily fill a car.  Make sure you consider how much room you will need when booking a rental car or deciding who is picking you up from the airport.  I’ve found that the smallest rental cars often don’t have enough room for everything.  I’ve also learned to be careful about what size Uber/Lyft I request.  Sometimes the small cars, aren’t big enough if we are going on a long trip. 

    I’ve recently found that Supershuttle works well.  They have a lot more room for things like strollers than small cars do, and they are more affordable than getting a large Uber.  We used this when we went to visit family for 2.5 weeks over the holidays.  We knew that airport parking would cost a fortune for that long, but an Uber big enough for our luggage was extremely pricey.  The Supershuttle ended up being a very affordable option.  The only downside is that they want to make sure to get you to the airport on time, which can result in being really early if the airport is small.  For our trip, the latest our Supershuttle would pick us up got us to the airport an entire hour before the ticket counter even opened.

    jeep wrangler in a parking garage.

    Hotel Reservation

    When booking a hotel, consider things like, is there a free breakfast, are suites available, and how close is it to where you will be spending most of your time.  For other tips on staying in a hotel with a baby, check out this article.

    Sleeping arrangements confirmed

    Once you have your hotel reservation made, call and ask them to add a crib or pack-n-play to the reservation.  There usually isn’t a charge for this, but they can verify that they have one available and add a note to your reservation.  I had an issue on the one trip where I forgot to call ahead.  I saw online that the hotel had pack-n-plays available, so assumed that was sufficient.  However, we got in late and when I asked for the pack-n-play, the only person working didn’t have access to the room where they were stored.  I ended up putting my 4-month-old to sleep on the floor on a play mat.  I learned my lesson and have called ahead ever since.

    Fridge availability confirmed

    You also want to confirm if the room has a fridge.  This is essential if you will be pumping milk or your child is drinking whole milk.  However, it is really handy in general for keeping snacks cold.  If you need a fridge for milk storage, call the hotel ahead of time (ideally before you book a nonrefundable room) and make sure that the rooms either have a fridge or one can be put in there for you.  I’ve never found a hotel that wasn’t willing to work with me once I explain my situation.

    Other Posts You May Like

    Pet Care Organized

    When planning a family trip with a baby, your first babies (a.k.a. pets) can often get lost in the shuffle.  Good pet care can be hard to come by, so don’t leave this until the last minute.

    Maine Coon and domestic shorthair sitting on a cat tree.

    Trip Planned to Allow for Nap Times

    I have a really bad habit of filling our trips up with as many activities as possible.  However, I’ve learned that it makes for a miserable day for everyone if you don’t plan to allow for your little one to nap.  If you have a very young baby, a nap in the stroller or car seat is probably reasonable to expect.  However, older babies and toddlers often need more ideal napping conditions.  We have figured out how to make a tent for my son in the car, which helps him sleep.  Especially if we stop for lunch where he can fill up and then get milk to drink once we get on the road.  This mimics our nap time and bedtime routines, so it encourages a nap while we are driving.

    Airline Baggage Allowances Verified

    Most United States flights allow one large carry on and one small personal item for each ticketed passenger.  Most don’t count a diaper bag as a carry on (Southwest is the exception).  For Southwest, you can have 2 free checked bags per ticketed passenger, but other airlines charge for checked baggage.  In general, checked baggage must weigh less than 50 pounds, or the fees increase.  You can usually check a car seat and stroller free of charge.  Be cautious with budget airlines because many charge extra fees for large carry-on bags.  It’s important to check the baggage allowance for the specific airline you will be flying because there is so much variability.  You don’t want to arrive at the airport and find out you have too many bags or your bags weigh too much.  Here is the baggage allowance information for several major airlines:







    Baby sitting on floor surrounded by luggage.

    Location and Hours for Nearest Superstore Determined

    When booking your hotel and getting everything organized for your trip, figure out what the nearest superstore is and what their hours are.  You will likely need to pick up milk or snacks and possibly other items that you decided to buy at your destination or forget in the hassle of packing.  Knowing exactly where to go pick up these items can make things a little less stressful.

    Nurse Helpline Phone Number Stored in Phone

    Save this in your phone or write it down and bring it along.  Hopefully you won’t need it, but if your baby starts acting sick or has a fever you will want it.  Calling the nurse helpline can provide information about whether you need to find a doctor to take your baby to or if a little Motrin, hydration and some extra snuggles will do the trick.

    Airport Arrival Plan in Place

    When you head to the airport, is someone that isn’t going on the trip dropping you off?  Is the entire family taking the bus from long term parking to the terminal with all the baggage?  These are important things to consider, so that you can make the best plan for your situation.  When my husband, son and I travel, my husband drops Paxton and me off at the terminal with all the luggage I can manage.  He goes and parks while I check the baggage.  I then wait for him before going through security.  With the amount of stuff that we pack, this is much easier than trying to navigate the shuttle bus with everything.

    Before You Leave the House

    Packing List Completely Checked Off

    Lists are a mom’s best friend!  You can see my travel essentials here and grab my ultimate packing list here.  Make sure to check everything off before you leave.  I have had instances where I forgot to grab the sippy cup of milk from the fridge or other last-minute items.  They were on the list, but I didn’t want to pack them until right before leaving and I didn’t check the list.

    Packing list image.

    Carry-On Bags Packed to Facilitate TSA

    My packing list breaks down the items that go in the carry-on versus in a checked bag.  However, you still want to make sure that your carry-on organization works for TSA.  The biggest thing is with regards to liquids.  You can view all the details about liquids here, but in short, if it’s more than 3oz bottles in a quart-sized Ziploc, it needs to come out.  Therefore, I suggest putting all things that meet that criteria into a gallon Ziploc at the top of a bag.  That way it’s quick to pull everything out.

    Related Content

    Suitcases Weigh Less than Airline Maximum (usually 50 pounds)

    If you completed everything on the trip planning part of the checklist, you know what the maximum weight for checked bags is on your airline.  Once you have your bags completely packed, pull out the bathroom scale and get an idea of the weight.  Weigh yourself and then pick up the suitcase and weigh yourself while holding it.  The difference is the weight of the suitcase.  Make sure you have a couple pounds to spare because your scale may not align exactly with the airport’s scale.

    Flight Still On Time

    You don’t need to wait until you get to the airport to check your flight status.  I suggest double checking it prior to leaving the house using this app.  If there is a major delay, you can stay home a bit longer.  I also suggest signing up for your airline’s alerts.  You can usually set these up using the app for your airline.  This way you get text, email or phone call notifications of changes to your flight.  Get all my app recommendations here and here.

    Screenshot from the in flight app.

    Boarding Passes Printed

    Printing your boarding passes at home can take away a bit of stress once you get to the airport.  Many airlines also have the option to have your boarding pass on your phone.  The pro of this is that you don’t have to worry about losing a piece of paper.  However, if your phone battery is constantly on the verge of running out, then a paper copy may be a better option.  If you are traveling with a lap child, you will need to complete your check-in and get a boarding pass at the airport.  They will verify the child’s age and connect their boarding pass to yours.

    Hand holding a boarding pass by a diaper bag.

    Thermostat Adjusted

    If you are going on a long trip, adjust your thermostat so that you aren’t constantly running the heat or air.  This is a quick way to save a little bit of money on your electric bill.

    Thermostat with purple background.

    Use this quick checklist as you plan your trip and before walking out the door to make sure you don’t forget anything!  Enter your email address below to get instant access to my printable list!

    Despite this list, are you…

    • Still overwhelmed at the thought of all the details of planning a trip with a baby or toddler?
    • Afraid that you will forget a detail that makes your trip much more difficult?
    • nsure about what extra considerations are needed when traveling with kids?

    If you answered yes to any of those questions, then you need my family travel planner!

    Checklist for Traveling with a Baby

    Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will receive a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

    How To Stay In a Hotel With a Baby

    How To Stay In a Hotel With a Baby

    Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will receive a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

    How To Stay In a Hotel With a Baby

    When you are at home, you have everything organized just so to make caring for the baby as easy as possible.  However, when you hit the road, all bets are off.  Especially if you are flying, you end up at your destination with the bare minimum (which is still a lot), you may be in a different time zone and you are confined to one or two rooms with very thin walls.  All of these things add up to make staying in hotels with a baby a challenge. It often leaves parenting wondering how in the world do you manage staying in a hotel with a baby?

    Despite these challenges, I took my son and husband on 8 work trips during my son’s first year, and for all of these trips, we stayed in hotels.  Here’s what we’ve learned.

    Tips for Staying in a Hotel with a Baby for All Trips

    Get a Suite If at All Possible

    I know it’s often not in your budget to upgrade your room to a suite.  However, if you can swing it, a suite makes life a lot easier. If nothing else, it provides much needed space.  It never seems to matter how we pack or set up the room, it always looks like a bomb went off within 15 minutes of arriving, and never gets better.  A suite at least gives you the extra space to spread out. 

    Another benefit of a suite is providing your baby with a sleeping location further away from others in the room.  Especially if your baby is used to sleeping in his own room, sharing a small hotel room can make it difficult for anyone to get a good night’s sleep as you keep waking each other up.  Having a suite with a door dividing the two parts is the gold standard.  However, just having the room broken up into two areas helps a lot.  When you are traveling, you likely have full days planned, so it’s important for everyone to sleep well when you have the chance.

    Depending on where you are traveling to, it may be difficult to get a larger room. If you are heading to Disney, check out these options for large families which can also be used to give you more space with a baby.

    Request a Pack-n-Play Ahead of Time

    Hotels have cribs or pack n plays that you can request for your room.  This is what we always do because it’s one less thing we need to bring with us.  We do still bring out own sheet though.  However, we learned the hard way during our first trip that you have to call ahead and have them add a note to your reservation that you need a pack-n-play. 

    The first time we traveled with our son, we got to the hotel really late because of flight delays.  I knew that the hotel had pack-n-plays, so we didn’t bring one with us.  However, I hadn’t actually requested it prior to check-in.  Because we checked in so late, the only people there didn’t have access to the room where the pack-n-plays were stored.  Therefore, our son ended up sleeping on a blanket on the floor.  This was horribly stressful for me and I didn’t sleep a whole lot. 

    I have called ahead of time since, and never had a problem.  Sometimes the pack-n-play is already in the room when we arrive, and other times I have to remind them at check-in, but they always have someone that can bring it right up.

    Rearrange the Furniture

    The first thing you should do when you get to your hotel room is rearrange the furniture.  Hotel rooms are definitely not set up to be compatible to kids.  The furniture is also arranged in a way to take up about as much floor space as possible.  Start by condensing as much of the furniture as possible.  Push tables together, put chairs under tables, and squish the furniture in whatever way gives you the most space.

    Plan out your “stations” of the room.  You will want a play area, food station, changing station, sleeping station and storage area.  By thinking about these as you are organizing the room, you can maximize the flow of the space to make things a little easier.  Something to consider is where to put the pack-n-play.  Ideally you want the area that is the darkest and furthest from the rest of the family’s stuff.  If you can find a nice corner to tuck the pack n play into, that usually works best.  Ideally you want to be able to move around a little without waking up the baby.

    Bring a Sound Machine

    Whatever you can do to block out the noise of other people in your room and in the hallway is a plus.  I love this travel noise machine which we take with us on every trip.  We hang it on the side of the pack-n-play which helps keep our son in his own little world.  We also bring an extension cord in case we want to put the pack-n-play someplace that isn’t right by an outlet.  For everything else that I pack, check out my packing list.

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    Consider What Needs Childproofed

    If you have a young baby that isn’t mobile, this isn’t a big deal.  However, for an older baby, a hotel room is full of lots of new things to get into a play with.  Consider hiding cords, pushing things to the back of end tables, and put trashcans on top of tables so they are out of reach.  If your child happens to be into playing with outlets, it may not be a bad idea to travel with a bag of outlet covers to use in the hotel room.

    Verify There is a Fridge in your Room

    With a baby, there is almost always a reason why a fridge is useful.  Maybe you are pumping and need to store breast milk, maybe you have an older baby that’s drinking milk, or you just need to keep some snacks cold.  Most nice hotel rooms are going to have a fridge.  However, this isn’t an absolute.  If you are breastfeeding and need a place to store pumped milk, definitely call ahead and request that they put a fridge into the room if there isn’t already one.  Most hotels have at least a couple they can put in if a guest specifically needs it for health (or breastfeeding) reasons.

    Baby drinking a bottle on a pillow.

    Make Sure There is a Continental Breakfast

    A continental breakfast is helpful when you are trying to save money.  It’s a meal you can go eat in your PJs if you want, and it’s free.  If the hotel has a good breakfast, you can use it as a source of milk (if your baby is over a year) and even collect enough food to feed a toddler for most of the day.  Items like bananas, dry cereal, yogurt, and hard-boiled eggs are all common items included in hotel breakfasts.

    Baby eating off a spoon at public location.

    Request a First-Floor Room

    We don’t always do this, but it can be helpful.  Having a first-floor room means you don’t have to drag baby and all the stuff that comes with said baby up and down the stairs or elevator.  This little detail can be helpful when you are tired after a long day.

    Consider a King-Sized Bed

    If you don’t have a reason you specifically need two beds, opt for a King room.  The single king bed gives you a little more floor space, and when traveling with a baby, every little bit counts.

    Baby sleeping on pillow.

    Bring Swimming Stuff

    When traveling, it’s really easy to go an entire day with very little time where your baby actually gets to work out some energy.  This can make for a cranky child that doesn’t want to sleep.  If the hotel has a pool, this can be a great way to tire out your baby.  Bring a swimsuit and a swim diaper or two as well as swimming stuff for you.  If baby seems like he needs to work out some energy, you can hit the pool for a little bit at some point during the day.  This isn’t something most babies get to do on a regular basis, so it doesn’t take much to tire them out.

    baby swimming outside

    Be Strict with the Bedtime Routine for Everyone

    You may want to put baby to bed before you go to bed, and I bet you have a perfect bedtime routine that you plan to use in the hotel as well.  However, don’t forget to adapt your bedtime routine to suit baby’s.  This means getting yourself organized so that you know where everything you need is and don’t need to turn on lights outside the bathroom after you put your baby to bed.  The last thing you want is to just get your baby to sleep and then realize you can’t find something and end up waking baby up looking for it.

    Set the Air Conditioner Fan to Run Constantly

    This can provide some background noise to cancel out the noise from other hotel guests (and you).  You just need to make sure the temperature is set appropriately.  Most hotels have an option where you can set the temperature, but also set the fan to run consistently to cycle room temperature air.

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    Plan for Nighttime Crying

    No one likes to be the room that’s so loud it’s waking up everyone on the floor, and a crying baby can certainly do that.  However, there’s a big difference between being loud because your baby is crying and being loud because you are up partying and just generally be obnoxious. 

    If your baby wakes up crying during the night, handle it similarly to how you would at home.  The only exception may be if you usually let your baby cry it out for an extended period at home, consider putting a shorter limit on it after a certain time at night.  Just remember that the majority of the people in the hotel are going to have kids, so they know what it’s like when your baby won’t sleep.  Do your best and know that rough nights may be part of traveling, especially if there are major time changes involved.   This is why you set up your room to make it as easy as possible to find a bottle and necessary supplies quickly in the dark.

    Tips for Staying in a Hotel with a Baby for Long Trips

    Consider Renting Baby Equipment

    You don’t appreciate things like a jumperoo or baby swing until you are stuck in a hotel room without them.  Renting baby equipment can be just the solution to have these items while traveling.  I’ve never personally renting baby equipment, but I’ve heard many positive reviews from moms that have.  You can check out a couple of different companies here and here.

    Splurge for a Kitchenette

    When you travel with a baby, you will find yourself washing bottles and sippy cups.  If the only place you have to wash these is in the bathroom sink, it gets old real fast.  Having a kitchenette gives you an extra sink and a place to spread out things you’ve wash while they dry. 

    Food when you travel can get expensive quickly, especially when you are feeding the whole family. You can also save a lot enough money by preparing some meals in the room, that it balances out the cost of getting the room in the first place.  Also, meals out with a cranky and tired baby/toddler are draining.  After a long day, it can be nice to just eat in your room.  I do like ordering a pizza once in a while, but I don’t want to rely on that every night I’m too exhausted to go out.

    Pack Everything

    When you are only gone for a couple of days, you can survive the stress of not having something.  However, for longer trips, it can get rough if you find you didn’t bring something because you weren’t sure if you really needed it.  Grab my Ultimate Packing List and my list of travel essentials.

    Baby in a car seat surrounded by luggage.

    Final Thoughts

    Staying in hotels is definitely not as easy as staying home.  However, travel may be necessary for work and the rewards of traveling as a family can be great.  If you follow these tips and take everything in stride, you will soon become a pro at staying in a hotel with your baby. You will get better at it the more you do it.

    To make sure you don’t forget everything when leaving home, make sure to download my checklist here.

    Are you going to be flying to your destination?  If so, you will definitely want to check out these articles.

    Is the sheer amount of information overwhelming as you are planning a trip with kids? My family travel planner is designed to help you plan every detail no matter how major or minor. This step by step planner takes into account the unique aspects of traveling with kids, to address all your needs.

    How To Stay In a Hotel With a Baby

    Have you stayed in a hotel with your baby?  If so, what did you do to make it easier?  Let me know in the comments.

    How To Stay In a Hotel With a Baby

    Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will receive a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

    How To Fly With a Baby – The Ultimate Guide

    How To Fly With a Baby – The Ultimate Guide

    Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will receive a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

    How To Fly With a Baby – The Ultimate Guide

    When flying with a baby there is a lot to juggle from what to pack to what to wear and how to keep everyone safe and happy from origin to destination.  When traveling by car you have some flexibility in rest stops and breaks.  However, air travel leaves you at the mercy of your flight schedule and the flying tin can you are trapped in for a set amount of time. 

    I flew with my son on 10 round-trip flights during his first year starting as early as 4 months old.  I was a total novice when I started, but after that many trips, we’ve gotten pretty good at it if I do say so myself.  The following sections cover everything you could ever want to know.  So, read on to learn all the tips and tricks for flying with a baby.

    FREE Packing List for Flying with a Baby

    Get my ultimate packing list delivered straight to your inbox. I’ve refined it over many trips, so you can benefit from what I’ve learned.

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      Planning Your Trip

      The following tips cover all your planning considerations regarding air travel. However, to simplify your planning for the entire trip from start to finish, make sure to grab my family travel planner!

      Gear and Must-Haves for Flying with a Baby

      Babies have a lot of stuff at home.  Trying to decide what to bring, what to live without and what to purchase at your destination can leave any new parent paralyzed.  I like flying and the concept of doing so with a 4-month old didn’t bother me.  However, when I started thinking about everything that had to get packed, that’s when the stress became real. 

      If you have a travel partner, you can bring twice as much stuff because there are two of you to carry it.  However, if you are traveling alone, then you need to minimize the amount you bring as much as possible because you also have to transport your tiny human in addition to all the luggage.  I highly recommend taking your partner with you because there are so many benefits to traveling together in addition to extra hands for carrying things. If you need some perks to convince your partner, check out this post.

      Baby in a car seat surrounded by luggage.

      I find it’s generally more cost-effective to bring everything with you from home.  I also tend to have my trips so booked that dragging myself and the baby to a store when I arrive is not high on my priority list.  However, if you are traveling alone, you might be better off purchasing things like diapers, wipes and formula/baby food once you get to your destination.  If you do this, you can donate anything you don’t use to a local church before returning home. 

      Renting Baby Items

      Most major cities also have options for renting baby items.  These things can include cribs, high chairs, strollers, car seats, baby swings, and other large items.  You can check out a couple of these companies here and here. I’ve never used these services myself; however, I’ve heard positive reviews from moms that have done this.  Renting items can be a great option if you are staying somewhere for an extended period and want the comforts of home or if you are staying at an Airbnb that doesn’t provide a crib. 

      Sleeping Items for Traveling with a Baby

      If you are staying a hotel, they will generally have a pack-n-play or crib available that can be placed in your room.  To utilize this option, call the hotel prior to your trip to verify they have one available and ask them to add it to your reservation.  On our first trip with my son, I assumed the hotel would have a pack-n-play but forgot to call ahead and have it added to the reservation. Our flight arrived late at night and the hotel was being staffed by overnight staff with limited knowledge.  The only people there didn’t have access to the locked room where the cribs were stored.  My son ended up sleeping on a blanket on the floor and I was terrified all night.  Hotels will provide sheets, but I recommend carrying your own regular sized pack-n-play sheet with you.  Even if the hotel has an actual crib it’s usually about the size of a pack-n-play.  For other travel essentials, check out this A to Z list.

      If you have your own pack-n-play, you could bring it with you and check it.  Some airlines may let you check it for free because it’s a baby item.  We have a pack-n-play, but I’ve never traveled with it because reserving a crib at hotels works well (when I remember to call in advance). Here are some other great tips for staying in a hotel with a baby.

      Another sleeping item I always bring is a travel noise machine.  My son is used to sleeping with a noise machine at home, but he isn’t used to sleeping in the same room as other people.  At home, he sleeps in his own room with the door closed.  Therefore, the noise machine while traveling not only helps him feel more at home, it blocks out some of the noise of us moving around and just being in the same room.  We usually hang it on the corner of the crib/pack-n-play and plug it in.  To that end, I also always bring an extension cord in case an outlet isn’t conveniently located.

      Other Travel Items to Have When Flying With a Baby

      I have an entire drawer in my son’s closet designated for storing items that we only include when traveling.  These items include:

      The noise-canceling earmuffs are perfect if you are going to be somewhere noisy during your trip.  We got them specifically for a wedding reception we were traveling to because we knew it would be loud.  However, they were great when my son was really little while we were in busy airports.  I often found that until he was around 6-months-old he would get overstimulated by everything going on in the airport.  The earmuffs were perfect to help him block out the chaos and get some sleep or at least decompress.

      Mom and baby on a plane with baby sleeping while wearing noise-canceling headphones.

      Baby headphones are handy as a last resort for when we need to utilize movies for entertainment.  We have these from Amazon which have a max volume and are designed for kids.  We generally don’t use them, but it’s a comfort knowing that we have them.

      Our medicine bag includes baby Motrin, baby Benadryl, a syringe for dosing the medications, a thermometer, and baby nail clippers.  This is a little pack that I keep packed so I just have to toss it in the suitcase when we travel.  If I’m lucky, we won’t need any of these items, but if you need it you will be glad you have it.  The first time my son got sick was while we were on a trip to Denver.  Having a sick baby is always stressful, especially when you are first-time parents and your baby has never had a fever before.  I was glad we had a thermometer and Motrin with us.

      The portable, rechargeable fan is actually one we got for my hospital bag (you can see everything I packed for the hospital here.)  Now it goes on every trip.  This is another item that doesn’t always get used, but when I need it, I’m sure glad I have it.  Some airplanes are freezing cold and others are sweltering hot, and the outside temperature doesn’t necessarily give a clue as to which way the plane temperature will fall.  If you have ever been stuck in a hot plane with a baby on your lap, you will understand why I always carry a fan.  This fan keeps me from ending up with a baby that’s super cranky from being too hot.

      Baby and mom on an airplane with a portable fan.

      Travel wipes, travel baby shampoo, and travel baby laundry detergent are all pretty self-explanatory.  You can buy these items already in travel sizes or to save money, you could buy reusable travel containers for each and fill them from your stock at home.  For the travel wipes, I usually pack some in my diaper bag as well as an extra pack in the suitcase for the return trip.

      The travel dish soap and the bottle brush are helpful for the bottle situation you will need to manage if your baby receives any milk from a bottle.  We always wash bottles at home in the dishwasher.  However, at hotels, we soak them in the bathroom sink and use the bottle brush to make sure they get scrubbed well.  Before my son traveled for the first time, I traveled alone for work.  I was breastfeeding at the time, so I had pump parts to wash frequently.  It never occurred to me to take dish soap which meant I was washing pump parts using hotel hand soap which was somewhat difficult.  I made sure to always have dish soap and a brush with me after that!

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      You will definitely want to get gate check bags for your car seat and stroller.  Think about it, these items end up under the plane where there are dirt and grease and who knows what else.  Then your baby sits in them and possibly licks/chews on them.  Gate check bags have carrying handles and protect these items.  When not in use they fold down into their own little pouches.  We have this car seat one and this stroller one which fits our big jogging stroller.

      A travel highchair is something that we didn’t get until around the time my son was 10-months-old. In hindsight, I can’t believe it took us so long to realize we needed such a thing.  We have this chair which makes life so much easier because it attaches to the desk or table that is available in hotel rooms.  Prior to having this we were propping Paxton up in the big hotel chairs and trying to feed him.  Baby food is messy when the baby is strapped in.  A baby that’s loose results in a huge mess that you are desperately trying to clean up so that the cleaning service doesn’t think there was a pea and plum puree explosion. If your baby sits in a high chair at home, just save your sanity and get a travel one.

      In the video below, I go through my drawer of travel items and discuss each one.


      If you are struggling to figure out how to fit everything, this post has some great tips about packing organization!

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      Checklists for Flying with a Baby

      I just covered a ton of info about travel-specific items you need, but what about all the everyday items you use at home that also need to come?  You are also a parent, so I will wager that you are running on some level of sleep deprivation.  I’m sure you’ve figured it out, but just in case here it is again – Don’t rely on your memory to serve you well.  If you want to remember something you need to write it down (and remember where you wrote it).  I have mom-memory so bad some days that I open an internet tab and promptly forget why I opened it, so no judgment here!

      Sticking with the theme, here’s a list of all the lists I suggest making. You can also grab my trip planning checklist here. That’s one less list you have to make!

      • Items to pack in Baby’s checked suitcase
      • Items to pack in your checked suitcase
      • Items to pack in the diaper bag
      • Items to pack in a roller bag carry on
      • Items to pack in your purse/tote bag/backpack
      • Things to do prior to your trip (adjust the thermostat, arrange pet care, house sitting, etc.)
      How To Fly With a Baby – The Ultimate Guide

      Technology for Creating Lists

      I use a combination of OneNote and Wunderlist for my checklists.  I like both of these because I can access my lists on both my laptop and my cell phone.  OneNote is nice because you can make a notebook and save pages to it.  I have a notebook for Paxton’s packing lists and one for my packing lists.  Within each of these notebooks, I have sections for carry-on items and checked bag items.  Within the sections, I have a page for each trip, and I label it by the trip.  Therefore, when I’m getting ready for a trip, I can copy the list from a similar trip as a starting point for my packing list.  It makes the process way faster.  I make my lists with checkboxes; however, the process of opening the various lists and checking off items is a little cumbersome on my phone. 

      I use Wunderlist for more to-do list type things.  This is where I would put the list of things I need to do before leaving.  The benefit of Wunderlist is that you can choose to share each individual list with other people.  My husband and I have a variety of shared lists. 

      Recently we were taking a trip where I was going a few days ahead of my husband and son.  I made my OneNote packing lists and packed everything for Paxton that I could pack a few days ahead of time.  I then made Wunderlists for the remaining items and shared those with my husband.  He can edit and check things off and I can edit and see what has been checked off.

      What to Pack for Flying with a Baby

      As you stand at home and look around at all the baby’s things spread throughout the house, you start to wonder, ‘what needs to go with me for the trip and what can I live without? When trying to decide what to take, think through everything you will be doing during your trip.  You can even go so far as to writing out the schedule for each day you will be gone.  On this schedule write down the expected weather for each day.  Once you know what you will be doing and what type of weather you will have, it gets easier to see what you really need. With regards to how to pack it, here are my tips.

      Packing Tip #1

      Have a suitcase dedicated to your baby.  If you aren’t going to fill it completely, you can pack someone else’s things into a duffle bag and put that into the suitcase as well.  The reason why you want a dedicated baby suitcase is that you will have a lot of small items that are really easy to lose amongst your things.  Having a dedicated suitcase for them helps with finding things

      Packing Tip #2

      Pack outfits or types of clothes into gallon Ziplock bags.  Gallon bags are perfect for containing baby clothes.  One option is to put together complete outfits and put each outfit along with a diaper into a separate bag.  That way when you dress your baby you just need to grab a bag and you’ll have everything you need.  However, an alternative is to have a bag for each type of clothing.  For example, a bag of pants, a bag of short sleeves, etc.  Once you unpack these bags, they can be repurposed for clothing options on future trips or for dirty diapers that you can’t easily throw away.

      Packing Tip #3

      Weigh your suitcase before leaving home.  The maximum suitcase weight for most airlines before you have to pay extra is 50 pounds.  For larger suitcases, it’s easy to pack them to the point where they weigh more than 50 pounds.  Also, when you are packing things that are heavy like liquid formula, you can quickly go over the weight.  Trying to juggle everything and repack at the airport is stressful!  By weighing your suitcase at home, you can do your adjustments there.  I use a scale and weigh myself then weigh myself holding the suitcase.  It’s not 100% exact, but it gives a pretty good idea where I’m at.

      Packing Tip #4

      For a full list of everything I suggest packing, grab my packing list here.  This is the list that I put together and have continued to modify with each trip we took.

      Carry-On or Checked Bag

      I suggest planning to carry on a lot more items than you will likely need.  For example, diapers, wipes, and formula are things you really don’t want to run out of.  You can plan for the expected duration of travel; however, flight delays can leave you stuck in airports way longer than anticipated.  On the converse, I also try to pack everything I’m sure I won’t need during travel into a checked bag.  I have plenty of items to lug through an airport that I actually may need, so if I’m sure I won’t need it, it gets checked.

      open diaper bag and boarding pass

      What to Wear When Flying with a Baby

      Deciding what to wear while traveling can be tricky especially when you are starting out in one type of climate and traveling to a very different one.  My suggestion is to dress everyone in layers.  I travel in leggings or workout capris and a tunic shirt.  I also put a sweatshirt or light jacket in my carry on.  This is generally regardless of the outside weather.  I dress my son in pants or shorts depending on the temperature, socks, and a short-sleeved shirt and bring a sweatshirt for him.  I tried putting him in footed one-piece PJs for a trip, but I found that he got too hot and the only option was to completely undress him. 

      You also want to make sure that you bring an extra set of clothes for you and two for your baby. Spit-up happens, especially if a plan gets bumpy. It’s definitely a good idea to have backup clothing for everyone so that you don’t spend the rest of the trip smelling faintly of sour milk.

      At the Airport

      Baby Identification Needed for Flying

      You know that you need an ID, but your baby doesn’t technically need one.  However, if traveling as a lap child, then proof of age is likely going to be required by the airline.  Also, if someone other than the parents or legal guardians are traveling with your baby, then you will also want to send a notarized letter with them indicating that both parents approve the travel.  If your baby will be traveling to another country, then you will need to get a passport.  We got Paxton a passport so that he could go on a trip to Canada with us.  However, we also opted for the passport card in addition to the book.  The passport card doesn’t work for air travel to a foreign country, but it’s the size of a credit card, so it makes a perfect form of age proof to keep in my wallet.  The alternative would be bringing his birth certificate along on trips to prove that he’s under two.  Proof of age is generally required even if your baby is obviously a newborn.

      Getting a passport for your baby doesn’t have to be difficult.  You will need a photo, but some of the requirements are relaxed.  For example, the mouth can be slightly open whereas for adults it has to be closed.  You will still need to meet the requirements regarding a white background and no shadows on the face.  I found this hard to do at home, but they were able to quickly get a picture at Costco for us to submit with his passport application.  No other people are allowed to be in the photo, but Paxton was too little to sit on his own.  Therefore, I sat off to the side with him on my knees.  That way they could take the photo from his shoulders and up without me in the picture.

      Flying with a Stroller

      Strollers can be checked as bagged for free or they can be gate checked right before you board the plane.  We have always traveled with a large jogging stroller that our infant car seat snapped into.  This served as transport for kid, stuff and car seat.  However, now that my son has a convertible car seat and a cart that it straps to, we will be leaving the stroller at home or checking it at the ticket counter depending on our trip plans.  If you have a convertible car seat, this cart is a must-have to turn your car seat into a stroller.

      Here are some of the best travel stollers.

      Baby in car seat sitting on a wheeled cart

      Navigating TSA With a Baby

      When you go through security, everything that can fit through the scanner must go through the scanner.  Car seat goes on the belt upside down.  Therefore, make sure to remove toys and pacifiers that may be attached.  Your carry-on bags will all go through the scanner as well.  However, you will need to remove any baby-related liquids and put on the belt separately.  I recommend having all formula, water, breast milk, etc. contained in a Ziplock bag so it’s easy to pull out of your carry-on.  If your stroller is an umbrella stroller, it will easily fit through the scanner.  However, jogging strollers are less likely to fit.  In almost all cases I just tell the TSA agent that it doesn’t fit on the belt and they will swipe it with wipes designed to test for bomb residue and then give it back.  However, in the Denver airport, they insisted that our stroller would fit and that we had to remove the wheels so it could go through the scanner.  We told them it doesn’t fit, but the TSA agent insisted.  Long story short, it got stuck, and the line was held up for a bit while they figured out how to get it unstuck.

      Your baby needs to be removed from the car seat or stroller for security.  However, you can usually wear your baby in a soft carrier or wrap.  I say usually because there always seems to be an exception to the TSA norm, so I don’t want to say that this is always allowed.

      Flying with Formula and Breast Milk

      The limits to liquids that can be carried through security do not apply to baby liquids.  These things include formula, breast milk, water, milk, juice, and baby food.  However, you will need to remove these liquids from your bag for separate screening.  If the packaging has a clear spot, they can put it into a machine which will quickly scan the bottle and you will be on your way.  If the bottle doesn’t have a clear spot (i.e. Similac 8oz liquid formula bottles), things get a little more difficult.  Sometimes they look at the bottle and send me on my way with no questions asked.  However, other times agents will insist that they either have to open the bottle (which means the formula must be finished within 2 hours) or do a full body patdown.  Which one of these things happens is anyone’s guess, and different days at the same airport can have different responses.  After many trips and much confusion about the varying responses, I finally heard a supervisor say that because we have TSA Precheck, they can let us through. 

      Having TSA Precheck is definitely worth it regardless of whether you will be traveling with the questionable formula bottles.  When you have Precheck, you don’t have to remove liquids that are under the limit (i.e. your bathroom items), laptops, tablets, shoes or light jackets.  By not having to remove any of these items you are drastically simplifying the security process, and anyway you can simplify it with a baby is a must.

      When trying to decide how long to allow for security when planning your trip, expect having a baby to add 5 minutes.  Otherwise, the time you are there is spent waiting in line.  This app is great for telling you how busy TSA is expected to be at your airport and travel time.  For more great travel apps, check out my recommendations here and here.

      Breastfeeding when Flying with a Baby

      Breastfeeding may be helpful when traveling.  It means you don’t have to carry formula (or at least not as much), and you always have food handy.  However, there are difficulties such as finding a place to nurse.  Also, my son was happy to drink a bottle on the plane but didn’t like nursing on the plane which made it challenging.  If you are breastfeeding, you need to download the Mamava app.  This app tells you where Mamava nursing/pumping pods are located in airports, and many airports have them.  However, it also tells you about other nursing locations.  Nursing pods and rooms are often tucked into corners, so it’s great that it says exactly which gates you will find them by.

      Boarding an Airplane with a Baby

      Airlines have family boarding which is usually somewhere near the start of the boarding process.  This is where you can get on early to get everything stowed and get situated in your seats.  However, being one of the first people on the plane with a baby may not be the best option.  Sometimes it’s nice to get a seat early, but then you are sitting there for 30 or more minutes without moving while everyone else boards.  A better option may be to have someone you are traveling with board during the family boarding with all the stuff while you and baby stay out until the last minute. 

      Make sure you plan your boarding strategy ahead of time.  Once your boarding pass is scanned, you must continue boarding at that time before they will board any other passengers.  If you are flying with a lap child, that child is attached to someone’s boarding pass.  That person is not allowed to board without the child.  Therefore, make sure the person staying behind with the child is the one whose boarding pass the baby is connected to.  In my experience they default to connecting the lap child with mom. If you want a specific person, it’s best to request that when getting your boarding passes.

      Gate Checking Baby Items

      Gate checking refers to getting a bag tag once you are already at the gate.  This is often done by airlines when they are expecting there to be more large carry-ons than they have overhead bin space for.  In these cases, you get your carry-on bag at baggage claim at your final destination.  However, when talking about baby items, you can claim them at the gate.  You will always need to gate check your stroller if you didn’t check it at the ticket counter.  If your child has a seat on the plane, you can take your car seat on as long as it’s FAA approved.  If your child doesn’t have a seat, you will need to gate check it.  To do this, just stop by the counter at your gate and indicate that you need tags for your stroller and car seat.  The agent needs to actually be the person to attach the bag tags.  If you have gate check bags, you can just bring up the bags for tagging.  However, if you don’t you will need to bring the actual items up.  You will carry the gate checked items until right before the plane door or you reach an area designated for gate check items.  You will pick up the items as soon as you enter the jet bridge when getting off the plane.

      Man with purple stroller bag on his back
      My husband with our stroller gate check bag which turns the jogging stroller into a back pack.

      Flying with a Baby on Southwest

      Southwest is probably best known for their free bags and unconventional seating assignment process that’s first come, first serve.  However, there are also some differences as they pertain to lap children.  On most airlines, diaper bags are considered as ‘other medical equipment’ which means that they don’t count as one of your allowed carry-on bags. However, on Southwest, they do count it as a carry-on.  When we traveled for Christmas, we had so much luggage that we needed to maximize our carry-on allowance.  My first flight allowed the diaper bag in addition to the other carry-on luggage, but the second flight wouldn’t let me down the aisle until I checked one of the bags.  That was definitely way more stress than this mama needed.

      While the diaper bag being a carry-on may be a downside if you are trying to maximize your carry-on allowance, there are perks to flying Southwest with a lap child.  On Southwest, they have an open seating policy.  This means that if there is an open seat you can take it.  If the flight is not completely full, they will let you take on the car seat and claim a seat for your baby.  I’d say about 50% of the time we get lucky and there is an extra seat we can use.  To find out, stop by the gate as soon as there is an agent at the counter.  Ask if your flight is 100% full or if you can take a car seat on for your lap child.   If you are taking a car seat on, then you need to put it in a window seat.

      Southwest wing view from an airplane window

      On the Plane

      Rules for Flying with a Baby

      When flying with a child that is less than two years old at the time of the flight, you can forgo purchasing a seat and in exchange have the child travel as a lap child.  This means that you are committing to holding the child on your lap throughout the flight.  This provides a more affordable option for traveling with a child that may want to spend a majority of the time on your lap anyway. 

      If your family has multiple young children, you will need to either sit in different rows or have a seat purchased for one of them.  The reason is that they can’t have more people in a row than what there are oxygen masks.  Each row has one more oxygen mask than there are seats which allows for one lap child. However, additional lap children would leave someone without a mask.  I’ve seen it work well for families with two under two and two adults to purchase a seat for the older child and then have the younger as a lap child which allows them to occupy an entire 3-seat row. 

      Baby wearing can be a great way to go through security and the airport and board the plane because it keeps your hands free.  However, you must unstrap the baby prior to takeoff and landing.  You are welcome to use the carrier during the flight when tray tables are allowed to be down.  I’m not exactly sure why this is a rule because it seems like having a baby strapped to you would be better than just holding them.  I think it has to do with the regulations and the fact that baby-wearing devices aren’t labeled as flight-safe.

      For airline-specific policies, check out these links.

      Lap Child Safety

      The safest option for your child is their own seat with the car seat.  Major car seat brands are approved for use on airplanes by the FAA.  When placed in the seat closest to the window and strapped in similarly to how you would in a car, a car seat provides a safe place for your child.  However, if you don’t have a seat for your child, you want to be holding your child securely during takeoff, landing and any turbulence. 

      To make it more affordable to purchase a seat, airlines often have discounted fares for children under 2.  These fares are usually a fraction of the regular ticket price, but you will need to call the airline to find out the exact fare and book it in most cases.

      Flying with a Car Seat

      To install a car seat in an airplane, you will follow the directions for your car seat as if installing it in a car by using the lap belt.  If you have an infant car seat, the base is not necessary.  You will use the airplane seat belt to secure the seat.  If the seat belt is not long enough, airlines can provide a seat belt extender.  Just ask a flight attendant to get you one.  You may be required to show that the car seat is FAA approved.  This can be verified by looking for a label on the side of the seat.

      Flying with a Baby During Flu Season

      One of the risks for anyone flying regardless of age is getting sick.  When you fly, you’re contained in a small area with a lot of people and recirculated air.  Therefore, respiratory viruses can spread quickly.  When your baby is too little to vaccinate, your best bet is to stay home.  However, if that is not an option, then utilize the following precautions.

      Tip #1

      Utilize a car seat cover or canopy to keep baby protected from nearby people that may be coughing or sneezing

      Tip #2

      Don’t allow other people (besides those you are traveling with) to touch or hold your baby or get their face close to the baby’s.

      Tip #3

      Keep sanitizer handy and use it often for your hands.

      Tip #4

      Keep baby off of airport and airplane floors as much as possible. If your baby isn’t mobile yet, put a blanket down prior to setting the baby down.

      Preventing Ear Pain when Flying with a Baby

      Popping ears can be uncomfortable for adults and kids alike. However, as adults, we know that it’s temporary, but a baby doesn’t understand that.  For babies and children, the following tips can be helpful to lessen the discomfort.

      Tip #1

      Engage in a motion that moves the jaw.  This includes chewing and nursing.  You want to start this prior to takeoff and again about 30 minutes prior to landing.  When landing ears popping can sneak up on people because it’s usually the worst when the plane first starts it’s decent.

      Tip #2

      Utilize a pacifier as the sucking motion helps prevent ears from popping.

      Tip #3

      If your child is at least a year old, try these which are designed to help your child’s ears.  My son is good as long as he has a pacifier, so I haven’t tried this product myself, but it’s an option if you are desperate for a solution.

      Getting Your Baby to Sleep On a Plane

      Getting your child to sleep on a plane is usually the best-case scenario.  However, this is sometimes easier said than done.  One idea is to book your flight based on the time that your child is likely to be sleeping.  However, I’ve found that this usually doesn’t work as well as you might think because children, even great sleepers, can get so interested in what’s going on around them that nap time goes out the window. You are better off picking the best flight based on cost, travel time, etc. 

      Once on the plane, you can try to maximize the potential for sleeping.  I always carry a thin blanket in my diaper bag.  When we travel, I do our nap time routine by providing milk and a pacifier.  Then I put my son in his car seat (if he has his own seat), close the window shade and use the blanket to make a tent.  This darkens his area and helps keep distractions at bay.  Once the plane gets moving there is also a good amount of white noise that lulls my son right to sleep.

      How To Fly With a Baby – The Ultimate Guide

      If your child is a lap child, a young baby is likely to sleep in your arms.  However, once my son got older, we started bringing an adult pillow with us.  This pillow gets placed on my lap and then my son can stretch out in his preferred position to sleep.  This saved us when our flight home after the holidays was full and my son was super sleep-deprived and cranky from a busy couple of weeks with relatives.

      The Infant Airport Sling is what I considered getting the first time we flew with my son.  However, the size limitations made it seem like he would grow out of it quickly and I just wasn’t convinced of its safety. There are also a lot of options for toddlers, but I wouldn’t use them for a baby. 

      If you have a long flight, you can contact the airline and see if you can get a bassinet for baby’s seat.  I haven’t done this, but if I was flying internationally, I would have looked into it.  I’ve heard they only have them available sometimes, so you have to specifically call and request it.

      Toys for Flying with a Baby

      Once your baby is older enough to start getting bored, entertainment becomes an issue.  The ideal airplane entertainment is quiet, clean, new to your child, not messy, doesn’t involve little pieces that will be rolling around everywhere.  A few things that I always keep on hand include a stuffed animal, favorite book, headphones for movies, a couple of favorite toys, and tiny stickers.  The tiny stickers are great because we don’t use them at home.  When I need to entertain my son, I stick a couple of little stickers to his nails or hands and then he is entertained for quite a while trying to figure out how to remove them. Once he figures out how to take them off and stick them to other things, this may not work as well.  My son is still at the stage where everything ends up in his mouth.  Therefore, activities like coloring aren’t great options.  Once he does start to enjoy coloring, paper and crayons that aren’t round will be part of my entertainment arsenal. 

      For a bunch of other ideas to keep your baby or toddler entertained on the plane, check out these airplane activities for toddlers.

      Food Options when Flying with a Baby

      Babies can get hangry fast!  If you are breastfeeding, then that is a convenient source of food.  However, if you aren’t you will need to plan your strategy.  Breastfeeding didn’t work out all that well for us, so we were in the formula camp.  My son could also go from fine to hangry in about 2 seconds, so we had to have food ready for a quick draw. 

      How To Fly With a Baby – The Ultimate Guide

      Flying with Formula

      For babies that are drinking formula, here are my tips to make that as easy as possible.

      Tip #1

      Utilize ready to drink liquid formula and travel bottles designed to have nipple screwed directly onto the bottle.  You just have to shake, attach the nipple and hand to your baby.  These bottles come in 2oz and 8oz options.  The 2oz ones were perfect up through about 6 months.  However, after that, he chugged them too quickly and it wasn’t practical from a cost or packing perspective to have him going through 3 to 4 per meal.  At that point, we switched to the 8oz ones.  However, he didn’t like the slow flow of the nipples that fit onto the bottles.  Therefore, we ended up pouring the liquid into his bottle.

      Tip #2

      Get formula powder packets.  You can buy packets of formula powder, and each packet contains enough formula powder to make a 4oz bottle.  These are much more convenient when traveling compared to taking an entire container of formula and having to measure out a certain amount.  They aren’t quite as easy as the liquid, but they are less expensive, small and lightweight.

      Tip #3

      Utilize a mix of the above.  When we fly, we take a few of the packets for when we need formula but aren’t in a huge hurry.  We also take a couple of bottles of liquid for quick access to food.  We pack a can of formula in the suitcase to use while we are at our destination as it is the most cost-effective option.

      Flying with Baby Food

      Once your baby is able to start eating finger foods, travel snacks become way easier.  We travel with animal crackers, cheerios, graham crackers (see my hack for storing these here), and applesauce cups (we bring a tack-n-toss baby spoon).  I love using these and these snack containers! Baby food pouches have potential, but for us, they just ended up being more mess than they were worth.  You can also buy food at the airport.  There are lots of places that will have bananas for sale which is a lot easier than trying to keep a banana good while traveling. 

      Flying with Milk

      You can also buy milk.  The best way to find milk is to find a place that has breakfast cereal.  The alternative to this is to keep milk from home cold or bring boxed milk that doesn’t need to be in the fridge.  We have decided it’s just easiest to purchase it as needed at airports.  Most flights won’t have milk on board, so don’t count on being able to get some in the air.

      Other Helpful Tips for Flying with a Baby

      For ideas on how to handle long layovers or flight delays when traveling with a baby, check out this article.

      You can also find more information for flying with a baby here.

      Final Thoughts

      Wow – that was a lot of information!  It’s really amazing everything you learn when flying with a baby. Almost everything above is information that I’ve learned through experience or by asking questions. When you travel with a little one, try not to get flustered, ask questions, and leave yourself plenty of time.  You’ve got this!  

      Did I ever tell you that I started blogging because I wanted a way to share everything that I learned about traveling with a baby with other new moms?  I hope this post is helpful for parents planning to fly with their baby.  If you found it helpful, I would love if you shared on social media so that more parents can see these tips!

      FREE Packing List for Flying with a Baby

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        How To Fly With a Baby – The Ultimate Guide

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        How to Survive Long Layovers with a Baby

        How to Survive Long Layovers with a Baby

        Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will receive a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

        How to Survive Long Layovers with a Baby

        No one likes being stuck in airports for extended periods of time, especially parents with small children.  However, long layovers, mechanical issues and bad weather (anywhere in the country) often result in major delays and cancellations that can leave you spending the better part of a day in an airport.  Here are some tips to make the best of being stuck in an airport for long layovers with a baby.

        1. Make sure you have everything you need in your carry on.

        You won’t be able to access your checked baggage, so you need to pack your carry-on with everything you may need.  This includes more diapers, wipes, and baby food/formula/milk than you think you will need. Other things that are great to have include a large stroller (like a jogging stroller), a travel white noise machine, a thin blanket, noise canceling earmuffs for babies and toddlers, toys, and extra clothes. If you are wondering how to fit all this, know that you can gate check your stroller and car seat and a diaper bag doesn’t count towards your carry-on limit. Check out my travel pro tips which includes a list of everything you need.

        How to Survive Long Layovers with a Baby
        Paxton napping with his earmuffs on a flight.

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        2. Find a quiet gate area.

        If you are going to be in an airport for a long time, there isn’t any reason you need to spend it all camped out at the gate where you will eventually depart from.  Walk a bit and find a corner of the airport that is quiet.  Often you can find a gate area that doesn’t have a flight leaving anytime soon and you can set up shop there.  Bonus points if it’s a place with outlets to charge phones and computers.  Finding a spot by the window is also a plus because watching out the window can provide great entertainment, and it makes a natural barrier.  Once you have this area you can arrange your stroller and various luggage to claim a decent-sized area.  Then spread out that blanket you brought, pull out the toys and let paper stretch.  If your baby is mobile, this may not work quite as well.  You can still set up your area, but keeping baby from crawling, rolling on the dirty airport carpet is an unlikely dream.  At this point, you need to decide if you are okay with just letting the baby crawl out that energy in your secluded gate area.  For me, I would much rather let my son crawl around on the carpet than keep him contained and have to manage the energy on the plane. To get the most out of this tip, make sure to download the helpful travel apps. You can see my favorites here and here.

        3. As a last resort, find a corner.

        If you are in a major airport and bad weather is causing tons of delays, there may not be a quiet area to be found (I’m talking about you Atlanta and Chicago-Midway airports). In this case, try to find a corner and use your luggage and stroller to claim as much space as you can.

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        4. Use the stroller for naps.

        This is where the big stroller comes in handy.  You can put the baby in the stroller, recline itas far as it goes (or use the car seat if you have a travel system), then pull down the canopy as far as it will go. Use the blanket to cover the remainder to make it dark.  Last, attach the noise machine to the stroller.  This setup can help many babies fall asleep.  Going for a walk while pushing your setup can also help.  If your baby is really distracted, you can try adding the noise canceling earmuffs to block out the distracting noise.  Even if your babe doesn’t sleep, this dark white-noise area can provide a nice break from all the stimulation of a busy airport. 

        5. Take shifts.

        A long layover can be stressful for everyone.  If you are lucky enough to have someone traveling with you, take shifts on keeping an eye on baby.  Let the other person take a walk alone, play cell phone games, read a book, etc.  This will keep you both fresh and ready to play and interact with the baby.

        There are my top 5 tips!  I’ve developed and used these tips through multiple trips with my son over his first year of life.  Let me know in the comments if you have any tips I didn’t mention.

        Make sure to check out my other travel posts!

        My Top 10 Travel Apps

        Must-Have Apps for Flying with Kids

        How to Fly with a Baby | The Ultimate Guide

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        How to Survive Long Layovers with a Baby

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        My Top 10 Travel Apps

        My Top 10 Travel Apps
        My Top 10 Travel Apps

        Here are my can’t-live-without travel apps.  Make sure you get these before your next trip with kids (or even without)!

        1. Southwest: I LOVE Southwest when flying with a baby. The open seating policy works great for traveling with a baby because if there is an empty seat, they will let you claim it.  They also allow every ticketed passenger to check 2 bags for free.  This is a definite win with how much stuff is required for traveling with a baby.  All that said, we always fly Southwest, so the app is my #1.  When my Rapid Rewards number is entered for a booked flight, the flight automatically shows up in the app.  I use this to easily keep track of my upcoming trips, monitor rewards points and check-in for flights.  When I travel alone, I use this for my boarding pass as well.
        2. Uber/Lyft: Without the ridesharing apps, I wouldn’t ever make it to my final destination. I lumped these two apps together because I choose based on whichever one is less expensive at any given time. Most drivers drive for both Uber and Lyft, so I find the service isn’t really any different.  They just have different surge rates and promotions.
        3. iExit: I can’t drive anywhere on an interstate without this app.  I first started using this app when I was driving to a lot of horse shows.  It was important for me to select exits based on whether they had diesel gas and if I could get a horse trailer in.  However, I still use this app because I always like to have my next food or coffee stop planned out, and this app allows for that. When traveling with kids, being able to find the perfect exit to stop at becomes even more important.  This app allows you to look as far forward as you would like on the interstate and see what food and gas are at each exit. 
        4. GoogleMaps: This is an app that is essential for keeping my husband happy.  I am perfectly fine with using the default navigation app that iPhones come with. However, my husband passionately declares that Google Maps and Waze are vastly superior.  I prefer Google Maps because I think Waze has too much information and gets really distracting.
        5. Gate Guru: Along with my reasoning for iExit about planning my food and coffee, I like to do this in airports as well.  This is also really important with a kid because I can’t wander the airport looking for the perfect food.  Gate Guru tells me exactly what food is in each terminal and which gate it is located at.  I can plan exactly what food we will get before we ever get off the plane. 
        6. Mamava: This app is lower on my list because breastfeeding was temporary and I’m currently not breastfeeding.  However, it was a life-saver while I was breastfeeding. Along with using Gate Guru to plan my food, I used Mamava to plan where I could nurse or pump.  This app told me exactly where the nursing mother rooms are in each airport.
        7. Starbucks: This isn’t really a travel app, but it’s one of my most used apps while traveling.  Mama needs coffee after all.
        8. GasBuddy: As a mom, I’m all about saving money. This app makes it super easy to find the best gas prices where ever we are. 
        9. Southwest Entertainment app: Keeping my husband entertained while flying is as important as keeping my son entertained. The Southwest entertainment app provides free TV and movies that hubby can watch on his cell phone.
        10. Flight Board: This app is helpful in a variety of situations.  If you have a quick connection, you can check your connecting flight info as soon as you land.  If you are in a crazy busy airport, this app saves you the hassle of finding the flight boards in the airport.  If you have a long connection, it can be nice to find a somewhat empty corner of the airport for baby to stretch or nap.  This app allows you to keep track of your flight status when there is no flight board in sight.

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        There you have it.  My top 10 travel apps for traveling with kids. My 10-month old son has been on 10 round-trip flights, so take a page out of my book and have these apps in your arsenal when you take a trip with kids (but they are helpful for traveling on your own too).  If you like apps, make sure to check out my full travel app post here which contains over 20 FREE travel apps to make your travels with kids a little bit easier.

        For more information on traveling with kids, check out my super detailed post with all my best hints.  You can find it here.

        Make sure to grab my FREE packing list for flying with babies here.

        My Top 10 Travel Apps

        Must-Have Apps for Flying with Kids

        Must-Have Apps for Flying with Kids
        Must-Have Apps for Flying with Kids

        Traveling with kids is already stressful enough, therefore, make sure you are armed with the top travel apps prior to heading to the airport.  Below are more than 20 must-have FREE travel apps.  These apps are helpful from the planning stage through the ‘what are you going to do when you get there’ stage.  They are generally not related to traveling with kids.  However, they are great for making your trip smoother, and who doesn’t want that when traveling with kids.  If you don’t have time for the full article, check out my Top 10 Apps here.

        Apps for Accommodations

        1. Airbnb: This app allows you to rent a place to stay from a private person.  This app typically has places that are the right size for a single family.
        2. VRBO: This app is similar to Airbnb, but it typically has places that are sized for larger groups.
        3. Hilton: This app allows you to check-in and manage your stays for any Hilton property.  In some hotels, your phone can act as your room key if you have the app.  This is a must-have app if you are going to be staying at any of the following hotels.
          • Hilton Hotels and Resorts
          • Waldorf Astoria Hotels and Resorts
          • Conrad Hotels and Resorts
          • Canopy by Hilton
          • Curio Collection by Hilton
          • Doubletree by Hilton
          • Tapestry Collection by Hilton
          • Embassy Suites by Hilton
          • Hilton Garden Inn
          • Hampton by Hilton
          • Tru by Hilton
          • Homewood Suites by Hilton
          • Home2 Suites by Hilton
          • Hilton Grand Vacations
        4. Marriott: This app allows you to check-in and manage your stays for any Marriott property.  This is a must-have app if you will be staying at any of the following.
          • The Ritz-Carlton
          • St. Regis
          • JW Marriott
          • Ritz-Carlton Reserve
          • BVLGARI
          • W Hotels
          • Edition
          • Marriott Hotels
          • Sheraton
          • Marriott Vacation Club
          • Delta Hotels
          • Le Meridien
          • Westin
          • Renaissance Hotels
          • Gaylord Hotels
          • Courtyard Hotels
          • Four Points
          • SpringHill Suites
          • Protea Hotels
          • Fairfield Inn & Suites
          • AC Hotels
          • Aloft Hotels
          • Moxy Hotels
          • Marriott Executive Apartments
          • Residence Inn
          • TownePlace Suites
          • Element
        5. Hotel Tonight: This app is designed to provide you with last minute deals when your travel plans change suddenly, and you need a room ASAP.

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        Apps for Airport Parking

        1. PreFlight Airport Parking: This app allows you to manage all your airport parking from making reservations, viewing current reservations, and monitoring rewards points.
        2. The Parking Spot: This is the for booking parking at a Parking Spot location.  Not every airport has Parking Spot, but most do, and it’s my personal favorite location for airport parking.

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        Apps for the Airport and Airplane

        Ground Transportation Apps

        1. Uber/Lyft: These are the most common ride-share services.  Get the apps downloaded and your account setup.  Then whenever you need a ride, you can quickly request one from whichever service is less expensive for your location.  Note: you will need to have a car seat for your child.
        2. Wingz: This is similar to Uber and Lyft, but you have to schedule your ride ahead of time (at least 2 hours) and it’s only for airport trips. It’s also a service that is only available at select airports. However, fares don’t increase during peak times, so it can be more affordable during busy times. Note: you will need to have a car seat for your child.  This service is available at the following airports:
          • Austin
          • Dallas (DAL and DFW)
          • Houston (IAH and HOU)
          • Los Angeles (BUR, SNA, ONT, LGB, and LAX)
          • Miami
          • Orlando
          • Phoenix
          • Portland
          • Sacramento
          • San Antonio
          • San Diego
          • Seattle
          • San Jose
          • Oakland
          • San Francisco
          • Tampa 
        3. Supershuttle: This is a shuttle service that does airport trips.  It is often less expensive than Uber, Lyft and Wingz.  However, it makes multiple stops, so your trip takes longer.  Even though this is a shuttle bus and not a car, you DO need to have a car seat.
        4. iExit:  This app is a must if you will be driving on interstates when you get to your destination. This allows you to look at each upcoming exit on an interstate you are on to see what food and gas options are there.
        5. GasBuddy: Also, a must if you are going to be driving at your destination.  This app helps you find the cheapest gas near you.

        Navigation Apps

        1. Waze: This is a navigation app that allows you to share real-time traffic and road info with other local drivers.
        2. Google Maps: This is a standard navigation app, but it is a little more user friendly than the default iPhone app with regards to letting you look ahead at the directions and seeing which lane you need to be in for an upcoming exit or traffic change.
        3. Citymapper: This app helps you find and utilize public transportation in a number of major cities around the globe.  You can also view subway and train schedules without internet.
        4. Transit: This app provides public transit maps for 184 cities, 10 countries and 4 continents.  You won’t need a car seat to take public transit.

        Food and Activity Apps

        1. Roadtrippers: This app allows you to explore food and things to do that are nearby.
        2. OpenTable: This app allows you to explore food that is nearby and make a reservation.
        3. FourSquare: This app serves as a city guide.
        4. Zomato: This app tells you what restaurants are nearby and gives their ratings.
        5. UberEats: This turns any restaurant into deliver.
        6. AllTrails: If you are wanting to hike at your destination, this app provides trail mapsand reviews.

        Other Helpful Apps

        1. Mamava: This app is a must if you are breastfeeding.  It tells you exactly where breastfeeding areas are located in each airport.  It tells you if it’s a Mamava pod or another type of room and real mothers leave their reviews.
        2. Kid Entertainment Apps: This topic is beyond the scope of this post.  If you are looking for entertainment apps, check out this post.

        Final Thoughts

        Make sure to download and set up all of the above apps that are relevant to your trip.  If you want more information about traveling with baby by airplane, check out my in-depth post on the topic here.

        For some additional hacks for traveling check out these recommendations!

        I have traveled with my 10-month old son on 10 round trips so far.  Checkout My Top 10 Travel Apps list here to take a page out of my book.

        Make sure to subscribe to website updates, so you don’t miss any great parenting content!

        Must-Have Apps for Flying with Kids

        Pro Tips for Flying With Baby

        Pro Tips for Flying With Baby

        FREE Packing List for Flying with a Baby

        Get my ultimate packing list delivered straight to your inbox. I’ve refined it over many trips, so you can benefit from what I’ve learned.

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          Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will receive a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

          Pro Tips for Flying With Baby

          It may require so much organization and effort just to go to the store with a baby that the thought of traveling across the country sounds crazy.  However, once you get a system figured out, infants can be surprisingly portable.  At the ripe old age of 7 months old, Paxton has now been across the country 4 times.  It’s never going to be quite as easy to fly with a baby as it is without one, but we’ve come up with our system that makes it completely manageable and relatively low stress.  Below are my tips if you are taking to the sky with your baby.

          Make a List (or Lots of Lists)

          The sheer amount of stuff that our tiny human requires is mind-boggling. I always thought I packed a lot of stuff, but Paxton routinely has the largest suitcase of us all.  To make sure that we don’t forget anything, a list is a must-have.  Now when I say list, I don’t mean something on an old piece of paper that gets tossed as soon as you finish packing everything.  I mean a OneNote notebook dedicated to packing lists.  I have a list for Paxton, a list for me, and a list of things that need to go in a carry-on.  The reason I love using OneNote is that I can create the list on my laptop, and then open it on my cell phone and add things as I think of them and check things off as I pack them.  I make a list for each trip that I take and title it with the reason for the trip or place I’m going.  This allows me to copy a list from a similar previous trip as a starting point the next time.

          Plan Your Carry-on System

          The last thing you want is to be stuck in an airport or airplane without enough diapers, wipes, baby food, etc. However, you can only carry so much stuff on with you.  Airlines allow all passengers to have a large carry-on for the overhead bin and a small one to put under your seat.  However, parents traveling with children are also allowed to gate check a car seat and stroller.  If you purchase a seat for your child, then they also are allowed the two carry-ons.  If you have a lap child then they do not get the carry-on allowance, but a diaper bag does not count towards your carry-on limit.  When we travel we take a jogging stroller travel system with the car seat, a carry-on size roller bag, a tote bag, and a diaper bag through security.  The is very manageable for the two of us.  The jogging stroller seems like it would be big and clunky at first, but it actually works really well.  It’s sturdy and has a storage basket which means that I can hang my diaper bag from the handles and put a tote bag in the basket.  It also serves as a method of transporting the car seat and baby.  When packing our carry-ons, we utilize the following system:

          1. Diaper bag: Everything we want to have handy for Paxton throughout the trip (food, diapers, wipes, rags, extra clothes, a couple toys, etc.) To see what I recommend having in your diaper bag, check out this post.
          2. Tote bag: Everything we want to have handy for ourselves throughout the trip (food, headphones, computer, cells phones, chargers, etc.)
          3. Roller bag: Items that we don’t want to check or may decide we want, but that we don’t have to have available at a moment’s notice (baby carrier, pump and related accessories, travel fan, extra toys, stroller, and car seat gate check bags, etc.).

          Related Content

          Accumulate Your Key Items

          These are some items that you want to have while flying with a baby that you may never have considered before. Below are my must-have items (aside from the obvious items a baby needs like diapers, bottles, etc.).

          1. Battery-powered or rechargeable hand-held fan (this one is what I recommend): This may not seem like it’s needed, and I don’t use it on every trip, but after being stuck on a 5 hour flight, in the summer, when the air wasn’t working great, I will always make sure to bring a fan. The heat makes me a little cranky, but it will make a baby into a monster.  This is especially true if you are holding the baby and transferring body heat between you.
            baby and mom on airplane holding portable fan
          2. Gate-check bags: Strollers and car seats are not welcome in overhead bins. However, the airlines are happy to check these for you at the gate, and you can pick them back up as soon as you get off the plane.  You could check these items when you check other baggage, but gate check is free, and it allows you to use them throughout the airport.  Bags aren’t required when you gate-check these items, but if you don’t wear your baby sits is getting all of the dirt and grease from the cargo area.  Gate-check bags are designed to fit car seats and strollers, often have a place for your name and contact info, and fold into attached pouches for easy transport when not in use.  We found a generic car seat bag at Babies R’ Us, but the stroller bag they had wasn’t big enough to fit our jogging stroller easily.  We ended up ordering a stroller bag from Amazon designed for large strollers.  An added bonus is that it has backpack straps which are great for carrying it down the jetway. This is the awesome stroller bag we have.
          3. Toy and pacifier straps: When juggling all of your baggage and a baby that may be figuring out it’s fun to drop things, the last thing you want to worry about is if you are losing toys or pacifiers.
          4. Baby carrier: Some people feel that you either need a stroller travel system or a baby carrier. However, I like to have both.  If I’m gate-checking the car seat, instead of taking it on for Paxton to sit in, then I love having a carrier so I can strap him to me and have both hands free while boarding.  You do have to remove the baby from the carrier during takeoff and landing, but it can be helpful to give your arms a break during the flight.  I wouldn’t want to use the carrier the entire time I’m traveling through.
          5. Travel-sized noise machine: Baby is likely used to a quiet sleeping environment, but there is no guarantee that a hotel will provide that, especially if you and baby aren’t used to sharing a room. A travel noise machine is inexpensive and can be placed next to the pack and play to help drown out any other noises.  I find that the white noise also helps me sleep better. This is the travel noise machine that we have.  It works great and is small enough to make packing easy.
            Pro Tips for Flying With BabyPro Tips for Flying With Baby
          6. Luggage with 4 swivel wheels: With all the stuff you are going to be lugging around, you need luggage with swivel wheels. I can easily push the stroller and wheel two large suitcases through an airport this way.  I wouldn’t be able to do this if any of the suitcases had the older style wheels.

          Other Posts You May Like

          Baby Identification

          You don’t need to provide an ID for your baby for TSA; however, you do often need proof of age for the airline when checking in with a lap child. Generally, airlines ask for a birth certificate.  However, I highly recommend getting a passport book and card for your child.  Although a passport is not needed for a child traveling within the US, hear me out.  A passport card is easy to tuck into your wallet and always have on you (much more so than a birth certificate or a traditional passport).  However, a passport book is required for air travel to any country.  The card is only good for traveling by car into Canada or Mexico.  By getting a passport card for Paxton, I can keep it in my wallet, so I never have to worry about remembering and keeping track of his birth certificate or passport book when traveling within the US.

          Sleeping Setup

          When traveling with a baby, you don’t want to forget about figuring out how/where Baby will sleep. Pack and Plays are great for this, but they add yet another piece of luggage.  Most hotels have a pack and play or crib that they will let you use.  However, it’s always wise to call a few days before your trip to verify that they do have one and have it added to your reservation.  Bring your own pack and play sheet though.

          Don’t forget that it’s important for you to get some sleep while traveling too. Make sure to grab these tips for making sleep happen before your next trip!

          Overwhelmed Yet? Get your FREE packing list for traveling with baby HERE.

          Pro Tips for Flying With Baby

          Decide Whether to Buy Baby a Seat

          Children under 2 can travel for free on your lap within the US. However, there is something to be said for having the extra space of giving Baby his own seat.  If Baby has a seat, you can bring the car seat onboard for baby to sit/sleep in.  It just has to go in a seat by the window.  If you decide you want to buy an extra seat, some airlines have infant fares that may be less expensive than traditional fares.  However, if you go with the lap child option, it’s worth asking when getting your gate check tags if the flight is completely full.  On Southwest, with their open seating policy, if the flight has an empty seat, they will let you take the car seat on board so your baby can have a seat.  I’ve heard other airlines will work with you to see if they can get you next to an empty seat, but I don’t have any first-hand experience with this.  It’s always worth asking since you are up there anyway.  About 50% of the time we get lucky and there is an empty seat.

          Pro Tips for Flying With Baby
          Paxton is comfy in his car seat since he was able to get his own seat on a Southwest flight that was 100% full.

          Be Prepared for TSA

          Going through security is no small task with a baby and all of the stuff you have. However, once you know what is expected, it gets much easier. Here are my comments regarding security.  You can use the TSA app to see how long security lines typically are at the time you will be traveling.  Make sure to check out the TSA app and my other favorite apps here and here.

          1. You are allowed to bring a reasonable amount of milk, formula, baby food, juice, and/or water for baby. Make sure to have this all in a clear ziplock bag (I use a gallon sized one), so that you can quickly remove it because it needs to go through the scanner out of your carry-on.  If the bottle is clear and/or can be opened, there isn’t a problem.  They may put the items in a machine that analyzes them but this is quick and doesn’t affect the product.  The only time there might be a problem is if the liquid is in a container that can’t be opened and is not clear.  These Similac 8oz formula bottles are convenient to travel with because you can just screw on a nipple.  However, the bottles are not see through at all, and once opened, they are only good for 2 hours if not refrigerated.  Most TSA agents haven’t had a problem with these.  If they question it, they just wipe my hands to test for bomb residue and then we’re good to go.  However, one time the agents decided to have a problem with them, and I was told that either they had to open the bottles or give me a full body pat-down.  I had never been questioned anywhere, let alone that airport I had been through multiple times, but for some reason that day they decided to have a problem with it.
          2. Allow plenty of time to get through security in case they decide to have a problem with something (see point a)
          3. Some places let you wear your baby through security in a baby carrier and others make you take them out.
          4. Get TSA Precheck. If you have precheck your baby can go through with you for free.  With precheck you don’t have to worry about removing your shoes, taking out electronics and taking out normal liquid allowances which allows you to focus on everything else you are juggling.  It’s also great because the last place you want to be is stuck in a long security line with a screaming child.
          5. Have your baby’s boarding pass ready. If it’s a lap child, the airline will give you a special pass. Baby doesn’t need an ID though.
          Pro Tips for Flying With Baby
          Pro Tips for Flying With Baby
          Paxton and I are ready to go through security for an early morning flight.

          Plan How You Are Getting to the Terminal

          When we travel we have 3 checked bags in addition to the carry-on items I mentioned above. There is no way I want to juggle all of our stuff on the shuttle from long-term parking.  Therefore, we have a system where my husband drops me, Paxton and all but two bags off at the door.  We check the bags I have and get Paxton’s lap child boarding pass.  John then parks the car and takes the shuttle in and meets me at security.

          Plan How You Are Leaving the Airport

          Public transportation has suddenly become much more difficult with the amount of stuff you are now traveling with. Rental cars can work, but you will likely need an SUV for all of the luggage and the stroller.  Make sure to book a car that provides enough storage space.

          Pro Tips for Flying With Baby

          Master the Double Diaper

          The last thing you want is an overflowing diaper on an airplane. You also don’t really want to be changing a diaper on an airplane.  If your flight is more than about 2 hours, I strongly suggest double diapering.  We do this right before boarding.  When Paxton is close to sizing up in diapers, we make the outer diaper a size larger.  When he still has room to grow in his current size, we use two diapers that are the same size.  Two diapers have been sufficient to get across the country without leaks and without needing to change a diaper.  However, when we skip the second diaper we have had blowouts at 30,000 feet.  If your baby is peacefully sleeping before boarding, you may be tempted to skip the diaper change and additional diaper –DON’T.  The sleeping child will eventually wake up and unless your flight is super short, you will likely be regretting your choice at some point.

          Get the Mamava App

          If you are breastfeeding, you are going to want to know where the nursing rooms are in each airport, and these rooms tend to be well-hidden. Mamava makes portable nursing rooms that are commonly located in airports.  The free app tells you exactly where these are located near you.  However, the app also tells you about other nursing rooms that are available nearby complete with reviews from other moms.

          Carefully Select Flights

          1. Flights with layovers but no plane change may not be the best option. There is something to be said about being able to get off the plane and change a diaper in a real restroom and get yourself something to eat.  If you don’t have a layover that allows this, it can make for a long trip.
          2. Choosing flights that are while baby normally sleeps may be a good idea in theory, but I haven’t found it to be worth the effort. I generally find that choosing times that I like based on the amount of sleep I will get, where the layover is, and travel duration is much more worth my time.
          3. Avoid layovers in airports where you have to leave security. The majority of airports keep you in the same terminal or at least don’t make you leave security to go to another terminal.  However, there are a few where you may need to go out of security and back through.  Security is rough with a baby, and you don’t want to do it any more than necessary. Airports that I’ve had to do this are San Diego and Newark.  I’m sure there are others that I haven’t experienced yet.
          4. Check your airline to determine what policies they have in place for traveling with children.  The links to the major airline policies are below.

          The Bribe-Bag Debate

          I read blogs that suggest parents can bring little bags with candy, earplugs and a cute note to handout to nearby passengers to buy a little understanding if the baby screams. The idea is kind of cute if you are a type of person that likes doing things like this.  However, I don’t think it’s necessary.  There are plenty of ways that people on airplanes annoy each other when they don’t have children.  Do you bring a goody bag for the person on the aisle that you are going to ask to get up 3 times so you can go to the bathroom?

          Pro Tips for Flying With Baby
          John is ready to carry the stroller down the jetway for gate check.

          If you will have a layover, make sure to check out this post for my tips!

          For more great travel tips, make sure to check out these posts!

          What travel hacks have made your trips easier?  Tell me in the comments.

          FREE Packing List for Flying with a Baby

          Get my ultimate packing list delivered straight to your inbox. I’ve refined it over many trips, so you can benefit from what I’ve learned.

            We won’t send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time.

            Pro Tips for Flying With Baby

            Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will receive a commission if you click through and make a purchase.