Now let’s be honest, traveling with a baby is never stress free! On my last flight I smelt like I just ran a marathon before we even boarded the plane, because I was sweating so profusely. Baby Zand has been on 26 flights in her short life, and with every flight I learnt something new. Now I am going to give you all my wisdom so you can be more relaxed when you travel next time!!!
Expect everything that can go wrong to go wrong
If you go in with these low expectations, you will be pleasantly surprised when you get out on the other side relatively unscathed. Definitely expect the biggest poop explosion your child has had to date. There will probably be some vomiting all over you, a tantrum because you brought the wrong lovey, and super sore nipples because you are being used as a pacifier. If you know there will be plenty of disasters, you can plan ahead of time!
Pack double the amount of diapers, wet wipes, food, and changes of clothes
Calculate how much of each you would usually use during the amount of time you are traveling; calculate door to door time, not just the actual flight time. Then double this. Seriously, even if you come home with a few clean diapers and an extra outfit, you will feel so much more relaxed knowing that you don’t have to carry a naked baby through the airport wrapped in an airplane blanket, because you ran out of spare outfits by the time you got on the plane. And when it comes to food, somehow Baby Zand always eats more on the plane because she’s bored. So just bring extra of everything. I just always remember this story of a friend being stuck on a plane on the tarmac for 6 hours!!! I always want to be prepared for that scenario.
Also, you may want to bring an extra top for yourself for the obvious reasons of poop/ vomit/ flying food. If you can, bring an entire outfit. If not, a top will do to make you look and especially feel somehow semi human.
Strollers are useless, use a carrier!
Especially if you have connecting flights, you don’t want to be stuck waiting at the airplane doors for your stroller to come out, so you can run to the next gate. Plus, often you won’t find elevators when you need them, and do you really want to carry baby plus your hand luggage and the stroller down to the tarmac to grab a bus to the plane?! Ah just writing this makes me break out in hives! Here are the 3 stages we went through:
0-2 months : we brought baby Zand in her car seat, but honestly next time I would do a carrier instead. We were lucky, because we were traveling business class, so plenty of space to store the seat. But the down side is that at security scans you need to take your finally sleeping baby out. Most airports allow you to keep baby in the carrier, so huge bonus point!
2-20 months: front baby carrier like the Björn or whatever you have/ choose. How long you can use this for depends on the weight of your child. I found that with 11kg/ 24lbs we had really reached the breaking point of my back! You may reach yours earlier. Advantages of using a carrier: hands free for security, immigration, etc, no elevators needed, easy maneuvering on and off the plane, super easy storage on plane, and baby is usually less fussy when attached to you.
20+ months: we are currently in this stage of using our hiking backpack. I have linked to the one we have below, and one person can lift it on and off in case you travel alone. I love that I can stand in long lines, and walk to far away gates no problem with this. I have my hands free, and it stores in overhead bins. Downside; make sure you practice with this before you fly, since the weight distribution will be something to get used to!
Don't schlep everything around the world - rent instead!!!
Most places you travel to offer services where you can rent baby stuff from cribs to strollers, car seats, and even toys. Google it before you go, and try to order as much stuff as you can. Traveling light is never an option with a baby, but it helps if you can leave these big bulky things at home; especially if you are traveling by yourself without a helpful partner. How are you going to get all that stuff from the car/ taxi to check in and off the baggage claim. No no, make your life easier, try to rent where possible. Often these services will even deliver to where you are staying. No hassle at all! And if you rent a car, you can always get a car seat through the car rental company.
If you really need to bring your own, you can either check in a stroller or car seat for free when traveling with a baby! We have a bugaboo, and their travel bag is amazing but expensive. Upside is you can stuff it full with other stuff like books, extra wet wipes and diapers, toys, blankets, etc.; airlines don’t really care about the weight of your stroller. I have also linked to a cheaper bag below, which we have used before. It's doesn't close very tightly, so I wouldn't throw a few last minute lose items in there!
The iPad is your best friend!
Baby Zand never watches TV. We don’t have one at home. Simple and effective because she spends her days playing, building, painting, and exploring. I love that. But I also have to be realistic here. How do you keep an active toddler restrained for up to 12 hours in a tiny seat or even worse, on your lap?!? The iPad is the answer. Load up some of your favorite child friendly shows, and your child will be in awe. The first few times Baby Zand got bored after 20 minutes (when she was about 9 months old), but that’s still 20 minutes of peaceful quiet! I am telling you, every minute counts on a long distance flight!
Go shopping at the dollar store before you leave
I have a big Mary poppins bag. It can stand by itself with a sturdy bottom and has high sides to hold everything in place. I fill it with cheap toys, crayons, books, anything I don't mind losing/ having poop or vomit all over. There is only so much time baby can watch the iPad until she will get bored. So every few minutes when she is on the verge of a boredom tantrum, I will pull out a new toy. She loves it. Some are a hit, others not so much. I thought she would love the mini puzzle I got of the Cat In The Hat (her favorite book), but instead she was in awe of little blocks that could be strung on a shoe lace. Seriously, you never know what they will love, so grab as much as you can find. And I like to save a few in the suitcase for the r