Traveling with a baby/toddler sucks. No matter how prepared you are — it is super stressful, but after 4 international flights and 6 domestic flights with a baby (half of which I was on my own) I would like to think I am pretty good at it. Whatever you do, try not to overpack your carryon. When you pack too much you waste SO MUCH TIME digging through it, you can never actually find anything, and honestly – you’re not going to use half of that stuff. They have water bottles in the airports, order a cheese plate on the airplane, and I promise you, your kid will not go through 15 diapers during your 2 hour flight. Pro diaper tip — buy them when you get to where you are going/ Amazon prime them to your final destination. Don’t waste suitcase space on diapers. I have narrowed down the list of items that you SHOULD pack to make traveling a little bit less stressful.
Yes, I know they are not the most environmentally friendly. Honestly, they might be the LEAST environmentally friendly. But they work. Playtex drop-ins bottles have a hard plastic outside and a disposable liner (think condom) that you “drop in” so instead of having to pack multiple bottles, you can pack one bottle, a few nipples (I like to keep five in a little zip lock bag) and then a bunch of liners. HUGE space saver. Also, you don’t have to rinse out the bottles when you are done using them– you just throw out the liner and you’re good to go! When we flew to Ireland when Thomas was a newborn we were using the Dr. Brown’s bottles and our carryon bag was a complete nightmare– the bottles and parts took up so much room and then we had to carry around the dirty bottles around with us until we got to our final destination. Sorry environment — I need this.
Only con: If your baby is drinking formula do a practice run of the water to formula ratio before you leave home. The plastic drop in does not expand all the way so the water measurement on the side of the bottle is usually off. When Thomas was drinking formula we brought one Dr. Browns bottle with us so that we knew we were using the right amount of water.
So this stroller is definitely on the pricey side. My friend Alicia did a blog post about it and I was convinced that I needed it too, because I WANNA BE JUST LIKE HER. OK I definitely did not neeeeeeed it. But it is handy AF. It also looks super cool. It folds down into a tiny little square that fits into a tiny little bag which fits into the overhead compartment. AKA you don’t have to wait for them to bring you your stroller when you get off the plane. Especially nice when you are landing back in Chicago and it’s freezing on the jet bridge (Is it called that?). Also, it is so easy to fold — you can do it with one hand which is important when you are traveling alone because you will have a baby in the other hand.
I have also traveled with my full stroller — and that was pretty easy too but the size difference is no joke. The full sized strollers don’t fold down to fit on the X-Ray belt (Also, is that what it’s called? Clearly I do not know any airport terms) so you don’t have to get all stressed out trying to strategically fold anything which is nice – you just hand it away and they hand-check it and give it back Also, a full sized stroller has a TON more storage space below which is super helpful, but if you’re trying to bring a full sized stroller to Europe prepare to leave the airport with absolutely nothing else in the trunk because those cars are teeeeny tiny and it’s not fitting. Bring a travel stroller.
Thomas has only ever liked the Dr. Browns Pacifiers because they have the same shape as the Dr. Brown’s bottles which he used for the first year of his life — so that is how I came across these Lovey’s. The thing I like most about them is that they have a little clip that opens and closes so you can put any brand pacifier on the cute little animal VS the WubbaNub pacifier/lovey combo where the pacifier does not come off. Also way handier for washing than the WubbaNub is. During day-to-day life I don’t like to have a little animal attached to his pacifier (I really don’t want any pacifier in his mouth during the day but YA KNOW, pick your battles), but for traveling it is a good way to be able to keep track of them. WHATEVER YOU DO — DO NOT LOSE THE PACIFIERS WHEN TRAVELING.
I must really hate the environment, huh? The munchkin disposable changing pads are a must have for traveling because airports and airplanes are DISGUSTING. Originally I was using a reusable plastic changing pad but it started to really gross me out folding it back up and putting it in the diaper bag (sooooo many stranger diaper poop germs on the back of that thing going into your nice clean bag touching all your bottles and snacks and clothes – I feel gross just typing that). Bring a couple of the disposable changing pads, lay it on the changing tables, change diaper, THROW AWAY. Awesome. One less germ to catch.
Yes, this is a bath toy. It is nothing more than a couple of plastic cups that fit inside each other creating a nice neat space saving stack. Perfect travel toys. Thomas loves to bang things together, knock things over, put things inside each other — and this bath toy is all of that while leaving room in your carry on for other things.
I like this wipe container because you can attach it to the side of your bag and then the wipes aren’t taking up space IN your bag. Also having wipes on the outside makes them easier to get to when your kid spills something, pukes, drools, any other gross thing that WILL happen at the worst time. Be wipe ready.
Munchkin has two kids of snack holders that I have come across so far and I prefer this one because the plastic flaps that you put your hand through are much softer than the other kind — Fill with Cheerios or Puffs and enjoy spill free “try to get the snack out of the container” entertainment for hours. JK maybe four minutes. But that’s four minutes of your trip down!
Nobody has room for a huge blanket in their carry-on. These Little Unicorn Swaddling blankets are super thin so they are perfect to roll up and keep in your carryon to lay over your little one if they get cold on the plane or in the carseat. You can also mash it into a ball and use as a shitty pillow for when you’re in an uncomfortable position your baby FINALLY fell asleep and you can’t move because you don’t want to risk waking them up.
“My kid will never have any screen time. Tablets and iPad’s are sooooo bad for their developing brain”. That was the old me. The “before I ever traveled with a kid” me. Embrace the new you. SURVIVE that plane/car ride. Download a bunch of episodes of whatever will distract your kid for the most amount of time, and throw on this handy dandy case that makes your iPad a little bit safer from the destructive toddler.
The last time we flew I had Sesame Street playing on my iPad on the LOWEST volume — you could not hear it unless you were sitting on top of us. But of course, the flight attendant leaned in reaaaaaal close to ask me what we wanted to drink and SHE HEARD. “Can you please put headphones in as to not disturb the other passangers?” Cool, yeah no problem. Lemme throw some Air Pods into my 1 year old’s ears. Since this wasn’t an option, I turned off the volume per her instructions and on cue the baby started screaming. It took about two full minutes (eternity when your kid is screaming in public) for the flight attendant to come back and tell me that I could turn the volume back on low. This is one way to handle this situation – let your kid annoy people until they give in and you get what you want. Another way, is to be prepared with the CozyPhones kids headphones. They are a headwarmer/headband thing with two tiny little flat speakers build in. If you can keep this on your kids head, GO YOU. If you can’t, you can take out the little speakers and rest them on your baby’s shoulders — the sound out of them is so quiet that even the leaning flight attendant won’t hear it. The only flaw to these headphones is that they do have a long annoying cord. Bluetooth kids headphones — can someone make this and then send to me to try? Thanks!
Other handy items if you have room: Sippy cup, Snacks (ideas: puffs, baby fruit snacks, breakfast bars, cheese sticks, pretzels), change of clothes for baby and you (better safe than sorry), pre-measured formula dispenser, extra pacifiers (seriously, hide them in every pocket, if those are lost you are dead), baby thermometer and tylenol (in air fever? Unlikely, but my OCD allows me to find worst case scenario in every situation) <– look I am overpacking my carryon like I told you not to, extra pair of socks (I promise you that your kid will lose a sock on the plane), and a Xanax for you (Just kidding. Maybe).
Good luck. You got this.