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5 Tips for Traveling with Baby (plus baby travel gear!)

tips for travel with baby and baby travel gear

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The following is a guest post by Rebekah Zabarsky. These tips for traveling with a baby were originally published in 2012, but still remain valid insights. We’ve spruced up the post a bit since then and hope other HPL travelers-turned-mothers can benefit from the content!


Full disclosure: I am not a mother.

In fact, I’m so far from that designation that when my friends see pictures of me with babies or small children, they refresh their browsers in disbelief.

I don’t exactly have a lot of experience around children, but I do have some considering I spent a month in England this summer with my sister, brother-in-law and baby nephew.

We took several trips to London and a weekend jaunt to Rome, all with baby in tow. I learned many things about traveling with a baby and babies in general.

First, traveling with a baby is a lot like some of my spring break trips in college; lots of puke, lots of naps, and long, long, nights.

And like those trips, it’s also a lot of fun.

Here are my tips for traveling with a baby so that your experience will be pleasant for everyone. It all comes down to learning to go with the flow and packing the right baby travel gear.

traveling with baby tips
When you travel with a baby, it’s important to plan ahead, go with the flow, and choose the right baby travel gear.

1. Create a Diaper Bag Packing List

My sister has a very stylish diaper bag. It’s by a very chic designer with a trendy print and black patent leather straps.

Guess who cares what it looks like when the baby screams while you’re viewing Andy Warhol’s original prints in a contemporary art museum? No one.

The only thing that matters is the contents of the diaper bag:

  • two pacifiers
  • a burp cloth
  • a bottle
  • formula
  • extra formula
  • diapers
  • changing pad
  • wipes
  • toys
  • change of clothes

We went through this diaper bag checklist every time we left the house, boarded a plane, train, or bus, because we never knew when we needed something. When the baby does what babies do in a crowded subway, you’ll be very pleased with yourself when you can wipe it right up.

2. Take Advantage of Baby Perks

I wouldn’t normally suggest using your baby other than for maternal fulfillment and the satisfaction that comes with motherhood. However, are you traveling anywhere, ever? Then by all means show off your baby.

Passports in hand (babies need those, too) we entered the winding queue to board our flight to Rome. Very shortly after a worker asked us to follow him, where he lead us to the front of the line. We were given priority seating, our stroller and bags were carried for us, and all because of the drooling, sticky, babe we held in our arms!

I can’t guarantee this type of service everywhere, but it’s certainly worth a try. I guess they’ve realized if baby ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.

baby

3. Make Lunch Plans, Not Dinner Plans

Or better yet, make no plans at all.

It may be tempting to make a reservation for a romantic dinner when you’re visiting the City of Love. Believe me though, you will not be feeling the love when other diners shoot you a death glare for bringing your child to their fancy night out.

Maybe your child is an angel who sits sweetly in silence while keeping their food down and wiping themselves with a napkin. Or maybe your child is like the 99% of children who don’t.

If you don’t want to give up on the romantic opportunities that traveling can provide, don’t! Buy a nice bottle of wine and pack a romantic picnic. Find a spot with a view where you can spread out and enjoy your evening without judgmental looks.

4. Use Strollers for Double Duty

baby travel gear - baby stroller
You’d be surprised to find out how much you can stuff under the stroller.

In addition to lugging around your fully equipped diaper bag through ancient ruins, you might also pick up a package or two. With Zaras on every corner in Rome, it’s hard not to.

Without taking over your baby’s prime real estate, stow your purchases, handbags, umbrellas, and other equipment under the stroller. If you have an entourage, ask someone to hold the baby while your arms rest a bit and you load your gear in the stroller.

Just make sure you can keep everything together and you can safely board and exit trains and buses. Better yet, use some tools that will ensure safety such as… {see next point}

baby carrier
There’s a baby in there! Here’s my brother-in-law with the precious cargo.

5. Choose the Right Baby Travel Gear

Ergo Baby Carrier

Use a baby carrier like the Ergo baby carrier to remain hands free when traveling by tube. If you don’t have a stroller, this will free up your hands if you’re on a crowded bus or tube with no seats. It also features a small hood so your baby is safe from rain.

Stroller Hooks

Another tool we used and abused are stroller hooks, namely the stroller hook carabiner. They hook on to the stroller handle so you can hang just about anything with a loop. Very helpful when visiting markets and buying souvenirs.

Individual Baby Formula Bags

Lastly, portable bags of formula are another great idea. Pre-measured single serve tubes are more dependable than bringing a twisted baggie of formula. Tear off the top, dump the contents in the bottle and just add water. Simple and convenient.

My Best Tip for Traveling with Baby

The best tip I can give when traveling with your own child or someone else’s is to be flexible.

Choose one sight to see per day and enjoy taking things slowly. If you are prepared and have everything you need to have a safe trip, everyone should be able to do what he or she wants.

In Rome, we saw the Coliseum and the Roman Forum in the morning. We grabbed a casual lunch at an outdoor café, and when we knew the baby would get sleepy, we boarded a bus tour of Rome. You know, the kind where you can hop off and check out the sights a little closer then hop back on another bus.

But with baby sleeping soundly and diaper bag on the ground, I’ll let you guess how many times we hopped off that bus!

baby passed out
When it’s hot outside, wet a clean burpcloth with cold water from a water bottle or fountain and drape it over baby’s head to keep him cool.

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Gear We Use

Organization

Packing Cubes – Organize your luggage with the lightweight, durable and compressible Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter Compression Cubes.


Backpacks + Daypacks

Pacsafe – Since they come with extra theft-resisting features, Pacsafe bags make you a more confident traveler. We especially love this bag.

Sea to Summit – Of all the Sea to Summit products, our most recommended is the fits-in-your-palm, super packable Ultra-Sil Daypack.


Personal Care

Nalgene Toiletry Bottles – These leak-free toiletry bottles and tubs come in all sizes – even super tiny, helping minimalists pack it all without bulk.

Turkish Towels – They’re thinner than most travel towels, and they actually cover your body! We can’t get enough of Turkish towels for travel.


Clothing

Speakeasy Supply Co. – They make the awesome hidden pocket infinity scarves that are perfect for stashing secret cash, lip balms, and passports.

Anatomie – Anatomie travel pants come with luxury prices, but they offer many benefits for travelers. See our review of the famous Skyler pants.

Travel Resources

Booking Airfare

Dollar Flight Club – Get flight deal alerts for your preferred departure airport. There is both a free and premium version (recommended for more sweet deals). Members save on average $500 USD per flight!

Skyscanner – Skyscanner is our preferred site for searching flights. They offer unbiased search results and are free from hidden fees. You can also book your hotels and rental cars.


Accommodation

Airbnb – Airbnb is the best place to book out apartments around the world. Sign up using this link to get $37 USD off your first stay booking + $14 USD towards an experience booking!

Booking.com – Search for hotels, hostels, and apartments using this one resource. Use it for flights, car rentals, and airport taxis as well.

Hostelworld – For hostels, Hostelworld remains our number one source for booking stays. Choose from straight up hostels, budget hotels and bed and breakfasts.

Trusted Housesitters – Save money on travel accommodation by becoming a housesitter. Housesitters often have extra duties, like caring for pets and gardens.

Reader Interactions

Comments

  1. Coral says

    Of course you can always dump the formula and feed the baby yourself. Cheaper and more convenient. Healthier too. No need for sterilising equipment either. That will be three things less to carry.

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