“Do it before they get too old,” “Do it before the can crawl,” “Before they turn 6 months is key,” “Good luck you are brave” and the list goes on of things we heard over and over again about traveling with a baby. It should be no surprise to you all that Matt and I LOVE to travel. It has always been a passion of ours and one we look forward to sharing with our kids. We much rather save and spend our money on travel than other things. While so many people told us we only have this small window to travel with kids, I am back from our trip and here to report that we will continue to do so! Were there moments of stress, anxiety and worry…YES! But were there WAY more moments creating memories, sharing laughs and documenting our trip and time as a family of 3 (so Logan can remember one day, ha), most definitely!
Before this trip I would spend hours on Google searching for any and all “traveling with a baby” tips and tricks. I did the best I could for planning and packing and am excited to write this post and share our experience with you all and let you know that you CAN travel with a baby and it is fun!
I have to give a big shout out to Ashley, Logan’s sleep coach, who helped me mentally prepare for this trip and “messing up his schedule” that we have worked so hard on. I will touch way more on this under the “sleep” section, but she was a SAINT and put me at ease, came up with a game plan, helped us adjust and then reassured us he would get back on track when we returned. I will drop her e-mail here incase any of you are looking for a magical sleep coach for your little one 😉 firstname.lastname@example.org
This post will be lengthy, I just want to give you as much information in one spot as possible, but will break it up by topic so it is hopefully easy to navigate! As always, if I missed anything or you have questions, leave them in the comments below.
WHAT TO PACK (aside from clothes, etc – will cover bottles and supplies in the feeding section!):
Just a funny little story to start, Matt thought we could fit everything for Logan in one half of one side of his suitcase (aka they would share). I legit laughed out loud and asked him if he was out of his mind?! For 10 days away we had a standard suitcase (this checked bag size) for Logan and a small duffle bag (I wanted to bring a set of everything on the flight for him just incase his bag was lost). The combo of these things fit everything we needed perfectly and it was nice because by the end of the trip we used up a ton of diapers and had a bit more room.
- Diapers – At first we thought we would only bring enough for 3 days and then purchase while there, but talking to a friend who travels a ton with their baby said you didn’t want to risk trying out a new diaper brand for the first time and having them get diaper rash, etc. If we weren’t going abroad and knew we could easily find the diapers he uses (Pamper Swaddlers), then I would have brought less. For our trip I packed 1 full bag of diapers if this makes sense (we buy the 168 count which comes broken down in two sealed bags with two rows in each. We brought one sealed bag and that was plenty).
- Wipes – I kept two travel size packs in our diaper bag (36 count/pack) and brought 1 normal size (Kirkland wipes – they are the BOMB, so soft). This ended up being the perfect amount.
- Sound Machine (portable) – Keep this on you at all times! We used on the plane, for naps in the stroller, at night on his crib/pack and play. Just make sure you pick up a couple of these travel adaptors (we brought 2) so you can easily charge it when not in use. This adaptor is awesome because you can charge USB cords (4 at a time, and that is how you charge the sound machine) at the same time as your traditional plug. It also has three switches and will work for Europe, China, UK, UAE, Australia and America.
- Trash Bag (or some sort of bag to put dirty stuff in) – Babies are babies. They spit up, have blow outs, etc. and while traveling you can’t always just toss it in the wash. Having a bag for all of Logan’s dirty stuff made things so much easier and kept what was clean, clean inside his suitcase!
- Blankets – This could vary depending on the climate where you are headed! We brought 1 muslin swaddle blanket, one fuzzy blanket and this car seat cover (choose a darker color so it resembles nighttime and helps them sleep). I wont lie, they were both pretty nasty by the end of the trip, but worked throughout and we really were trying to limit what we brought. Make sure you have these on the flight if possible, planes can be chilly!
- Baby Shampoo/Soap Combo – I brought along just the hair/soap combo, we love Tubby Todd and I like how the cap isn’t a pump, which makes things easier when traveling and needing to close it back up. I just tossed in a zip lock bag to be safe and prevent any leaks. We used the towels and washcloths provided and either Matt or I would take him in the shower with us or the bathtub, we clearly didn’t lug the seat we use at home! I will say, it was a two man job, one holds him and the other suds him up and rinses him.
- NAIL CLIPPERS – Sounds insane, but Logan’s nails grow so quickly I used these twice on our trip. It honestly was great and would have been a mess without them!
- His monitor – We only needed this in our AirBNB, otherwise he was in our room. Overall only used it 3 nights, but still needed to bring it along.
- What I packed and never used – This small baby laundry detergent…I was hoping our AirBNB had a washer and dryer, but no such luck! I also picked up this portable black out curtain, ended up that the hotels all were find with the dark curtains and his room in our AirBNB was tucked back with a tiny window that didn’t let in much light. I made sure to pack any medicine we might need (baby Tylenol, gas relief, etc.), luckily we never needed any of it, but glad I had it on hand.
AIRPORT + FLIGHT:
I will start off saying, leave more time than usual, but honestly we flew through the airport and security pretty quick. Aside from both having TSA, from our experience if you have a baby they treat you like royalty and whisk you through any line straight to the front. It was truly incredible!
Doing some research I learned that a diaper bag does NOT count as a personal item, so consider it a bonus! We left our UPPAbaby VISTA at home and used the Nuna PIPA car seat and Nuna TRIV travel stroller (folds with one hand and can fit above in most planes). The nap shade on the Nuna PIPA was a game changer and this car seat can be strapped into a car without the base (we left the base at home, way too heavy and used to traveling in cabs this way in the city).
If you can swing it (for longer flights) I would 110% recommend purchasing an actual seat for your baby OR at least make sure you purchase the bassinet option on the plane! We luckily had a seat for Logan, but also requested (key word) a bassinet to only learn that to really secure that you are getting one you have to purchase it. When Matt called the day before our flight to ask, they made it seem like yes we had one, but in actuality we did not. I may have shed a tear or two at first when we discovered this on the plane because I was SO PARANOID with how his first flight would go, but having the seat with his car seat was completely fine! We timed our flight there as an overnight flight, which I would highly recommend. We actually did his entire “bedtime routine” in the airport and put him down for the night in his car seat before getting on the plane. We then just placed him in the car seat on the seat and he was an angel baby and slept the entire flight. Needless to say my anxiety was through the roof at first, but all worked out.
Now, I wish I could say the same for our trip home. Holy moly the first 30 minutes just about did me in I wanted to crawl into his car seat and cry. On the way home it was about 12 hours in the air (with an hour layover in between). He was so exhausted, overtired, his naps kind of went to crap by this point (end of the trip) and on the main/long flight home he LOST HIS SH*T for a better lack of word for the first 30 minutes. I’ve never been so embarrassed, Matt and I both looked at each other and said we have never in our life seen him like this, freaking out, crying, unconsolable, worst part was we couldn’t pick him up because we were taxi-ing, would’t take a paci or bottle, Matt finally ended up picking him up early and he eventually took the bottle and calmed down. There was a split second (or maybe few hours) where I said to myself we will never do this again, but once he calmed down and fell asleep, I just tried to tell myself we did everything in our power to calm him, which people knew and I had hoped that a lot of the people around us are parents and may have went through this at some point. And looking back, I of course would 100% do this again and again with him! I just think I would try and get an overnight flight back home if possible. With the time difference and what not his little body was so thrown off. I will say the best part about our flight home was that there was a downstairs where a bunch of bathrooms were and it turned into the baby hang out area, ha. So when Logan was awake Matt and I would take turns going down with him. When all else fails, Bob Marley “Three Little Birds” and singing “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes” did the trick!
I did bring on the flight a few new toys that were small to try and keep his interest and then we walked around a bunch with him, played music for him and anyone who would ham it up with him for a few minutes was a God send! This all was on our flight home since he slept the entire way there. I also brought on two empty bottles, a room temp water and formula.
Like I mentioned above, I worked with Ashley to come up with a game plan while we were away. In Portugal we were 5 hours ahead of NYC, Spain we were 6. We also then had daylight savings in Spain and then a week later here when we returned home. Needless to say, this is the part that I was the most stressed about. Logan is on a really good schedule and routine while home, which also makes him super predictable. While he obviously isn’t going to instantly adapt to whatever shift in time, we could easily figure out what was bothering him. Ashley had us stick to our same schedule at home while we were there as best we could. AKA 9am Spain time we would put Logan down for a nap just like we would at home (even though it was not 9 am at home). It took him a few days to adjust, but overall he pretty much was sleeping through the nights (the first night he woke up for about 30 minutes freaking out, then when back down). I truly believe this was because of our routine at home.
Now for naps, those pretty much went to crap compared to home. He is used to two, 2 hour long naps in his crib and then a cat nap in his stroller. While away we weren’t going to sit in the hotel room so he took all his naps in the stroller and they varied from 30min – 1.5 hours. By the end of the trip his naps were even worse. I did feel bad because I could tell his little body was just so tired.
Bedtime – Aside from the first night (Ashley really encouraged getting him down in his crib at 7pm just like at home, so we did and ordered room service), Logan is a master at being able to sleep anywhere and through anything for the night. So we would either get him ready for bed at the hotel or take his PJ’s with us and “put him to bed” while out. Just like at the airport, we would do his nighttime routine then place him in the stroller, cover it so it would be dark, turn on the noise machine and he would be good to go. We then would transfer him when back at the room into his crib. Sometimes he would wake up for a second, but would always go down a minute later. We do this at home if going out to eat and can’t get a sitter so we know it works for us and Logan!
IMPORTANT!* – We also tried to plan our meals around when he would be napping. This helped a ton, especially for his naps when they weren’t as long. Dinner would always be around 8pm so we had plenty of time to get him down and head to where we were going.
Room/Crib Logistics – Every hotel had a crib or pack and play so that was easy! Our AirBNB also provided us with one as well. If you are going the AirBNB route and they don’t have something, Matt did find a rental service and it seems like they have them everywhere. If possible we like to have a hotel room with at least a little bit of a suite so we can separate ourselves from Logan. This was helpful the first night when we stayed in and ordered room service and put him to bed early. In Seville, we knew the weather would be nice so we decided to spend a bit more on a room with a balcony. This was great because after dinner we would come back, transfer Logan to his crib and still enjoy our night with a glass of wine on the balcony.
Okay, so currently Logan takes four, 8oz bottles a day and is having solids twice a day.
Formula – We use Holle (it is a European brand) and what I did was pay attention before the trip to see how many days one box would last. I then made sure to bring enough and more with us (even though I likely would find it there, I didn’t want to risk it). I packed a bunch of gallon zip lock bags (double bagged just incase) with the formula and scoop. Because I am paranoid, I ripped the label off the box and stuck it in between the zip lock bags, mainly so at the airport they knew what it was. I also made sure to bring at least one of these gallon bags in his carry-on bag so we had it on the plane and incase any bag was lost! I scattered the rest of the bags throughout each suitcase thinking the chance of all 3 bags not making it was rare. To me having his formula was most important. I then bought water bottles at the airport and we always made sure we had water bottles on hand where we were staying.
Cleaning the bottles – I brought his bottle soap from home and had this travel drying rack and bottle brush.
Solids – So if you guys follow me on Stories, you probably know I have loved making all of Logan’s food and was trying to figure out a game plan for our trip. I did end up bringing 3 organic pouches with us, but then would try soft fruits/veggies that I could mash (banana, avocado, etc.). We used this small bowl with lid, the travel spoon and these disposable bibs were a LIFE SAVER.
RETURNING HOME + BACK ON SCHEDULE:
After our last flight I was quite terrified at how this process would be. 5-6 hour time difference is so much for anyone let alone Logan! It was a rough 2- 3 days, but day 4 back here he was completely back on track (until dang daylight savings here had to toss us for a small other loop). He also started rolling over in the Merlin during the last day or our trip and continued when back home so in addition to adjusting him back to NYC time we also had the transition of loosing the Merlin for sleep and letting him sleep on his belly. Just giving you all the insight/details. During the first few days back it wasn’t so much his sleep (minus the naps were hard, he just wasn’t getting back into the groove), but he was just so so fussy. I think he was confused, still overtired and just trying to figure it all out. I was texting Ashley non stop, but she was reassuring me and continued to provide guidance and sure enough he was back to himself in no time so don’t let that part scare you like it did me!
I don’t know if it is necessarily a regret, but would have been nice to have (also not sure if it would have fit in a suitcase), but we really missed having his BabyBjorn Bounce Chair or honestly any chair for him so we could get ready, etc. It took us a little bit longer because one of us would always have to be with him on the bed or floor (he is a rolling maniac so we couldn’t take any chances).
THAT’S A WRAP!:
Phew, if you hung in and made it to here you are a saint! I truly hope this post is helpful, you can Pin it and come back to it, etc. All in all, would 5,000% do it all over again 😉
ITEMS MENTIONED THROUGHOUT: