Baby Travel Hacks: How to Travel Around the World with a Baby Like a Pro

The Best Expert Tips and Baby Travel Hacks on Traveling Around the World with a Baby – from someone who does it for a living!

After exploring the world with our baby boy, I can’t recommend traveling in the first year highly enough. But traveling with a baby can be intimidating, which is why I’m here to make it easier.  I recently shared a post on Instagram about how important it is to travel with your little one, and I cannot believe how overwhelmingly positive the response was!!! But so many of you still had questions – what really were the hacks to make traveling with a baby easier? What were the MOST important things you need to know when traveling in the first year of a baby’s life? Well, here goes – the ultimate list of BABY TRAVEL HACKS!!!

Learn to nap on the go! 

Rigid nap schedules are great… for parents who never travel! We’ve found that teaching Harrison to nap on-the-go has been a life-saver when it comes to traveling with a baby. Even when you’re used to a rigid schedule, don’t worry! You’ll find your babies are surprisingly adaptable (when they’re young, at least). A little white noise on the iPhone, an aerated wrap or blanket over the stroller to block out some light, and a slightly bumpy walk around town is usually all you need to zonk out your little one for an hour or so while you’re out and about. 

JETSET TIP: Make sure your travel stroller reclines for optimal naps on the go! This is our MINU travel stroller, that does! 

Time Zones, Schmime Zones

Navigating time zone changes with a baby is one of the most common questions I receive on instagram. Trust me, it’s less scary than you think!!! We went all the way from the US to Bali with an 8 month old, and then all the way from the Maldives to the US with a 9-month old, and, now, I feel like we can do anything! 

If you’re going far away, it will take at least a couple of days to adjust to a new schedule with your baby. But remember, that’s about how long it takes you, as well! So give yourselves and your baby grace when it comes to adjusting. Your sleep may not be perfect those first couple nights – but wouldn’t you rather have a worse night’s sleep in paradise than a perfect night’s sleep at home? I know I would.

Although your baby’s internal clock may tell him or her that it’s evening, try to keep baby busy during the day and spend as much time as possible outside in the light during the day. Your baby should only take a day or two to adjust to any changes when traveling.

Also, if you want to prepare before the trip, you can try ‘time zone training’ and moving baby’s eating, napping, and sleeping schedule up a half hour at a time, then an hour, for about a week or two before your trip, to get them just a little bit closer to your new time zone. We’ve also had a lot of success breaking our longer-distance trips up a bit, so stopping over in California for a few days on the way to Hawaii or Bora Bora, for example, can help a lot with the time zone change. 

Decide Whether the Time Zone You’re Traveling to is Worth Adjusting Baby’s Schedule

If you’re only taking a short trip one or two time zones away, it actually may be better to just keep your child on their normal sleep schedule and eating times, naps, bedtime an hour earlier or later, etc. Sometimes, when we travel just one time zone away, we’ll just make our baby boy’s bedtime and nap times an hour different. It’s not always the solution for longer trips or when you cross multiple time zones, but for quick trips with a baby, it can make it easier than trying to get your little one to adjust to a whole new routine while traveling, this is an especially key tip if you’ve already got a good sleep schedule going!

Also, consider adjusting but not ALL the way, so if baby normally sleeps 7-7 at home, maybe they’re sleeping 8-8 or 9-9 on vacation because that’s just easier time zone wise. Be flexible, and find what works best for you guys. 

Don’t overpack!

Always ask for what baby amenities are available at your hotel! I learned early on in traveling with a baby that every luxury hotel we went to would leave baby amenities in his crib when we requested a crib (think baby soap, shampoo, baby lotion, etc) meaning I didn’t have to bring his baby shampoo, which was one less thing to pack. At some of the nicer hotels we stayed (like Rosewood Mayakoba, they even had diaper pails, a baby bath, a bottle sanitizer, and a monitor ready for us in our room!). 

And, aside from complimentary baby amenities, look up this company! They offer baby equipment rentals in destinations all over!!! You can rent clean, safe & insured baby gear rentals – things like strollers, cribs, wagons, beach gear, toys, high chairs, baby baths, bouncers and swings, etc! It’s a genius company, that makes travel so much easier for parents who already have so many bags to bring! 

Wearing our favorite matching family swimwear

Schedule flights during nap time

We’ve found that when we’re smart about our flight schedule, flying is SO easy with the baby. We love to schedule flights over his nap time, so that he’s naturally sleepy for most of the flight!

Bring a really good travel stroller (or your regular stroller!)

Keep in mind that standard baggage allowances make exceptions for baby gear: Most airlines will allow you to check a stroller and car seat for free.

The Uppababy MINU is my top travel stroller pick thanks to its ease of opening and one-handed fold-down, compact design, storage, and all-around simplicity of operation. I also love the way it handles tougher terrain (read: from cobblestones in Europe, to dirt-paved paths in Hawaii). The storage is unbeatable – and I always have it full of baby stuff, and the UPF 50-plus sunshade lends sun protection on a walk or if you want your baby to take a nap in the stroller at the beach. It’s nice and lightweight, and the infant car seat plops right on there – so while it’s not one piece, it’s 2 very easy pieces.

Here’s what I love about our travel stroller

  • One hand, one-step fold
  • All-wheel suspension
  • Roomy seat with adjustable recline and leg rest
  • Large, easy-to-access storage basket that we always use for all of our baby gear!
  • Extendable, zip-out UPF 50+ canopy for protecting your babe from the sun!
  • 16.9 lbs – lightweight!
  • From-birth option using the UPPAbaby Bassinet, or the MESA infant car seat – which we used for the first year!

I also added these handy hooks so that I can hang random bags on the stroller bar (very handy in the airport, but please be careful not to put anything too heavy on there that would tip the stroller!!!!!) and I added a stroller caddy and a cupholder from Amazon –  highly recommend! I love that this stroller has so much storage (for a travel stroller!) 

 

Gate check the stroller, don’t worry about putting it in the overhead bin 

Unless you’re traveling internationally somewhere where you won’t be able to pick it up at the gate during your layover (when you’ll need it!). But most places around the world, we choose to gate check the stroller for ease (less things to bring on the plane when I already have enough in my carry on’s for the whole family!)

Always Bring a Car Seat

You will need one for your destination, and it’s great to have for the plane as well! Even if you haven’t purchased a seat for your little one (because under-two’s fly free), domestic airlines allow you to bring a car seat on board if there’s an open seat on the plane, meaning you might luck into a seat for your baby for free! (We have gotten lucky many times before, especially when we try to fly at less popular times!). When you check-in, ask the gate agent if the flight is full: if it’s not, you can go ahead and bring the car seat through security to the gate. If the flight suddenly becomes full, you can gate-check it with your stroller (we pack both in this lightweight duffel that folds right up in the under-carriage of our stroller. If your baby has outgrown their infant car seat, it is definitely worth investing in a lightweight and compact convertible car seat solely for your travels— my go-to is this Cosco one, since it weighs just 10 pounds. 

By the way, you do not need to travel with your car seat base if your car seat is approved for use without its base (our car seat, the MESA infant car seat, is approved for use without a base, and we attach it right onto our MINU travel stroller, making it super easy).

Always Be Seat Savvy

If your baby is less than 6 months old, and you’re flying internationally, reserve a bulkhead seat to take advantage of the bassinet! (Yes, most planes have baby bassinets available, if you know how to reserve them!). And, even if your baby is older and sitting on their own, I like the bulkhead because it becomes my baby boy’s play space on a long flight! When he’s traveling as a lap-child, it’s a godsend to have somewhere to sit him to play that isn’t my lap even if only for a few minutes! And once they’re a toddler, it gives them an area to stand and get their zoomies out a bit.

If the bulkhead isn’t an option, try reserving an aisle and a window seat with the middle open between you. This way, you hope that the middle seat doesn’t get booked and you might get lucky with a full row. And if it does get booked, you simply ask the middle person to switch with one of you! 

Don’t be the first to board, be the LAST to board!

This tip is especially important for those traveling with toddlers! While family boarding is great for getting your seats and making sure you get your stroller checked and bags put away, it’s not necessarily the best for making sure your baby or toddler doesn’t go too stir crazy on a long flight. By pre-boarding, you’re sometimes adding 45 whole minutes onto your flying time – and it’s a stressful time for toddlers, with everyone walking past them, bumping bags onto the aisles, etc. This is my expert tip on what to do instead:

Have dad board first, during family boarding, with the bags, gate check the stroller, and claim the seats. Then, mom boards LAST with the kid(s). I’m talking last person on the jet-way. This way, you maximize time getting energy out in the airport vs stressful time forced in a seat on the plane, and you minimize your time spent in flight! 

Baby Wear in the airport

Baby carriers are lifesavers when traveling. By wearing your baby through security (which TSA allows in the USA!), it leaves you with two free hands for strollers, carry-ons, boarding passes, passports, etc. Plus, I then can use the stroller for my other bags!! 

And, once you reach your destination you’ll find baby-wearing also comes in handy when visiting museums, beaches, or other places where strollers either aren’t practical! I also find the baby carrier helpful on the plane if my baby boy falls asleep on me and I want my hands free.

This is the exact carrier we have – but it comes in many colors! You can get 10% off using this link and the code JETSET.

Get Baby their own Global Entry

Parents/guardians who are enrolled in TSA PreCheck® are allowed bring their children with them through a TSA PreCheck® lane. However, if you have global entry, you need to enroll your baby in their own global entry by submitting their separate application. 

Know when to get baby their own seat, and when to take advantage of the free in-lap ticket

When traveling with a baby, you have two options: get them their own seat (at full price), or fly with them for free by carrying them in your lap (up until they’re two years old). Deciding to get your baby their own seat or fly with them in lap depends on many factors like the price of the ticket (is it worth it to you to have baby in their own seat for the flight and free up your hands for some of the time if they’re napping), the age of your baby (when our baby boy was just a few months old, he slept so often it was very worth it to us to have him in his own seat, as he’d more likely sleep in the car seat, but, as he got to more 6-12 months old, he wanted to be in my arms the whole time anyway, and would cry when he got in his car seat, making spending money on a separate ticket sometimes useless. This decision for me also often has to do with the duration of the flight for me, as on a shorter flight, I’m completely fine having him in my lap, but for a longer flight (or say, all the way to Bali, where we took him at 8 months old!), I definitely wanted more space for him and to be able to stretch my arms every so often! 

Family-Friendly Doesn’t Mean it Can’t Be Luxe

Family-friendly doesn’t just have to mean only sticking to crowd-filled vacays like Disneyworld (although, TBH, we had a GREAT time there doing it luxe). We’ve done some of our most luxurious travel ever this year with our baby boy Harrison. Luxury travel is not only absolutely possible with kids, but family travel is even more special (no one deserves to be pampered and relax more than a new mom and dad!) My baby boy has been on over 70 flights in his first year of life! And we’ve found that most five-star hotel chains have their own special programs for babies and little kids, I’ve found brands like Four Seasons, Rosewood and St. Regis are some of the most baby-friendly luxury hotel brands, and all offer amazing things to do for kids – from kids clubs with varying levels of activities, to kids pools, to play structures, and even babysitting options!

Pack a pharmacy

I travel with everything baby might need if he gets sick on the road, because I don’t want to rely on medicine in foreign countries should something happen! We travel with infant Tylenol, a thermometer, nail clippers, tweezers, vaseline or aquaphor, saline spray, an oral syringe, and disinfecting spray/wipes.

Get a travel baby monitor (because, nope, your at-home wifi baby monitor won’t work in a hotel abroad)

Something I didn’t know as a first-time mom was that I’d need a ‘travel’ designated baby monitor as well as our at home monitor. This is because the at-home baby monitor you probably use (Nanit, if you’re like me), is connected to wifi, and requires a simple at-home wifi connection that won’t work at ALL when you try to connect it to a hotel or other wifi abroad. For this reason, you’ll need a monitor like this if you hope to keep an eye on your babe while traveling abroad. 
NOTE: We don’t always travel with one! If we’re all in one room, it’s not necessary, but if you’re in a villa or house, or a beachfront hotel room and going outside and want to keep an eye on baby napping inside or something like that, or sailing with a baby, it can be great. This is the one we used when sailing Italy with our baby in tow.

This baby monitor doesn’t use wifi so works great abroad.

Get a hotel room with a private pool so that you can enjoy nap time to the fullest

A major luxury travel mom hack is getting a hotel room with its own private pool set up so you can enjoy your baby’s nap times no problem!!! And maybe even put your feet up a bit and tap into that beach read you brought. Major mom win. 

 

Slumberpods are your new best friend!

This handy contraption goes with us on every trip, along with this travel noise machine. Why? Because it means that baby can sleep in your room and you can be doing other things like moving around the room, watching a show or movie, etc. Whether it’s nap time or an early bedtime, this is a travel GAMECHANGER. 

We don’t travel without ours!!!

 

 

Pack Chip Clips

If you’re not packing the slumberpod, consider bringing chip clips – which are a great hack for keeping hotel room curtains closed when you want your baby to sleep well (and yourselves!). Nothing is worse than trying to get some rest in a new place, and your baby or toddler is up and ready to go at 5 a.m. because the daylight starts shining in.

Pack EXTRA wipes & EXTRA diapers

Yes, we travel with our diapers vs buying them in the destination because we have a specific brand we love – and often it’s hard to find good diapers abroad! So we travel with ours. And I can tell you from experience, you should always pack more than you think you’ll need.

Bring disposable changing pads for easy, clean diaper changes on the go (or on the plane)

These definitely come in handy while traveling!

Portable diaper bag dispenser 

We use this one from Munchkin – these come in handy for any diaper changes where you may not be immediately near a trash can (i.e. on the plane!)

Consider bringing a travel high chair!

We definitely don’t need this on every trip – but it’s great on the ones where we do (think: if you’re staying in a house, on a boat, or somewhere where you’ll be eating, and you may not have one there!)

This high chair is what we use Many people tell me it’s even the highchair they use at home! But it’s SO good for travel, you just plop it onto any table (so can bring to restaurants, etc too) it’s super safe and really easy – my son loved it! 

If bringing breast milk, freeze it & put in a cooler

If bringing breast milk with you, freeze it, that way TSA can’t screen it, which will save you time. Otherwise, just arrive a little earlier as they will test any milk or formula. 

cute breastmilk coolers!

top rated breastmilk storage container for travel

Sunnylife Large Cooler Bag in Coral business & pleasure co. Premium Cooler in Laurens Sage Stripe 

and don’t forget ice packs like these specially-made-for-breast milk ice packs on Amazon

 

Pack extra clothes for your baby, AND for you in your carry on

You will definitely need extra outfits for travel days for a baby. I also like him to have long sleeves on planes but have a shorter sleeved outfit available for when we land if we’re going somewhere warm (or if the plane happens to get hot!) Also, if there’s a blowout, or spit up, you’ll be glad you had an extra outfit for them, and for yourself, too, since there could be messes.

My outfit details here

Relax, let go and HAVE FUN!

You did your best to research, prep and plan your trip out perfectly, so now is time to go with the flow and trust that everything will go well. And remember, your energy on a travel day = THEIR energy!! They will feed off of you!!

It sometimes can take some patience, flexibility, and practice to travel easily with a baby or a toddler, but let’s remember – traveling with a baby is not rocket science. It’s fun!!!! And, trip after trip you’ll learn more about what works best for you, your unique baby, and your family and you’ll learn all the tips and tricks that will make traveling seamless with your little ones.

 

 

 

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Christina is a leading luxury lifestyle and travel blogger with over 2 million readers. Follow her on instagram @jetsetchristina.

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