Preparing for Baby's First Trip

Luckily, infants are super-portable—especially before those little legs (and vocal chords) are up to speed. Get your crew all packed and ready to go with these helpful tips.
ByErin van Vuuren
July 26, 2018
Mom packing a suitcase for a trip on her bed.
Image: Leo Patrizi

How to pack

Packing clothes is fairly simple: Have a spitter-upper? Bring extra bibs and onesies. Fairly tidy tot? You may get away with a few less items. Pack the same amount of outfits that baby would go through at home, and don’t forget pj’s and socks too. For long trips, call ahead to check for laundry facilities. “When we went to Hawaii, tons of moms were washing clothes,” says Bumpie Lori R. “I’d never thought of that.”

Remember: Unless you’re climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, you can probably buy diapers, wipes and so on once you arrive. You’ll only need to pack enough for the flight or drive, plus a few extras for any delays. Do pack the lotions and shampoos that baby needs (be sure to check the latest information on Transportation Security Administration (TSA) container restrictions—they always seem to change), as well as medicines that could come in handy. “You don’t want to lug a screaming, feverish baby on a midnight hunt for Motrin,” Lori says.

And whatever you do, don’t skimp on the toys. Carry a nice stash to keep baby distracted along the way, including old favorites and a few new ones. Just leave any squeaky, rattly or talking toys at home — fellow travelers will be grateful. And don’t forget the snacks (for baby and parents).

Prepping to schlep

Infant clothes are tiny—it’s all that gear that gives baby trekking a bad name. To avoid an overloaded dash through Terminal B, invest in multipurpose items. Look for double-duty gear to lighten your load, like the gogo Kidz Travelmate, which turns your car seat into a stroller. $90,

To further cut down on gear, call ahead to see what your hotel can provide (a crib? bottle warmers?). Also, check to see if it offers baby-proofing items. If not, grab a supply of pipe cleaners for tying up loose cords and some masking tape for covering outlets and securing washcloths over sharp table corners.

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If you’re flying, call the airline to check its policies on baby gear. For long flights, seriously consider purchasing an extra seat and bringing the car seat along. “Infant in lap” can get very old after a few hours, and it’s really not as safe if there’s turbulence or other problems. “We’ve always said that if we can’t afford a seat for our son, then we can’t afford the trip,” says another Bumpie, Jill P. (Vacations are for relaxing, after all.) If you do plan on holding baby for the flight, go for a window seat—it’ll keep those tiny arms and legs out of the aisle and away from the drink cart rolling by.

Also, to make getting through security go a lot faster, keep the items you have to pull out at the checkpoint easy to access. Put your plastic bags at the top of your carry-ons so you can open the bag and grab and go. The TSA allows you to bring more than 3.4 ounces of baby formula, breast milk or juice through the security checkpoint if you separate the items from the liquids, gels and aerosols in your quart-size zip-top bag, if you declare that you have those items to security officers at the checkpoint and if you present the items for additional inspection when you reach the X-ray.

Traveling by car? Make sure toys and snacks are within arm’s reach and have a diaper bag packed for the bathroom, restaurant and sightseeing breaks.

Whether you’re hopping on a plane, bus, car or train, you may want to schedule the journey during your child’s naptime or bedtime (if he’ll sleep away from his crib)—sleeping babies don’t get bored—and bring along pj’s, books or anything else included in your usual routine. The more baby feels at home, the easier the journey.

Infant hot spots

Haven’t picked your trip yet? These locales are all set up for baby’s first voyage.

> Club Med has Baby Club Med programs at 17 different destinations worldwide, offering stage-specific child care for babies four months and older, plus special play areas, baby convenience rooms and lots of available gear for your room.

> Beaches resorts in Jamaica and Turks and Caicos offer a Kids Camp, which provides infant and toddler child care with certified nannies. Also, the resorts’ Sesame Street at Beaches programs and Sesame Street Character Breakfasts are all the rage with the diaper-wearing set.

> Four Seasons hotels are a favorite among baby bearers—the luxury chain spans six continents and many locations supply pint-size welcome amenities like tiny bathrobes, baby baths, baby food, strollers, teddy bears and nightlights too!

Dealing with flight frustrations

Airline restrictions and cutbacks can make traveling with baby a pain. Try these tips for a smoother ride, straight from real moms.

> Liquid limitations: “TSA allows milk, formula and juice. If you need more than one or two bottles, carry empty bottles and fill them on the other side of security. Airport bars will fill your bottles with water for free.” — Maggie B.

> Baggage restrictions: “We ordered the diapers, wipes and formula to be delivered to our destination. That saved a ton of space.” — Penelope M.

> Big delays: “Always make sure you have extra supplies: clothes for you and baby, diapers and wipes, small toys/books.” —Sara R.

> Expensive airplane food: “I bring granola bars, animal crackers, Fig Newtons, Goldfish — stuff we both can eat.” — Caren D.

> Security checkpoint madness: “The best thing for us was to keep our son in the stroller until the last minute. I then walked through with him and put him right back in the stroller before picking up our other things.” — Krista B.

> Crowded planes: “You don’t have to board early. Remember that it takes 30-plus minutes for everyone else to board, and all of that is just extra time your child will be spending in a cramped seat getting antsy.” — Lori R.

Updated November 2016

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