Adventuring with a little one can be overwhelming, but these practical tips for traveling with a baby will make it feel much more manageable. After reading this article, you’ll feel encouraged and confident to start planning your dream family vacation.
After taking all types of different trips with our daughter in her first year – from National Parks to European Christmas Markets to traveling Scotland by campervan (and so much more!) – we have learned so much about traveling with a baby.
Why keep all these tips to ourselves when we can share them with you?!
We know how overwhelming it can be, especially when other people tell you how hard it is traveling with kids.
But you know what? It can also be amazing, too.
Traveling with your little one will full your cup, create lifelong memories, and will open your eyes to a totally different way of looking at taking trips.
While traveling with a baby certainly looks different and requires more flexibility and planning, we’re still able to do some pretty epic things. And you can too (if that’s what you want).
Traveling with our daughter has truly been life changing, and we can’t wait for you to experience this magic, too.
Guide to traveling with a baby
- Our story: Read about our travel-style and our background so you understand our approach to traveling with a baby.
- Top tips: Wanna get to the good stuff right away? Jump right down to our top tips for traveling with a baby!
This article is full of practical tips, gear that is actually worth packing, and encouraging advice that will help you feel prepared and confident about traveling with a baby.
We’ll also be discussing some helpful mindsets about traveling with a baby that can transform how you think about it.
Whether you’re an experienced parent or you’re dreaming of someday traveling with a baby, we’ve got tips and advice that will help you feel confident to plan the family trip of your dreams!
As full-time travel bloggers, traveling is one of our biggest passions, and it’s also both of our jobs. So when we found out we were expecting, we knew that travel wouldn’t just stop for us once the baby arrived (like many people warned).
We’ve known for a long time that we’d want to start a family, eventually. So over the years, we (almost subconsciously) took note of all the people we saw traveling with their kids.
- On our 4-day Inca Trail hike to Machu Picchu, there was a family with 4 kids, the youngest of whom was 8 years old.
- In Thailand, we saw countless families living nomadically or traveling with kids of all ages.
- We met a family on the west coast USA, living out of their campervan with two little boys (before it was common!).
We stored up all these acquaintances as “evidence” that traveling with a baby is not only possible, but it can still be adventurous.
We saw it as inspiration and started to dream of all the adventures we could take our little one on. Together, we dreamed about how we could open their eyes to the endless beauty and kindness around the world. And we talked about how traveling with a child would create core memories and forge a bond between us that we just couldn’t replicate at home.
We were excited about this new chapter, and confident we could forge our own path despite what anyone said.
That mindset came in handy because soon after announcing we were expecting a baby, we got a mixed bag of responses:
- “Can’t wait to hear all your advice for traveling with kids!”
- “You’re definitely going to be slowing down and traveling less now.”
- “Travel while your baby is young, because as soon as they can walk, traveling will be over!”
The good, the bad, the well-meaning… we got it all.
We expected people to say how difficult it would be. And if I’m completely honest, those “you won’t be able to travel anymore” comments encouraged us to prove to ourselves that we could in fact travel with a baby. And thrive while doing it.
The truth is, we were prepared for people to tell us we couldn’t travel with a baby. Remember, we had stored up all that “proof” that we weren’t the only ones with these dreams.
Thinking about taking an adventure with your little one?
Be sure to download our complete packing list for traveling with a baby! It’s packed with good suggestions and advice for what has personally worked for us on our travels with a baby.
Whether you’re getting ready for your first ever trip with a baby, or you’re a parenting pro just looking for a few extra tips, we hope this baby travel packing list will serve you well!
Why trust our advice about traveling with a baby?
For years, whenever we saw people traveling with kids, we’d look at each other and say, “Wow, that’s badass. Someday I want that to be us.”
And now we’re doing it which feels both surreal and like we’ve been training for this for years. Because we kind of have.
Prior to having a baby, we traveled to more than 50 countries together and built a business around the travel industry. So travel is something we are not only passionate about, but it’s something we feel very comfortable with.
We made it a point to bring our daughter on some epic trips during her first year of life. And we have so many more family trips planned for the future!
In Juniper’s first year of life, she:
- took 19 flights
- traveled to 9 countries
- visited 14 US states
- explored 4 US National Parks
- went on 2 overnight backcountry camping trips
- lived in a campervan for 4 months
Juniper went on countless hikes, slept in many different places around the world, and made more friends than any other other 1-year-old we know!
She is growing into a very adaptable little human, and we feel so lucky for all of the memories we have already created together.
If you, too, want to travel with a little one, we’re here to share all of the things that have worked for us along the way.
We hope you take the advice that resonates with you and feel empowered to plan and execute your dream family trips!
Why are you here?
I imagine you’re here because you want to know more about traveling with a baby. Ding, ding, ding!!!
Okay, that was obvious. But the rest is a little harder to determine…
- Perhaps you are already a parent, and you want to start adventuring more with your little one but you don’t know where to start.
- Maybe you already travel with your baby a lot, but you’re constantly seeking new tips and advice. Everything helps, right?!
- Maybe you’re expecting, and you want to get a head start on planning some epic trips for when your baby arrives.
- If you are expecting, be sure to check out our list of the best babymoon destinations!
- Or perhaps you aren’t even sure you want to be a parent, and you’re trying to figure out how much, exactly, having a baby would impact your lifestyle and dreams.
You might be feeling excited about the prospect of traveling with a baby. Or confused about how to even get started.
Maybe you’re skeptical about the whole idea of traveling with a little one. Or you’re feeling defeated after being told many times that traveling with a baby is hard, and you’re just looking for some encouragement.
Feel all the feels. They are all valid.
Wherever you’re coming from and whatever you’re feeling, my hope is that you’ll be able to find some nuggets in this article that will speak to you.
Everyone’s journey is different
In this article, we’re sharing tips for traveling with a baby that have worked for us.
That last part of the sentence is important: These are the things that have worked for us, personally.
I will say that we have been privileged that we haven’t had to deal with any major health issues. Our daughter is (for the most part) very easygoing and adaptable. Some of this we can attribute to things we have practiced and experiences that we have exposed her to. But I also know that some of this is pure luck.
Everyone’s parenting journey is different. And every child is different.
You know your child and your comfort level better than anyone. Plus, we all have different priorities and goals and dreams and lifestyles. (Remember, traveling is a big part of our job, so things may look different for you.)
Pick and choose the tips that will work for you. Ignore the ones that won’t.
Psst! After reading through all our tips for traveling with a little one, be sure to read my personal note at the bottom of this article.
Our best tips for traveling with a baby
Let’s dive into the things that have worked for us.
Scroll through them all (there are 40!), or jump to the sections that are most important to you:
- BUILD CONFIDENCE: Feel confident about traveling with a baby
- PLANNING: Planning your trip
- TRAVEL TIPS: Tips for while you’re on your trip
Good to know: Most of these tips are geared toward babies and toddlers (aka under 2 years old). As our daughter grows and our experiences change, we will continue creating resources based on our personal experiences.
1. Start small with “mini adventures”
One of my biggest pieces of advice is to start small. And start early.
In my last weeks of pregnancy, we got out a calendar and made “mini goals” for each week after the baby was born.
They went something like this:
- 1 week old: Go to your favorite coffee shop
- 2 weeks old: Go on a long(ish) walk (we went snowshoeing because it was winter!)
- 3 weeks old: Go to a brewery or event in town
- 4 weeks old: Spend the night away (we booked a cabin in the woods)
- Mini road trip
- Go hiking
- Go to a friend’s house for dinner
- Book a staycation in your own town or a nearby city
- Find a nearby soaking pool (with water temperatures safe for a baby)
- Picnic in a nearby park
Everyone will have different comfort levels, but do what feels good to you.
Having these “mini adventures” on our calendar brought some much-needed structure to our weeks after having a baby. And obviously we knew we could cancel if it didn’t feel right at that time.
These little adventures gave us the confidence to slowly make the excursions bigger, so that we weren’t completely overwhelmed when it came time to board our first international flight.
Note: Even if your little one isn’t a newborn anymore, it’s never too late to schedule some “mini adventures” on your calendar. Base the excursions on the skills you want to practice and the type of trips you want to take.
2. Practice “baby skills” on the go
This kind of ties in with the “mini adventures” above, but make sure that you’re practicing some skills on the go:
- changing diapers in new environments
- napping on the go
- feeding (whether nursing or bottle feeding)
Trust me when I say you won’t want the first time you change your baby’s diaper outside of your house to be at the start of a trip.
Make a point to breastfeed or bottle feed on a walk near your house.
Change a diaper in the coffee shop bathroom instead of waiting until you get home.
It will feel uncomfortable at first. But since you’re close to home, you can always go back and start fresh another day if things don’t go as planned.
Doing this time and time again will make you feel more confident and know what to expect. Plus, it will help your little one get used to environments other than your house.
3. Master the art of napping on the go
Black out curtains, a humidifier, and a bassinet that rocks babe to sleep are great, but we personally knew that we’d be in lots of situations where these wouldn’t be available.
So we were proactive about practicing napping in different situations from the time Juniper was very young.
At home, we had an ideal sleep environment in her room, but we also practiced napping in the living room, in a travel sleeper, and while wearing her in a carrier so she could be adaptable.
Once we felt comfy with it, we practiced napping around town, and eventually on mini trips.
She quickly mastered sleeping just about anywhere:
- her stroller
- in a baby carrier
- in our arms
- in quiet places
- and noisy ones too
Being able to have her sleep in different environments has been a game-changer for us (especially in the earlier months!). It allowed us to get out of the house and not worry about being home at an exact time.
It also made the prospect of traveling with a baby seem so much more attainable when we were newbie parents.
One item that has been helpful for napping on the go:
- Travel sound machine (if you forget this, there are apps and Spotify channels with white noise)
4. Refine your diaper bag
These “mini adventures” I keep talking about will help you realize what you need in many different situations, and what items never get used.
Take note of these things and keep repacking your diaper bag until you have it down.
AKA you have all the essentials (and remember to restock the items that get used up, like diapers and wipes!) and none of the bulk.
5. Put the essentials in a fanny pack diaper bag
Your full-sized diaper bag will come in handy for bringing all the necessities on your trip, so don’t leave it at home. But there will be many times where you won’t want to lug a big backpack around all day.
Wandering historic cobblestone streets of European cities or walking beach trails on a humid island or a hike in the mountains will all be so much more enjoyable without your full-sized diaper bag.
Pack the essentials – diapers, wipes, diaper cream, a binky, medications, small snacks, etc. – into a fanny pack. You can also include any of your personal necessities for the day (chapstick, credit cards and cash, keys, etc.)
I have this fanny pack that is actually made for this purpose (there’s a wet wipes pocket), but you could use any medium to large size fanny pack (like this one). Usually, I just string it over the handle of our stroller so I don’t have to actually wear it. This way, we’re prepared but aren’t bringing the bulk!
Psst! This diaper bag fanny is much cuter than mine, but it’s 3 times the price.
6. Don’t buy all the things
As soon as you get pregnant, it’ll feel like you are constantly being bombarded with ads for all this “essential baby travel gear”.
Plus, there are all these bloggers and influencers who share all the gear that they use (myself included).
And holy cow, it’s overwhelming.
There is just so much stuff out there and it can feel like you need it all.
Spoiler alert: You DON’T.
It’s hard to know what will really make your life easier and what isn’t worth the money or space.
Here’s the best way to really get a feel for what baby gear you need:
- Take those “mini adventures”! I sound like a broken record at this point, but they are truly a low-risk way to find out what items you really need.
- Find a handful of voices you resonate with and trust (a friend, a family member, a blogger/influencer). See what items they recommend and see if it sounds like something you definitely need.
Psst! One way to save money is to search for items on Facebook Marketplace or your local Buy Nothing group. Many first-time parents end up with duplicate items or are keen to sell baby gear after it’s lightly used (since many things won’t be necessary as they grow older). We got so many baby items and nursery furniture this way (and we’ve sold/given a bunch of things away on these platforms too!).
7. Create routines that can be recreated anywhere
While you’re at home, try to create routines that you can recreate anywhere.
Maybe there’s a certain book you read to signify bed time. Or a song before naps. Or the routine of brushing hair and teeth.
These routines are simple and don’t require much, so you can give your little one the cues they look for even when you’re far from home.
8. Pick and choose the advice you follow
As a new parent, it can be really scary even thinking about traveling with a baby for the first time. And it’s even scarier when people you know (and trust) tell you how hard it will be, or how that part of your life is over.
First things first: Tune those people out.
Take the advice that resonates with you, and ignore the rest.
Our personal experience:
I remember when I was pregnant I kept hearing how hard parenting was. The advice came from people who meant well – and who were probably right in many ways – but it made me feel nervous and unequipped.
In the midst of all the warnings, one of Ben’s cousins talked about how much fun being a parent was. She went on and on about how, “yes, it’s work, but it is also the best thing ever!”
In that moment, I remember finally feeling excited rather than scared.
So I decided I would focus on the advice that lifted me up rather than the words that brought anxiety.
Now as Juniper is getting older, we get similar well-meaning advice from people who say things like, “Traveling when they’re this age is easy. Just wait until she is walking. Then, your work is cut out for you!”
The “just wait until ” advice doesn’t sit well with me. So now I just ignore it.
Take the advice that makes you feel encouraged, and leave the rest.
Yes, that applies to this list.
The tips we’re sharing are things that worked for us. If something doesn’t sit well with you, ignore it and listen to the pieces of advice that feel right.
Everyone’s parenting journey is different. You’re in charge of yours. Nobody else.
9. Work on your mindset
Read the sentence below and internalize it:
People have kids in every country of the world.
Unless you’re going to a really remote region or an active war zone, bringing your child on a trip isn’t anything unheard of. Other people have brought their children to the destination you’re dreaming about, so why can’t you?
If traveling with your child is important to you, you can make it happen.
10. Adjust your expectations
Traveling with our baby has been one of the most empowering and rewarding things we’ve ever done.
But it has also included moments of exhaustion and frustration.
Like many people, we probably don’t share enough of those moments publicly on social media. (Although I’m trying to work on that!)
I truly think that for most people, traveling with a baby will be a wonderful experience as long as you have realistic expectations…
Think about what travel looked like before kids and what it will look like now. Consider what will be the biggest changes.
This will help ensure your expectations are realistic and set you up for having amazing experiences with less frustration.
These are some of the differences for us:
- Plane rides are less relaxing than they used to be. We used to love watching movies and vegging out in the air. We can still do that when Juniper falls asleep, but the hours in between can be a bit exhausting trying to keep her occupied in a small space.
- Don’t worry too much though, the flight is just a small part of the journey and we have some tips for flying with a baby that will help a ton!
- Traveling with a baby means we usually need to move more slowly, and we are able to do less each day than we would without a baby.
- Sometimes we need to cancel plans or turn around from a hike early because our daughter just isn’t having a great day. We’ve found we need to be a lot more flexible and be prepared for some plans to just not work out.
- We need to think carefully about the accommodations we choose and the activities we plan to do.
- Good news: We’ve got practical tips for choosing accommodation with a baby!
- We can’t just pop into a bar for a late-night drink if we feel like it. And there are plenty of cool bucket list activities that just don’t allow children. (Aka no more scuba diving together for a while!) Still working through my FOMO with this, but there are still plenty of epic things we can do, so I’m trying to focus on that.
11. Think about your why
Between logistics and packing, traveling with a baby requires a whole different level of planning. And it can get overwhelming. Especially when you have family or friends who aren’t all that encouraging.
When you start to get frustrated or overwhelmed, think about why you want to travel with your baby.
Is it to feel like yourself again and pursue a hobby you love?
Is it to create memories as a family?
Is it to show your child the world and see it through their eyes?
All of the above?
Focusing on the why will make the process – frustrations and all! – much more bearable.
Here are some examples of why you might want to travel with a baby:
- It fills your cup.
- It shows your child to prioritize things that make them happy.
- It shows them the world is so much bigger than your community.
- It gives them the opportunity to meet and interact with people different from themselves.
- It teaches them flexibility.
- It creates lifelong memories.
- It may introduce them to a forever hobby or skill.
- It teaches them to cherish experiences over things.
- You can grow and bond as a family.
- You can push your comfort levels together.
And here’s one more that I’ll add to the list:
- It’s easier than you think. (Hopefully this article helps make it feel more doable!)
Write your “whys” on post-it notes and stick them around your house. Journal about it. Set your phone screen to be a picture that motivates you.
Do whatever it takes to remind yourself of why you want to make traveling with a baby a priority.
12 Talk about what makes you nervous with your travel partner
Still have some nerves?
That’s totally normal. In fact, I’d be a little worried if you didn’t have anything that you were nervous about.
It can really help to talk out these feelings with your partner.
Maybe you just need them to listen to you and validate your concerns. Or perhaps walking through the scenarios that you’re most uncomfortable with together and discussing what you’d do in each situation will make you feel more prepared.
Whatever the case, getting your worries out in the open will help ensure you’re both on the same page and there for each other.
13. Don’t stress too much about the flight
The flight is just one (tiny) fraction of your trip. And in many cases, it will not be nearly as bad as you’re making it out to be in your head.
Think of it this way: Most people on flights have headphones in (watching movies or listening to music) and won’t even notice if your baby is being fussy.
That realization made me feel a lot better before taking our first flight with a baby! (Hopefully it helps you, too.)
We took 19 flights (legs) with our daughter before she turned one, and we gathered all our top advice and created an entire guide full of tips for flying with a baby that should help ease your nerves and make you feel confident about boarding that plane!
In short: Don’t let your nerves about the flight prevent you from going!
14. Start with a trip that’s within your comfort zone
Just like we recommend starting with “mini adventures” near home so you can build your confidence, make your first trip with a baby one that is within your comfort zone.
Maybe this means you return to a place you’ve already been to.
Or maybe this means you travel to a country where English is the native language (or widely spoken), so you don’t have to worry about language barriers.
Make the actual trip one that doesn’t stress you out or push your boundaries too much. This way, you can focus on getting the hang of this whole traveling with a baby thang so that you can plan bigger, bolder trips for the future.
15. Pack as light as possible
This is honestly a tough one because I truly think it comes down to finding a balance between packing light and making sure you have all the essentials (many of which are really freaking bulky).
We’ve got lots of advice on the best gear for traveling with a baby, but in general, less is more. Make sure the items you’re bringing are going to be used and won’t just be dead weight.
And truly, bring as few toys as possible. You will thank me when you’re traveling around with ease because you ditched half the toys you thought you needed.
Psst! Want to know what baby gear we personally recommend? We’ve gotcha covered with our favorite baby travel gear.
16. Remember: you can get diapers everywhere in the world
Personally, I don’t stress too much about diapers because you can buy them everywhere in the world.
Bring plenty of diapers for the plane and to get you through the first several days of your trip. But if you’re going to be gone for a couple weeks (or more!), don’t stress too much about packing the perfect amount.
Just about every grocery store or convenience store should have diapers and wipes available.
If you’re having trouble finding them in your destination, ask the hotel staff to point you in the right direction.
17. Choose your accommodation wisely
Something I’ve learned is that the type of accommodation we book with a kid is much more specific than when it was just the two of us.
There are a lot of other factors to consider, and what might have been a perfectly good hotel for you will be a disaster with a babe.
Lemme tell ya, we’ve learned the hard way what doesn’t work well anymore now that we travel with a baby.
There have been a few very uncomfortable stays and even an Airbnb that we left (already paid for) because it just didn’t work with a baby.
Psst! Read our tips for choosing a hotel with baby so you don’t make the same mistakes!
18. Book places with pack ‘n plays when possible
If it’s an option, try to book hotels and Airbnbs that have a travel crib for your baby.
Many hotels and many Airbnbs offer this, so keeping it in mind when you’re making your reservations is key. This means you won’t have to travel with your own, which is a huge space saver.
Their booking details will usually disclose if they have a crib available. If you don’t see anything about a crib, it doesn’t hurt to ask. We once asked an Airbnb host if she had a crib available, and she decided to buy one so that she could offer it to future guests.
If you’re not finding any good accommodations with cribs available don’t stress too much. It’s definitely possible to bring your own.
The Guava Lotus pack ‘n play is undoubtedly the best travel one on the market. Trust me, I spent a lot of time comparing, and it’s the smallest, most durable, and made without toxic materials. So if you’re looking at buying one for travel, the Guava Lotus is what you want. (This is the one we personally have.)
Even though it is compact, it is still bulky and another item to lug around. So if you can get away with not having to pack it, that’s a big win.
Our personal experience
During our 3-week European Christmas Market Trip, we stayed at 8 different hotels/Airbnbs, and all but one had a crib available, so we decided not to bring our own. We are comfortable with co-sleeping, so we did this on the nights that we did not have a crib available.
However, there are some destinations where finding accommodation with cribs is much more difficult. For example, we’re currently planning a trip where we’re mostly staying at Airbnbs and none offer pack ‘n play, so we will be bringing our own.
19. You can rent things on vacation… (but you might not want to)
Lately I’ve seen a lot of articles and social media posts about renting baby items on vacation through platforms like BabyQuip.
In theory, it’s a great idea, and can be really useful in some situations. There’s a lot to be said for not having to lug around bulky gear, after all.
Examples of items you can rent:
- high chair if you plan on eating lots of meals at the accommodation
- bassinet or pack-and-play when your hotel does not offer this option
- car seat when it is significantly cheaper than going with one through the rental car company
- hiking baby carrier (if you have a big hike planned for on your trip)
- beach toys if you are doing an ocean vacation but don’t have or want to pack the gear
- so much more!
But here’s my word of caution…
These rentals can add up quickly, and before you know it, you might be spending hundreds of dollars. (Especially if you’re on a longer trip.)
The prices vary depending on what products you’re looking for and where you’ll be traveling, so calculate the total cost to help you determine whether this would be worthwhile service for you or not.
20. Invest in a compact stroller
One of our most-loved travel items is our compact stroller. It is one of the things we’d strongly suggest buying specifically for travel.
On our first international trip with Juniper, we lugged our normal stroller. This stroller was a hand-me-down from a friend and we love it for at home. But we quickly learned that it was an absolute beast to transport.
It was very heavy and still took up quite a bit of space even when it was collapsed.
After that trip, we bought a stroller that was made for travel. It folds up small to be able to easily fit in the overhead compartment on planes, making it a breeze for travel.
We personally love our Colugo stroller (and have brought it all over the US and the world!) and would highly recommend it as a durable and affordable travel stroller.
21. …and a solid baby carrier
Having a solid travel stroller is great, but there are places and activities where a carrier is far superior.
Here are just a couple of things to consider:
Stroller is better when:
- it’s hot out and you don’t want to baby wear
- the sidewalks are well-maintained and the streets are flat
Carrier is better when:
- you’re in a crowded place
- the sidewalks are not well-maintained (or the streets are cobblestone)
- you’ll be getting in and out of public transportation
We’ve had a lot of baby carriers, and we both agree that the Ergobaby Omni 360 is the best all-around baby carrier. It’s pricy, but lasts for a long time and is good in a variety of situations. Plus, it works for both of us to carry her, even though we have very different bodies!
22. Consider traveling in a campervan
We’re biased and this certainly won’t be for everyone, but we’ve found campervan travel to be wonderful with a baby, especially when Juniper was really young.
We had everything we needed with us at all times, and we could pull over at any minute to cook a meal, change a diaper in the comfort of our own van, or just hang out in our own private space.
In Juniper’s first year we:
- spent 4 months living and traveling in our own campervan that we built from scratch
- we rented a campervan in Scotland for a 2-week road trip (spoiler alert: it was amazing!)
- plus, we rented a campervan in Ireland for 1 week too!
If you’re renting, you’ll really want to look at the space to figure out if it will work for your family. Most campervan rental companies will be happy to help you choose. We also have a whole list of USA Campervan Rental Companies you can choose from that we personally recommend.
Traveling in a campervan with a little one certainly requires a different mindset, and I wouldn’t recommend it as your first trip with a baby if you’ve never experienced vanlife before. But I think camping can be very special with a little one and a unique way to see a destination.
And don’t leave home without our VanLife Baby Gear Checklist. These are the things we always pack in our van that make our lives so much easier and keep our baby happy.
23. Get a baby passport ASAP
If you plan on traveling internationally with your little one in their first year, we’d recommend getting the process rolling shortly after they are born so you are sure it’ll arrive in time. We applied for Juniper’s passport when she was just 3 weeks old, so it really isn’t ever too early.
This is actually very easy to obtain and we have a whole guide to getting a baby passport.
Good to know: If you have Global Entry and want to continue using it, you will also need to apply for this for your baby. We learned the hard way when we were turned away at Global Entry. “Interview” time slots fill up very quickly, so schedule this as soon as you get the passport.
24. Get travel insurance
Hopefully I don’t have to explain why here, but we get travel insurance for every trip we take.
Now that we have a baby, it feels even more important to be properly covered.
Need advice on how to go about getting the best policy for your situation? We’ve gotcha covered in this guide to choosing travel insurance.
25. Get an eSIM on international trips
If you are traveling internationally, it’s super helpful to be able to connect to cell service immediately upon landing.
This can be essential if you need to contact your transport or hotel.
We love eSIMs because you don’t have to search for a physical SIM card (a hassle) and you don’t have to pay crazy international coverage fees from your home phone service.
Our favorite eSIM is Airalo.
Psst! We have an entire guide to how to get an eSIM here.
26. Renting a car is usually a great idea
We love using public transportation on our travels, but having a rental car is a lot more convenient when you’re traveling with a baby.
You won’t need to carry around your car seat or luggage, and you can go at your own pace, making stops as frequently as you need. Plus, you won’t have to run so you don’t miss that train! (We’ve all been there.)
When in doubt, make it a road trip. And be sure to check out our tried and true 5-step plan for making your road trip a success!
Want some road trip ideas?
Here are our favorite road trips in the world:
- Iceland Road Trip
- Scotland Road Trip
- New Zealand Road Trip
- Australia Road Trip
- Yucatan Peninsula Road Trip
- Costa Rica Road Trip
- Banff to Jasper Road Trip
- European Christmas Market Road Trip
- USA Road trips
27. Include family in your trips
Again, this is a tip that may not apply to everyone, but you may want to consider including family in your travel planning.
This could be an opportunity for them to create special memories with your little one, and who knows – maybe they’ll give you the gift of a “date night” while they watch baby!
You could either plan a trip together (hint: book a big Airbnb for the most comfortable stay!), or plan a trip to visit friends or family who live somewhere you’d like to explore.
We’ve been lucky enough to take trips with both Ben’s family and mine, and we’re excited to plan more extended family vacations in the future.
28. Move around less
If you’re used to moving around from place to place rather quickly on your trips, you may want to slow it down a bit (or a lot!) when you add a baby into the mix.
You’ll be able to cover much less in one day, and you’ll need to consider what you’ll do during nap times and when babe needs to go to sleep at night.
You certainly don’t need to stay in one place the entire time (though that’s not a bad idea); but trust me when I say you don’t want to move to a new place every single night.
Our rule of thumb is we aim to stay in places at least 2 nights on trips, but 3-4 nights per place is ideal, in our opinion.
(An exception to this is when we’re staying at an airport hotel the night before a flight, we only book one night.)
Psst! Read our tips for how to choose the best accommodation for traveling with a baby!
29. Get to major attractions early
Take advantage of your little one’s early wake up call (sleeping in on vacation is something I dearly miss!) and when possible, get to those popular sights before the crowds get there.
Not only will you have a better experience without all the people around, but there will be less commotion and sensory overload for babe. Plus, without all sorts of people around you may feel less self-conscious if your kiddo starts to get fussy.
30. Plan on early dinners (sometimes)
Not gonna lie, I’m a huge fan of late dinners. I like the buzzy atmosphere and I don’t usually get hungry until later in the evening.
But alas, there are many cases where it makes a lot of sense to do an earlier dinner when you’re traveling with a baby.
Popular restaurants tend to be a lot more family-friendly before the dinner rush really begins. That might mean making a 5:00 p.m. or 5:30 p.m. reservation. If you’re like me, you might be rolling your eyes, but getting there earlier means you won’t have to worry about disturbing the late-night dinner crowd with a baby that is overwhelmed by all the sights and sounds.
We don’t always stick to early dinners, but when we know a place is popular or on the fancier side (or if it’s a weekend night), we do like to go before the real dinner rush (aka sensory overload!) begins.
31. Take advantage of room service (or takeout & delivery!)
Pre-baby, this was never something I’d do, but having dinner in your hotel or Airbnb can be really convenient (especially after a long day of exploring!).
We’ve gotten takeout/delivery a handful of times on trips and either have dinner as a family, or eat once our daughter has gone to sleep. It’s can be such a treat.
Money-saving tip: If you book accommodation with a kitchen, plan on cooking at least a couple of nights during your trip.
32. Cook some of your baby’s favorite meals
When possible, I like booking accommodation with a kitchen or kitchenette so I have more control over what our daughter is eating.
We love having her try new foods on our travels, and overall she is a pretty great eater. But we’re not always able to get to a restaurant when she starts getting hungry. It’s nice to be able to whip up some easy and wholesome meals we know she likes at our Airbnb so we can carry them with us throughout the day.
Below are a few meals and snacks that have worked well for us. I specifically chose dishes that use few ingredients that are easy to find in most places around the world, as well as dishes that don’t require complex cooking equipment.
If your baby is eating solids, use these ideas or create your own list of their favorite foods that you can easily replicate on your travels. Use this list to determine what items you’ll need to pack from home.
Banana & egg pancakes
Mash one ripe banana then add one egg. Mix until combined into a batter. Pour this in a skillet with oil (I prefer coconut oil), and cook on both sides, like a pancake.
I like to add a little nut butter and a sprinkle of cinnamon if I have access.
Insider Tip: Pack nut butter packets like these to be able to easily add it to different meals.
Super simple! You can add tomatoes too if you want. Serve as is or with rice crackers.
I prefer to bring my own premade mix from home in a large silicone baggie. Then I can cook small amounts at a time on the road. All you need is hot water.
You can make it however you’d like, but this is a combo I like:
Quick-cooking oats + hemp + flax + powdered coconut milk + chia + cinnamon + freeze dried berries.
Once it’s prepared, you can add nut butter as well as fresh berries if you’d like.
This is a nutritious meal that is good to make if you’ll be staying in one spot for a while.
A simple Google search will show you plenty of recipes, but I like chia + milk (almond, coconut, or oat are my preferred milks) + a little maple syrup. I usually add a bit of cinnamon if I have it.
I sometimes pack chia seeds from home if I think they’ll be hard to find.
This is another go-to as eggs are easy to find just about everywhere.
Bulk it up by adding other veggies, a sweet potato or avocado.
Rice + beans + corn
This is another easy one using ingredients you can easily find in most places. I’d recommend this one if you’re staying in a place for a longer period of time, as you’ll definitely have a few days worth of leftovers.
Alternatively, order rice and beans as a side at a Mexican restaurant and keep it in a takeaway container to store.
Pasta, peas, & pesto
Whole grain noodles combined with frozen peas and pesto is a quick and easy meal and it saves well for leftovers. You can add cherry tomatoes too!
If your accommodation has an oven, simply bake some veggies. Sweet potato is a favorite of ours!
Insider Tip: When you’re in a pinch, look in the prepared food section of the grocery store. We’ve found premade guacamole, what bulgar and veggie salad, fruit medleys, and lots more that has worked for us no matter where in the world we are. Check the frozen aisle too. We’ve found frozen falafel (or veggie burgers) and frozen veggies with hummus is an easy meal.
33. Find out where you stand on sleep schedules
One of the most common questions people ask us is, “How do you stick to a sleep schedule while traveling with a baby.”
Our completely honest answer is: We don’t.
This may be somewhat controversial, but we realized early on that we didn’t want to be super rigid about bedtime while traveling. And we didn’t want to always need to go back to our accommodation for naptime.
This is something that has been gradually changing and adapting a bit as our daughter gets older and her needs change. But during her first year, we had a somewhat flexible bedtime and we did a lot of napping on the go.
This doesn’t mean we were hitting the town until the wee hours, but we often gave ourselves a 1-2 hour window for getting back to the hotel and getting ready for bed. We got to know her cues pretty well and used them to inform our decisions.
We also had worked on napping on the go so much that if she fell asleep while we were at dinner, we didn’t stress out. We’d enjoy our meal, head back to the hotel and transfer her into her sleeping space.
Important Note: Sleep schedules are one of the more personal topics when it comes to parenting. And we’re not saying our way is right for you. We’re simply sharing what has worked for us so you have somewhere to start.
34. Do your own research about co-sleeping
Personally, once we felt our daughter was old enough, we practiced co-sleeping every once in a while so that we could use it as a tool if needed. This has come in handy several times on trips.
Ideally, Juniper has her own sleeping space in a hotel. However, in the case that she is having a rough night, isn’t feeling well, or we’re staying in a tiny room, we can co-sleep comfortably and with peace of mind.
We’ve also used this as a tool in our campervan on occasion. She has her own crib in our van, but if she wakes up in the middle of the night, we feel comfortable bringing her into bed with us so she is comforted.
Important note: Co-sleeping is another controversial topic. Do your own research and see how you feel so you can make an informed decision for your family.
35. Help your babe adjust to different time zones
If you’ll be crossing time zones, here are 5 tips for helping your little one adjust easier:
Start shifting time zones at home
Before you leave for your trip, start to shift bedtime 1-2 hours to get closer to your destination’s time zone.
Start slow. A few weeks before the trip, make their bedtime 15 minutes later. Then 30. And so forth until you’ve shifted as much as you’d like.
This can help cut the adjustment time down once you get to your destination.
Good to know: If you’re going to be changing time zones more than 2 hours, you likely won’t be able to fully adjust at home. But every little bit will help!
Maybe you don’t need to adjust at all
If it’s just 1-3 hours different from your home time zone, you may not even need to adjust at all.
Let’s say you are traveling from Seattle to NYC. This means you will be 3 hours later than at home.
Perhaps instead of a 7 p.m. bedtime, you allow your little one to stay on their normal schedule and go to bed at 10 p.m. (which will allow you to have extra time to explore the city in the evening). This will also mean later wake-ups which is always nice on vacation.
If this is just a short trip, this can work really well and will also cut down on the adjustment when you go back home.
While you’ll want to aim for the same amount of sleep they typically get at home, there’s no rule that says you have to abide by their normal bedtime hour.
Use daylight to your advantage
When trying to adjust to a new time zone, use outdoor activity and daylight to your advantage.
Your baby will realize this is daytime, and their body will start to adjust accordingly.
Expect jet lag to last one day per hour time change
There’s kind of a general rule that you should anticipate it takes 1 day per hour that you change time zones.
So that means if you are going to be changing time zones by 5 hours, it will take roughly 5 days for you to feel “normal” and get over jet lag.
This rule is for both adults and babies, so use it as a gauge for your own travels.
Don’t plan anything big on the first day
If you will be shifting several time zones, we’d recommend keeping your first day (or two) relatively free.
This will alleviate any pressure and will allow you and your little one to rest up after a long travel day.
Insider Tip: We like these homeopathic “No Jet Lag” pills when we’re traveling through many time zones. These are for parents (not babies), but being adjusted yourself definitely helps deal with helping your little one shift as well!
36. Book a family photo shoot
This is a fun one I wanted to throw in there just because!
Instead of booking a photoshoot at home (like many people do), connect with a local photographer on a trip for a photo session.
On our European Christmas Market Trip, we booked this photo walk last minute, and were so happy we did. With a baby, it has become more difficult to get good pictures of ourselves. (If you know, you know!)
The pictures turned out amazing, and it was such a special souvenir from our trip. You will never regret having photos taken, after all!
We’re definitely going to continue this tradition in our future travels.
Want to do it yourself? Look on Airbnb Experiences. This is where we’ve found a lot of local photographers around the world. Some cities have more options than others, but it is becoming more and more common. Alternatively, you can try to find local photographers in the city you’re visiting on Instagram. Reach out to them in a DM or via their website to book a session during your trip.
37. Plan on some personal time
This might not be advice you take on your first trip with a baby or even on your fifth. But eventually, it might be something you and your partner want to consider.
What would it look like for each of you to be able to do one experience on your own while the other spent quality one-on-one time with your child?
Maybe this would be something you used to do on trips in your pre-baby days, like going scuba diving or another adrenaline-fueled adventure. Or perhaps it would be a massage appointment to unwind.
I once did a hot air balloon flight next to Mount Rainier (babies aren’t allowed) while Ben and Juniper hung out in the campervan.
This might not appeal to everyone, but if you find yourself missing your old travel days, this might be just the thing you need!
38. You don’t need to limit yourself to only baby-centered activities
If you’re not keen on the typical baby-friendly trips or activities, like kiddie pools or zoos or chain restaurants, I’d like to pop in for a minute to remind you that travel with a baby can look however you’d like.
There’s no rule that says all your trips from here on out have to be at Disney or on kiddie-friendly cruises if that’s not your style. I know we didn’t like the idea of being relegated to only taking trips that were focused on babies from here on out.
We’ve found that while there are certainly some activities you just can’t do with a baby on vacation (scuba diving being the biggest thing we miss!), there’s a lot that you can do, even if it’s not marketed toward families.
Sometimes this means you’ll need to do more planning in advance, but in our experience it has been worth it to be able to continue traveling the way that feels best to us.
We usually research activities in our destination to determine which ones we personally really want to do. Then, unless it explicitly says children are not allowed, we think about what we’d need to do to make it work for us.
Here are some examples of what I mean:
- Some cocktail bars only allow minors until a certain time, so we will plan to go earlier.
- We pack lots of snacks and a good napping-on-the-go set up for walking tours or food tours (we’ve been on a bunch with her!).
- Sometimes we might have to take turns at an activity, like snorkeling or snowboarding, while the other watches Juniper.
- We might alter a hiking route to make it more doable with a little one.
- Often, we’ll go somewhere with the mindset that we’ll leave if Juniper isn’t doing well. More often than not, she surprises us with doing great.
- We still take public transport, but we’ll give ourselves plenty of time to get from Point A to Point B.
It kind of becomes a puzzle of: how can we still do this activity?
Don’t get me wrong – there are times we turn things down because it’s not worth it to us to make it work. But for the most part, we’ve still been able to do most of the things we really want to experience.
And we’ve been able to take some pretty epic trips that are focused on our interests (even though we have a baby):
- road trip around Scotland
- backcountry camping at Cracker Lake in Glacier National Park
- lived in our self-built campervan for 4 months
- Christmas Market hopping in Europe
As our daughter gets older and has her own interests, the way we plan trips will likely change, but up until this point, this is what has been working for us.
Overall, I’m honestly surprised by how much our trips now are similar to the things we’d be doing before having a baby.
39. Get ready for some really special interactions
Something I wasn’t prepared for before having a child is the sweet interactions it would bring to our travels.
We’ve had so many different types of encounters – from servers at restaurants falling in love with Juniper (see pictures below) to people offering to help out when she’s crabby (this has happened multiple times!).
The last photo in the set above was taken at a Venezuelan bakery in Mexico where I was eating by myself with Juniper while Ben had dental surgery. She was just the slightest bit fussy, and the two sweet women behind the counter insisted that they would cheer her up while I eat my food.
Juniper is quite the conversation starter (she loves waving at strangers!), and has brought a whole new level of sweetness to our travels.
I’m so excited to watch Juniper grow up and experience kindness from different people all over the world.
*Excuse me while I go wipe my tears.*
40. Go ahead and book those damn flights!
Here’s my last piece of advice (for now!):
Just book it!
Don’t let the voices in your head (or your well-meaning neighbor!) scare you away.
If traveling with a baby is something that’s important to you, I know you can do it. And I’ll be your cheerleader rooting you on!
The first big trip with a baby can be daunting, but I have a feeling you’ll realize it’s not as scary as you’re building it up in your head to be.
And you’ll feel like such a badass for turning your dream into reality.
You might even find yourself daydreaming about your next big family vacation, which will feel a lot more doable since you’ve already got one trip under your belt.
Personal note from Katie
I truly hope this article has been helpful to you and leaves you feeling encouraged about traveling with a baby and motivates you to start planning that dream trip. I also hope you’re able to take away some helpful nuggets that you can put into practice!
I do just want to say that if you want more content on traveling with a baby, please let us know.
I have been avoiding writing this article for a number of reasons (which I’ll go into below), but it was readers like you who encouraged me to ignore these thoughts and just write it anyway.
So why did I avoid writing this article?
Lemme spill the tea…
1. Giving parenting advice always attracts negative comments.
Anytime I share things we do as parents, there’s always someone to point out why they would do something differently. Or why traveling with kids in general is just selfish.
I’m only human, and negative messages and comments are not fun to deal with. So avoiding the whole “traveling with kids tips” felt like an easy way to avoid the negativity.
2. Traveling with a baby is very different for every single person.
Everyone parents differently and there’s no way I could create an article that would resonate with everyone.
This was kind of keeping me frozen in place, asking myself, “How do I give all parents advice about traveling with kids?”
And then I realized I didn’t need to. I just needed to share what has worked for us. I hope you’ve read this article with that lens.
Some of these suggestions may not work for you or your child. You know your situation best, so pick and choose the ideas and advice that feels good for you.
3. This isn’t a family travel blog.
We decided very early on that we didn’t want Two Wandering Soles to become only about traveling with kids as soon as we had a baby.
At its core, TWS will always be about responsible and adventurous travel. And we aim to share the best things to do in locations around the world, regardless of whether or not they’re family-friendly.
That said, we’ve realized that we can create family travel content without that being the only thing we write about.
4. Honestly, I don’t feel like an expert at parenting.
We traveled to more than 50 countries before getting pregnant.
We lived out of a backpack for years on end, and called many different countries “home” for an extended period of time.
We have years and years of experience, and very much consider ourselves experts in all things travel-related.
But the whole parenting thing is new to us. We have one daughter. And at the time of writing this article, she is just over a year old.
So there’s a part of me who kept delaying sharing our “baby travel tips” until I felt like more of an “expert” as a parent.
But I’ve come to realize that parenting is something that we’re likely never going to feel like experts at. It is a continuous learning process, and as soon as we feel like we’re getting the hang of it, things change.
I finally became okay with the idea of creating content about traveling with kids without feeling like an expert. Because with the exception of people whose profession is related to parenting, we’re all just doing what we feel is best for our children.
And that might be as “expert level” as you can get.
Want more advice for traveling with a baby?
- Our top tips for staying at a hotel or Airbnb with a baby
- Feel confident on your flight with these tips for flying with a baby!
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We hope these tips for traveling with a baby are helpful!
What advice would you add? Any travel hacks that have helped you? What questions or concerns do you still have?
Note: Please be respectful with your comments. Remember, we are sharing tips that have personally worked for us.