Traveling with a baby

When you become a parent, your world changes in a million ways. And while you won’t need to stop traveling, there are definitely some adjustments you’ll need to make before heading out on your baby’s first vacation.

Even if you are having twins, instead of JUST one baby, travel is not out of the question! When my husband and I first found out we were having twins, all our travel hopes and dreams vanished. But, before long, we realized travel was possible and totally worthwhile with our infants.

We learned a ton, and had a blast traveling with our babies in their first year! And we are sharing our best tips and tricks so that you can enjoy traveling with your baby just as much as we did!

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Is it worth it?

If you bring up the topic of traveling with your infant, you are going to get a LOT of mixed opinions on the subject. For many families, it’s definitely not worth the hassle. For my family, 100% worth it! It’s a decision you’ll need to make for yourself, but these pros and cons may help you.

Cons

  • Baby is too young to remember any of it
  • Babies need a lot of stuff
  • Being away from home isn’t as comfortable or easy as just staying home
  • More exposure to illnesses
  • Your travel pace will be much slower than without a baby

Pros

  • Even if the babies don’t remember, we remember it, and there is nothing like watching your kids enjoy something new
  • Maybe they won’t exactly remember the trip, but they will have this great time to bond with family, and they will remember it in their cells
  • Mom and dad have probably been cooped up in the house for months and need a change of scenery
  • Getting away from home and forgetting a thing or two teach parents and babies how to be a little bit more flexible
  • Traveling at a slower pace, as is required when traveling with small children, can actually make your vacation more enjoyable and more relaxing.  

Ready to travel with your baby? Here are our best tips for easy travel with a baby, or twin babies!

Tip 1: Start small

For the first year of your baby’s life, you are really just getting to know each other. You can’t know exactly how your baby will respond to every new thing, and that’s ok.

But before you commit to 10 days vacation, and an 8-hour flight, maybe just try a little weekend trip. A small vacation can help you get a feel for how your baby handles change, and how you handle your baby in a new environment.

A short getaway can also help you gain the confidence to book something a little longer. That first night in a hotel can be nerve-wracking! But once you’ve maybe it through the night, it’ll feel like an achievement (even if things weren’t PERFECT).

You will also learn a lot and will be able to adjust your schedule and packing list for the next trip.

mom and infant on a ferry in Washington State. Baby is sleeping in the carrier, and mom is smiling.
Riding the Washington State Ferry to the San Juan Islands with our 2-month old son

Tip 2: Start traveling as soon as (or even BEFORE) you are ready

That first year after having a baby goes FAST. And honestly, the first year might be the easily year to travel for a LONG time. As long as your baby is comfortable and able to nap, s/he’ll probably tolerate sightseeing, restaurants, beach time, or whatever you’ve got planned. Once you reach the toddler years, you are on toddler time ALL the time.

So be brave enough to jump into traveling before you’re REALLY sure you are ready. It’s true- traveling with a baby, or doing anything with a baby is a huge adjustment. But once you get the hang of it, traveling is totally doable for many new babies.

The younger your babies are, the more likely they are to be flexible about where they sleep, where they eat, etc.  It can be intimidating thinking about taking on something else when you are already exhausted, but sometimes a little family trip can really refresh you.

Babies are actually pretty great travel companions as well. They are happy to go along for the ride. Take in the sights, smell the scents, feel the breeze.

Even if you have twins, travel with really is possible!

Tip 3:  Enjoy the things you can do and don’t dwell on those things you can’t

No matter how easy your baby is, there are some things you simply cannot do when traveling with a baby. And, especially for a new parent, that adjustment is hard. You’ll still be spending lots of time changing diapers and feeding your baby, and not enough time sleeping.

But don’t waste your precious vacation time worrying about what you cannot do when there are millions of things you CAN do and really enjoy with your baby.

Babies are great travel companions because they often notice and enjoy the little things like the leaves blowing in the wind, or the feeling of the breeze on their toes, or a new face. There is nothing quite like watching your baby experience some of these amazing travel ‘firsts’. The slower pace your baby enjoys can also be really enjoyable and relaxing for you, the parent, as well. Especially when you are running on WAY less sleep than you probably need!

Exploring Leavenworth, WA with our twins.

Tip 4: Babywear

Babywearing means you can get around easily, without worrying too much about the terrain or space issues. Plus, having your baby RIGHT there means you likely know what s/he needs and can help without having to stop and take a break. Babywearing works great for travel!

But not every parent, or every baby loves babywearing. If this isn’t something you’ve tried before, definitely give it a try ahead of time, make sure you have a comfortable carrier, and see how baby tolerates it.

mom and baby in the babycarrier. Standing in a hotel room, prepared to head out!
We are ready to head out and explore! Babywearing makes exploring MUCH easier!

Tip 5: BUT maybe bring an umbrella stroller as well

Babywearing works great MOST of the time. But sometimes, you, and your baby need a break. The baby carrier can get hot for both the parent and the baby. And my babies had a harder time falling asleep in the carrier, but could easily sleep in the stroller. Plus, sometimes they loved to just feel the breeze in the stroller.

Baby in the umbrella
Baby’s gotta feel the breeze on those toesies in New Orleans!

Tip 6: Schedule wiggle breaks

One thing that comes easily at home, but is easy to forget about while traveling is free-movement breaks for the baby. Babies need to get out of the car seat, stroller, carrier- whatever and just wiggle around on their own for a while every few hours.

Make sure you have a plan, including somewhere appropriate to put the baby down. Because, if you don’t, your baby will eventually decide they’ve waited long enough and will demand to get out at the most inopportune time!

Tip 7: Stick with the schedule, kinda!

No matter where you are, your baby is probably going to get tired and hungry at about the same time they normally would. But, they may not be able to relax enough to actually fall asleep right on schedule. Or focus on eating right at the normal time. And that’s totally ok! Don’t stress TOO much about keeping everything exactly on schedule. BUT it still doesn’t hurt to keep your normal schedule in mind, so you’ll know when to expect a super sleepy or super hungry baby or one who urgently needs a new diaper!

Tip 8: Find a great travel sleep solution

twin infants in a pack 'n play together with a blanket over them. One baby has his fist in his mouth. The other is looking ahead.
Babies in the Pack n play- NOT their favorite place to sleep

Even when traveling, the baby needs somewhere safe to sleep. And many of those sleep options are bulky, heavy, and maybe not even comfortable for your baby! Our babies hated sleeping in the Pack ‘n Play, and I hated packing such a huge thing on vacation.

So check out some of our favorite baby and toddler travel beds to find something that works well for your family.

Or, think about cosleeping. Cosleeping isn’t for everyone, but if your family is comfortable with, it will help you pack a little bit lighter. You won’t need to pack a separate bed for your baby, or worry about how baby will sleep in a new bed.

Tip 9:  Replicate your baby’s sleep environment

It can be tough for anyone to fall asleep in a new environment. Make sleep come as easily as possible for your baby by recreating their normal sleep environment as much as possible.

A few things you might consider to help your baby sleep well:

  • If your baby normally sleeps in a dark room, make sure you’ll have blackout curtains on vacation. Hotels normally have blackout curtains, but vacation rentals are unlikely to have them. You can buy an inexpensive set and bring some pushpins or tape to put them up.
  • Bring your white noise machine. Or use a Youtube video or white noise app on your phone or tablet.
  • Don’t forget any favorite lovies or blankets your baby normally sleeps with.
  • If your baby falls asleep better with you out of the room, think about renting a hotel family suite (we like Hyatt House and Residence Inn hotel chains for larger suites with a bedroom door) or a 1+ bedroom vacation rental.
  • Stick with your normal bedtime routine, if you can. Bring the supplies you’ll need for your baby bedtime routine.
twin infants in lying on the bed in the hotel room. They have stuffed animals around them and are snuggled together
Babies relaxin the hotel room

Tip 10: Try being a minimalist parent

At home, you might have ALL the baby gear. And much of it does make life a little easier for time to time. But, do you really need it? The answer is probably no. Your baby only really NEEDS a few things- food, somewhere to sleep, clean clothing, diapers, and you!

Now, that’s not to say you need to leave everything at home. But traveling with a baby means finding balance. And traveling with TONS of gear ends up just being stressful.

But packing in a more minimalist way takes practice for many parents. Push yourself to start leaving a few things behind. If it goes well, you’ll feel ready to leave a few more behind until you’ve been able to streamline your travel with baby packing list.

Our packing recommendations:

  • Clothes for a couple of days- plan on 2-3 outfits per day for a baby, and do laundry if you can
  • A lightweight blanket
  • A heavier blanket for them to lie on – maybe something you don’t mind lying on the ground outside.
  • Swaddle if you are using them
  • A lovey
  • Extra pacifiers and clips
  • If you bottle-feed, enough to last you through the night, plus a bottle brush.  
  • Your baby carrier/s of choice
  • A couple of small toys/teethers
  • Baby butt cream of choice.  
  • Any medicine you might need- Baby Tylenol or Motrin, gas drops, etc.
  • Baby lotion and soap
  • A stroller – read about our favorite lightweight double strollers here

Tip 11: Practice Breastfeeding on the go

Feeding your baby takes up a LOT of your time. And if you have to go back to your hotel room to breastfeed every time, you might not do much else.

If you want a little more out of your vacation, get yourself, and your baby prepared to breastfeed on the go.

To make things a bit easier, I preferred to wear nursing tops for easier access without showing TOO much skin. Stretchy tanks or tees or a breastfeeding cover can also help, if you feel uncomfortable breastfeeding in public. So babies do not care for a nursing cover, so it’s good to practice ahead of time.

Our favorite way to breastfeed on vacation is IN the carrier. Check out Ergobaby’s video with tips here on nursing in the carrier. It does take some practice, but once we got it figured out, it was a total game-changer. I didn’t even have to stop to nurse- I could just keep walking and exploring or .. doing whatever. Since I have twins, I did have to stop to switch the babies out.

Tip 12:  Make a bath plan

A bath is one little detail it’s easy to forget about when traveling with a baby. And if you don’t frequently bathe your baby, maybe it’s best to just forget about it and bathe baby when you get home. But if you prefer to bathe more frequently, you’ll want a plan! Hotels are really not set up for bathing a baby, so it can be a little tricky.

There are a few options for bathing baby on vacation:

Option 1: Sponge Bath. Lie baby on a towel and clean with a damp washcloth.

Option 2: Sink bath. If you are coordinated enough, it can be done without any extra gear. Or try a sink bathtub like this one to make things easier.

Option 3: A travel baby bath like this one. It does mean more gear to carry, but it’s budget-friendly and can make bath time a lot easier.

Option 4: Otteroo in a bathtub. We LOVE these things. Sure, they look strange, but babies love them and they make bathtime so fun! They are lightweight and small, making them totally travel-friendly as well. But you do need to make sure your hotel room has a bathtub. I find it’s best to call or email the hotel to make sure, since many hotels rooms don’t have a bathtub.

Baby in the bathtub with an otteroo- inflatable that goes around his neck keeping his head above water and legs and body in the bathtub.
Taking a bath with the Otteroo. We loved these for our infants!

Tip 13: Take tons of pictures!

Really, has anyone ever wished they had taken fewer pictures? And little video clips- those are even better. Travel with a baby means a million ‘firsts’ and a million little experiences you’ll want to remember forever. And even though your baby won’t remember it, they’ll love looking back at those pictures once they are a little bit older.

Matching Daddy at their first wedding!

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