Traveling with Babies- Here's What I Know.

I've been getting a lot of people asking me
for advice for traveling with kids.

First of all,
I feel the need to clarify:
traveling with a baby 
is an entirely different ballgame 
than traveling with a kid.

Kids seem easier than traveling with a baby
in a few ways
such as having their own seat,
carrying their own little animal-shaped suitcases,
and, generally, knowing to not poop themselves. 

Though the idea of going anywhere
(grocery store included)
with a toddler is completely terrifying.

None the less,
let me help offer what I know & have learned
traveling with Viola.

I'm not going to pretend to know all the answers,
but the kid did clock 8 countries by 8 months old…

If I'm not a professional,
I'm at least not intimidated by traveling with a baby.

*     *     *

First things first:
adjust your expectations.

Even traveling across the ocean,
I always think this phrase over & over 
during the day (and night) before we fly:

"Even if it's a completely awful day,
it's only one day
and then I'll be in (insert destination here)
and it will all be worth it."

I would exchange one crappy/miserable day
to spend a week pretty much anywhere, 
so that gets my eyes on the prize.

Second: Know your allies.

Airline employees = nice.
Fellow passengers = hate you.

I was pretty amazed at how sweet 
the airport staff & airlines treated us
and welcomed us on board.

They helped us board early,
snag empty seats,
and made our travel so much better.

I was equally amazed 
at how many mean looks
and snotty remarks we got
while traveling.

On our way home last month,
I walked to our row
and the man who was sitting by us
looked up, looked at me, and then snarled:
"Ugh, really?"

I gaped so loudly out of shock 
and then laughed in his face:
"Yup. Sorry dude."

Fortunately, all the people around us overhead
and went out of their way to compliment
what a sweet baby Viola was after her A+ performance,
but still.... wow.

Third: Manipulate the schedule.

I start planning the day before
how to make Viola's schedule line up
to need to feed as we take off.

I'm doing everything I can to make sure she is hungry
at the time our flight is scheduled to take off.

This not only helps her pressurize her ears
as we take off,
but it makes her sleep like a champ. 

If she starts trying to eat or sleep
in the gate, we play with her
and get her right near that edge of feeling crazy
so that she'll conk out once we start taxiing that runway.

Fourth: Get them to drink.

Babies can get crazy whenever they want on flights,
but they cry most often during the last thirty minutes of a flight
because the pilots start the descent
and their poor ears aren't able to pop.

They don't know all the tricks we grown ups know,
so you have to be the brain for them on this.

This can be a bit tricky, 
since it's a long period of time.

I'm not sure if this is fool proof, 
but it worked for me.

I think of the 20ish flights
we have been on, 
Viola has only cried once
and that was because it was such a short flight
and I couldn't time her feeds up for take off & landing.

Go ahead and nurse them
and then- once they are finished
and the world still looks a million miles away: 
pull out the secret weapon,
the bottle of goodness.

When Viola was really little,
I put a bit of sugar water in a bottle.

I would drop a bit in her mouth
every 30 seconds or so
and she would gulp it down and pop her ears.

As she got older, 
I've diluted juice with water and given her just little drinks
to help keep her curious until we touch down.

Sometimes I've used Smart Water, Apple Juice, whatever...

Heck, I'd even resort to Sprite, if I had to.

Anything to keep her from hurting.

The goal isn't for them to chug it down,
just something to intrigue them
into drinking a bit more
after they have already filled their bellies.

Fifth: Get to the airport two hours early.

Flights have bulk seating reserved
for the day-of travel.

The sooner you get there, the better options
the airlines can offer you 
for your seating.

Even if you don't get the bulkhead,
getting their early can help your family
make sure they are all seated together.

You can also hop to get an "infant block" seat, 
if there are a few unsold seats.

Five: Shop the unpopular flight times.

We try to skip peak travel times
in order to play the odds for a uncrowded flight.

Uncrowded flights means empty seats.

Empty seats mean that you + hubby
could score a row of three
and lay a baby down to sleep between you
while you do fancy things like read a magazine and drink coffee!

We look for midweek travel
at non-commuter travel times
like the early afternoon.

Six: Let the kid call the shots.

Airplanes are not the time to enforce schedules
and try to hem children into new things…

Don't fight the small stuff.

If they want to roll around and lick the tray table,
let them have at it.

Your baby wants to eat 365 puffs?
Great. What a time killer.

They want to squish the vomit bag into oblivion?
You go, Glen Coco.

Those things are not your battle today.

Your battle is getting to wherever you are going,
with your sanity in tact
and your baby happy.

The rest is, just… well, it's not important.

*    *    * 

Okay, those are my favorite tips.

Nothing mind-blowing,
but it works for us.

I hope that this can help you…
and please, if you have tricks that have 
made your travels easier with kids,
share them with us.

What are some things that have helped you
when you've traveled with kids?

*images original to Aspiring Kennedy


  1. pinning this for later :) thanks lady! we thought we'd have to wait years before we could travel with kids :) xo jillian - cornflake dreams

  2. Great tips! Would love to hear your thoughts on hotel stays... not letting your kid lick everything in sight, keeping a screaming baby from waking up neighbors in the middle of the night, etc. And I really can't wait to hear your thoughts as V gets older... sometimes I think traveling with a baby may be easier than chaotic toddler!!!!! But maybe my kid is just legit crazy... ; )

  3. Helpful tips, Lauren. One trick I always rely on is... the goody bag! I always buy a small toy or book for my toddler & give it to him when all other tricks have failed. It works like magic :)

  4. All awesome tips!
    I'm concurring with Michelle that traveling with a toddler is rough. Now, when they turn 4, so much better. But between 18 months and 3 & 1/2...when they have moments where they act completely possessed for no's hard. A baby is hard because of all the gear you need, but I feel like people are more compassionate to a crying baby. But a screaming toddler...people give you that "get your kids under control" look. I don't know...just a different kind of hard. But, when they are close to 4, it is so much better.
    Here's my few tips on traveling with toddlers:
    1. If they want to watch Peter Pan 10 times for 10 hours, it's fine. Now is not the time to do the "limiting TV" time. However, we do wait to pull out the cartoons until we've tried other things.
    2. Overnight pullups: Toddlers who are potty training or newly trained need to pee all the time...and always at the most inconvenient times. Sometimes, you just can't make it to the bathroom in time. If traveling by car, we carry a tiny little potty. Gross? Maybe. Saved our life? About a million times. It's still cleaner than any rest area. The overnight pullups are great if flying because you can't always get out of your seat and they can hold a lot if needed. The last thing you want is a big pee pee accident on the plane.
    3. A bookbag with goodies and extra clothes and a blanket. They can carry their own backpack! That part is nice!
    4. Don't keep them up late the night before. That always back fires on us. Then they are just over tired and more cranky. I'd rather have a kid who is awake for 10 hours than a grumpy over tired one who may or may not take a decent nap. The problem with flying is that they will have finally gone to sleep and then it never fails...the pilot comes on the intercom to "make an announcement" and wakes them up. I, personally, just feel like it's better to just let them have their normal good nights sleep. I've never changed more than a couple time zones traveling across the pond is probably different in terms of getting them on a different time zone.
    Just my two cents on toddlers. I'm sure others may feel differently. You are completely right about letting them lick the tray! That made me laugh because it is so true! Especially if you are traveling with several's just a "whatever" attitude!

  5. Love your points and are basically what we do too. I want to stress that, as a flight attendant, we really are on your side. I never try to overstep my boundaries and offer too much help to parents (like they don't know what they are doing) but am MORE than happy to help when they ask. Especially when a parent is traveling alone. Wether it's holding or watching them as you use the bathroom or shuffle around your bags, getting extra water or juice, or whatever. We are here. You're not alone :)

  6. We travel all the time with our kids (our son was born in London so he took his first transatlantic flight back to the US at 10 weeks, and his first flight to the continent at 8 weeks!) and I have always found people are so surprised we travel so often, and easily with our kids! Between about 12 months and 2 it is more difficult than the baby ages, especially if you have a lap child, so I always tell people if they can to get their child a seat, invest in a CARES instead of a car seat (too much kicking of the seat in front them and they can't easily use their tray table, which is like a toy in itself), triangular crayons so they don't roll off the tray table, lollipops for ear popping, lots and lots of snacks, and don't be afraid to use an ipad. At all. All of our food and electronic 'rules' are thrown out the window when we take our 2 and 5 year old back to the UK every year. We just spent a weekend in NYC with them and it was fantastic, we just really, really enjoy traveling with them, just like it seems that you do as well! I can't post this from my family travel blog but I do have one that has lots of tips - Oh, and our motto is always that everyone on the plane was a baby once too, and anyone can get through a day, even a bad day of travel, and you will never see the people on your plane again!

  7. Oh the diluted juice in a bottle thing is such a good idea!!! I needed that a couple of weeks ago. Well now i know. Thank you!!!

  8. Not only are those great tips, but it made me smile while reading it. Thanks for those - I'll be taking some transatlantic trips avec baby next year and I'll be refering back to this post!

  9. I can't believe people were soo rude to you! It seems like you have it down!

  10. Viola is seriously the most well-traveled baby. She even has her future hubby, the prince, beat. Woman's gonna show him the world...

  11. Ditto everything Sarah said plus what Andrea said about the CARES. The CARES has even been loaned out to a neighbor or two.

  12. I don't have kids yet, but I feel like these are some amazing tips! I never would have thought of timing feedings for take off and landing (well maybe I would if I was actually a mother, but I had never thought of this before!)

  13. Thanks for this post! Knowledge like this seriously helps me mentally prepare for what's to come.

  14. This is great! Our first is due in March, and I have plans to get a baby passport ASAP to visit a friend in Toronto while I'm on my maternity leave (from our home base in Chicago). We're also planning to fly with baby to California in the summer. I'll be remembering these tips!

  15. All awesome tips! As a toddler, I always run Ryan ragged in the airport so he conks out on the plane :) That white noise + exhausted toddler = a perfectly timed nap.

  16. EXCELLENT glen coco reference - i laughed out loud.

  17. I'm reading this on a plane :) Glen Coco - favorite line. I pitty the troll that would snarl at Viola.

  18. You crack me up. I'll be putting your tips to good use in two weeks... let's hope John follows in the footsteps of his pal Viola!

  19. I'm still stuck on what a jerk that guy was to you. Tact, buddy. Get some tact. Opposite of him, I immediately sympathize with parents who are traveling, because I know they may have to fight a hard battle. Haha! I've traded seats with so many moms traveling alone with a baby and even other passengers who clearly were not equipped with the right attitude to sit next to a baby. I still remember flying from San Diego to Houston sitting next to a toddler named Elizabeth and her grandmother. Let's just say Elizabeth and I were BFFs, and Grandma enjoyed the break!

  20. ok so ive just read this post 25 times! we are flying with georgia next week and i am petrified! but totally taking your expert advice. thanks pretty mama!

  21. Lauren, I just saw this post today (as a related post to the recent one you posted about flying with a baby). I didn't know you had posted on this topic and yet you were so gracious to answer all of my questions in my e-mail about traveling with a baby and not just point me to this archived post link, even during your busy schedule and travels. Thank you for being so sweet. :)

    BTW-Some people are so rude-the guy annoyed that he was sitting next to you guys. A friend of mine just experienced this in a nice restaurant while away for a weekend getaway with her hubby. They got all kinds of looks and yet their daughter was a complete angel the whole time not even making a peep. I wish people wouldn't pre-judge like that as every baby and parent is different.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...