When we decided to move our family from Chicago to Naples, Florida, we knew that the first year of Greyson’s life would be spent back and forth a ton. Phil and I have been traveling all over the world with a small backpack for months at time for the last decade. We figured, it wouldn’t be *that* hard to travel with a baby. ;)
To be totally transparent, it is couldn’t be more different! The days of us showing up to the airport with nothing but a carry on bag and our backpacks / purses seem a million years away.
If you are planning a trip with your little one and are super worried about what exactly to pack to travel with them, I have you covered. I spent hours upon hours reading blogs and listening to podcasts on this before and after Greyson arrived. I was super freaked out about it, and I wanted to make sure we had everything we could need. Combine that with nearly 8 flights in 8 months, and I think we have cracked the code on not only what to pack when traveling with a baby, but exactly *HOW* to do.
Our first trip was when Greyson was only 4 months old. So we have been through each of the stages of him on a plane in the first year. This list contains just about everything you need to pack and where to have it to ensure a smooth plane ride with your little one.
HOW TO PACK WHEN TRAVELING WITH YOUR BABY
Even for an expert packer like myself, this was a challenge for me. As a first time mama, I wanted to make sure I had *everything* I could need should we get delayed / our bags got lost (a huge fear of mine before we had children — and it has only been amplified now that we have a little one). If we might need it in the next 24-48 hours of traveling, I wanted it with us. This may be extreme, but Phil and I have always packed this way, so it felt right for us. As we flew a few times, I started putting more in our checked bags including our stroller / car seat and never had any issues.
WHAT WE PACK IN OUR CHECKED BAGS
- Greyson’s clothes and PJs : we pack them in these drawer organizers. They pop into the suit case and make it super easy to unpack when we get to the destination.
- Extra bottles / spoon / bowl / water cup
- Travel Crib : We didn’t have to bring this with us for our Chicago trips because we chose to buy one to keep at my parent’s home, but we love our Lotus travel crib. It weighs less than 12 pounds and converts into a backpack for easy moving through the airport.
- UPPABaby Vista Stroller + UPPABaby Vista Travel Bag : We invested in the travel bags for both our stroller and car seat from UPPABaby. The bags are essentially an insurance policy on your gear. So if anything happens to your stroller / car seat when you travel, UPPABaby will replace your item. With all the travel we were doing, it was a no brainer for us to get these to protect the investment we made with the stroller and car seat. You can totally gate check your stroller and car seat for free which we did do the first two times we traveled, however as we got used to it, it was easier to check this curbside (totally worth the extra few bucks tip vs lugging all the bags through the airpot) when we arrived at the airport.
- UPPABaby Mesa Car Seat + UPPABaby Mesa Car Seat Travel Bag : You can’t really get to the airport or leave without having a car seat and the base. We were fortunate enough that we left a base in Chicago so we didn’t have to lug this with us, but we did bring our car seat back and forth and we kept it protected with the travel bag.
WHAT WE PACK IN OUR CARRY ON BAGS WHEN TRAVELING WITH A BABY
In the diaper bag
Note, your diaper bag does *not* count towards your carry on baggage allowance. You are allowed a diaper bag + breast pump bag in addition to your carry on and personal item on most airlines with an economy ticket.
- Fawn Design Diaper Bag
- (2) Overnight diapers (especially as your babe gets bigger) : I change Greyson into an overnight diaper right before we board the flight. The flight is only about 3 hours, but it has been a huge help in avoiding trying to change his diaper in the tiny airplane bathroom.
- Fawn design changing clutch : This is perfect if you need to change your little one inside those tiny airplane bathrooms or just so you don’t have to lug your packed diaper bag to the bathroom at the airport
- (2) pacifiers + pacifies clip : We love these BIBS pacifiers and these pacifier clips (because they double as a teether). The last thing you want when traveling is having those pacifiers drop on the ground.
- Pacifier holder : This is an essential for day-to-day, but I would strongly recommend some type of pacifier holder / zip clip that attaches to your diaper bag so when your little one is crying, you don’t have to dig through your whole diaper bag. I love the Itzy Ritzy one because it matches my Fawn Design diaper bag and also love this one.
- (2) Comotomo bottles : Since cleaning bottles out at the airpor is tricky, I made sure to have at least two bottles with me for take off and landing in the diaper bag. And then I packed a few more in our carry on so I didn’t have to worry about washing them if we needed anything.
- Bottle of water : You are allowed to carry a bottle of water with you through TSA. I always pack an unopened bottle and let TSA know we have it.
- Change of clothes
- Formula / formula dispenser
- Snacks like teething crisps + food pouches
- Books : Our current favorites are Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, You Are My I Love You, The Little Blue Truck
- Swaddle blanket : You never know if it will be hot or cold on the plane so I always bring one along. It is great to use for changing on the plane or if your little one wants to sit on the floor and play with toys at the airport. We love the Mebie Baby + Aden and Anais swaddles because of their adorable prints .
- Toys : These will totally depend on what age your babe is but we loved the following : Fat Brain Dimpl (great for 9 mo+), Mushie stacking cups, crinkle books, Sassy activity wheel
In the carry on bag
- Baby monitor + flexible monitor mount
- 4 onsies / outfits
- Extra change of clothes for us
- Lillebaby carrier : After we get to our seat, I toss this in the suitcase so its out of the way for the flight but so we have it when we land. O’Hare is huge and its just easier to carry Greyson through the airport and have my hands free.
- Travel sound machine : We use the Hatch sound machine at home, but when we are on-the-go or traveling, we love this travel sound machine.
- Extra formula : I packed about 2 days of formula with us just to be extra safe. I tossed it in a Ziploc bag with the scoop so if we needed more than I had in the dispensers, I had it. We never had to tap into this while traveling, however our flight did get canceled coming back to Florida, and I had such a piece of mind knowing we had this if we needed a couple extra bottles.
- (2) Sleep Sacs : We love the Burt’s Bees moons sleep sac + Lou Lollipop sleep sacs are just SO soft that we travel with both.
WHAT WE ORDER FOR PICK UP / HAVE SHIPPED TO OUR DESTINATION
If possible, I highly suggest ordering a few essentials to your destination or doing an order pick up at Target when you arrive where ever you are going with the following things. This makes the packing SO much easier since you won’t be taking up tons of space with the bulky things like :
+ Baby Wipes
+ Baby food / Snacks
HOW WE TRAVEL THROUGH THE AIRPORT
I found the best way for us to navigate through the airport with Greyson and all our things is to baby wear him. You can certainly take your stroller through the airport (which we did the first time) and gate check it, however, with him being so young, it was easier to baby wear him in our Lillebaby carrier. This way, if he fell asleep before we got to airport security, I could simply walk through with him on me as opposed to having to take him out of the car seat / stroller to go through security.
PRO TIPS WHEN FLYING WITH A BABY
+ Please confirm with your airlines prior to your trip, but most airlines allow the following in addition to your carry on / personal item when you are traveling with a baby.
> (1) a stroller / wagon
> (1) car seat per child
> diaper bag
> bottle of water
> breast pump bag
+ We always try to give Greyson a bottle during take off and landing to help him avoid his ears popping. Sometimes we would just mix 2 oz and break up his larger bottle so we had something to drink during take off / landing. You can also offer your baby a pacifier too.
+ If you will be doing a lot of travel with kids, I 100% recommend the United MileagePlus credit cards. I have the United Club Mileage Plus Business. It is amazing because we get 2 FREE checked bags per person (so when Phil and I travel with Greyson, we get 4 FREE checked bags.) And you get access to the United lounge which is amazing for grabbing some snacks, drinks and having a nice space to hang out inside the airport.
+ We were fortunate enough to not need to bring a travel crib since we were staying with my parents, but we love the Lotus Travel Crib for when we are going places locally. It packs down super small, so it would be super simple to toss this inside a larger suitcase that you check to your final destination and weighs less than 12 pounds. It also converts into a backpack so you can toss it on your back if you decide to check it as it’s own piece of luggage.
WHAT I WISH I HAD KNOWN ABOUT FLYING WITH A BABY
On one of the flights, Greyson screamed for half the flight. I also cried. I felt like *those* people that everyone hated on the plane, and while I’m sure people weren’t thrilled to have to hear a baby screaming on a flight, they were also super nice. Most parents have been there. They are all worried that their babies / kids are going to be loud / crying / annoying / smelly / etc. Just take a deep breath. You will all get through it. I promise.
Each flight and stage is a new challenge just like motherhood. Stay calm. And remember that it is all temporary. You are making beautiful memories and the stress + chaos is worth it when you get to your final destination.
If you have traveled with a baby, I’d love to know any tips / advice / packing essentials I might have missed in the comments below.
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First time to the blog? Hi, I am Brittany, and I am a fine art film photographer specializing in lifestyle wedding and family photography. I travel worldwide photographing beautiful weddings, engagements, and families, and most of the time you can find me in Naples (Southwest Florida). My light and airy editing style and candid, joyful photos are what I am best known for. Interested in working together? Contact the studio for more information.