We finally did it! We took our 4.5-month old on vacation with us! Traveling is such a huge part of our lives; I wanted to make sure we could continue to explore the world, just with a new companion!
Our goal was to start Elliott at an early age, but in the back of my mind, I was extremely nervous! We wanted to keep our first flight under 3 hours to see how Elliott handled flying, which is why we settled on a quick 4-day getaway to Fort Lauderdale, FL.
Before our vacation, I did a ton of research on traveling with infants and I was a bit overwhelmed. This made me want to share our experience/tips, as well as my favorite travel items.
Come prepared to feed
First things first, if your travels fall over feeding times, make sure to come prepared with bottles, formula/milk, bibs, burp clothes, etc. TSA allows traveling with baby liquids, and from what I hear, it is pretty hassle-free. You can check out their site for the full requirements.
If you plan to nurse instead of bottlefeed, dress comfortably. I came dressed in easily accessible clothing. I wore a pair of leggings with a nursing tank top and covered up with one of my favorite wrap sweaters from Gap. I don’t wear a bra under the nursing tank to make it more convenient. The wrap sweater can be worn in several ways: loosely draped down, or buttoned on either the right or left side. I was comfortable nursing on the plane, using my wrap sweater as a privacy cover.
I also love traveling with a nursing scarf. I’ve gotten a few from Amazon. They have multiple functions: scarf, nursing cover, high chair cover, blanket, sun cover, etc. It came in super handy during our trip.
Bring your stroller and car seat to the gate
For us, traveling through the airport was a breeze with our nuna PIPA infant car seat attached to our BabyZen YoYo+ Stroller. I recommend taking your stroller directly through security, instead of checking it at the gate. Just keep in mind that if you attach your car seat, the stroller and the car seat have to go through the x-ray separately.
Some people recommend wearing babies through security with a carrier, but that is just another item that you need to lug along, so we decided against it. We tried to keep Elliott awake at the airport so that he would sleep during the flight. It wasn’t a big deal to pull him out of the car seat combo and walk through the x-ray. While I was going through security with Elliott, my husband popped off the car seat and stroller for TSA. We had no issues!
After security, we put Elliott back in his car seat/stroller combo and headed to the gate. We purchased the additional travel bag for our BabyZen stroller, and once we were done using it, we folded the stroller and zipped it into the travel bag. The gate agents were shocked by how small the stroller folded. It was literally the size of a backpack, making it easy to carry on and stow in the overhead compartment.
If you pay for an additional ticket for your infant, you can bring your car seat onto the plane (the PIPA is FDA approved). We did not purchase a ticket for Elliott and I planned to hold him. If your flight isn’t fully booked, you can always ask the gate agent if you can bring your car seat onboard free of charge instead of paying for a ticket. Of course, this is a gamble, but we got lucky on our return flight and were able to bring the car seat on board with us! Elliott passed out and slept the entire flight in his PIPA.
We weren’t as lucky on our departure, though. Our flight was completely sold out, so we checked the car seat at the gate and took turns holding Elliott. When checking our car seat, we placed it in a waterproof bag that I purchased off of Amazon. The cover is small and compact when not in use (we put it in the bottom basket of our stroller) and then opens up to protect the car seat from rain, dirt or nicks that can happen from handling.
If you are looking for a car seat, I highly recommend the nuna PIPA. I’ll be posting a full review on it shortly, but it is the best infant car seat on the market. It is known to be one of the lightest car seats out there. One of my favorite features is that it can be installed without the base, which is perfect for traveling! The nuna also fits most strollers! We have attachments for both our Bugaboo Cameleon stroller and our YOYO+ travel stroller. Here is the attachment we used for the BabyZen.
I love the YOYO+; even though it is an investment, it can be used from newborn-toddler years. Air France developed the YOYO+, so it meets most carry on/overhead bin requirements.
Pack essentials and then some
I use my Goyard St. Louis GM tote as a diaper bag along with my ToteSavvy insert, and I love this combo! The St. Louis GM is super roomy and fits the ToteSavvy with plenty of open space. The ToteSavvy is perfect if you don’t want to invest in another diaper bag. It fits inside many bags, including the Louis Vuitton Neverful MM and GM and the large Longchamp Le Pliage. While traveling, I stuff this bag up. Plan on packing several diapers (bring more than you think you will need), wipes, diaper cream, pacifiers (and pacifier wipes), toys, a book, and extra onesies (just in case of any accidents). The ToteSavvy insert comes with a diaper table sheet, but I do wish I would have grabbed our portable plush changing pad. It would have been extremely useful, especially while changing Elliott on the plane. This way, we wouldn’t have to lug the entire diaper bag through the small aisle. You can put diapers and wipes into the portable changing pad, and it rolls right up. The attached strap makes it effortless to carry.
We also purchased baby headphones for the flight. I figured they would help Elliott block out the noise of the plane and allow him to sleep better. I’m not sure if they made a difference, but they were nice to have.
Other baby items to consider
Depending on your set up, you may want to bring a travel crib/playard. We stayed at a condo during our trip, and they did not have a crib, so we brought our nuna SENA Aire. I love nuna products, and this playard worked great as both a crib and play area for Elliott. We kept the bassinet attached for nighttime sleep. The playard folds up easily and weighs only 25 pounds. We checked this bad boy at the counter for free since we flew Southwest.
Since our plans for this trip mostly included relaxing at the beach, we brought a baby beach tent for Elliott to chill in. The tent packs up super thin, making it easy to throw into the bottom of a suitcase. Once we got to the beach, we opened the tent and realized we left the tent sticks at home. We ended up having to use random wood sticks we found on the beach to hold it down. When the tent was finally set up, it worked great! It was large enough to fit me! It was nice to shade from the sun and any bugs.
Another item that you may consider bringing if you plan on being away from the baby at all during the trip, is a breast pump. I brought my Elvie pump, which I just threw in my checked bag. The pump was perfect for traveling. You can read my full review on the Elvie pump here.
Overall, our entire experience was much easier than I thought it would be. Everyone at the airport was super friendly and helpful! We even got a few “great jobs!” and “your baby was so good!”. Don’t stress out and stay calm. Everyone around you understands what you are going through, as most of them have been there.
Thanks for reading!