I certainly received mixed reactions when I told people that my husband and I were taking our 4.5 month old son to Europe. Some people were thrilled for us and said it was a wonderful age to travel with a baby, while others wished us luck with a sarcastic chuckle. Well, after making it overseas to 3 different countries with our son, Austin, I can officially say that we did it AND we loved every second of it. The thought of taking our son overseas at such a young age was certainly a bit nerve-racking, but I am so glad that we took the plunge because now we feel confident and excited for future trips. Here is why we found it fairly easy breezy to travel with an infant:
- They are still immobile so you don’t have to worry about chasing them around
- They sleep a lot so you can still enjoy quiet moments with your partner while you are away
- You can travel for free on airplanes until they are 2 years old
- If you are traveling to a different time zone they can adapt fairly easily, especially if they are not yet sleep trained
- You don’t have to pack much for them
- If you breastfeed, you don’t have to worry about making and cleaning bottles
- The vacation can be all about what you and your partner want to do and see considering the baby won’t remember it anyways!
If you have been contemplating taking your little one for a family adventure, here are some tips that I found handy and hope that you will too!
1. Get to the airport early and ask for a bassinet when you check in- one of the main reasons that we decided to make our first trip with Austin international was that if you fly overseas with a baby you can get a bassinet for them to sleep in on the plane free of charge. The only downside is that it is first come first serve, so unfortunately it is not guaranteed. However, most flights offer at least two bassinets, and the chances of there being multiple little babies on one plane at the same time is probably slim. When you get to the airport, request that you would like a bassinet, and if they have one available they will put you and whoever you are traveling with in seats with a wall in front of you where the bassinet will attach. We flew Delta and had no problem getting a bassinet on our way to Europe. On our flight back, though, a bassinet was not available, but since the plane was not full they were VERY accommodating and changed our seats to an empty row so that my husband and I could have our own seats and put Austin in his carseat in the seat between us. It was wonderful and so nice of them to do that. Airlines are usually pretty good about customer service, so if you ask nicely they should help you out!
2. Check your stroller right before you get on the plane- another convenient thing about traveling with a baby is that you can check their stroller for free at the gate. We have an UPPABaby and it came with a stroller bag, so we brought that and shoved a couple of extra things in the bag (like the Baby Bjorn) before we checked it. It was great keeping the stroller with us until we got on the plane because we didn’t have to carry him all around the airport. We also put one of our carryons on the bottom of the stroller so that we could wheel it around instead of carrying it. Once you get to the gate they will give you a tag for the seat and the stroller bag and then once you get off of the plane they will have it all waiting for you.
3. Invest in a carseat that doesn’t require a base- our UPPABaby stroller and carseat was definitely one of the best gifts that we got at our baby shower. We originally registered for the UPPABaby because we liked that the carseat did not require a base so it would be convenient to travel with. This was our first time using the carseat without the base and it was an absolute breeze. I watched a YouTube tutorial on how to do it before we left, but it is very easy to do. We were able to quickly hop in and out of Ubers our entire trip without having to lug a base around.
4. Ask for a crib at the hotel- most hotels will provide you with something for your baby to sleep in, whether it be a bassinet, crib or a Pack N’ Play. We stayed at three different hotels during our trip, and all three were very accommodating and provided us with something for Austin to sleep in.
5. Pack a thermometer, baby Tylenol, saline spray, and nasal aspirator- right before we left for our trip we had Austin’s 4 month check-up and I asked his pediatrician if she had any advice on things to pack for baby’s first trip. My biggest concern about traveling overseas with a newborn was that he would get sick and we would be far away from his primary care doctor. She suggested bringing a thermometer (so that incase we thought that he came down with a fever we wouldn’t have to guess) and baby Tylenol to break the fever in the event that he did happen to have one. She also suggested saline nasal spray and a nasal aspirator (like the Snotsucker by Fridababy) incase he got a stuffy nose. Luckily we did not end up needing any of these things, but it was reassuring to know that we had them on hand just incase. Lastly, she reminded us that in the worst case scenario we would have to bring him to the hospital, but where we were traveling to all had good healthcare, so not to stress out about it too much (and so we didn’t).
6. Pack a ziploc bag with disinfectant wipes to stash in your diaper bag- to me, airports are the absolute germiest places ever and a germaphobes nightmare! As I mentioned above, my biggest concern about traveling with a baby was that he would get sick while we were away, so I was super mindful about cleanliness on our trip. I packed a Ziploc bag of CleanWell Botanical Disinfecting Wipes and used them on EVERYTHING. Right when we got on the plane I wiped down our seats, trays, arm rests, and tv remotes very diligently. When we got the bassinet I also made sure to throughly clean it and then I put a crib sheet over it so that Austin never actually had to touch any part of it. The wipes came in handy throughout our whole trip- to wipe down surfaces before putting the changing pad down, to wipe down the changing pad after each use, to wipe down the stroller handles, the remote control at the hotels- I could go on all day!
7. Bring your babe in the shower with you- sticking to the hygiene/germaphobe-mom topic, the thought of taking a bath in a hotel grosses me out thinking about the hundreds of feet that have been in that tub before me. No thank you! With that being said, I wasn’t about to bathe Austin in a hotel tub either, so instead I took him in the shower with me every night before bed. Taking your baby in the shower is kind of scary at first because you are so worried about dropping them, but once you get the hang of it it is super efficient. I would yell to my husband when I was done washing him and he would come get him with a towel to dry him off so that I could finish my own shower.
8. Buy diapers at your destination- I tried to pack as light as I could for our trip, and since Austin and I were sharing a suitcase I was not about to waste a ton of space with tons of diapers. I stocked up my diaper bag and my luggage with enough diapers to last a few days, but once our supply got low we just went to the store and bought more.
9. Bring more burp clothes than bibs- Austin is at the age where his mouth is constantly leaking like a faucet and if it wasn’t for bibs his shirt would be drenched 24/7. I found it took up much less space to pack a bunch of cloth bibs than it did to pack a bunch of burp cloths. When we were going out for the day I would take one or two facecloths from the hotel and use them as burp cloths.
10. Bring a baby carrier- we were really glad that we brought the Baby Bjorn on our trip, mainly because the restaurants and sidewalks in Europe are sometimes very narrow and we didn’t want to have to deal with our huge stroller all the time. Chris loves wearing Austin in the Baby Bjorn, so we mostly used it at night when Austin was getting sleepy before we went out to dinner. It was great because once he was in it he would fall asleep as we walked to the restaurant and then we were able to enjoy a nice, peaceful meal (and wine!) while he snoozed away (Chris would keep it on during the meal). The Baby Bjorn was also great for shorter walks and could even be used at the airport, especially before you get on the plane when you pack up your stroller.
11. Pack your carry-on incase your luggage gets lost- unfortunately I learned this lesson the hard way as my luggage was lost from our flight from Amsterdam to Prague. I didn’t receive it until three days later, so I had to go out and buy some clothes and necessities for Austin and I once we realized we didn’t have any idea when I would be getting it back. I was much smarter when prepping for our flight from Prague to Paris and packed a carry-on with extra clothes and toiletries for us incase it happened again (luckily it did not!). Pre-baby I hardly ever checked a bag while traveling, but since this trip was long and required more space for both of our belongings, checking a bag was necessary. I definitely learned my lesson for future trips, though, and will ALWAYS pack a carry-on in the future incase my luggage gets lost.
12. BE FLEXIBLE– my last piece of advice for traveling with a newborn is to be flexible with your plans on your trip. My husband and I literally went with no plans in mind and I think that made the trip super relaxed for the both of us knowing that we didn’t have an agenda to stick to. We flew to Amsterdam knowing that we wanted to hit up another country or two while we were gone, but we didn’t even plan where until we arrived in Europe and stayed a couple of nights at our first destination. I know this sounds stressful to some people so you definitely don’t have to be as loose as us, but just know that traveling can be exhausting, especially with a baby, so you are only going to stress yourself out if you try and stick to a tight schedule. Some days we lingered in bed until 10 am, while other days we were up early and out doing things. We took our entire trip one day at a time and that definitely made things stress-free.
Traveling with a newborn may not be the exact same as your pre-baby trips, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be fun! There were certainly quite a few times where I found myself changing Austin on the sidewalk because he had a massive blowout and the restaurant bathroom was too tiny to change him in (btw this was one major issue I found with the majority of restaurant bathrooms in all 3 countries we visited!). However, my husband and I got a good laugh (and of course he just HAD to photograph these lovely moments) and rolled with it. If you are chill, your baby will follow suit, so enjoy yourself, try not to stress-out, and enjoy some relaxing family time!! xoxo