10 Travel with Baby Tips for (From a Dad)

It’s a common myth that traveling with babies is impossible. In fact, this falsehood is one of the main reasons my wife and I waited nine years before finally starting a family. We were afraid kids would end our travel lifestyle. Now that I’m a dad, though, I know that traveling with a baby is not only doable but also it can be a lot of fun. For a stress-free vacation with your little one, follow these 10 baby travel tips.

Traveling with a baby is fun and easy with these tips!
Traveling with a baby is fun and easy with these tips! (Photo credit: Bryan Richards)

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1. Play and sleep on the go.

A well-rested baby is a happy baby. Maintain your baby’s napping and bedtime schedules, starting with the journey itself. This doesn’t mean driving all night when the baby is sleeping, because then mom and dad will not be happy. Instead, my wife and I drive or fly during the day without throwing off our baby’s schedule. When he should be awake, we make sure he has plenty of toys to play with. If traveling by car with more than one adult, it’s helpful if one person can get in the backseat with baby during playtime, too. When it’s nap time, take those toys away and put on soothing music or turn the radio off altogether until your baby falls asleep.

Pack plenty of toys when traveling with a baby
Pack plenty of baby toys (Photo credit: MNStudio, Depositphotos.com)

2. Pack multiple baby toys to dole out slowly.

The right travel toys are so important when traveling with babies. Be sure to pack multiple baby toys, including a few new ones. We only give our son a single toy at a time, switching it out on a regular basis when he starts to get bored or fussy. Keep travel toys separate from your baby’s regular toys, too. This will make them seem special indeed on subsequent trips. Take a look at the best travel toys for babies now!

Baby sleeping on vacation
A separate room may help babies sleep better on vacation (Photo credit: evgenyataman, Depositphotos.com)

3. Book a suite, connecting rooms or a vacation rental.

Our first two nights in New York City were a disaster. That’s because we booked a typical, small NYC hotel room. At night, we tried to go about our business, praying that our baby would fall asleep while we stayed up reading or watching TV. Instead, he cried so loud that we were convinced the hotel would boot us out the next morning. Thus, when he slept, we slept, even if that meant going to bed at 8 pm.

After two nights, we switched to a suite in a different hotel. Having a separate room for the baby helped him to fall asleep as easily as he would at home. Meanwhile my wife and I stayed up with a bottle of wine and a movie. Now, whenever we travel, we look for affordable suites or home rentals where the baby and his parents have more room and can get a better night’s sleep.

Slow down when traveling with a baby
A relaxing afternoon with my baby at Madison Park in New York City (Photo credit: Bryan Richards)

4. Take it slow.

Traveling with a young child is very different from traveling pre-parenthood. Sure, you can bring a baby almost anywhere, but you need to slow down to a baby’s pace. When traveling with a baby, you need to account for feedings, diaper changes, temper tantrums, naps and more. I suggest you visit less attractions, rather than go-go-going from one site to the next. You might find you actually enjoy slow travel more.

Family dinner time on vacation with a baby
My family dining early on vacation (Photo credit: Bryan Richards)

5. Enjoy the early bird special.

Many new parents are frightened to eat out when traveling with baby for fear of disturbing other diners. So they stay in, surviving on a rotation of take-out Chinese and pizza or room service. If they do venture out, then it’s to someplace kid-friendly but cheesy. That’s no way to enjoy the culinary scene of a new city. My wife and I still enjoy dinners at nice restaurants with our son. We just aim for an earlier dinnertime so that we can be finished before the sleep monster arrives.

Baby sleeping on beach on vacation
Where does your baby sleep best on vacation? (Photo credit: quintanilla, Depositphotos.com)

6. Figure out where your baby sleeps best on vacation.

On our trip to New York, we figured our baby could take both his morning and afternoon naps in his stroller while we explored the city. WRONG! He may have caught a quarter of his typical napping time, which resulted in misery that first night in the hotel room. He was overtired. On our beach vacation, we made a commitment to make sure one nap a day was in our rental unit and we had no outbursts like we did in NYC.

Other babies may refuse to nap in their hotel room cribs. If that’s the case for your child, then you may want to plan long drives to coincide with nap time. Some do better napping in an infant carrier, like a sling or an ERGOBaby. Or, maybe your child actually digs stroller naps. For those babies, purchase a stroller shade or infant carrier canopy to make the ride more peaceful for your little one. Read additional vacation sleep tips from a child sleep expert before you travel with your baby or toddler.

Keep baby buckled for safety's sake
Keep baby buckled for safety’s sake (Photo credit: spe_dep, Depositphotos.com)

7. Think safety first.

While the focus of your vacation with a baby should be on fun and relaxation, it’s best to be prepared for sickness or injury. Be sure to bring your family’s health insurance cards as well as any prescription and over-the-counter medications you think you might need. If traveling overseas or you’ll be embarking on a cruise, you may want to purchase travel insurance, too. You’ll also want to wipe down high-touch surfaces with antibacterial wipes, like hotel room remotes and door handles, as well as airplane tray tables and armrests. Keep baby hands clean with baby wipes, too.

When flying, the safest place for your baby or toddler is secured in a carseat or CARES harness in a separate seat. Similarly, when road-tripping with a baby it may be tempting to remove your little one from the carseat for diaper changes or feeding time (particularly if still nursing). But it’s best to pull off at a rest stop for safety’s sake. Learn more tips for staying healthy when traveling with kids.

Many babies sleep better in a full-sized crib when traveling
Many babies sleep better in a full-sized crib when traveling (Photo credit: IgorVetushko, Depositphotos.com)

8. Rent a crib for traveling with a baby.

Yes, that Pack ‘n Play is foldable and portable, but it takes up a crazy amount of space and can lead to baggage fees when flying. Instead, I recommend leaving it at home. Most hotels have cribs available free of charge or at affordable rates. The same applies to property management services like VRBO. Be sure to inquire about a crib ahead of time. If a crib isn’t available, baby gear rental services exist in many cities. Most babies will sleep more soundly in a full-sized crib, too.

Stacks of baby diapers
Diapers can take up a lot of space in your suitcase (Photo credit: Vrabelpeter1, Depositphotos.com)

9. Ship diapers to your destination.

Like the travel crib, diapers take up A LOT of space. We pack what we need for the journey (plus a day or two) and ship the rest for free to our destination via Amazon Prime. This is so much more convenient than taking precious vacation time to shop for diapers at the vacation destination, too.

The joy of travel through the eyes of a baby
The joy of travel through the eyes of a baby (Photo credit: Bryan Richards)

10. Use a packing list.

A packing list is essential when traveling with baby. With so many things to remember and pack, a handy checklist makes the process so much easier and less stressful. Check out this packing list for babies and toddlers and airplane kit for babies and toddlers before leaving home.

Flying with a baby or toddler
Learn more tips for parents of babies and toddlers (Photo credit: Melpomene, Depositphotos.com)

Learn more baby travel tips.

Read our picks for the best baby gear for new dads.

For air travel, take a look at these tried and true tips for flying with a baby or toddler.

If traveling by car, be sure to read these road trip with baby tips.

For even more tips on traveling with baby, check out The Travel Mamas’ Guide, a fun and informative book on how to vacation with babies and children…and stay sane!

Baby Travel Tips

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Do you have any questions or additional baby travel tips? Let us know in the comments below!

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  1. I’m all about shipping things ahead. Because we traveled to NY a lot when our son was an infant, I shipped toys and play mats to my parents house through Amazon prime.