Travel Tips & Packing Guide for infant to 1 year old
When I was pregnant with the twins, we went overseas to explore Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan and China. I was only 12 weeks pregnant! It was the first trip the boys went on! For that trip, I didn’t have to worry about packing for a baby, as long as the destinations had no risk of the Zika virus it was what you would consider, packing as normal…
When we travel now, it’s a different story, the things you need to pack for one small human is ridiculous! However, before you rule out travelling with a baby to one year old, think again, it is absolutely worth it and hopefully, this post will help you prepare.
The main benefits of travelling with a baby under 1 is that your small human cannot run around, they still sleep a lot (Henry slept around 12 hours every night when we were away!), they are lightweight and portable and the most important thing is that everyone loves a baby! You will end up making friends you don’t necessarily want because you have a baby.
These are our tips for travelling with a baby under 1.
Bassinet on long haul flights & an aisle seat
This might sound like a given, but sometimes these seats book up fast. So, you want to make sure you can get on a flight where you have access to a bassinet on long haul flights and on shorter flights, try and book an aisle seat at the front of the plane.
If you normally prefer a window seat and don’t want to move to an aisle, the reason for this is because at any given time you will need to get up and change their nappy, or go for a walk to keep them occupied and not crying! An aisle seat is much easier for this.
It helps to research the plane prior to picking your seats. We had the side of the plane where only one bassinet was located where in the middle of the plane they often have two bassinets next to each other.
When can you safely travel with an infant?
It is important to check the airline you are wanting to fly with as each airline has different policies relating to travelling with an infant. Certain airlines allow you to travel with a baby as early as 2 days old, others at 2 weeks of age. I personally, wouldn’t consider flying until after all of their vaccinations have been given and their immune system has grown a little bit. As a mother to preemie babies, I can see how easily these small humans can pick up viruses and can put them in hospital and planes are full of germs and recycled air.
It is, of course, a personal preference, and sometimes you can’t avoid flying for whatever reason.
Take only what you need
Might be easier said than done, but take as little as practically possible. When you’re travelling around, hotel hopping, airports, trains etc, you don’t want to be carrying around all of those toys and buckets and spades.
Think about purchasing items at your destination. For example, if you’re going to Thailand, look at purchase some beach toys when you are there and you can always donate to a local child before you leave.
Below is my packing list for our nappy bag and carry-on bag. I also list what we pack in our suitcase for Henry as well. They don’t need as much as you think they do, but what they do need can often take up a bit of room (especially if you’re formula feeding!)
Take a baby carrier!
An absolute must – take a baby carrier. Our preference is the Baby Bjorn One Air Mesh as it keeps you as cool as possible when carrying a small human around. This is particularly helpful when travelling to a destination such as Thailand!
Henry slept well in the carrier and it meant we didn’t have to worry about navigating stairs. Not all babies will sleep well in the carrier so try this method before relying on it.
For our trip to Thailand, there was no way I was going to take my Bugaboo Donkey 2 with me – it is HUGE and I didn’t want it getting damaged on the flight over. We weren’t going to take a pram at all, but a friend who was living there loaned us their Bugaboo Bee which came in handy for the times you just didn’t want to carry the extra weight or heat. If you are wanting to take a pram with you, see below!
Buy a travel pram that fits as carry-on
We have purchased ourselves a travel pram that folds up and fits as a carry-on. What an invention! You can get the more expensive brands like the Baby-Zen Yo-Yo, or you can do what we did and purchased a similar one, which does the same thing. That’s what we did and I couldn’t be happier. I have not only used it for our domestic flights, but also use it for daycare drop off 3 days per week and we use it for our weekends away as it takes up no room in the boot!
Purchase nappies at your destination
Take only the nappies you will need for the airport, flight and possibly another 1 – 2 days. Then, head to a local supermarket and purchase what you need for the rest of the trip. There is no need taking 2 weeks supply with you – that will take up your entire suitcase!
Pack enough formula (and then some)
I was not able to breastfeed so Henry was formula-fed. I thought I had enough formula to last the two weeks we were away plus a bit extra. But, I didn’t count on wastage due to the extremely hot weather. The last two days, Henry was on rations – I was putting only 4 scoops instead of 6 into his bottles to get me through. I literally scraped every last bit of powder out of my last tin on the descent back into Brisbane Airport to get him through.
Also, take into consideration the possibility of being delayed, or flight cancelled and potential need an additional day or two at your destination. This is something I didn’t think about and we were just lucky everything was running on time!
Henry was a pretty easy going kid – his bottles did not need to be warmed, he would have them at room temperature which made things easy. However, most airlines will offer to warm your bottle up for you if you need.
The airports also have allowances for additional water to be taken through for bottles. We got challenged at the airport in Phuket, they didn’t want me to take through a bottle of water and I had to argue for about 5 minutes pointing at my son saying he needs this water as it has been boiled and cooled ready for his formula to be added. We got through and you wouldn’t think they would turn you down when you’re trying to feed a baby!
Have an early dinner
We used to love eating out at restaurants when they are jam-packed and the atmosphere is in full swing. However, depending on the venue of choice, taking a baby isn’t always an option that will work. We now choose, where possible, to eat at around 5.30 pm so we are finished by around 7:00 pm.
This way, if Henry is being noisy, I don’t feel so bad as it’s mainly other families eating at this time.
The alternative would be to eat late when your baby is asleep and is happy to sleep in the pram. I think this option is much easier when you have an infant. The older they get the less they seem to want to do as you need them to do!
Priority lanes! Boarding the plan, security and customs
I always knew families got priority when boarding a flight (and I now know why!) but I didn’t realise we got priority when going through security or customs as well.
This is amazing. When you have a slightly unsettled baby, you don’t want to be standing in a huge line, trying to rush everything through knowing passengers behind you are frustrated because you’re taking so long.
Boarding the flight first is really helpful. The last thing you want to be doing is getting flustered because you’re trying to get everything into the overhead cabins, getting seated and then realising that you left the bottle, or the toy or something up in the bag and having to get back up to get it. All of this is tricky when the corridor is full of people.
Where possible, ring ahead and ask the hotel or your Air B&B if they can provide a cot for the room. If this can save you having to bring your own, that would be really helpful.
When we have to take our own, we use the Baby Bjorn Travel cot. It’s super compact, lightweight and easy to transport. We highly recommend this product!
Be Passport Ready
It might slip your mind, but your baby needs a passport to travel internationally. Start the process early so you’re not trying to get things expedited and paying a fortune for the service.
Have your travel insurance sorted before going
You never know when you might need to see a doctor or have an emergency trip to the hospital. When travelling with a baby, you need to remember they can’t tell you what’s wrong so you’re guessing most of the time. You’re in an unfamiliar destination where the water is different, the sun is different, you might be using different products (e.g sunscreen) and there could be a food allergy you aren’t aware of. Travel insurance is an absolute must.
Always carry a spare set of clothes
It happens… it happened to us. I am sitting at the shopping centre in Phuket, Henry gave me this face of concentration. Next minute, it has oozed out of the nappy all over the pram liner. What a mess. In public. Gross. Always have a spare change of clothes for in case this happens! And it will!
Pack laundry powder
Because the above can happen at any time, it’s important to pack some laundry powder. I have used the sink in the bathroom hotel many times to wash clothes. If you’re at an Air B&B, choose a place that has a laundry so you can do a quick load of washing if you need to.
Baby Jet Lag
It’s a real thing, but thankfully with only a 3 hour time difference, we were okay. But if you’re travelling somewhere on the other side of the globe, try to allow a few days to get back into a rhythm again.
Your routine (if you have one) will probably go out the window
We never really had a routine, mainly due to the fact that we spent so much time at the hospital with Archie, Henry had to go with the flow and he slept when he wanted, was held and fed by whoever so he was one very resilient little baby. So for us, travelling didn’t impact any sort of routine.
But, if you have one, be prepared for it to get a little out of whack. The younger they are, the easier it is for them to sleep anywhere. As they get older, they don’t always like sleeping in random places. But we are lucky that if Henry is tired, he will sleep sitting on our lap, in the pram or in the carrier.
Henry has always been a bit of a cat napper during the day but has been pretty good throughout the night (although he had a huge sleep regression after our trip!).
Air B&B or Hotel
We typically stat at Accor properties. We are platinum members, love the hotels, service and we get 50% off dining with our Accor Plus membership. They have all been so accommodating for us throughout our travels as well.
However, should you prefer the additional space and laundry facilities, Air B&B can provide you with great options.
Ask for a spare seat next to you on your flight
When you are checking in at the airport, ask the staff person if there is a vacant seat next to you. We have found they normally try and seat you there in any case, where possible, but it is nice to have the extra space as you will end up using it, especially as they get that little bit bigger!
Sometimes it’s best to pay for a better flight option…
I know when you’re booking a holiday, you often want to save as much money as possible. But when you have a baby travelling with you, it can often be better for you to pay that little bit more for the direct flight, or less layover time in the middle. Trust me, the last thing you want to deal with is a baby at an airport terminal who is tired, hungry and bored because they are just being held. If you can avoid this for a few extra hundred dollars… I would say it’s worth it.
Nappy Bag and Carry on packing guide
- Disposable Nappy Bin Bags
- Baby Carrier
- Spare Clothes (for everyone)
- Toys – but most airlines will have something so just pack the favourite one or two small toys
- Snacks (if your child is up to having snacks). Most airlines will give you a toddler/baby meal but always safe to pack a few things yourself. Security will pass through food pouches if they are over 100ml due to it being baby food.
- Dummy / Pacifier (if required)
- Change blanket – I use a portable one that folds down to nothing and can double as a little blanket if need be
- Hand Sanitiser
- Travel Pram (if required)
- Car Seat (if required)
- Baby Headphones
- Inflatable Foot Pillow
- Formula Prep Machine. Yes, I know. I took mine with me and it was a godsend. I boiled bottled water and then put that cooled into the machine. I had it ready for the day and it saved me so much time and worry.
Additional baby items to be packed in the checked bag
These are some extra items which we feel are an absolute must and can be packed in your checked luggage
- Baby safe sunscreen. Remember, their skin is so sensitive so using the right sunscreen is very important. Where possible, I would keep the child out of the sun – the advice from our paediatrician is until they are one. But that can be difficult, especially when visiting a country like Thailand!
- Hand Breast Pump (if you’re still pumping or if you go out for a night)
- Milk Bottles for storing and/or making milk
- First Aid Kit – band-aids, Nose Aspirator (we use Fess little noses), Fess Saline Spray, thermometer, nappy cream (we use Zinc & Castor Oil Cream), Panadol, Nurofen and syringes and Skin lotion
- Baby clothes. We packed double Pajamas and sleeping grow bags as Henry occasionally liked to vomit his milk up so we needed a back up at all times!
- Nappies and Wipes. Just enough for a couple of days so you can get to the supermarket and pick up some local supplies.
- Muslin Wrap
- Travel Pram Fan
- Bottle Brush Cleaner (if required)
- Bottle Airer (if required)
- Milton Tablets for sterilising
- Bottles & Teats
Our recommended products
- Baby Bjorn One Air Mesh – You can use this from newborn to toddler. It comes with the newborn insert and it super easy to use and helps keep you cooler in the warmer months.
- Baby Bjorn Porta Cot / Travel cot. This is a compact, light-weight cot that is easy to take with you.
- BabyZen YoYo Travel Pram. This travel pram folds up so you can take it with you as carry on luggage.
- Replica Baby Zen YoYo Travel Pram. If you can’t afford the luxury of an additional travel pram (like us) then you might bet able to get away with a replica travel pram, which for us, has been great.
- Baby Banz Bluetooth Headphones/Ear Muffs. We found these very helpful on the flight especially for take-off and landing. Also, they are great for fireworks, events with loud music etc.
- BETUS Dreamer Comfort Inflatable Foot Rest Travel Pillow. Great for adults to put your feet up or kids wanting to lay flat. We loved using ours!
- Tommee Tippee Forumla Prep machine. This was a life-saver for me!
- Bottle Airer & Bottle Brush
- Pram Fan. An absolute must, especially when travelling to a warm destination.
- Packing Cubes. These will save you so much space. You can thank me for it later.
- Portable high chair. This attaches to just about any standard seat!