Oh how I loathe the idea of packing more stuff when I travel with my kids. I’ve read more guides that tell me to pack the kitchen sink than I care to admit. I made the overpacking mistake once when we took my oldest on his first plane ride at 3 months old. I will never make it again.
In almost 4 years of traveling with kids the only things that have been added to our baggage load are a stroller, car seats, and one tiny backpack my toddler insists on bringing even though 90% of the time he doesn’t carry it.
So what do you actually need to pack up when you head to the airport for the first time with your new baby? It’s simple; about the same things you use every day at home and when you go to the grocery story.
Plane travel- your carry on bag
These days I prefer to carry on my big purse and a backpack when traveling with my kids. I can fit way more into the backpack, throw in my own items, like that Kindle I may get to use for 3 minutes while the baby naps and my laptop, and it can double as a daypack for hubby to carry while we explore our destination. Plenty of fabulous baby bags and diaper bags are out there though. Find your favorite and make sure it looks fabulous. No one wants to look like a slob while jet setting around the globe. What should go in your bag?
• Diapers and wipes
• One change of clothing for baby
• One extra top for you
• Burp cloth
• Bottles and formula for trip length (plus enough formula to cover 2-3 extra feedings in case of delays)
• Nursing cover up (I love to add a wide scarf to my outfit and use that instead of packing one more thing)
• Nap lovies or blankie
• Small baby blanket
• One toy (up to 3 depending on the age of baby)
• Baby carrier (I love my ErgoBaby Sport)
• Squeeze packs of baby food, 2 spoons and 1 bib (if baby is eating solds)
Cars eats and strollers may be gate checked before you board the plane. Ask the ticket agent for a tag for your stroller. If you are not bringing your car seat on board the plane (it must be FTA approved) you will need a tag for that as well. There is no charge to check either of these items at baggage or the gate.
Note: TSA policy states that you can bring breast milk, ice packs for breast milk, formula, and baby food through security. It will be subject to inspection just like all of your other liquids, but you do not have to adhere to the 3oz rule here. Just keep the quantities reasonable for the length of your flight. If an agent gives you a hard time, or tries to deny you this right, ask to speak to a supervisor.
Lighten the load
Not everyone wants to be bogged down by extra baby gear when they travel. Check out alternatives to packing your own baby gear in the destination you are flying to.
• Look into renting car seats when you arrive. Most rental car companies do offer them for an extra fee.
• Ditch your giant stroller for a simple umbrella stroller. If baby is young enough think about wearing your little buddle in your favorite carrier. She will be happier snuggled up with you.
• Ask your hotel if they have a crib you can use, or look up baby gear rental agencies in the area. Many are very reasonably priced.
Check the bag
Unless you are going on a very short trip, you may want to check your main suitcase. I know plenty of families who only do carry on, but for me, I like to dump everything and walk on with as little as possible. Let me tell you, that is still plenty.
I only pack the bare minimum when it comes to toiletries, unless I am leaving the country. I can always buy more when I get there. The same goes for diapers, wipes, formula and baby food. I bring enough to last the first 2 days and then stock up when I arrive. I usually need to grab snacks for my family anyway, so why not add a few more things to the list.
Clothing is the hardest part, but honestly the fashionista in me has more trouble paring down my own wardrobe more so than my kids. If I am traveling for a week here is what I will pack for my baby boy. If I know I will have access to laundry I will cut this list almost in half.
• 7 tops
• 7 bottoms
• 7 socks
• 2 pairs of shoes
• 1 hooded sweatshirt
• 1 hat (sunhat or ski cap depending on temperature)
• Medications: small bottle of acetaminophen or ibuprofen, and vitamins
• Baby tooth brush (if he has teeth)
As you can see you really don’t need to pack the kitchen sink, especially when traveling with a baby. You are entertainment enough, and many items can also pull double duty (ex. stroller can also be a high chair). Think about what you absolutely have to have and won’t be able to find at your destination, and then start packing.
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