I have traveled with my baby since he was 3 months old—planes, trains and automobiles—he has done it all. We’ve both learned a lot from it, and have had many high and low points. He’s over a year old now and has many miles under his belt, and my husband and I have gathered some insight on how to travel efficiently and safely.

Planes can be hard for kids, no matter what age. And both new and seasoned parents know that traveling with a baby can be extra stressful. However, there are also ways to make your experience much easier. From checking luggage, to skipping security lines, to boarding the flight—Here are my quick tips to having a less stressful travel day.

1. Precheck

If you don’t already have it, you should apply now. It’s easy to get approved, and usually, cuts the time of security lines by at least half. Better yet, you do not have to remove your shoes, jacket, or computer. You simply put your bag on the conveyor belt, empty your pockets, and walk through the scanner. Your child can travel with you in precheck lanes until they are 12 years old.

2. Check Carry-Ons at the Gate

I like to only have the essentials while traveling with a baby, because less clutter is easier—and he is heavy enough as it is! To travel lighter while avoiding baggage fees, bring your bag to the gate and have them check it there. Two perks: less luggage for you, and you save on the cost of the bag.

3. Board Last

Luckily, airlines allow for families to board early, which is fantastic. However, I have found that boarding last is actually easier—especially if I am traveling alone with my baby. Perhaps due to the commotion of boarding, or the recycled air, I find that my son is most irritable while sitting on the plane and taxiing. At the gate, we can still run around, instead of waiting and sitting around on the plane at the gate.

4. Feed while Taking off and Landing

I received a great tip from a family friend: that feeding going up and feeding going down will help with the adjustment of the child’s ears. Ever since doing this, I can tell the difference—my baby isn’t bothered by the altitude like before. The gulping motion actually helps open up their ears, similar to adults chewing gum or yawning.

5. Travel with a Baby Carrier

Are our hands ever more tied up than they are when we’re traveling? Using a sling or ergo baby carrier is a great way for your infant to stay snuggled on your chest while being hands-free. This is especially ideal if you are traveling alone.

Traveling can be hard with a baby, but it’s absolutely doable. Babies are free for the first two years of air travel, so get out there and take the trips that you want to. I hope these tips and strategies give you the confidence and know-how to travel with ease. Bon voyage!

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