As if parenthood isn’t enough of an adventure itself, traveling with a baby in tow is something else! Before you board that plane or enter that hotel room, arm yourself with our best baby travel hacks. These 14 tips are certain to make your vacation a little less work and a little more enjoyable for you and everyone else involved. Happy travels, baby!

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Photo: Lars Ploughmann via Flickr

Keep baby engaged with simple activities. For older babies who are a little more active and staying up for longer stretches, be prepared with simple activities to help pass the time and keep them engaged. For example, bring a water bottle filled with pom poms (found at the dollar or craft store) for your little one to take out and put back in. Or, bring interactive books, like pop-up or lift-the-tab, stories that will keep your babe’s attention.

Ship diapers and wipes to your destination. You’ve got enough to pack and to try to squeeze into your suitcases and bags. Use a service like Amazon or to send diapers or wipes ahead of time to your destination. Many hotels will accept deliveries for a guest a few days ahead of arrival. Be sure to check your hotel’s policy before you send.

Nurse or feed the baby during takeoff. This is probably one of the most common tips shared, but that’s because it is so true! To help your little one deal with the pressure changes in the cabin during takeoff (and landing!) nurse or give your baby a bottle. The sucking alleviates much of the pressure.

Request a portable crib in your hotel reservation. Most hotels will offer a portable crib (like a Pack ‘N Play) at no extra cost. Include it in your reservation early on so that if the hotel is not able to provide it, you can make other arrangements. Pro tip: Bring your own portable crib sheet with you. It won’t take up much space in your bag, but will be nice to have.


Photo: Dan Harrelson via Flickr

Baby wear to keep hands free. For younger infants, choose a soft, unstructured carrier, like a Moby Wrap or Solly Wrap. For older babies, consider a structured carrier like the Ergobaby 360. See our top picks here. This will keep your hands free for carrying luggage and handing your ID/boarding pass to TSA. Plus, it will likely keep your baby calm and happy. Check with your airport before traveling, but most will allow you to wear baby through security. If you’re traveling by car, keep your wrap on or your carrier easily accessible, like on the floor right by baby’s carseat, so you it’s quick and easy to put on at every stop.

Wear a badge to hold your ID, ticket and baby’s birth certificate. Remember those clear name card badge holders they distribute at conferences, with a lanyard? Use one of those to hold your license, boarding pass and Baby’s birth certificate. No digging through your purse or running the risk of it falling out of your pocket. Simple, accessible and no fuss.

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Photo: Quinn Dombrowski via Flickr

Simplify the carseat situation. If you’re flying, you can usually check your carseat at the ticketing desk for no charge (call ahead to confirm with your airline). Just make sure they put a plastic bag over it (you can also purchase a sturdy bag for your carseat online). Or, if you want to eliminate the hassle of even bringing it with you, arrange to include a carseat in your rental car. Prices vary, but average prices at companies like Avis and Hertz range around $10/day. Lastly, ridesharing services like Uber now offer some cars with a car seat and this is an option in the app when requesting a ride.

Pack odor-blocking diaper sacks. A blowout at 30,000 feet or in the middle of the desert with no trashcan in sight doesn’t have to be a total disaster. Pick up Arm & Hammer diaper dispenser bags to mask the smell of the dirty diaper. So while nobody wants to lug a stinky diaper around, at least this will make it a little more pleasant.

Pack an “emergency” kit. Just like the above tip to pack an extra top and outfit, keep a pacifier, wipes, sanitizing wipes, etc., easily accessible, in your purse or diaper bag so you don’t have to dig into the suitcase that may very well be checked and under the plane or somewhere else.

Airplane snack

Photo: Jennie Robinson Faber via Flickr

Bring snacks—for baby AND you. Pack simple and as-mess-free as possible snack, that are age-appropriate for your baby. Think puffs or even squeezable snacks. And, it’s important you stay fed as well. Pack granola bars and other treats you enjoy to stay energized for the trip. Plus, you’ll want to pack extras of these to keep in your hotel room.

Keep extra clothes in your carry-on and diaper bags. Keep an extra outfit for baby and a shirt for you in your carry-on or diaper bag for air and car travel. The goal is to keep it easily accessible so when a blowout, spit up or any one of a number of potential outfit-ruining scenarios happen, you can solve it without having to riffle through your suitcase, or worse yet, wait for landing and checked baggage retrieval.

Think location, location, location for the hotel room. When you book your hotel room, ask for it to be away from the elevators, pool and vending/ice machines. While you can’t control the hotel room being perfectly noise-free, you can do everything else possible to make it a quiet space.

Baby on airplane

via Caitlin Regan on Flickr Creative Commons

Pack a noise maker to help baby sleep. You can increase the quiet factor in your room by bringing a small, portable noise machine with you. Even if you can’t stop hotel noise, you can mask it. Don’t want to haul something else with you? Download a free white noise or waves soundtrack to play from your phone or tablet.

Do a thorough check of the hotel and car before leaving. Before checking out or returning the rental car, look under beds, under seats, one final check of the trunk, etc., because more likely than not, something will be left before. And always, always, double check that your baby’s favorite lovey is with you at every transition and location change.

What are your genius hacks for traveling with a baby?

—Jane Putnam