Getting Real with Kira Hazledine
International Travel with an Infant Part 3: The How-To
I’ve talked a lot about my international trip to England with my infant daughter, there and back, but the important part is how I managed. Some things I would repeat every time, and other things I would do differently. Hopefully this list of tips and tricks will help you on your journey with an infant!
Tips for General Travel
- Babies need passports too! – If you’re traveling internationally, even infants need passports, and you *might* need their birth certificate. No one asked for Hallie’s, but it’s better to be prepared. Also, getting her passport picture was hilarious. A white background is still required, and we spent a lot of time with Hallie on a white blanket, with the employee trying desperately to get the right angle with Hallie looking at the camera. At 2 months old.
- Stock the diaper bag with essentials – this includes wipes, diapers, an extra outfit, a plastic bag for a dirty outfit, diaper rash medicine, pacifier, and whatever else is useful to you. Don’t overload it though, because you do still have to haul it around.
- Snacks – This is essential if your baby is old enough for food. Have a few snacks on hand that are easy to pack, easy to eat. Snacks for mom are good too, because trust me, you’ll be low on energy.
- Carry cash – Not every card works in every country, but it’s easy to exchange dollars. If you do like to rely on credit cards, aim for one with no foreign transaction fees and notify them that you are traveling. Otherwise, you’ll risk getting your card shut off. Cue the need for cash, just in case.
Tips for the Car
- Toys – Smaller is preferable, especially if the diaper bag is where they will be stored. Pack something that you already know keeps your infant entertained, and make sure it can double as a teether if needed.
- Bottles – I made sure to pump and bottle breastmilk for the road. I did consider a car warmer, but I considered it not worth the hassle after the research. Other people swear by them, especially if your infant refuses cold milk. Hallie didn’t seem to mind, and it saved us needing to stop several times for her to eat.
- Planned stops – For longer trips especially, plan your stops ahead of time, and schedule at least 30 minutes per 2-3 hours to give baby time to stretch. You don’t want to have a screaming baby and the next rest stop to be 50 miles out.
Tips for the Airport and Plane
- Baby-wear – Baby-wearing is a lifesaver when traveling. You can be hands free without the need for a stroller, and depending on the carrier, you can breastfeed without having to remove your child. I would make this move from a buckled carrier to a wrap, simply for the ease of breastfeeding. It was not convenient to feed Hallie, and I had to unbuckle her every time. Nonetheless, I wouldn’t have made it through the airport without it. If there’s no metal in the carrier, they will let you to keep it on through security.
- Pro Tip – I would have not been able to use the bathroom without a baby carrier, especially during the moments when I was traveling by myself.
- Look for “Nursing Mother” spaces – I’ve found that most international airports have designated spaces for moms and their babies to relax. Some infants won’t nurse if it’s chaotic, and some moms would just prefer a private space. This is a great opportunity for both of you to take a breather when traveling.
- Switch the diaper bag for a backpack – Most diaper bags don’t have many compartments, and it was a pain in the ass. Rather than dig in one giant pocket for everything that you’ve packed, I would swap for a backpack, which is what I will be doing next time I fly. It’s better organized, and you can have it on your back rather than your shoulder.
- Do NOT take the diaper bag to the bathroom – There is a diaper changing station in plane bathrooms, but if you’ve flown before, you know there isn’t much room. Don’t take your diaper bag in there, because gross. Grab what you need and leave the giant bag behind.
- Ask for an upgrade – It never hurts to ask! Air Canada offered a free upgrade plus bassinet, which was awesome, and some airlines will at least offer to give you a seat with more room considering your precious bundle of joy.
- Prep for takeoff and landing – The elevation changes are not pleasant for an infant’s ears. Plan to breastfeed, bottle feed, or offer a pacifier on ascent and descent to keep baby comfortable.
Things to Mention
- Car seat – I’ve never felt pressured to have a car seat, but I’ve only traveled with a lap child. Look at airline rules, but also check out travel forums. You’ll get better information from people who have been there, done that.
- Stroller – I chose to forgo the stroller, but I can see where it would be handy. However, I wouldn’t trust airport personnel with your expensive Baby Trend. By a cheap umbrella one that is easily folded and carried, with the understanding that it’s going to get tossed around.
- Getting breastmilk through security – Although I used pumped bottles for the car, I didn’t bother getting pumped milk through TSA. Read through the airport guidelines, and feel free to ask our other MomsGetReal writer, Megan Gregory, about her experience flying with an infant.
I’ll be honest. Traveling with an infant is not easy. However, I would do it again in a heartbeat. We are hoping to plan another trip to England in the next year or so, and Hallie will be a toddler. This will be much harder, I already know. My last tip would be to travel while they are young, because as they age, kids sleep less and demand more. Go ahead, brave the adventure. You won’t regret the memories.