Traveling with a baby can be daunting and many parents are afraid of doing it for a long time. Traveling with a baby alone without your partner can be even scarier. Many don’t want to travel with a baby because they think it’s hard, stressful and expensive.
Will he cry on the plane? Will he be stressed? What if I need something that’s not available in another country? When can you travel with a baby? These are common questions people ask when it comes to planning your first trip with a baby. So did I.
Then the ‘Internet Moms’ attack. You will stop traveling when you have a baby. Enjoy your travels now because when the baby comes it’s going to be impossible.
And even after your baby is born and you start to travel with him/her you’ll still hear: Just wait until he starts walking, then it’s going to be really difficult to chase him around. It gets harder in some aspects and easier in some aspects – both of my boys were huge so it was definitely easier to put them down finally when they could walk.
I didn’t want to give up my travels, so I knew I had to start my baby boy early. While I wasn’t planning on flying anywhere for at least a month, circumstances forced us to take him on a plane at 2 weeks, which was absolutely fine. He ate and then slept through the entire flight. Babies are so easy to travel with comparing to toddlers 😛
We took a first domestic family trip when baby Dylan was a month old and an international holiday at 2 months. A little bit later I took him on a trip alone, and just before he turned 4 months he traveled with me on a business trip to Malta. He actually preferred to be out and about exploring, rather than sitting at home, where he gets bored – and he’s only 4 months old!
Traveling Alone with a Baby: It Can Be Done (& Fun)!
Many travel mum blogs will tell you that traveling alone with a baby isn’t easy. While I agree, I wouldn’t say it was hard either – ‘different’ would be a good word for it. I actually enjoyed finally having a travel buddy, even if I can still basically talk to him and he can’t talk back yet, apart from his usual gu-gu noises.
Naturally, as Dylan is a baby he requires baby attention, gets dirty with all the food, and needs constant diaper changes because surprise – babies poop.
I noticed that I actually spend more quality time with a baby when I travel. At home I want to work and get easily distracted with my phone, laptop and things I need to do.
The good news is that the younger the baby is, the easier it is to handle on your travels as he’s portable. Toddlers are a completely different story and there were times I would never dare to travel alone with a toddler. Plus, starting them young can get the baby used to flying, new people, and build awareness of what’s going on.
Basic Tips for Solo Travels with a Baby
First things first: everyone will be either impressed or surprised by the fact that you’re traveling alone with a baby as long as you don’t try to bring a bag containing everything from baby’s room on the plane. That said, you will get stared at and asked a lot of questions.
Babies don’t need anything – toys or other items, which makes it easy. Once they reach toddlerhood they want and need more things, so I would highly recommend taking advantage of traveling during the baby stage. It’s so much easier to travel with kids when they’re below 1 year old.
On my flight back from Malta I was sat next to a babyphob (as he described himself later). When he saw me and the baby sitting down, he loudly turned to his wife and said ‘I hope he doesn’t cry’. I really had an urge to tell him that I heard him and that my baby doesn’t actually cry, but decided to shut up and see how things play out.
About halfway into the flight, the babyphob asked me if my baby was always that quiet and apologized to us. That said, you can’t pick who you’ll be sitting next to on the plane and if someone is making comments because you decided to take your baby traveling, all you can do is to ignore them and carry on with your life.
While each mom will swear by some of the gadgets, I think here are the most important things to remember when traveling with a baby (not just on a plane, as I wrote a separate post on flying with a baby specifically).
It’s also worth organizing your carry-on in a manner that allows you easy access to everything. Packing cubes – I’m looking at you! We always brought just a carry-on for me and the baby. Skip unnecessary things like travel cribs, giant car seats (unless needed, but you can usually go without them), formula or anything you can buy at the destination. For your own sanity it’s better to have less things to drag around.
If you’re chilled, your baby will be less stressed as well. It’s easier said than done, but it’s true. I’m a traveler who’s always late to arrive at the airport and almost always believes that we’ll make it for the flight. I actually only missed the flight twice, but both times it wasn’t actually my fault as it was simply impossible to reach the airport.
As long as you have all the important documents for you and your baby, food for the baby and extra diapers you’ll be fine.
IMPORTANT: You should always have travel insurance – especially when traveling with a baby. You can add your baby to your own policy when booking with Safety Wing.
Take It Slowly & Plan Accordingly
I’m a fast traveler when I travel solo. I like to run from one place to another, but with a baby I need to allow more time for everything. I cannot do short stops for each attraction I want to see, simply because what if Dylan wants to eat during that time? While I’ve pretty much mastered the technique of feeding the baby bottle on the go while walking and he eats the rest himself, I usually allow myself more time for everything.
I’m also aware that most of the time I will be asleep with a baby around 9 PM, as after a whole day of exploring I’m usually tired and the night feeding adds to it as well.
Teach Your Baby to Be Flexible
I’m a firm believer that the baby is as adaptable as the parents. Babies want to eat and sleep whenever they want, but taking it to the extreme like ‘they must sleep at this time and eat at this time’ is going to make your life a living hell and the baby will have difficulties adjusting to the preschool schedule later (all daycares and preschools my kids have attended told us they were adjusting super easy).
That said, you might want to teach your baby to adjust to some things back at home. If you make your baby dependant on all the noise machines, specific blankets, or lights to go to sleep at home, you’ll have issues when you travel. It might take extra practice for different babies, but in the end, it’s worth it.
The same thing goes for noise! At first you might be afraid of loud spots, but in a long run, it’s a lifesaver. I know some parents still hide in the bathroom when their babies and toddlers fall asleep in a hotel room, but it’s really not necessary.
I always took Dylan, my firstborn, to restaurants, bars (it’s totally normal for kids to go to bars in Europe btw), and he figured out that when he’s tired he’ll fall sleep. My second son Holden has always been a light sleeper and it took a longer training, but he also learned to figure out to fall asleep when he’s tired (well, he had to – we have a screaming toddler at home).
These days baby Dylan can pretty much fall asleep anywhere – in bed, in the stroller, or a travel crib – which makes traveling easier, especially when we need to go do something during his nap (when he used to nap because he stopped early, haha!).
Many parents pack a ton of unnecessary things when traveling for a baby. Trust me, we’ve been there too. However, when I travel alone with baby Dylan, unless we’re going for a multi-week long trip we pack in a carry-on only: one carry-on suitcase and a big diaper bag.
I put the diaper bag on top of the suitcase and we just roll in and out of the airport quickly. The worst thing is having to wait for ages for your checked-in suitcase to arrive and later handle this big thing yourself along with the baby and travel stroller. Unless you’re going to the middle of the desert you can really pick everything you need at your destination.
For example, I bought nappies, baby shampoo, extra formula or wipes when I arrive rather than using up valuable space in my suitcase. If your hotel doesn’t provide a crib you can also rent it at your destination – there are many companies that provide these services, depending on where are you headed.
If you’re traveling alone with a baby in car at your destination, you might want to consider renting a car seat from your car rental company. I usually use public transportation and rent a car seat, unless my husband also comes on a trip, simply because I don’t want to drag an extra item with me.
Plus, US car seats are technically illegal in Europe and vice versa. I wrote more about it in my post on traveling to Italy with a baby.
Adventure Travel with Baby
Just because you have a baby it doesn’t mean that you need to forget about adventure travel. You can always attach a baby to you with a sling or baby carrier and go on a hike.
While I’m usually not a fan of a baby carrier and never use it, but when going on a hike that’s not flat it’s the only way.
Few Things to Remember When Traveling with a Baby:
Don’t Always Wait for People’s Help
When you travel with a baby alone many blogs will tell you to count on other people’s kindness. While I think you can easily find a kind person everywhere and get some help and strangers helped me carry my bags when I’ve not had enough hands, I’ve been in some situations that I was basically alone with no one to help with anything.
Keep in mind that not everyone will be nice to you on when getting on the plane, bus or tram. Many people will push because you know, a tragedy will happen if they’re not sitting in their seats first.
Airline staff may likely go out of their way to make it easy on you, but sometimes they might not. Don’t be afraid to ask for something you need, but be prepared that you might need to do something yourself.
Know Your Rights
If you’re traveling with a baby you’re entitled to a few perks like priority boarding, extra luggage, or priority security. Know your rights. If it says on the airline’s website that you can take your foldable stroller on board, don’t let the ground staff fool you that it’s not allowed.
Any questions about traveling alone with a baby without a dad? Shoot them over, I’ll be happy to help!