The thought of traveling with your baby can be overwhelming. Do not let the anxiety of traveling with your baby get the best of you. Use the lessons we’ve learned from traveling with a baby to make your life easier.
Honestly, it is a lot easier than you think. I’d rather travel with a baby than an irrational toddler. Trust me, we have stories to tell, so if we can travel to Beijing, Oahu, and Cabo before our son was one year old, you can travel with our baby.
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If we can do it, so can you. I have faith in you; now have faith in yourself. To help weary parents consider traveling with their babies, here are the lessons we’ve learned while traveling with a baby.
Things We’ve Learned About Traveling with a Baby
Lesson 1 – Less is more
When you have a baby, there is an insatiable need to buy cute baby things. Everything from clothes, socks, sheets, and toys seem to be calling your name. How could you pass up those cute tiny shoes?
We learned firsthand that you do not need half of what you think you need to travel with a baby.
When traveling with a baby, you only need the necessities. The necessities are food (milk), clothes, socks (always pack extra babies are little ninjas that somehow manage to kick them off), medicine, and safety gear (car seat/stroller/carrier).
The main priority is to have everything you need for the transportation portion of your vacation. You can purchase everything else when you get to your destination.
While in China, we went to Walmart to purchase diapers, which became an adventure.
The general rule of thumb is to buy any replenishable items when you get to your destination unless your little one has a specific allergy that requires them to have a particular brand.
Do not pack a lot of toys. You’d be surprised by the things that babies find fun. Honestly, they can spend 15 minutes playing with their feet.
We had a few baby travel toys, mostly teething toys that helped soothe our baby’s gums.
Lesson 2 – Babies are adaptable and resilient
As parents, we tend to overthink everything, especially when it comes to babies. If you think about it, babies are low maintenance.
Babies can go anywhere, as long as they have what they need; they’re usually happy. They are less likely to get sick from eating something because they’re on a liquid diet (formula or breast milk).
If your little one is eating solids, you should take additional precautions with fruits and vegetables.
Lesson 3 – Babies are great icebreakers
People are a lot more open and friendly when babies are around. Babies are a great icebreaker because people will want to smile at them or baby talk. Who can resist an adorable little one? In Beijing, several locals approached us wanting to talk to the baby.
Even though he could not understand what they were saying, he was laughing and playing along with them.
A baby’s laugh is universal and makes you smile. We interacted with locals through our son, even though we did not speak the same language.
Lesson 4 – You will make mistakes, laugh, and let them go
There is an old saying, “Man plans, God laughs”; I cannot think of a better application for this quote than travel. Almost nothing will go as planned, things will get lost, there will be delays, and you will make mistakes.
Babies cry, and as quickly as it starts, it is over, and they move on. It is interesting to watch because they are on to the next moment and are no longer concerned about what upset them in the first place.
We can take this lesson from our little ones. Forgive yourself for the little things, let them go, and move on.
We did not go to the top of the Great Wall of China as a family because I changed the day of our tour, and it ended up snowing at the top of the wall on the day we went.
I spent the rest of the day being sad that we could not all go to the top instead of marveling at the fact I was able to go to the Great Wall of China.
As a kid, I watched Mulan and fantasized about going to China, and here I was. Instead of being in the moment, I was too focused on the negative. Now I see it as an opportunity for us to go back to China to visit a different part of the wall.
When you are traveling, you have almost no control over what happens. There are delays at the airport, the weather can change, hotels can’t find your reservation, Wi-Fi goes down, or you lose your baby’s favorite sleep toy (guilty).
As long as there is nothing life-threatening, there is always a solution. Take a step back and remember why you are traveling.
For us, there is nothing more important than spending time together as a family, having great experiences, and watching our son grow into a confident, humble, thoughtful, and open-minded person.
Lesson 5 – Enjoy the moment
As much as we want our little ones to stay our babies forever, they will continue to grow up and become independent (hopefully) adults. Even now, I can’t believe our little guy is almost four years old.
It feels like he was just born yesterday. Cherish every moment and capture them while they are young enough to want you around.
There is nothing like watching them roll over for the first time, take their first steps, or say their first word.
Traveling with our son takes us away from the everyday routine and allows us to enjoy uninterrupted time together. Now that we are a digital nomad family, we have the rare opportunity to see our little guy grow.
It broke my heart when I had to return to work just 7-weeks after giving birth. Now, I am honored to have had the opportunity to be with him almost every day since we decided to travel full-time.
From 14 months to nearly four years old, I am proud to have been here for every moment.
Lesson 6 – People are more helpful than you think
Some people cringe when they see a baby coming down the aisle of an airplane. On the other side, some people smile and are willing to help.
In our experience, there have been more people who smile than cringe. On our first flight to Denver, when baby Cee was 2.5 months, he screamed for over 20 minutes.
We were frantically trying to figure out what was wrong and get him to sleep. The woman in the seat next to us was so sweet; she talked to him, which helped calm him down.
After the flight landed and everyone was getting off the plane, at least 15 people stopped to ask if we needed help gathering our items to leave. It relieved our anxiety that so many people were willing to help, given his episode.
It was after this flight we learned that babies are babies. They will sometimes cry, but it will not last forever. What else can you do? Babies can’t talk, so they have to communicate their dissatisfaction any other way.
Our time at the airport in Toronto and Beijing was pleasant. Security moved us to the front of the line in several countries. Another time, TSA officials held our baby while inspecting our stroller in San Diego.
There was also a time in Beijing when security played with him and entertained him while we packed our items back into the stroller to head to our gate.
Lesson 7 – Sometimes the best thing you can do is nothing
We arrived at our hotel in Beijing at 2 pm, only to pass out and sleep until 10 pm that night. I was upset with myself for sleeping for so long and wasting a day in Beijing, but I had to remind myself that we took an 18-hour journey across the globe with a 4-month-old.
I know parents ask what to do about their baby’s sleeping schedule, and honestly, we did nothing. We let our little guy sleep whenever and wherever we wanted to.
We decided not to adjust his sleeping schedule for a week and a half in China, so he slept whenever and we made it work. He slept in the baby carrier while we were out and in a pack n play while at the hotel.
Some parents are concerned about their little one being up all night, but he was so young that he slept a lot. This technique may not work for all babies, so do whatever works for your little one.
One of the most valuable lessons learned traveling with a baby is that your day does not need to be full of activities.
When traveling with babies, one major outing, or two small outings, are the way to go. If you plan to spend the day visiting museums, that is doable, but if you plan to attend tours, I recommend one a day.
We take one day of our vacation, and no matter where we are, we do nothing. A vacation should be relaxing and fun, so we pick a day to give ourselves a break and hang out at the hotel pool or watch movies at our Airbnb.
Lesson 8 – Slow and steady wins the race
One of the lessons learned while traveling with a baby was that everything takes longer. You need to start getting ready earlier, you need to pack sooner, and you need to double-check everything twice.
You will not be able to visit all the attractions you want, so you’ll need to prioritize activities. This requires additional planning and patience because you must consider transportation and travel time.
My wife and I created a system where we split up for a half day and go do an activity without the baby. This way, we each get a break and can have baby-free fun.
I was able to go on a tour to see Forbidden City, the Summer Palace, and the Temple of Heaven while Mea and baby Cee enjoyed the museum.
Lesson 9 – They are free (almost everywhere)
Who doesn’t like to save money? Babies are great because they get in almost everywhere for free.
They may even score you an upgrade. We were able to upgrade to premium seating on our flight from Cabo to San Diego.
Lesson 10 – Have no regrets, just go for it
We saved this lesson for last because it is the hardest one. There is no perfect time to travel with a baby. Take the plunge and get the first trip with your baby out of the way to calm your fears.
Do not let the fear of traveling with a baby stop you from taking off. If you are like us and have a burning desire to see the world, your little one can join you.
We place so much importance on the things in life that do not matter when everything we need is right in front of us. There is nothing more important than family, and if you can create everlasting memories, why not? Your little one will not be able to remember the journey, but you will.
There are pictures and videos to document your adventures, and thanks to the cloud, they can be stored forever. There is nothing more beautiful than the moments that are shared between the people that you love.