Traveling Tips: Infants, Airplanes & International Travel

Traveling Tips: Infants, Airplanes & International Travel

I’ve included affiliate links to products that have worked for us. See disclosure statement for more info.

Do you have family or friends in another country? Have you traveled with an infant on a flight that was 8 hours or more? We’ve put together what worked for us in this Traveling Tips: Infants, Airplanes & International Travel post. If you also have a toddler, check this post out: Tips for traveling with a toddler are here.

We decided that after our little one was born we’d travel to Italy so that he could be introduced to his bisnonna (great grandma), prozia (great aunt), cugino di secondo grado (second cousin)…you get the idea. Some people thought we were nuts, our pediatrician thought we were awesome and we weren’t sure what to think.

Traveling Tips: Infants, Airplanes & International Travel

I’m not gonna lie – the idea was daunting and the closer it came to “take off”, my anxiety levels increased. Worrying about forgetting something (we did!), having the baby cry on the plane (happened!), and people not being helpful (check!) were some of the scenarios that I’d play out in my mind. To give you some background: we’re a family of 3 with a 5 month old, I was exclusively pumping, we weren’t supplementing with formula, we were going to be abroad for 14 days home-based with family. The biggest challenge we had was carrying everything we needed. Even though they give you extra time to board the plane, you need to be ready with your items for gate check. This can be hard if you’re in the middle of a feeding or rushing between gates.

Here are some things that helped us on our travels…

Booking Your Flight: Seating

We didn’t buy an extra seat for our babe until he became mobile. I don’t mean standing, but full on walking and running. Most international flights will still charge you for the baby’s ticket even if you’re sitting them on your lap, but at a reduced rate. This was typically listed as 10% of the adult fare. As you’re booking, make sure to tell the airline agent that your child is an infant because for some airlines it makes a difference on their roster if they’re listed as a “child” instead of an “infant”. You’re probably thinking, “If I give them the DOB, won’t they know how to classify them?” Nope! Assume nothing! One gate agent hadTraveling Tips: Infants, Airplanes & International Travel a fit when she found out that our kiddo wasn’t classified correctly and had to make changes to the roster before letting us board. She muttered that it wasn’t our fault and proceeded to lecture us on the rules of their specific airline. All the while, we were thinking, “Take it up with the booking agent!” So much for early boarding!

Some airlines will provide the option to reserve a bassinet for international travel. Always read the fine print on their website! Keep in mind that if you have a multi-leg flight, this will only count for the international part. In our case, we had a flight connecting in New York, so the bassinet wasn’t available until we boarded in New York with final stop to Rome.

In order to be eligible for a bassinet, we had to book a Bulkhead Seat. This was a little more than a regular sardine seat, but it provided my tall husband extra leg room. Also, it was good to be able to stand up and move around with the baby without having to roam the aisles. Being able to book a window seat provides more support and privacy for pumping, feeding, etc. Downside, there’s no seating in front for carry-on storage. Be sure to place all your items in the overhead bin. This shouldn’t be an issue if you’re able to pre-board. If you have people’s stuff in that area, don’t be afraid to ask the flight crew to help you jockey items around so you can get to your goods.

Keep in mind that all airlines will tell you that this will not guarantee you’ll get a bassinet. It’s on an availability basis, so let the flight crew know that you’d like the bassinet as soon as you board the plane. They might ask you if your baby is able to sit up on their own. If they are, they will not issue you the bassinet.

We made the mistake of propping our son in the seat as we situated our bags. When I let the attendant know that we needed a bassinet, she looked at us and said, “Oh! You don’t qualify! He’s already sitting on his own! And he’s so big!” After traveling for 8 hours, the crazy in me came out – we read the airline fine print about length and weight restrictions for babies using the bassinets. If you can, print this information from the airline website and keep it with your travel documents for cases like this. Our son met the criteria and I had to explain that we propped him up and that he wasn’t able to get himself into a seated position on his own. She continued to insist that he was too big. In the end, we used the bassinet and it was glorious. You can also research the flight on Seat Guru.

Stroller Organizer & Stroller/Car Seat Transport Bags 

We took our own gear because we didn’t know the condition of the car seats (paranoia) and it was a “light weight” stroller system. These two items were the bane of my husband’s existence, but helpful once we reached our destination. Check them at the gate as soon as you can. Our seat/stroller bags are still in great shape after multiple international flights and the stroller organizer is amazing. We still use all three items. The 5th option below is if you have to order bags for an umbrella stroller and car seat together.

 

Baby Carrier

I used a neutral colored old school Ergo. We made sure it was one that had the storage pouch in the front and I ordered two sets of teething pads so that the straps wouldn’t get saliva logged with baby spittle. I could swap out a dry, clean pair when needed. This was especially helpful if they got dirty when I set the carrier down for a breather. The pouch in the front made it easy to grab an extra pacifier if I needed a new one and I could store a small pack of wipes and lip balm in there too. The carrier adjusts to three positions and is a comfortable fit on me at 5’1″ and my husband at over 6′. I also bought a teething necklace that worked nicely. These are what we used:

 

Feeding Backpack

I made sure to carry this bag along with the baby. This made it easier when we were going through security. They asked one parent to carry the baby and the baby’s belongings. We had no issues with the frozen breast milk, ice pack or other items in this backpack. If the breast milk isn’t frozen, it will go through a different type of screening. We had 2 bottles so that a clean one was always available. The less bottle parts to clean, the better! That’s why we like the Avent bottles below. We had one too many accidents early on where a piece to a three or more part bottle went missing or wasn’t assembled and milk would be all over us and the baby. Cleansing wipes to sanitize bottles, pacifiers and pumping equipment in case we weren’t able to get to a sink that didn’t gross us out were fantastic. This saved us from cleaning anything in the crammed airplane bathroom.

Given that we were traveling for over 12 hours, I packed three 8 oz. bags of frozen breast milk in a soft carrier that had freezable walls and an ice pack. The ice pack proved to be wonderful in Europe – there was no need to find ice trays (rare commodity) and baggies to keep milk cool when we were on the go. Remember how I told you that I forgot things on this trip? One of them was the manual pump. I went into full panic mode, but was able to make it work by pumping at the airports. When we arrived at our destination, I purchased a Chicco hand pump and it was AMAZING. Worth every penny. Wish they had these more readily available here. I included an Avent hand pump in case you like those better. Be sure to include breast feeding covers not only for feeding, but to help shield out cabin lights. These are the items we used:

Power Adapters – These are more for your final destination than the airport. We kept them in the backpack for when we needed them. Also, we made sure to have more than one just in case the adapter went bad. We didn’t want to be stuck without a back up and the headaches that come with that situation. It was also great for charging phones, cameras and pumping. When I shopped at local stores, the better deal ended up online. This is what we ordered:

 

Luggage

We ordered new luggage. The fact that you can roll these without having to tilt them and they don’t have to be pulled behind you made things a bit easier for us. We got them in this purple so they would stand out on the conveyor belt.

 

 

Changing Backpack

This was a lighter backpack, but had important items. Diapers, wipes, cream, medicine (just in-case), bibs, two extra set of zip up PJs with feet, nasal spray & a Nosefrida Aspirator. The last item sounds gross, but our pediatrician said it was one of the best things on the market when it comes to helping little ones with congestion. His recommendation was spot on! We also had a few shopping bags rolled up in case we had to get rid of trash or needed something to separate soiled clothing from other items in the backpack. Don’t forget the bibs – one for bottle feeding for when he spit up and the other for solids. Both sets have held up well! The last things we crammed in here were a small blankie and toy. This is what we used:

 

Travel Clothing

Knowing that planes and airports can be cold or we could get some bodily fluid splattered on us, we packed for the occasion. The baby was donning his zip-up pajamas with booties. I was in a cami, scarf and a lightweight cardigan. Because I was carrying the baby, I didn’t have to take the scarf, cardigan or shoes off. The scarf turned out to be something interesting for the baby to look at and chew on. My husband had a shirt with a dark undershirt. We kept the shoes comfortable and easy to slip off and on without bending over. Skip wearing the belts and jewelry. The less to remove when you’re going through security, the better.

Traveling Tips: Infants, Airplanes & International Travel

Research the Airport

If you have time to research the airport you’ll be flying through, do it. We scoped out areas like family lounges, play areas, and family bathrooms. Subscribe in the top or side bar of this page to receive a list of U.S. and International airport maps for free! I’ll include what there is to do at those airports and baby gear rental resources available on and off site.

 

General Tips

  • Don’t worry about the baby adjusting to the time difference. Most likely, it’ll be easier for them than you!
  • Wearing your baby means you won’t have to take them off when going through security. This was a time saver and freed up my hands to do other things!
  • Book travel times best for your baby. In our case, we took the red-eye for the 8 hour part, so our kiddo was sleeping for a majority of the time.
  • When booking, leave enough time to do what you need to do. We made sure to book with a minimum of a three hour layover – it gave us time to get through immigration, feed/change child, get to our gate in time to pre-board and scarf down food.
  • If you have a medical condition such as asthma, you should consider requesting for help when booking your travel. Could come in handy if you’re having to rush from one gate to another.Traveling Tips: Infants, Airplanes & International Travel
  • Don’t waste your time with the check in crew for bassinet questions – the only ones who are able to do anything will be the actual flight crew.
  • Put all travel docs in an easily accessible envelope. The person not carrying baby should be in charge of pulling those items out when needed.
  • Know that in some airports/countries, lines are formed width-wise instead of single file. Be ready to stand your ground, give the stink eye and push your way forward.
  • Airplane changing tables are crammed and leave you with the feeling you might accidentally drop your kid in the toilet below. Use sanitizing wipes before and after! If you can wear a hazmat suit before stepping in, do so.
  • Antibacterial wipes – keep them handy to wipe down trays, arm rests, windows, bassinet, etc.
  • For take-off and landing, be ready to slip the baby out of your carrier. Keep the carrier strapped to your waist and be prepped to slip baby back in when you’re no longer taking off or landing. All airlines we flew provided us with an insane belt adapter that you slip onto your belt. They tell you to make sure the baby is facing forward. Yeah, depending on what your little person is doing, good luck with that. Don’t purchase baby/infant/toddler belts online – they’re not FAA approved and chances are the flight crew will not allow you to use it.
  • If you’re able to rent baby equipment (car seats and strollers) at the airport, do it. The baby carrier will do wonders for the most part. But if you’re going somewhere warm, you and baby may not want to be that close for long. Good to have options.
  • Pack a couple universal all in one power adapters – especially if you’re pumping.
  • If you have a trusted brand, use diapers from home to pad items in your checked-in luggage and for later use at your destination. This saved us some extra time and potential blowouts, if we couldn’t find what we knew worked.
  • Skip bringing unnecessary items like sound machines and monitors. The plane will be loud enough to act as white noise and when you get to where you’re going, use your phone as a white noise machine.
  • Download an app like Google Translate – you have an option to speak into it and it will crudely translate for you. Also, there’s an option to run your phone over items like menus and signs and have the texts translated too.

Looking back at the experience, our baby handled it pretty well. We’re not sure if it’s because we prepped, stayed flexible, or if we forgot about some of the shenanigans that went down. Looking back at photos and videos, we have no regrets in having embarked on the adventure. In fact, we decided to take another international journey with him to Ireland when he was 1. Click on this sentence to read!

What advice or questions do you have about traveling with an infant? Comment below!


OurCookery

84 Comments

  1. Mrs. Mother Dirt

    I not taken a flight with my daughter yet. I had really never thought about how to plan ahead. This was an interesting read!

     
  2. Oh gosh Ive flown from the east to west coast twice with my son when he was under one but anything more then that sounds so scary! These are great tips!!

     
  3. Thank you for this post. I didn’t knew that airline companies charge tickets for babies.

     
  4. These are great tips. I actually have an infant and will pin this to refer back to when we travel soon! Thanks!!!

     
  5. What a wonderfully well thought out post. Traveling with wee ones can certainly be stressful and I am sure that many of these tips will help.

     
  6. Great tips! We did several flights with out little guy although none quite that long. I will have to keep some of these in mind for our next trip.

     
  7. A lot of these tips were new to me, thanks for sharing. Flying with a kid is so tough!

     
  8. Ana Bazquez

    Great tips! So many things to think about when traveling with kiddos!

     
  9. These are some great tips. Travelling with infants can get a little intimidating.

     
  10. Great tips! I was too scared to travel internationally with my infants and now they’re grown, but I will share. Like you bullets at the end.

     
  11. I’ve yet to travel with my sons and it worries me but this should make things easier!

     
  12. terristeffes

    Wow what a thorough post! I learned a lot and my baby is 30! I am sorry you had to deal with disgruntled people.

     
  13. That plane bassinet is really neat! Traveling with little ones is such an art 🙂

     
  14. We’ve taken our oldest on a plane when she was 18 months. That was it. Now we have 3 so we drive everywhere. I don’t know how we’d do it if we had to fly overseas!

     
  15. gypsysoulseed@outlook.com

    These were really great tips! Thanks for sharing!

     
  16. These are ALL great tips when flying no matter where you are headed! I love the idea of using sanitizing wipes at the changing table…the changing pad never stays in place!

     
  17. I want to sleep in that bassinet on a flight!

     
  18. Great tips! I will be traveling with an infant soon for a family trip. Thank you!

     
  19. Wow – what an article! My kiddos are older so I dont have to deal with this but I was intrigued to read your article! Who knew you could wear your baby through security! I love it! Kudos to you for all the hard work you had to go through to get to your final destination. Amazing tips – this is a fantastic guide!

     
  20. You have this down to a science! What great tips!

     
  21. This was a really good read! Especially the part about the time zone, that’s my biggest worry with travelling far and why I haven’t taken the kids anywhere yet! I’m hoping to do so next year, so I read all of this to take notes! Although my baby will be bigger than an infant stuff about what to pack and who to talk to will always be relevant! 🙂

    Hope you are having a good week 🙂

     
    • Glad you could take away some helpful info, Mica! I’ll have a blog post that I’ll link back to this about our experience traveling with a toddler. Stay tuned and may the travel fairy be on your side!

       
  22. These are so good! I’m not a parent yet, but the thought of travelling with kids makes me nervous!

     
  23. Wow! This is a comprehensive list! Mine are now a little older and able to pack for themselves (mostly), but I remember travelling from the UK to Australia when they were 3 and 15 months. I could have really done with this article then!

     
    • I look forward to the day he can pack on his own 🙂 Though I do love the baby in him right now too. UK to Australia with those ages…I’m sure there’s a story there! Were you alone or with help?

       
  24. christyzspeaks

    Wow! That sounds super hectic, airplane bassinets was not a thing when my kids were little. And bags for you car seat? A lot of improvements I could tell you some pretty terrible stories from 18 years ago! Glad you tackled it and got to see your family!

     
  25. Great travel tips here! I never made such a long flight with an infant, but I have made shorter flights by myself with an infant, and it can be hard! Although luckily it wasn’t as bad as I feared. My husband was able to get a pass to assist me to the gate, which was very helpful when carrying car seat, strolled, baby, and diaper bag!

     
  26. Such fantastic tips and so comprehensive, this is definitely a post I’ll save and send to friends traveling with babies!

     
  27. Really interesting! I had no idea that flights offered bassinets like that!

     
  28. Great tips. I used most of these when I travelled with my little one when she was only 2 months old. It was way easier than I had anticipated as I found the airport security, airline crew members and people in general were understanding and willing to help. Sometimes the airline didn’t need to help because strangers helped.

     
    • Yes, we found that most people were really helpful. Especially on the European legs of our travels. I think it would have been easier if we were breastfeeding, but our situation made it all a little more challenging…

       
  29. I didn’t even know those stroller bags existed! Will buy some for our upcoming trip to Boston! Our last flight (when we only had one child) didn’t go so well. Hoping to be better prepared this time. Just pinned your post so I can review again before our trip! – Amy

     
    • Glad to hear this is helpful! Going to link a post to this about what we did when we traveled with him as a toddler…that should help too. Those bags are great. There are people who use what the airport provides, which is a kinda shrink wrap. These have held up well for us.

       
  30. elizabethcolette

    What great tips! We have never had to fly far, but if we do, I will come back to this. Thanks so much!

     
  31. These are such great tips! We flew on an almost 24-hour flight with 1 toddler and 1 baby; and found that bringing A LOT of toys and snacks help get them on their best mood.

     
  32. One reason I don’t want kids for awhile is due to my love for traveling. You make it seem so easy with all of these amazing tips! I can’t say you’ve changed my mind but something for me to keep in mind for the future!

     
    • Travel, woman! Travel! We did our fare share before marriage, during coupledom and now with a child. There’s no intent to make it seem easy when traveling with little people. This is just a resource to help accommodate for when you do 🙂 My husband and I will always have this itch to explore. Now, we just take our little person with us.

       
  33. Ah we’ll be travelling transatlantic with our 1 year old twins soon so this would be very useful!

     
    • I’ll be posting tips on what we did for when our little one was a toddler 🙂 Not sure if your twins are mobile or not! If so, this next post will help.

       
  34. Amazing tips! Thank you for sharing! 😀

     
  35. I love these tips! What type of snacks are you allowed to bring on the plane with you for your child? Next year, the baby will be 2.. but I’m certain the two girls will want some kind of snack for the plane ride. Though it shouldn’t be as long as an international flight, I’m freaking out about not knowing what to bring? The carseat and carriers was a good tip.. I didn’t know what to do about that! Ugh.. it’s going to be a pain to bring two carseats. I love how helpful you are! From recipes to tips on travelling with children, I love your posts! You have been nominated for the Bloggers Recognition Award — https://imommy.co/2017/04/28/blogger-recognition-award/.

     
    • Oh my gosh 🙂 You made me smile! So glad this post helped you, but I’m going to publish another one this weekend that will help you with the toddler side of things. They can bring all kinds of snacks. I’ll show you what I did when we took this little guy with us this past year. Thank you for recognizing my efforts in trying to help other families. It takes a village!

       
  36. What a great post! I wish I’d read this a year ago when I first travelled with my (then) 2 month old. I’ve been there with the struggles around bassinets and agree about reading the smallprint before travelling. Thanks for sharing!

     
  37. We love traveling and are planning a family (one day soon), so this is useful stuff. Thanks!

     
  38. This post is very helpful. Read many things that I didn’t know before. Thank you

     
  39. This is a great article for travelers like me. I don’t have any children yet, but these tips will come in handy for planning the trips in the future. Thanks for the great article and keep up the good work. Hope to see more great content like this in the future.

     
  40. Great tips here! We first flew international when the little one was a little over a year and we did a ton of research. I suggest really going to TSA and airline website to know exactly what is allowed, they are very specific on it. If there’s one tip I can offer, fly with an airline known for their exceptional service. We flew Korean Air and couldn’t imagine flying international with a kid in another airline.
    Mae | http://www.thegospelofbeauty.org

     
  41. We never went on a flight when my son was an infant – I just didn’t want to deal with so many issues – You experience and sharing of ideas is fabulous for parents with little ones

     
  42. Well organised parents are such help to other travellers, there is nothing worse than people who let their kids scream as if they were at home. These tips will be very useful to parents travelling with babies.

     
  43. nadaliebardo

    You are awesome Ant!

    I’ve been on planes since I a few months old, my parents didn’t think anything of it. Like you, they wanted me to know my ancestral home. I think the first time I walked were away. And I still love travelling now.

    Thanks for this,

    Nadalie

     
    • Thanks, Nadalie! Same thing goes for my parents. They have taken us all over the place since we were tiny people. We’re pretty lucky that way.

       
  44. This was very interesting!

    Jill

     
  45. These are great tips for anyone traveling with babies! I travel solo so I’ve never thought about it! I can totally understand that traveling with a baby is a herculean task and one should take all the required measures for a smooth flight!

     
  46. great post! i’m always so impressed by people who travel with kids. It makes me nervous to think about doing it myself.

     
  47. These are great tips. I don’t have kids yet but I traveled with my niece and nephew just a few weeks ago and it was an interesting trip.

     

Leave a Reply