40 Tips for Traveling with a Baby – Our Costa Rica Trip
This post may contain affiliate links. That means we may make a small commission on items purchased through links in this post at no extra cost to you!
Warning, super long post!
Well, May was a crazy month! Jamie turned one, post coming soon! Plus we were on vacation the entire month which was NOT planned! Leaving my blog to suffer a little but seize the day right? I did however finally purchase a good camera as you can tell by the photos above was a great investment for Life on Waller. Thank goodness I took that photography class in high school! Anyway, we are finally back and I’m trying to get things back up and running so just bear with me while I try to catch up!
Our Costa Rica Trip
The last 10 days of our vacation were spent in beautiful Costa Rica! Two days after Jamie’s first birthday my family of three, my parents, and all 5 of my siblings were on a plane headed to Liberia. I think we counted the flight home as Jamies 17th flight and his first time out of the country (his passport picture is adorable!). According to Brian, It was also my first time out of the country because “Canada doesn’t really count” according to him, sorry mom (Canadian)!
Besides our horrid red-eye from Salt Lake to Atlanta, the entire trip was amazing! My family rented a house a block away from the beach via Airbnb in Playa Grande that was beautiful! Having a house rather than multiple hotel rooms is the best way to travel with my big family! It gives us a large gathering place for us all to hang out, our own private pool, and a full kitchen so we didn’t have to eat out for every meal. Talk about saving $$!
We spent most of our days in our swimming suits (all from Target) either at our pool, at the beach, or on an excursion. Up until this vacation, I was super uncomfortable with my post-baby body even after a year and always wearing a t-shirt over my suits. After struggling for a long time I finally decided that although I may not be where I wanted to be on this trip, I was going to embrace who and where I was and went sans t-shirt the entire trip. It’s incredible what you can do for your confidence when you give yourself permission to simply love who you are. It gave me the confidence to purchase my hot pink Firecracker suit that I would not have comfortable in before! It shows off my back and practically emphasizes the stretch marks on my legs but I surprisingly felt awesome in it! I felt like me again!
On our second day, we took a catamaran sunset tour where we snorkeled, held a baby octopus, got tattoos (fake, I’m not THAT spontaneous), saw dolphins, and watched the sunset. It. Was. Amazing. But the best part was just to be spending it with my entire family. I bonded with my dorky sisters and my buff brothers, while my parents got to spend all the time in the world with my little Jamie.
While most mornings were spent out on the porch reading or playing, just soaking up the humidity, nights were spent shopping and dining in Tamarindo or watching the lightning and fireflies at the beach. It was Costa Rica’s rainy season which meant fewer tourists and amazing night lights! Luckily for us, it mainly rained at night while we were there so we were able to spend everyday out and only a few nights in enjoying the family time and watching the rain.
On one of our last days there, we did a zip-lining, horseback riding, river rafting, and hot spring excursion just outside of Liberia. Unfortunately, I didn’t bring my camera because I wasn’t sure if I could even take it with me through the excursion. Which I couldn’t but It was beautiful! We flew through jungle canyons, rode down the mountainside, floated down rapids, soaked in volcanic mud, and relaxed in hot springs heated by a volcano! By the end, soaking and relaxing in the many hot springs, surrounded by rope bridges over a rushing river, it literally felt like I was in Swiss Family Robinson Costa Rican style and it was a dream!
We ended the trip taking family pictures on the beach, running back and forth up and down the beach to press the timer on the camera with just enough time to pose and try to look like I didn’t just run for my life through the sand. Between all the running I decided to take a random shot running back when everyone was distracted and yelling “Funny pic!” and it ended up being one of my favorites besides the fact that my hubby cut off the top my babies head! Sigh, oh well.
Costa Rica was the perfect mental reboot for me. I learned to love myself more, live in the present, and hope for the future!
Also, howler monkeys are gorillas stuck in tiny monkey bodies!
40 Tips for Traveling with a Baby
Jamie and I have been on 17 flights together so far from the time he was 3 months old to now and probably more to come. During these trips, I’ve learned a few tips and tricks to make everything a little easier with my little guy.
1. Travel as much as you can before they’re 2! Your littles fly free in your arms until their two so if you’re thinking about a trip, book it before you have to pay for another ticket!
2. Book flights between nap times. It’s not worth messing up your babies sleep! When Jamie was smaller (3mo.), flights were fairly easy. He was content to sleep through most of the flights whatever time it was. Now that he is older (1yr), he has serious FOMO (fear of missing out) and would rather play than sleep on the plane. Instead, making him super cranky the entire time. So I’ve found it has been easiest to book flights between his nap times. Jamie takes a morning nap and an afternoon nap. As long as we have that morning nap, he is fine to push his afternoon nap later and still keep his schedule. Which makes the afternoons prime for flights.
3. Shoot for a direct flight. If you can book a direct flight over a connecting, go for it! However, if you do have a connecting flight, make sure you have enough time to get to your next gate. It can take a bit longer to get to your next gate when you are with your little, especially if you are waiting to get your stroller/car seat back at the gate. There are few things I can image worse than missing your flight with your baby. Direct flights will take away the stress of a layover.
4. Avoid the back of the plane. The back of the plane can be hard with a little one. The lights from the back galley and attendants chatting can keep your baby from sleeping along with the foot traffic from people going back and forth to the bathroom. It can get old quick, constantly shifting your sleeping babies head out of the way of passing passengers. So opt for the front or middle of the plane!
5. Hotel vs. renting an apartment or house. If you get a hotel when traveling with a baby, unless you have more than one room when your baby goes to sleep, it shuts the whole place down. And if you’re baby is like mine, if my hubby and I are in sight, there isn’t much sleeping on Jamie’s part. If you decide to rent a place, you can have a separate room for your littles and gives you your own space. You can even search for one with cribs. Hotels are often just easier, managed by professionals that are just a phone call away with suggestions and help for your trip. But rentals are something to look into.
6. Request a crib in advance. If you do book a hotel, ask for them to set up a crib for you in advance. Most have one so you don’t have to bring your own for your baby to sleep in. You can also ask then when you check in but also run the risk of them all being used.
7. Request a tub. Check to make sure your room has a tub so you can bathe your babies! It’s not impossible to shower your littles but at least for me, I’d rather have a tub!
Prep & Packing:
8. Use a backpack diaper bag! This is a must! When you’re trying to lug around your stroller, baby, diaper bag, luggage, and possibly a personal item, having your diaper bag totally out of your way is required! Especially after you’ve checked your stroller at the gate and are carrying your baby through the plane it’s hard not to bump every other person in their seat on the way with a diaper bag on your arm or hip. When it’s on your back it’s completely out of the way and frees up both arms for your little. My favorite backpack diaper bags are from Fawn Design! But you can find a good one for cheap on Amazon too! I like this one from Fisher Price!
9. You can bring as many liquids as you want for your baby. If it’s for the baby, you can bring it through TSA! Even if it is over the 3.4 fl oz size limit. They will however, test your liquids if they are over the size limit. So to get through security faster keep them divided up into containers under the limit. If you can’t, no biggy.
10. Use squeeze pouch baby food. If your baby is eating baby food pack the squeeze pouches instead of the jars and a spoon. This way you can easily squeeze a little into their mouth while holding them on your lap instead of juggling a jar and spoon. When my baby was 6 months old my mother-in-law sent us on our plane ride home with them and it was a breeze! Plus they don’t take up as much space in the bag!
11. Pack extra outfits for baby in diaper bag. Don’t chance it! I always have extra outfits in my diaper bag when Jamie and I fly. He could spit up, be soaked from drool, soak himself from his sippy or bottle, or blow out. He has done all of which while flying and it’s nice to have something else to put him in. Even if it’s just extra onesies.
12. Pack an extra shirt for you. For the same reasons above and more. Especially when your baby is small and still spits up often. For the most part, I can handle the cheese puff fingers and slobber but a sippy cup spill or barf is a reason for a fresh shirt. Roll it up and throw it in the diaper bag along with your little’s extra onesies.
13. Plastic bags. When you get to those moments when you are needing to switch your baby’s outfit or yours, make sure you have something to put it in! You don’t want poop or barf all over the diaper bag! So stuff a few Walmart or zip lock bags for your trip! Better safe than sorry!
14. Mini cooler! When storing breast milk or regular milk pack a mini soft cooler to keep everything fresh. However, you cannot bring ice packs over the 3.4 fl oz size limit because they cannot be tested by TSA. So make your own or get a some that are smaller like these reusable ice cubes!
15. Don’t over pack on diapers. If you’re only gone for a weekend, pack your diapers but for longer trips only bring as many diapers as you will need till you get to your destination. EVERYWHERE has diapers! Even our tiny local market in Costa Rica had them. It just isn’t worth the luggage space. Wait and buy your diapers at your destination instead.
16. Ditch the shoes. If your baby isn’t walking, don’t even bother with the shoes. All they take up is luggage space. We will occasionally bring a pair if we are planning to go to church but other than that we don’t ever bring Jamie shoes. I did once and they never even came out of the suitcase.
17. Pack a copy of your baby’s birth certificate. While babies under 2 fly free in the U.S., some will require you to prove your babies age. Especially as you creep close to that two-year mark. I once had a gate agent ask me for Jamie’s birth certificate when he was only 6 months and I didn’t have it. I was in a completely different state and my throat shot instantly to my stomach. Luckily she said that because my baby was obviously younger than two I was okay. But if your gate agent can’t tell that your baby is 18 months not 24, you could be in trouble and have to pay for a ticket. So bring a copy and keep it in your wallet. Now I always bring Jamie’s.
18. Bandaids for outlets at your hotel or rental. If your baby is crawling, use band-aids to cover the outlets in your hotel or rental. Now it’s a safe place for your crawler and doesn’t take up much space in the diaper bag.
19. Use a car seat stroller combo. Most airlines will allow you to check your stroller and car seat at the gate for free (I’ve never flown on an airline that didn’t). And it is an easy way to lug everything around if your car seat snaps into your stroller. Baby in car seat, car seat in stroller, diaper bag on your back, and carry on rolling behind you. I love mine and it’s under $200 too!
20. Empty your stroller before hand. Before you leave, make sure everything is out of your stroller basket, cup holders, and other compartments. Your stroller has to be broken down at the end of the gate and shifts a lot while in flight. Avoid losing valuables by coming with an empty stroller.
21. Wear a simple outfit, and easy on- off shoes. While going through security you will have to take off jackets, shoes, scarves, and even some jewelry. I always have to take off my Alex and Ani bracelets. So I try not to wear any jewelry besides my wedding ring while traveling. I also wear slip on sandals (these Hawaiian Jesus sandals are my fav and they’re cheap!) or slip on boots in the winter. That way I can easily slip them on and off through security while I hold my baby. Besides, don’t you want to be comfy traveling anyway? A tee and joggers are the perfect simple travel outfit.
22. Check if your car seat is airplane approved. They usually have a sticker on them or you can find the information online! If you happen to have an open seat next to you, it’d be nice to have your baby get to sit next to you rather than in your arms the entire time. If you bring on your car seat the flight attendant may ask you to show her that it is airplane approved, it’s only happened to me once so it’s good to be ready.
Getting Through Security:
23. Check everything you can! Pack up your diaper bag with the necessities and check the rest. I usually only have my diaper bag, a blanket for Jamie, and the car seat stroller combo when Jamie and I travel. I rarely use a carry-on. When you get to security and have to take off your shoes, pull out your baby, separate the car seat from the stroller, and load the line with your phone, blanket, and diaper bag, the fewer things you have all together, the better.
24. Wrap your baby. If your baby is riding in the stroller or car seat, you will have to pull them out through security. However, if you wrap and carry your baby on you, they can stay in their carrier. If you do this, you can place the diaper bag or other luggage in the stroller for an easy grab and go on the line. This is awesome if you have a sleeping baby because they won’t need to be woken up to get through security! They will have to wipe your hands and test it for explosive materials but it takes like 2 seconds.
25. Ask for a stroller line. A lot of airports have them, some are required and can often shorten your wait through security. If they don’t have a designated stroller line, they will sometimes just take you to the front of the line to help you get through. And if not, oh well.
26. Put your stroller on the belt. If it will fold down and fit on the belt, do it. It saves you time not having to do a stroller check through TSA. I didn’t know mine would fit on the belt until a seasoned TSA member showed me it does!
27. Take your time! When traveling with a baby, most people are understanding so no need to stress yourself out! You can do it! Security is often the most stressful part so just take your time and get through it the best you can. Don’t lose your sanity over it!
28. Ask for help. The TSA staff is very friendly, especially for moms traveling alone. Ask for help if you need it!
Boarding & Flight:
29. Ask for an open seat next to you! The very first thing I do whenever I fly with Jamie when I get to my gate is asking if the flight is full and if I could get an open seat next to me. If the flight is full there is nothing they can do but if it isn’t, 99.99% of the time they will get an open seat next to me and I can bring my car seat on! Jamie is so much more chill in his car seat than in my arms and is way more likely to take a nap. Plus it gives me space to make bottles and get snacks ready for him. This is literally my #1 tip for traveling with a baby! It’s awesome.
30. Most Starbucks will have whole milk. While traveling this last trip with Jamie we ran out of his milk after our first flight to Atlanta. We scoured the airport finding 2% milk everywhere and finally found that Starbucks had whole milk! So if your baby is whole milk drinker only check there!
31. Board early. At the beginning of the boarding process, they will allow those who need extra time to board first (or towards the beginning). Take advantage of that extra time to get your stuff to the end of the gate fold it up and settle yourself into your seat. This way you also aren’t worried about hitting everyone with your diaper bag as you pass.
32. Check your stroller and car seat at the gate. This is almost always free (I’ve never flown on an airline where it wasn’t) and gives you the ability to use these items throughout the airport to get around quick. It also makes your car seat readily available if there is an open seat next to you!
33. Ask for help! Again a flight attendant is happy to help you get your luggage or anything else to your seat so don’t hesitate to ask!
34. Nurse, use a binky, or bottle during take-off and landing. The change in altitude can really hurt your littles one’s ears during take off and landing so have them, nurse, use a binky, or their bottle during this to help them pop! Jamie never had a problem but many babies do!
35. Don’t use the water on the plane! The water from the bathroom sink has chemicals that are not safe for your baby to drink so if you need water ask a flight attendant for some bottled water! They also have hot water for their coffee so a bit of that mixed with some bottled water is perfect warm water for a bottle! Jamie was formula fed so we always just used the water from the attendants to make his bottles.
36. Use the barf bags! If your little needs an outfit change or for some reason you have to change them on your lap, use the barf bags in the seat to store the diaper while you wait to throw it away or keep the dirty outfit from ruining the diaper bag.
37. Changing table stretch. If your baby is a bit more wiggly, head to the bathroom, pull down the changing table and let them roll around and stretch. We do this a few times during our long flights and Jamie loves it. Especially when he can see himself in the mirror.
38. Don’t worry about the people around you. We’ve gotten a few looks in our travels but have had way more helpful and understanding people. Besides, headphones are cheap and sometimes even free on a flight. Always be considerate but don’t let the looks get to you.
39. Ask for extra blankets. If you are staying in a hotel with a portable crib ask for extra blankets to add layers to the crib’s thin mattress. Jamie doesn’t sleep very well on the hard mattresses so a few folded blankets usually make it better.
40. Stock up at the buffet! If your hotel has a breakfast buffet, grab a few things for treats later! A banana, strawberries, cereal in a baggie. Jamie doesn’t eat much right now but lots of the time I can grab a bunch of treats from the buffet he can snack on throughout the day.
41. Rent a car seat. If you don’t plan on bringing your car seat no worries! You can rent them from most rental car agencies or babysaway.com.
42. Rent everything you need for baby from Babysaway.com! I personally haven’t tried them yet but have heard great things from others. You can rent car seats, strollers, high chairs, cribs, bouncers, everything!
You can do it! Traveling and making memories with your baby is an amazing and sometimes exhausting experience! It’s all worth it! I love having this fun time to bond with my baby!
Anything I missed? What are some tips and tricks you use while traveling with a baby? Where is your next destination? Drop me a line in the comments below!