Traveling with a newborn (now infant and almost becoming a toddler?!) has been a whole new ball game for us. Maddy has been on 14 flights now and almost every flight has been different for us. We understand that not every kid and not every family is the same but wanted to share some things that have worked for us.

In the beginning we experimented a lot. We tried bringing the car seat onto the plane (carseat adaptors do NOT fit with the carseat attached on the plane FYI. You just have to buckle the carseat in to the actual seat), then experimented with leaving the car seat by the gate with our stroller, then tried checking in the car seat. We experimented with traveling with and without the stroller (both with our heavyweight and lightweight stroller), leaving the stroller at the gate, and also bringing the stroller onto the plane and putting it in the overhead compartment (our lightweight one folds small enough to fit or else you’d normally have to leave it at the gate. Note that we have only done this with Southwest. Other airlines have rules that even if it folds small enough, you cannot store it in the overhead bin). So far our go-to is checking in the stroller and car seat and just carrying Maddy in the baby carrier since it’s easier for everyone when we have less things to carry.

Our packing list always looks slightly different depending on where we go (are we hiking, going somewhere snowy, going somewhere sunny…). In general these are some of our essentials:

-We always bring with us our Lotus Crib. It is so easy to set up and pack away. It’s pretty compact as well and we are able to fit it in one of our large 29” suitcases (thankfully we always fly Southwest which allows 2 free checked bags per passenger. This benefit always comes in clutch for us. Thank you, Southwest!). I know some hotels also provide cribs, but we haven’t tried that yet. There have been some AirBnBs that we’ve stayed at which have offered their pack-n-plays but I’m always hesitant to use them because I’m uncertain how clean they are? But that’s just me… if you’re willing to try those, it’ll be 1 less big item to pack which is always a win! You do have to bend pretty far down to put baby onto the pad, and I haven’t found the side zipper option very helpful for us, but for the size and ease, I’m willing to compromise.

-We always bring our Ergobaby carrier with us along with the Ergobaby insert. We use the insert when we want Maddy facing forward. It gives her a nice boost without the carrier blocking half of her face and she can easily look around. When we nap her, we don’t use the insert. We always have the carrier with us on the plane because that’s currently the only way she naps on plane rides.
I think we’ve only had 2 flights where she slept on the flight without the carrier. Once was in her car seat when she was 2 months old and one other time she slept on our chest when she was pretty young but since then, she won’t sleep on her own unless she’s in the carrier and poor dad is bouncing up and down in the aisle until she falls asleep…
Sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do!

-We also always bring our JL Childress car seat travel bag with us to protect the carseat when we check it in so it doesn’t get wrecked when it gets tossed around. It’s big enough that we can always throw in extra clothes/other necessities which is a WIN! The one we have is the backpack one that you can carry on your back but I’ve also heard that the JL Childress Travel bag with wheels is also really convenient especially if you are traveling soon after you had a C-section.

-I didn’t want to get multiple strollers but we ended up getting the Zoe XLC stroller a couple months ago because our Britax stroller is pretty heavy duty and was heavy and harder to maneuver during travel since it’s made for all these extra attachments for multiple children. This stroller though has been a game changer for us for traveling. It is SO lightweight and easy to pack. It even packs small enough where you can carry it onto the plane and store it in the overhead compartment, which we have done several times flying Southwest! I’ve also heard good things about the Babyzen YOYO stroller but decided to go with the Zoe XLC since it was a lot cheaper and did the job for us. The storage compartment on the bottom is pretty dinky but that’s what you’re sacrificing to have a smaller and lighter stroller. We can normally stuff our baby carrier and a lightweight jacket underneath. We love our Zoe!

-We have 2 baby monitors at home and always bring our Infant Optics baby monitor with us because you don’t need to do all this crazy wi-fi set up with it. Just plug it in, mount the camera somewhere where you can see baby, and bring the monitor with you. We also got the Infant Optics wide angle lens since the lens that comes standard zooms in and you have to have the camera pretty far back in order to see the entire crib. There is a range limit with it though. Normally if we’re at an AirBnB and just in another room, it’s no problem. If we’re at a hotel, sometimes it goes out of range if we’re a couple doors down but if we put the monitor close to a window, it goes back in range. That’s the only downfall of this but normally you won’t be out shopping while your kid is napping anyways so this monitor has worked well for us!

-This one might seem a little excessive to some of you, but we also bring our Chicco Pocket Snack Booster Seat as it has been very handy for us if we are planning to eat multiple breakfasts and dinners at our AirBnB rather than trying to balance a squirmy infant on our laps and feeding her. If we eat out at a restaurant, we have her sit in a highchair. We like this booster seat because it actually folds down really well and we can also pack in our suitcase. The tray is removable and the seat can adjust to 3 different heights. We love that it’s also made of plastic so super easy to clean with a wet cloth. If we have room in our suitcases, we normally throw this in there just to make our lives a bit easier.

Sometimes I’m baffled at how many bags/suitcases we bring with us on our trips but honestly a lot of it is all of Maddy’s gear. I never knew I could pack so minimally for myself until I had a kid. HAH! Long gone is the Selina who would pack 4 different types of shoes for a 4-day trip. She now wears the same outfit 3 times on a 4-day trip! Oh how the times have changed.

If you have any recs of your own of what has worked for you, please comment and share below!