This travel advice was collected from the list. It's about travel with a variety of different aged babies and toddlers. There are tips for flying, driving, and camping. In each tip, the person speaking is the person who originally posted it. The speaker changes from tip to tip. The tips are listed in random order.
* I've rented car seats from car rental places and from rental places that rent baby equipment such as cribs, strollers, etc. Both are very easy to do but in my experience the baby rental places had better car seats. Another mom on the list also said that the car seat they rented from the car rental place this week is a really cheap one and she's not thrilled with it.
* My baby has been on 11 plane rides in 14 months. Small, interesting toys also get dropped a lot so keep that in mind. I've had better luck with interactive books such as the Touch and Feel books. At this age, I bet crayons or Baby Magna Doodle would be very good too. But honestly my baby's favorite in-flight entertainments are looking at the safety information card, flipping pages and eventually ripping apart the in-flight magazine, playing with his seat belt, the window screen thingy, the plane phone on the seat in front of him and to look between the seats at the people behind us.
* Bring a backpack diaper bag if you have one to have your hands free.
* On international flights, for some weird reason, you may NOT get your stroller at the door of the plane when you get off, even if you brought it to the door of the plane when you got on. It will be where the of the luggage comes, and you might have to wait for it. Stupid. So if you are travelling alone (which I don't think you are) be prepared to carry both baby and diaper/stuff bag for quite a distance... I couldn't, luckily someone helped me. In that case you might want to travel light. BUT it is great not to have to, to have plenty of 'stuff'; change of clothes (or two) for baby, change for you, toys, food, blanket, sweater, WATER for you (I didn't have this), cup for baby (bowl/spoon if you want), maybe snacks (there is usually enough food but I often crave fresh food, i.e. fruit when travelling). Depending on your comfort level you might want to bring a blanket big enough to cover yourself when nursing (mine wasn't really big enough and also my baby kept pulling it off). Easy change outfits for baby and easy nurse outfit for you of course.... Tylenol in case he has trouble with his ears when landing/ taking off. (I don't think my baby did, maybe only once).
* Be prepared that the stroller may be severely damaged or actually totalled. This happens a lot. When we traveled back to Europe our baby's stroller was totalled!! We did get reimbursed but that took nearly 2 months!!!
* You don't need to buy a seat for a child under 2 years old. If a seat next to you is free, you are legally allowed to put the child in it at no charge. If no seat is free, you have to hold the child on your lap during the whole flight. Alternatively, you can pay half the price of an adult ticket to reserve a seat for your child. I don't believe airlines have car seats: you have to bring your own, and if the child doesn't get a seat on the airplane seat you won't be able to use the car seat, so you'll have to find some way to stow it or gate check it. If you are renting a car, you can ask the car rental company to include a child seat with the car.
* About flying with baby, especially yours who is 16 months: I don't know how long your flight is going to be, but think carefully if you want to share your seat with him the whole time or would it be better to buy a seat for him rather than hope the flight won't be full thus leaving an empty seat near you. Like if he takes a nap, he can be doing that in his own seat. Or, like US Air did for us, made sure that our baby was always in the window seat so she was very involved with what was going on out the window and that made the time for us to entertain her not that long at all. Plus, keep the snacks coming. Delta was great about that with by bringing snacks to our baby whenever they thought of it. She was so preoccupied with the opening of the packages and checking out the goodies, that more time went by without having to deal with a bored and restless baby.
* The flight attendant wouldn't let us use our car seat because she couldn't find a certain sticker. She said it had to have red writing. Anyway, I was upset, and looked and didn't find it, so we said find, we'd just strap the seat into an empty seat and not use it. We then put her in the front carrier, which we had used to take off on the previous flight. She said she didn't know if that was approved either, and that she'd have to check, but unless something changed we could use it. Well, after takeoff she comes back and shows me the thing that says that front carriers can only be used in flight not during landing or take off, so we'll have to take her out when we land. She left the book with me, and I read all the regulations. No where in the book did it say that you had to have a sticker with red writing that said the car seat is approved for airplanes, it just has to have a certain label. The label was word for word on my car seat. I got up and took my baby to the bathroom to change her diaper, and when I came back my partner had found the red writing that said airplane, so we got to put her in the seat. I never did get a chance to argue with her about not actually needing the sticker. While I understand her following the rules, I wish I had been told ahead of time that I needed this sticker. IF TRAVELING ON AN AIRPLANE MAKE SURE YOU LOCATE THIS STICKER AHEAD OF TIME, so if someone looks for it you can point it out and not go through the mess I went through. On four flights that was the only one we had anyone check the carseat.
* I noticed that One Step Ahead sells a airplane strap that attaches to the parent's seat belt. I looked at the regulations, this is not approved for take off and landing, but only while in the air. It says it's approved for in flight, which is true, only while in flight, not take off and landing.
* When we got to the airport, we asked how full the flight was. If they told us it wasn't very full, we made sure our seats would accomidate putting a baby in one of them (there are certain seats where a child can be placed based on the aircraft). (It seemed to me they wanted them furthest from the aisle.) When we were three seats one side, two on the other they wanted her next to the window, when it was 5 in the middle of the plane and 2 on both sides next to the windows, they wanted her in the center of the 5 seats. Anyway, if we were sure there would be room for her, we just carried the car seat on and hooked it in with her, and kind of pretended we had bought a seat for her. When we weren't sure, we made sure we were one of the first ones on the plane and put it in the overhead bin. We did this with the infant carrier, don't know if a big car seat would work, or what you're trying to use. Also had they made me check the seat I would have put up a huge fuss. In fact on the flight where they didn't think it was approved the lady wanted me to check the seat. there were a million empty seats. The overhead bin was too small to fit the carrier. I didn't see why I couldn't strap it into one of the empty seats, and that's what I did. I have no cover to my seat, and how do I know what the seat will look like when I get it back. I don't trust them not to kill it.
* Just to let you know: LegoLand is not a very baby oriented place. I was very disappointed. It is geared for ages 2 to 12. If you aren't in that range there isn't much you can really do. Most of the rides have a height requirement and they won't let them on unless they meet that height. If the ride has a seat belt they will not let you hold the baby in your lap. I was very frustrated.
* Jetlag: My baby had way way less than I had; he adjusted in one day (to an 8 hour difference). He didn't get enough sleep the night before, I put him to bed at his usual time (local time), and he was adjusted from then on.
* Flying: he was totally fine on the way over, even with the layover in the middle of the night. Didn't sleep too soundly on the plane but slept OK. In many ways the fact that you still nurse him to sleep (like me) helps because it is the same routine as he has at home even though the plane is so different.
* Try to get a bulkhead seat, the extra space is great (they can get on the floor and can have a travel cot). On the way back he was fairly awful, I think because he was so tired (didn't sleep a full night the previous night) and kept waking up when he finally napped with the air hostesses. You might want to get a middle rather than an aisle seat, more discreet for nursing as well (I had an aisle).
* You will get dirty looks from some of your fellow passengers in the vicinity as soon as you walk on the plane, just ignore them. My baby was such an angel on the way over that this woman who had been shooting us FILTHY glances for hours actually smiled at him on the way out because he was so good.
* Really, the travelling with a baby was quite fine, they are really quite adaptable, as long as you are there! The only problematic thing was the flight on the way back, and even that was do-able with lots of walking up and down the aisle, and buckets of patience! And the sleeping was a bit problematic only because my baby was on beds and that was when he was learning to crawl so was a bit worrying. Good luck! I hope you have fun.
* Trashed strollers-when we flew to Chicago from Minneapolis (read - like a 45 minute flight) - our stroller was at the gate but the handle was cut up. When I complained and tried to file a complaint I was told it was normal wear and tear and that they would not reimburse at all.
* I have packed: his convertible carseat, then in his diaperbag I have; 6 diapers, wipes, 2 burpclothes, 4 jars organic babyfood, 2 bibs, 2 4oz size juices, 2 8oz. size formula bottles, (I can nurse if I run out or if he refuses the bottles) teething biscuits, Baby Advil, teething ring, pacifier, misc. toys, and 2 changes of clothes. AM I FORGETTING ANYTHING? I plan to pack an extra change of clothes for myself in my carryon and had my husband do the same. Please pray he doesn't scream the whole time! He has taken up screaming a lot lately. Hope it's a phase. At least they are happy screams. Some comebacks for staring people just in case would be helpful too. Thanks!
* I might also want Mylicon drops (travel always throws me off, so who knows about a baby), hand wipes or a cloth that you could wet, plastic Ziploc bags for the cloth or dirty clothes, and perhaps the sanitizing hand gel. I also like to have lotion because plane travel is drying and with my baby, I find myself washing my hands a billion times to get rid of germs, so my hands end up EXTRA dry on the plane. Hope the trip is great -- no snappy comebacks from this front!
* We flew with a car seat and a toddler at 18 months age. Obviously it was a forward facing seat...and they fit just fine.
* As far as I understand as long as they are under age 2 you can either do the sit-in-lap option, which costs you nothing, or buy a ticket at half price. I will admit that at the age of 18mos...it was a blessing to have her in her own seat. Not that we didn't take her out of it at points. We flew from the east coast to the west...so it was a long flight.
* After 2 you pay full ticket price for them. That's been my experience so far. Oh and also we needed to bring a copy of her birth certificate to prove her age in order to qualify for the 1/2 price seat discount.
* I hope the standards have improved since we rented car seats from the car rental agency. Our experience wasn't good. The carseat was very old and dirty. We were unhappy, but sort of stuck with it. Didn't want to buy a new one for just a few days. I wondered if it was even a currently approved seat. Wouldn't hurt to ask the car place in advance what type they have, and whether they clean them between use. With ours the cover was reasonably OK, but the straps were really gunky.
* The drive I took is normally 2.5 to 3 hours. I had figured that it would take maybe an extra half hour every two hours on account of the baby. But it took a lot longer than that. Instead of 2.5 hours it took 4.5 hours each way! :( Moral: it's harder to leave on time with a baby, and travel takes much, much, longer.
* Having another adult in the car makes a HUGE difference. We've travelled with our baby to and from Iowa once and also back and forth to New Jersey, and he was much more content when he had someone in the back seat with him to look at. He would also sleep longer if someone was there next to him. For us it doesn't matter if it's me or his big sister, but company for him made a night and day difference.
* I also found that I can fairly easily nurse him in his car seat if I'm sitting in back next to him, and I've done so on numerous occasions. Sometimes just a minute or two of nursing is enough to help him get to sleep, and then he'll sleep for a while.
* I found that most of the toys I brought for the plane ride to Seattle were useless. We couldn't use the tray table in front of the baby at all because he just continuously kicked it. The magazine didn't work either because as soon as I handed it to him, he started ripping it to shreds and throwing it down the side of the seat. The things that did work... a musical book, and my car keys. He's not allowed to have the keys at home because I have remote start so he just loved having them. They filled 2 hours of a 5 hour flight!
* My baby and I went to lunch with a friend and her two small boys today, and one of the topics was long plane trips with children. We came up with a list of things that sound like they might be good on our flight next week, and I thought i'd share.
o Small cars & trucks, to wheel around on the plane tray.
o Magnets and magnet board (just be sure that no part is small enough to swallow).
o Crayons and coloring paper, e.g. small spiral pads.
o Stickers! sheets of them or booklet with background scenes too. (she said her older son started using them on a plane trip when he was 14 months old. she had to pull the stickers off the sticky sheet, but then he happily applied them elsewhere.)
o A travel-sized "Magnadoodle" or the kind of board where marks appear when pressure is applied and disappear when you lift the plastic sheet on top.
o I wonder if a travel etch-a-sketch would be interesting already.
o We have a "Qubix" toy that was given to us as a shower gift, and I think I'll take that too. It folds flat, then expands into a multi-surface hollow shape you can put things in and out of. I found a picture of it at this URL (not that i recommend this site, just that it came up in altavista!): http://www.thebabylane.com/softtoys.htm
o Duplo. Ok, that didn't have to be said, probably, because everyone knows I love Lego, BUT there is a new aspect: I'll bring some of the Duplo pieces that have doors on them. My baby LOVES to open and shut doors. I showed him one of these pieces last night, and he was enthralled. Now I won't bring them out again until our trip, so it'll be a novelty on the plane.
o Books, of course. some favorites, and perhaps some new ones. Maybe even ones with "adult" pages, since he just loves "real" pages but doesn't get those books often (unless mommy isn't looking).
o other ideas? I hope this list is helpful to someone else!
* If you have a connection (and neither flight is over 2 hours), figure that the child's nap will be cut short. :-( Bring two sets of toys, one for each flight. Hope the child sleeps on one flight and not while you're trying to run from one plane to another. Okay, that was the worst part.
* We decided NOT to gate check out stroller on the short connections (less than an hour), and we were glad. When we have gate-checked an umbrella stroller, it comes out after all the passengers have deplaned, and it delays us.
* When we have gate checked a stroller, it has almost always been right there when we've gotten off the plane. On any airline but Delta they've usually even set up the stroller for us -- an operation that takes the airline people a moment and is really helpful to a busy parent juggling a toddler and baggage.
* Bring a variety of snacks for the child. Of course, the child will probably want to eat your snacks instead, so bring baby-safe snacks for you too. And some high energy snacks too (e.g. trail mix), but don't put those where the child can see them! Any time they bring drinks or food, ask for some for the child.
* After a few flights, I realized that the toys that kept his attention longest were those that he didn't generally play with at home -- those which require adult supervision.
o Crayons and paper were a big hit. So were a couple of more fragile books, like pop-up books and lift-the-flap books. The Cheerios book was good for getting him to eat and swallow when he didn't want to drink during descent.
o I got him a few small trucks, and he adores them.
o My baby loves felts. He'd first used them at Sabbath school, putting puppies on the board during the song about puppies, etc. I glued a light blue square to one half of a manila folder and a green square to the other. Not that he thinks "sky & grass", but maybe later. :-) One surface would have been fine. Then I cut up simple shapes from different colors (from scraps of felt I had around). He loves to put them on the "boards" and move them around. I hide some in his pockets too. It's a nice, flat toy that he doesn't get without adult supervision.
o He didn't like the pocket magnadoodle on the first flights (when he was 14 months and hadn't colored before), but now he loves it.
o I got a couple of reusable sticker books (the tiny $1 ones), and they keep him busy for a while.
o I asked a woman at a children's consignment shop for suggestions, and she pointed me at a plastic bottle made by Evenflo that had a lid and 5 plastic items inside it. My toddler loves taking them out and putting them in.
o I saw a flat magnet board with trucks on it at one toy store, but there's a wild animals set by the same people, and I'd rather get that one.
o I hit the bargain book table and found a couple of interesting books for a couple of dollars, and thought I'd get them because I wouldn't mind if he lost parts of them on the trip. I haven't lost any, and it's a good thing because he loves them. One is large board book called "town mouse"; it has a finger puppet that you push through different holes on each page. Another is a board book that has cardboard puzzle pieces you can pop out & put back in.
o I hope this helps!
* Bring a backpack diaper bag, if you have one, to have your hands free.
* There's a backpack bag for carseats which has been invaluable for us. I am fairly certain we got it from Right Start. Flight attendants regularly ask us where we got it. It is so handy to have the carseat in the bag and have it on your back instead of trying to lug it through the aisles with everything else.
* Don't pack many toys for the flight. Babies tend to play with the in-flight magazine, the phone on the seat in front of them and the safety information card and to look at the people on the plane.
* My baby used to do that, and flirt with stewards too. :-) Now he needs more, particularly on the flights over 2 hours, or when we have multiple flights. I don't pack tons of toys, but I do pack a variety of small things so I can rotate through them.
* When we went to NY, we rented a car and a carseat with it. The carseat was horrible and very cheap. We had a hard time installing and the people there were not helpful at all. I was so upset. I have vowed to take my car seat with me from now on so I bought a protector for it.
* I was dreading the flight to the US too, but my baby did much better than I expected, even with a 3 1/2 hour delay when we were already in the plane which meant that we were in the plane for 16 hours on the way there. He started playing, reading and looking through the seats to other passenges and then he fell asleep before taking off. Once we were in the air, they put one of those bassinets that attached to the wall and slept for about an hour. He woke up, ate, played with a 2 year old girl (followed her behind the seats and I had to run all the way to the other side of the aisle to rescue him!), walked with my help through the plane, etc, until his bedtime arrived and fell asleep with about 6 hours left. The individual lights were not working right so they had to leave the general lights on which meant that he was waking up often (every hour?). Every time I would nurse him back to sleep and at the end he stayed in my arms, since he was a little restless. But there was no major crying. The passengers nearby commented about how well he had done spite of the delay.
* I am not sure if you could use the bassinets. I don't know how big your baby is, but mine is not too tall (74 cm) and the bassinets were just the right size. If he was any bigger he wouldn't have fit. But I am not sure if getting a seat for him would help either. If you have the first row, you can always put blankets on the floor and lie him down when he falls asleep. And while he is awake, he'll be better on your lap or crawling or walking through the aisles.
* Try to get late flights so that he can sleep for the most part.
* Bring your own food and plenty of toys.
* Bring lots and lots of Cheerios.
* We do have a bassinet booked on every long flight, even though 10 months is the age limit and he will be 11 months on the way back. I couldn't stand not being able to lie him down some of the time. We're taking the portable cot with us, even though friends in London keep saying we're bringing too much - I want him to have some stability everywhere we go.
* Here are my notes of advice about camping with a baby:
o If you're breastfeeding, a big supply of drinking water for mom is useful.
o We brought along our portacrib. I think my partner expected our baby to sleep in it, which I thought was unlikely. But it turned out to be nice to have it along, not as a place for the baby to sleep but rather as a safe place to put him down outside the tent when we parental types were occupied with other tasks.
o My partner brought along mosquito netting that we could stretch across the top of the portacrib to keep mosquitos out. Our portacrib has fine mesh sides, which worked like mosquito netting too, which is why this worked.
o I had a big air mattress pad which I had expected to co-sleep on with my baby. But the mattress pad was so slippery that it turned out to be difficult to nurse side-lying on it -- my baby would slide away from me! Instead we put the portacrib mattress in the tent and nursed on that as if it were another air mattress. This also freed up air mattress for me to sleep on. It's big, but not that big.
o My baby and I co-slept with the sleeping bag unzipped and plopped across his crib mattress and my air mattress. That worked well. When the nights were cold, I wore some clothes to bed and my baby slept in a blanket sleeper, so cold drafts weren't a problem.
o For rain gear, I wore a rain poncho, carried the baby, and poked his head out a sleeve hole. This worked very nicely.
o We didn't find a good solution for how to bathe the baby. We tried a shower once, but that was awful -- I had to juggle money, the baby, my clothes, the baby's clothes, our towels, and our soap and shampoo, and then the baby decided he didn't like the shower. I think it would have been good to have a big plastic tub that we could have bathed him in.
* Since it's summer and you are car camping, I would not use a sleeping bag at all. I would get a big section of foam rubber and make it up like a regular bed. Flat sheets for both top and bottom, safety pins to make the bottom one fit snug, and a blanket for extra warmth at night.
* I've very much been glad to be able to gate check the stroller (that's where you bring the stroller with you, get a special gate check tag when you check in, and then you leave the stroller at the end of the ramp right before you step through the doorway of the plane. When you get out on the other end, or in the connecting airport, the stroller is waiting in the same place for you.)
* Delta sucks for travelling with a little child. Northwest was fine, and US Air was excellent.
* It's good to have a stash of new toys that you can bring out spaced out over the course of the flight. Dollar stores are a good source of toys for airplanes. Other good toys are the phone in the seatback ahead of you, the tray table (a thing to use carefully, since it'll drive the poor person sitting in front of you crazy), and the inflight magazines.
* If you're traveling without a ticket for the baby, some airlines will "block" the seat next to you so that it will be the last one on the plane to be assigned. Delta won't. :-( Having a spare seat is wonderful -- I'm tempted to spring for the bucks to buy a seat for my baby just to have that extra space. Seats for children are half-price, so this may be affordable if you've got cheap flights.
* Some people like bulkhead seats a lot because of the extra space. Personally I'm not convinced that they are superior to the other seats; I think it's just a different set of options, not better or worse.
* It seemed to help a lot to tell my baby that if his ears hurt he should ask to nurse. I'd think the same thing would work with a sippy cup or a bottle for a baby who doesn't nurse.
* I was very appreciative of a bag of homemade trail mix I'd brought along in the diaper bag. (Recipe: Grab a ziplock bag and throw in a handful each of: breakfast cereal, nuts, seeds, dried fruit, or whatever else is around the house. Shake to mix.) By the way, the trail mix was for me, not for the baby.
* Jen's suggestions for what to bring:
o portable magna doodle
o small cars, things that roll
o favorite books
o brand new toys
o plastic spoons and straws (James loves these and once they fall on the floor, I can leave them)
o food -- cheerios, fruit snacks, etc.
o sippy cups -- avoid giving them much to drink until right before you take off (or as you take off), which guarantees they are thirsty and drink when they need to
* I agree for the beginning of the flight, but once we're in the air, I let my toddler drink as much as he'd like so he won't get dehydrated. Of course, sometimes he's not thirsty for the same drink by the end of the flight, so I bring a different juice or flavor to give him when his ears hurt during descent. I love the Playtex sippy cups with valves for this -- I can fill a couple at home and put them in the diaper bag without too much worry.
* I also found that for longer flights it is worth it to empty the seat pocket in front of you so that you can load it up with the toys and books. This made it really easy to stash everything so that I did not have to dig in our diaper bag every few minutes. I did this while my toddler wasn't looking so it made it interesting for him to see what would toy or book would come out next!
* In regards to gatechecking the stroller! When we did this (overseas flight) it didn't go according plan - our stroller came out destroyed! Not a good thing. We got reimbursed for it but we didn't have a stroller for awhile. What they had done was when we checked the stroller at the gate they ended up loading it with the regular baggage where it obviously got smashed. That's where we had to reclaim it to - from the luggage carousel. So make sure that they won't send it down. I was told that strollers where among the most often damaged goods!
* We've almost always had seats for our baby. (We picked out unpopular flight times and brought our car seats--if there were extra seats, the folks at the gate gave us one.) Even so, it's hard to reach down to the diaper bag in front of the carseat. Another thing I've done is put a blanket down on the floor in front of his seat, so if he drops toys, they are less likely to roll to the person behind us.
* We fly United most often, and their policy is that the child's seat costs 50% of yours. Since I shop for good deals for us, we've been able to get half of a low price for him. That's how we bought the seat to Maui.
* If you have a car seat, you have to install it either in a window seat or in the middle of a block of seats that has no window seats, so it won't block anyone. On planes with seats in the 3-3 configuration (window, 3 seats, aisle, 3 seats, window), we've obviously gotten 3 together and had the baby at the window. Some of our flights have been on 2-5-2. If we had 3 together, either we'd have the middle 3 of the 5 (ugh!) so the baby could be between us, or we'd have to have both of us on the same side of the baby and a stranger might be on the other side (ugh!). The first 2-5-2 plane we were on, an agent had put us in window/aisle/aisle because that was the only way to get 3 together. It turned out great! I recommend this option if you can get it. It's much easier to reach down in front of the window seat if there's no seat on the other side of you, and the adult across the aisle has more chance of having a little baby-free time & space. When flight attendants weren't in the aisles, the baby sat and played between us.
* With a moderately cooperative child, you can fasten the regular lap belt over them, giving it half a twist before you click it to make unbuckling slightly less easy.
* The right start sells an Infant Turbulence Protection Vest that attaches to your seatbelt that is for an airplane. They are legal to wear during the flight but they CAN NOT be used during take off and landing.
* One hint that I have is while the new toys saved until the plane ride have served us well, so have well-loved things from home. For instance-my toddler loves photo albums so I usually stash one of those with us. He will pore over it literally for at least 25 minutes.
* I also get great mileage from the My First Books. ("My First Book of ABCs", "My First Book of Trucks", etc) they have so many real pictures in them that they also keep my toddler's attention.
* Another great idea and one I have to give credit to my husband for is we brought our camcorder on the plane and watched videos of our baby the whole trip - he loves watching himself on TV!
* In addition to bringing a large variety of foods, bring plenty of liquids. I usally buy the giant Evian waters right in the airport and finish it before the plane ride is through.
* Try and make friends with the people around you because inevitably I have ended up using their tray table at some point in the plane ride to store my baby's stuff. Hope it all helps!
* My major word of advice when traveling with a child who is mobile is to spend the extra $$$ (in my case $99) if you can and buy a seat for the child. Then bring your car seat on the plane. This worked out great!
* Traveling during nap time is very helpful.
* Never ever forget a change of clothing in the diaper bag.
* The misc.kids travel FAQ is excellent.
Source : http://www.valeriemates.com/december