5 Things to Think About When Traveling Abroad with a Baby
Traveling with a baby by car, by plane, to another state or overseas can seem daunting. Traveling for three months abroad with a baby may seem impossible for some parents. That didn’t stop us. We are crazy, I know, but in a good way.
We traveled to eight countries in South America with our six to nine-month-old daughter. We’ve traveled across the United States with her from Washington, DC, visiting family in New York, Florida, Arkansas and even Seattle, Washington. The flight back from Seattle was six hours, so we thought we could try an 11 hour flight to Buenos Aires, a 12 hour bus ride to Chilean Patagonia, etc. You can see our entire itinerary here.
If you’re thinking of traveling with your baby, whether that’s across the country by flying, taking a road trip to another state or globe trotting around the world, we can tell you — it’s absolutely possible. You’ve got to have an open mindset, know your and your child(ren)’s limits and have fun!
Subscribe to our newsletter to learn more. For now, here are some things to think about before you take a trip abroad with a baby:
1. Baby’s Schedule
What are your trips to and from places actually going to look like? Are you traveling by plane, bus, ferry, etc.? How long are your trips going to be? Think about your baby’s schedule. Is she on a schedule? They say, most babies up to a year or so, take a nap in the morning and afternoon. Some still take three naps a day. Try to travel around his or her schedule, if you can.
We try to do this, although it’s not always possible. It’s great if your flight or bus ride is during your baby’s nap time. Our baby, Samindra was an absolute trooper in our travels. She typically only cried when she was really hungry, really tired or had a really dirty diaper. This is typical for all babies, of course. But when you’re on a bus or plane where you can’t go anywhere else, you want to try to avoid these meltdowns. Know her eating and sleeping schedule and be sure you know her cues for hunger, sleepiness and dirty diapers.
2. Flying with a Baby
Babies can’t equalize their ears like we can as we ascend or descend. Be sure to ask your pediatrician for advice. You’ll find they recommend nursing or feeding your baby during take off and landing. If the baby doesn’t take milk at that time, try giving him or her a pacifier. The swallowing of milk will help her equalize her ears.
Flying with a baby is ideal most of the time. Your travel time is shorter and you can check in all of your baby’s essentials for free. This includes her stroller, car seat and bassinet, if you have one. You can also take the stroller and car seat to the gate and check it in there. All of the airlines we’ve flown with have this same policy. The only airlines that didn’t check in her bassinet for free was Sky Airlines in Chile. But always check for yourself. You’ll also have to always check in at the counter when you have these baby items, instead of checking in early online.
One more thing to think about when flying with your baby on a long, international flight is to request a seat that has room for a bassinet. These are usually located in between sections of the plane where the front seat just has a wall in front of it. A bassinet can be attached to the wall if the fixtures are there. When we went to Buenos Aires from Dallas, we requested this type of seat, but the bassinet fixtures weren’t there. We still used a bassinet and just put it on the floor in front of us. Samindra slept really well, as this flight was an overnight flight from 7pm to 7am.
3. Taking a Bus with a Baby
Flying is definitely more preferable. But for short distances where it just takes way to long to fly because of layovers, it may make more sense to take a bus. We took buses when we traveled in Patagonia. Our longest bus ride was 12 hours. See our top things to do with a baby in Patagonia here.
As mentioned, know your baby’s schedule and her cues for sleepiness, hunger and dirty diapers. Samindra is a really great travel partner. She got so much attention from everyone and loves talking to random people. People complimented her on how great she behaved on the bus rides. But maybe they were just being nice.
Similar to flying, you can check in your baby’s items (and your luggage) for free. Also, similar to flying, you don’t have to pay for a seat for your baby until she is two years old. But on our 12-hour bus ride, we purchased a seat for Samindra. We wanted to take her car seat on the bus so that she could take naps in it.
4. Essential Baby Items to Bring
Baby food jar
Bassinet — This is not totally necessary, but we found it helpful to let her have her own space to play as well. We used the Lotus Guava travel crib bassinet / play yard. You could alternatively ask for a crib or if you’re co-sleeping with your baby, that could work as well.
Bug spray and bug wipes (depending on the time of year). We used Cutter All Family Insect Repellent Mosquito Wipes.
Carrier — We went hiking quite a bit and walked around cities. So our Stokke MyCarrier came in very handy.
Car seat — For flights, bring large trash bags to avoid fumes getting in the carseat. We have a actual car seat bag, but it was too large to bring. Large trash bags worked fine. We traveled with our CYBEX Aton 2 Infant Car Seat.
Diaper bag — Or a day-time backpack.
Diapers — Just enough for the day of travel and then stock up once you get to your destination.
Fruit sucker — If you’re starting your baby on solid foods, a fruit sucker is helpful for getting used to different flavors.
Medicine — This is an absolute must. Bring medicines such as infant Tylenol, Motrin, gripe water, saline spray and gas medicine.
Mosquito netting for the stroller and bassinet.
Water bottle sippy cup
Enough burp cloths, bibs, wash cloths, a few onesies (short sleeve or long sleeve depending on the weather), pants, a jacket, mittens and booties.
Essential Baby Travel Items:
4. Where Should You Stay with Your Baby — Airbnb
If you’re preparing your baby’s food, we recommend staying at Airbnbs that have a kitchen. We also cooked for ourselves every once in a while. We cooked breakfast and sometimes dinner. In South America, mostly in Argentina and Chile, the portions were huge. We took the rest of the food home and had it for leftovers.
With a baby’s typical schedule, you’re probably putting your little one to bed between 7pm and 8pm. Samindra was off schedule a bit during our trip and went to bed sometimes as late as 10pm. But if your baby is on a good schedule, it’s nice to have dinner at your own place where you can either cook food for yourself or warm up food and have a nice table to eat at.
Some of our Airbnb hosts had a crib and even a high chair for Samindra. All of the countries we’ve been to so far in South America have been very baby friendly. Our Airbnb hosts have been very cooperative and understanding even if they didn’t have a crib or high chair for her.
And of course one of the reasons why anyone stays at an Airbnb is you get the local perspective of what to do in that city. Airbnb hosts are able to tell you where to eat, where not to eat, they can help you get taxis where Uber doesn’t exist and more.
Guest House, Hostel or Hotel
One thing to look out for in Airbnb, especially in Patagonia, is that some Airbnb hosts will advertise their place as a guest house and really it’s a hostel. We did actually stay at a couple hostels with our baby. Of course we had a private room and private bathroom. It was also nice meeting other people during our stays. But make sure these places are clean.
Occasionally we stayed at hotels, which was also really nice. We looked for hotels that had breakfast included so that we only had to eat lunch and dinner outside. We also took advantage of our IHG credit card awards and stayed at a couple of Holiday Inns!
As we mentioned in our post that includes our three-month itinerary to South America, we wanted to make sure our baby was six months old before traveling. At six months, she had all of her necessary shots and didn’t have to get any other vaccinations until she was one year old. However, maybe we should have waited until seven months. See why below.
For the flu shot, you absolutely have to wait until your baby is six months exactly. And then they only get one part of the vaccination. The other part is taken at seven months. We left for our trip when she was six months and had to get the second part of the flu vaccination in Buenos Aires. It wasn’t hard. We just searched for a clinic that gives vaccinations and contacted them to make sure they had the second part of the flu vaccine. We didn’t have to make an appointment. And we met a really nice mother and her daughter who was getting the same vaccine.
Samindra also received the MMR vaccination earlier. This vaccination is usually given at the one-year appointment. Our doctor recommended her to get it because we were traveling overseas.
The CDC recommends anyone between the ages of nine months and 62 years to get the yellow fever shot if you’re going to countries with yellow fever. Samindra was too young to get this vaccination. And because I was still breastfeeding her, I was exempt from getting the yellow fever shot, as there is a slight chance the vaccine may be transmitted to our baby. Many countries that have yellow fever may ask for your shot record or yellow card showing all of your vaccinations. I had to get a note from my doctor explaining that I was exempt and I could present it if they asked.
This is information we found as we were getting ready for our trip. Be sure to ask your child’s pediatrician and check the CDC website before traveling overseas. You may also go to a travel clinic for their advice.
Traveling Abroad with Your Baby is Fun
Traveling with your baby doesn’t have to be overwhelming. It’s actually fun and you get to create new memories for you and your family. Even though your baby may not remember any of your travels, she or he will have pictures and we found that Samindra became very social and more and more vocal. She’s definitely learned a ton on our trip as we did too. Let us know if you have any questions in the comments below or by contacting us here. Be sure to subscribe to our newsletter or follow us on Instagram for more immediate updates!