The Ten Worst Mistakes You Can Make Traveling With a Baby


Trust me when I say traveling with a baby is the equivalent of traveling with the circus. It’s a mess from start to finish no matter how well-behaved your baby is throughout the duration of your trip. The fear, the sweat, the nerves; that’s all you; don’t make a sound. Be quiet, please don’t cry. Please don’t do anything out of the ordinary that might embarrass us or ruin this trip for anyone else. Do those people hate us? Yes, they hate us. Look at the way they are eyeing us as we move through the airport and onto our flight. They hate us. Yep; totally hate us. The worst thing you can do when you are traveling with your baby is worry for a second what other people think. You will never see them again, and their opinion is irrelevant. What you should worry about, however, is your own sanity. Who cares how other people feel? We care about how you feel; you don’t get to get off that plane and disappear for the rest of the day. You get to get off that plane and take that baby with you and spend the rest of your trip with that baby. If you want to come even close to enjoying your trip, you’re going to want to avoid the 10 biggest mistakes that parents make traveling with their babies.

Forgetting the “It” Item

We were so proud of ourselves for packing our family of 6 for a three day trip to Orlando last weekend in less than an hour. It was a very last minute decision to take our four kids out of town to spend the weekend at Disney, and we rocked the packing of the clothes, swimsuits, shoes, food, and toys like no one’s business – and the house was spotless, too. We made it out the door before our deadline and sat back smiling with cocky satisfaction. We are seriously way more competent parents than everyone else.

Oh my God. We forgot heart blankie. And with that, we lost half an hour of our early start going back home to get heart blankie. We have four kids and only one is attached to anything; our 4-year-old and her heart blankie. She’s had it her entire life. It’s dingy, disgusting and doesn’t even appear remotely clean no matter how often it’s washed. And she will not sleep without it.

Not Packing Enough Clothes

Over packing for the kids means spending more time packing and more time unpacking, so you do the smart thing; cut your packing list in half and call it a day. It’s good, right? You travel several times a year and you never use half that stuff. Until you decide not to pack it; someone is going to soak through a diaper, have the worst blow out in history, vomit, or smear all the food they can find all over themselves regularly. And now you don’t have enough. ‘Tis better to have too much than not enough.

“We’ll just pick those up when we get there,”

“Honey, it would save so much space and what is sure to be an overweight baggage fee if we just pack enough diapers for the trip in the diaper bag and then stop for those, wipes and snacks when we land and get our rental car,” I say. My husband nods in agreement. We are geniuses. Seriously, why are we so smart?

Fast forward 10 hours and we are cursing ourselves for not packing what we need after a long day of travel with grouchy kids who just want to get to our intended destination. We are tired, cranky and would rather drive off a bridge than take these screaming kids into the store for all the stuff we should have just packed in the first place. I’d rather pay the fee for another suitcase than stop.

Bringing your own Car Seat

Nothing is more fun than lugging around giant car seats in the airport, checking them, waiting on them at luggage and then realizing that no matter how careful you were to wrap them up, they are now filthy. Rent that stuff. It’s worth the price.

Not Bringing Your Own Car Seat

There is one exception to the rule above; when you have a toddler with his/her own seat between the ages of 2 and 3.5. They need a car seat. It’s just like the car; they are buckled up with no way out and you have two hands free for cheap airplane wine can relax on your flight. We learned early on that kids who aren’t strapped in during this age have no desire to sit still; they want to climb. Up, down, around, over, and everywhere in between. Kids need to be trapped safe and securely fastened at this age.

Not Charging the Electronics

That stuff sits on the charger like it’s a job when you’re home. But for some reason today was the day you forgot to charge the kids’ tablets, phones or iPads. And now you’re suffering. Rookie mistake, people; charge it.

Forgetting New Movies/Toys/Games

Your kids – especially small ones – need something new and exciting to play with on a flight. Bring a little bag filled with their everyday toys and you will see boredom and the desire to wreck havoc in the eyes of your little ones. Bring a bag filled with things they’ve never seen before and you will get at least 10 minutes of good behavior.

Forgetting Snacks

If you forget nothing else; do not forget snacks. Trust me. I’ll never forget the first time we decided not to pack snacks for our kids on a flight. They never eat them, and they love the novelty of airplane snacks (which translates into watching their college funds shrink). Why bother with it if they’re not going to eat it anyway, right? Wrong. The one time we forgo the snacks, they made the impulsive decision that they suddenly hate all things on the plane and only want things we do not have in the diaper bag. Kids, I’m convinced, are actually trying to kill us very slowly and very painfully.

Renting the Wrong Car

Get the minivan; you’ll need it. With four kids, we have to have the Suburban. But with less than that, a minivan will suffice. You’ll need it for your luggage, strollers, seats, tables, bags and everything in between. Get it; the sedan is cheaper, sure, but you’d rather spend the extra money to rent the minivan and toss that crap in there and go rather than try to wrangle small kids in a rental car parking lot while attempting to fit 8 large items in one small car. I’m not very good with math, but that doesn’t seem easy to me.

Forgoing the Stroller

We can carry the baby, darling. Let’s save some space and carry the baby instead of bringing the stroller. Sure, yeah, skip the stroller. Have fun carrying your carry-on, your diaper bag, your handbag, the baby’s toy bag and everything in between when you get to the airport – not to mention everywhere in between. Do you even know how much you use that thing? Take it. Don’t leave it; ever.

Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images


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