Adventure Travel with Baby: 40+ Helpful Tips and Insights

Before we started a family, my husband and I shared a passion for adventure travel, and made a concerted effort to plan an annual trip. That didn’t change when we had our baby girl. We had the goal of travelling abroad with our daughter in her first year of life, and though we knew it would be challenging, in the Winter of 2014 we set off for 70 days in the South Pacific when Maya was just ten months old.

Photo by Paul Zizka Photography.

Photo by Paul Zizka Photography.

We couldn’t have imagined just how challenging it would be. The trip pushed us to our extremes – from incredible joy-filled moments to utter exhaustion and frustration – often within the same minute. Was it worth it? Yes. Did we learn a ton? Absolutely.

That’s why I decided to put this post together for you. Whether it’s adventure travel that’s calling your name or a week of relaxation in Mexico (heck, bring the grandparents along for some built-in babysitting!), I hope these tips and insights will come in handy. I have alphabetized the categories to make it easier for you to find information.

Don’t miss my other post in this series, Essential Gear for Adventure Travel with a Baby.

This is a condensed list! For all the tips, download the e-guide or sign up for the newsletter to receive a free copy!

Accommodations

Consider what your needs are and how long you are travelling for when you are booking your accommodations. Your arrangement will affect you, so take some time to weigh your options and figure out what will work best for your family.

Depending on your needs, ask to check in early or check out late if it’ll make things easier for you. Many proprietors will be more than happy to accommodate you. It will help you a great deal to get settled in as soon as possible and have somewhere for the baby to nap before hitting the road again.

Activities

There may be activities you’d like to do as a family, but when it’s only something the adults can do I recommend splitting up or taking turns. Doing everything together isn’t always the most efficient way of travelling, and you risk not having the opportunity to truly enjoy the places you are visiting. Each parent will need some baby-free time along the way to recharge their batteries!

Airports and Airplanes

If you can, talk to an airline representative upon arrival at the airport before getting in line. Often they will expedite you through the process because you’ve got a baby with you.

Carry your baby through the airport in a soft-structured baby carrier to leave your hands free for carrying luggage and holding passports and plane tickets. Often security will let you wear it right through the sensor, which comes in particularly handy if your baby is sleeping.

Some airlines offer bassinets to babies under a particular age and weight. Even if your baby isn’t eligible for the bassinet, ask about snagging seats in the bassinet section, which offers a lot more leg room (you’ll have to ask at the counter when you check in).

You likely aren’t booking a seat for your baby, but you might be able to snag an extra seat using one of two methods. Find out what they are by downloading the e-guide or sign up for the newsletter to receive a free copy!

A soft-structured baby carrier provides a convenient way of transporting your baby and exploring during your travels. The Onya Baby Outback is pictured here. Photo by Paul Zizka Photography.

A soft-structured baby carrier provides a convenient way of transporting your baby and exploring during your travels. The Onya Baby Outback is pictured here on a trail in Nelson, New Zealand. Photo by Paul Zizka Photography.

Clothing

Bring more clothes than you think you’ll need, particularly t-shirts and pants/shorts. Baby clothes weigh nothing and take up little space. They are also quickly dirtied during playtime or mealtime. The last thing you want to be doing every other day while you’re travelling is laundry.

For dirty clothes I brought along a Large Bummis Organic Wet Bag to store them in until we could do a wash.

Diapering

Cloth or disposable!? It’s up to you. But, something to keep in mind is access to laundry or water for hand-washing if you’re carrying cloth. Some places don’t have a lot fresh water for washing, and may prefer you use disposables. My personal choice was to use disposables. We found them everywhere in stores, and though it meant adding garbage everywhere we went, it was a heck of a lot easier. I can’t imagine the amount of time I would have spent washing cloth diapers when I could have been out exploring.

Ditch the bulky diaper bag and bring along a small kit in a bag (my pick was the Lug Puddle Jumper) you can use for all your sundry travel items. For diapering, I brought a small Bummis Organic Wet Bag and kept it stocked with a change pad, a few diapers, wipes and bum cream.

Keep a stash of plastic bags on hand for disposing of dirty diapers. Normally we bring our own bags when shopping, but occasionally we asked for plastic so that we could have some on hand.

First Aid

Here’s something we didn’t do, but I wish I had even though thankfully nothing went wrong on the medical front: take a baby/infant first aid class prior to setting off on your trip. You can’t guarantee which emergency medical services will be available to you should something happen.

Food

Of course you can travel with a baby of any stage and age, I highly recommend travelling when your infant can self-feed and is done with purees. Being able to offer chunks of food or having him or her eat the same things you are makes things much easier.

If you are able to breastfeed, extend this through the period you will be travelling. Nothing could be more convenient and comforting when you’re on the move.

Always re-stock on food and baby products when you have the chance. Don’t assume you can get it later, or that every store carries the same items.

The squeeze packs of fruit and veggies come in particularly handy when you’re travelling. They make great snacks, but they also ensure your baby gets the fruits and veggies they need when they aren’t available or convenient while you’re on the move. Refrigerate a squeeze pack for a nice, cold treat in a hot climate.

No need to bring toys. Your baby will find them everywhere! Photo by Paul Zizka Photography.

No need to bring toys. Your baby will find them everywhere! Photo by Paul Zizka Photography.

Immunizations

Depending on where you are going, you may need to get additional immunizations for your baby, and/or ask if their routine childhood shots can be adjusted. We were able to get our daughter her Measles shot prior to leaving even though she was not yet the recommended age.

In some cases your clinic may refuse to give certain shots early, whether the first dose or boosters. This was the case for us. We sought out a travel clinic in New Zealand prior to our trip and had them do our daughter’s one year shots, as well as Hepatitis A. It wasn’t cheap, but for us it was worth having her protected as much as possible.

Breastfeeding mothers: If you are still nursing your baby, you may be limited as to which immunizations you can get or in which format (oral or needle). Allow for extra time prior to leaving in case your clinic needs to get approval to give you certain shots. In Alberta, my clinic had to get direct approval from the Minister of Health in order to give me a typhoid vaccine!

Jetlag

This is a tricky one with babies, but my experience is to let them sleep when they want to, and graze on snacks throughout the day until they naturally fall into a rhythm and routine again. Try to move their bedtime incrementally earlier or later as you need to and gradually they will adjust. Unfortunately they just can’t sleep and eat on demand!

e-guideLike what you see? To get the rest of the tips, download the e-guide or sign up for the newsletter to receive a free copy!

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41 responses to “Adventure Travel with Baby: 40+ Helpful Tips and Insights

  1. Great tips Meghan. 🙂
    No plans for an adventure just yet, but this is inspiring and makes me think we could do it.

  2. I appreciate the tips you have provided in this post. I would love to take our little one to Alaska or Yellowstone park. This blog has been a great encouragement to me, inspiring us that our adventure days are not over 🙂

  3. Loved the tips! I’ve also found that it’s much easier to keep a baby warm than cool. I guess it’s a good thing we live in a cooler climate 🙂 And I’ve also had no problems checking baby items at the airport. I like the idea of ditching the stroller. I may have to consider that for our next trip. They’re such a pain to haul around.

    • It’s definitely a personal preference. We had so much other gear, especially because we bring lots of camera gear, and it was nice to leave the bulky stroller behind.

  4. Great post with a lot of insightful ideas I never tlreally considered. While we don’t have the leave saved up for a long trip we do have our first camping trip planned and hopefully we can manage a long weekend trip to the Caribbean or something later this year. I am flagging this article to revisit as we prepare for both of these trips and more to come in the future for sure.

    It is also an inspiration to hear about your adventure with your young child for us to still manage to get out there with our now 7 month old.

    Thanks!

  5. Thanks for all these great tips-very helpful for our family’s big and small adventures to come 🙂

  6. Wow great tips we r going away 2days after our daughter turn 1 even if is just for a week i been wondering what should or shouldnt do 🙂

  7. My kiddo is turning 1 this week, and while I don’t know that we’ve done any official “adventure travel” with him, he’s gone on 4 plane trips and three camping trips. Here are my additions to your great list!

    In the airport: We used a car seat with the stroller frame thing for airport travel, and found it really convenient. It was the only time we ever really use a stroller, but it enabled us to be hands free, have a place to put him, and have the car seat with us. We always do the aisle/window seat trick, and then call the airline to put a “baby block” on the seat between us, and have had several times where they didn’t end up filling the seat, so we brought the car seat on board. And that, for a multi-hour flight with a under-1 year old, is awesome. He’d sleep the whole way. If the seat got filled, we’d just gate check the stroller frame and car seat. Plus, when we got our luggage, we used the stroller as a luggage rack! I did always have the ergo with me (in my roller carry-on) especially if i was flying solo.

    Bed: I got the Guava Lotus crib and think it’s the bomb. It’s way more expensive than pack and plays, and you probably can’t find it used, but it’s a lot lighter and has a neat side-access option which can make it into a bit of a fort with the top they sell for it, which makes it darker even if the room is still lit. It was probably the only piece of baby gear i bought new, and I love it for travel and for around town (taking baby to the office or friends houses). We’ve taken it cabin “camping” as well.

    First Aid: In addition to a first aid class, don’t forget to bring the infant first aid kit! Kiddo got a fever on a trip, and while the store may have been open, I didn’t go until 7am. It was a stressful night, and just having had the option of tylenol would have made me feel better, even if I didn’t end up using it. Better to have all those things and not need them.

    Diapers: We have the “Skip Hop Pronto Changer Diaper Bag” which holds a few diapers, wipes, a change of clothes, and opens to have a nice waterproof changing area. Small enough to throw in any shoulder bag, and great for times they don’t have a changing table (or even if they do). Diaper changes in the front seat of the car are less terrifying with something like this!

    Food: I found that traveling with a little one to be pretty easy, regardless of age/food habits, but we weren’t going international. A ziploc of rice cereal is easy to pack and can always be a backup, you just need some (safe) water and a cup (I brought the spoon). I also would bring one of those self-feeder mesh things, where you can put food into it and the kiddo can gnaw away on it? That would help with boredom and not always being able to mash food, but you need to find a way to attach it so that it doesn’t fall on the floor eventually! Breastfeeding always helped as well.

    Other:
    -I use a lot of cut up old t-shirts as spit up rags, or just general rags. No worries if you lose them, and they can easily fit in a pocket (or every pocket!).
    -We’d break up flights with an overnight at times, so instead of a long 12 hour day of multiple flights, we’d do one 3 hour flight, and then overnight in Seattle, and then fly the next day. More expensive since you need to priceline a hotel ($100) but it makes the trip much more relaxing for everyone, I think. It helps that we know the Seattle airport area and overnight there a lot.
    -Always assume, at least for airplane travel, that it might take an extra day, and keep that in mind for diapers and food. We get a lot of flight delays in AK, and so I plan to be prepared to spend a night in the airport if we had to. But, if something happens that you’re not ready for, just start asking for help. There is going to be another mom around who brought way too many diapers and can loan you one, or something!

    I have only done one flight as a solo parent, but am heading back east in a few weeks with just me and the kiddo. I’m sure it will be a whole different experience! I broke the trip up into two days of flying each way, since we still have a 3 hour drive when we land in Boston. I was not going to try to red-eye it or anything, though some people say that’s a great way to go…

    Hope that wasn’t too much to add!! But I want people to know it’s totally doable!

    • Thanks for such a thorough reply! You have lots of great ideas in there. It is totally doable, and seeing others do it is encouraging for people, I think! I’ll have to look into some of the products you’ve mentioned!

  8. We have plans this summer, to travel to Myrtle Beach SC. with the baby, she is 7 months…this would be real nice to win. Thank you

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  10. front row seating has more leg room and room on the floor for toddlers, and will keep the little one from kicking the seat in front of him.

    • This is very true, Tina! Great tip! The only thing I’d add is that on some airplanes the front row is considered an emergency aisle, depending on where the door of the plane is oriented. They won’t let families with young children sit up there if that is the case. Often the bassinet seating is in that front row you speak of, though!

    • After our 4,000-km road trip in New Zealand I could write a whole other post about road trips. Maybe I should! I hope it goes well! I’m not sure how old your kid(s) are but, snacks, snacks, snacks! 🙂

  11. We’re going to the Rockies on next week and I realized I should do some research on what to bring camping with a baby. Thanks for sharing your experiences Meghan! You’ve made my preparations much easier!

  12. Great tips! We brought along a few of those baby fruit and veggie squeeze packs for our flight to Hawaii in April (the first and only time I’ve ever bought them) and they tested positive for chemicals at yyc airport. We ended up throwing them out, so that we didn’t have the same issue at yvr. I would also agree that a baby carrier is much better to bring along than a stroller. So long as you’re not in a third world country, you can always rent a stroller if you need one. I rented one in Maui, so that I could run along the coastline

    • That’s strange that they tested for chemicals. I’ve had mine tested at YYC half a dozen times with no issues.

      It’s a great suggestion for people to just rent strollers at their destinations. There are lots of websites that make it super easy.

  13. This is great! I haven’t been camping in years, but I’m hoping to take my husband, 4 year old, and 4 month old! Thanks for the tips.

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