Before her first birthday, Viola Knight had clocked eight transatlantic flights and acquired stamps from 10 different countries in her passport. Her mother Lauren, a travel guide and blogger at aspiringkennedy.com, can testify that traveling with babies takes a special type of patience. We asked the Dallas native and London resident to dish out her best advice on traveling with littles in tow. Using these tricks, or what we like to call “travel hacks,” you’ll be a one-handed, diaper-changing machine in no time.
1. Keep it light
Lauren insists that minimalism is key when it comes to packing. “You really don’t need half of the stuff you initially lay out,” she says. “Look at every item and consider leaving it behind. The most stressful travel moments we have had are when we have too much stuff. Things get broken, we pull a muscle trying to carry it all between platforms and the mental tax of keeping tabs on everything isn’t worth it. You would be shocked with how little we carry, but it’s a lesson we’ve learned the hard way.”
2. Push back feedings
In order to time feedings with takeoff, Lauren suggests pushing them back in small increments the day before flying. “Obviously, it’s an imperfect science, but it typically works,” she says. “Hopefully, your baby will be getting really hungry during the boarding. Do all your best tricks to hold them off until your plane is taxiing the runway.” She advises scheduling another feeding for the plane’s descent. “The harder part about this is that you may not have another feeding fall into this timeframe,” she says. As a back up, Lauren keeps an empty bottle on hand to fill up with juice or water during the drink service.
3. Keep Calm
While on the go, Lauren has noticed that stress plays a major role in her daughter’s mood. “If I’m uptight, it makes my baby crazy,” she says. “If I’m having a good time, she is. I try to be relaxed and it somehow soothes her. For new parents who are seasoned travelers, give yourself time. I know you are used to gliding through security and making short connections, but things with a baby are just different. Give yourself a bit of time for an unforeseen circumstance, and you’ll be so thankful you did.”
4. Bend the rules
Lauren admits to allowing her daughter special privileges while traveling, including endless snacks and iPad games. “My husband and I decided that since we are asking her to give above-average behavior, we can meet her halfway,” she says. “We’ve tried to make travel something our daughter looks forward to. If she wants to stand up and play with the air conditioning vent, go for it. If she flips my armrest up endlessly, she can. As long as she is being sweet and not bothering other people, we let her do as she likes. It’s not relaxing for us, since we are the ones buffering her energy from the rest of the plane. We never regret the time spent getting to our destination, even when the days seem endless.”
5. Keep you eyes on the prize
As a new mom, Lauren was surprised at how condescending other travelers can be. “I suddenly felt like a second-class passenger bringing my baby on an airplane,” she says. “People would roll their eyes when they were seated by us. I was totally oblivious to it before kids. On the flip side, the flight staff is so encouraging and helpful. I’ve had them offer, on countless occasions, to hold Viola if I needed to get up and use the restroom. Even if the day goes terrible, it’s a small price to pay to end up somewhere great. I know it’s hard to imagine on the front-end when the travel portion is all that’s on your mind, but you actually will only remember the fun part in retrospect.”