You’ve probably heard someone say “get all your travel done before you have children because you won’t be able to once they’re here.” While it’s true that there’s more to navigate and financially plan for when traveling with young kids as opposed to just yourself or you and your partner, having children doesn’t mean you can’t travel again. Traveling with your children can be an enjoyable and wonderful experience for your family that you’ll cherish for years to come.

The key is to plan ahead, pack smart, adjust your expectations, and be the embodiment of flexibility.

Now don’t get me wrong, traveling with children is an adjustment and it’s best to plan for something to go wrong. However, just because it’s more work and different from what you’re used to, doesn’t mean you need to forgo all traveling for the next 18 years.

Let’s look at the 35 best tips for traveling with babies and young children to help give you some guidance and confidence. Traveling with little ones is definitely possible.

{The Emma Nursing Dress}

Breastfeeding While Traveling

  • Overestimate the amount of formula or breastmilk you'll need - Just like with diapers, account for travel delays when packing milk for your baby. The TSA gives specific instructions for bringing breastmilk, formula, and ice packs in your carry-on on their website.
  • Find nursing rooms before you go - If you feel more comfortable having a private space to nurse, airports and main transportation hubs like train stations typically have nursing rooms that you can use to breastfeed or pump. You can inquire about them at guest services or do a quick internet search for: nursing room + the specific location. They may be called nursing rooms, nursing mother rooms, or lactation rooms.
  • Find out if breastfeeding in public is allowed at your destination - When traveling to different countries, research ahead of time about laws and local culture surrounding breastfeeding. You don't want to be in a scramble to find a place to feed your hungry baby if needed. In the U.S., all fifty states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands have laws that permit women to breastfeed in any location.1
  • Bring a nursing cover - Depending on where you are traveling, it may be necessary to use a cover while you breastfeed your baby. 

    Flying with Babies and Toddlers

  • Gate check your stroller and car seat - If you want to keep your baby in their car seat and stroller to navigate the airport, you can check them before boarding the plane. Some people like to have a stroller to stuff items in and roll the baby to the gate. If that’s you, opt for a good travel stroller. (More on that below.) Personally, I like to carry my baby in a chest carrier, so that I have fewer bulky items to deal with and can take escalators. 
  • Use curbside check-in - Minimize the amount of luggage you’re having to carry through the airport as well as the lines you have to wait in.
  • Pre-boarding - If you're on your own with your kid(s), you can opt to board before everyone else, so that you can store your luggage overhead close to your seat. If you are traveling with another adult, another option would be to have one adult board first with all the luggage. Then the adult with the kid(s) can board last to give the kid(s) the most time to move around. 
  • Be prepared to help your child’s ear pressure - During take-off and landing your child may have a difficult time, so plan to nurse them or give them a sippy cup, bottle, pacifier, or piece of gum to chew (if they are old enough). 
  • Meet & Assist Program - At most airports, you can request to have a staff member assist you in getting through check-in, security, and to your gate. If you are flying alone with multiple children, this might be a life saver for you. 
  • Opt for slip-on or velcro shoes - The airport is no time for loose shoelaces, fall hazards, or bending down in crowded areas to tie shoes. 
  • Check car seat, bassinet, and seat airline policies - Typically children under two years old can fly in your lap. If you want them to sit in a car seat or the seat beside you, you'll need to purchase a ticket for them. Many planes also have bassinets for infants available, but you will need to coordinate seat assignments and bassinet availability with the airlines ahead of time. 
  • Get the energy out before boarding - Encourage your kids to move around until it’s time to board the plane. Now that is not to say let your children roam free. For their safety and the sanity of other travelers and airport staff, you’ve got to stay with them. It’s also best to seek out an open and unused area for them to move around. Some airports even have indoor play areas for kids!
  • Be strategic with your flight times - You know your child the best. If they have an easy time sleeping on planes then an overnight flight for a long trip might be the best option. If you have children who don't sleep on planes, then stick to daytime flights to try to limit everyone's exhaustion. If it's your child's first flight, it may take some trial and error to figure out which time works best for your family. 
  • Avoid layovers - When possible, book direct flights to help save your sanity, time, and energy. You won't have to deal with navigating an additional airport, getting your kids settled on another plane, or interrupting their sleep with a plane change. There is also less of a possibility of losing luggage if you fly direct. I’ve ended up far from home without my bag, and I don’t wish that on anyone. 
  • Beat jet lag
    • If you arrive when it is morning time at your destination and it's nighttime back home, take a nap as soon as you get there, so that you have some rest. That will make it easier to stay up the rest of the day until bedtime in the new timezone. 
    • If you get to your destination in the afternoon or evening, stay awake until bedtime. 
    • Have snacks and drinks in your hotel room, so that you can eat if you wake early before stores and cafes are open the next morning.
    • Plan for an earlier bedtime on day two, because everyone will probably be more tired.
    • Drink plenty of water.
    • Sleep on the flight.
    • Take any opportunity to sleep when your child is sleeping.
    • A common trick to reset your body clock is to eat in the new time zone based on their time. For example, you may eat breakfast right when you get to your destination even though it's dinner time or the middle of the night back home. 
    • Manage your expectations regarding your child's adjustment to the new time zone. For a 12-hour time difference, it typically takes a week for children to adapt. If you are going to a location with a large time zone difference, you may want to take off more time from work for the trip so that the kids have time to get acclimated.

    Essentials to Pack for Travel Days with Young Children

  • Spare outfit for you and the baby/toddler - Things can get messy with little ones, so it's best to be prepared for a wardrobe change for yourself and your kids. I speak from experience, when I say it's not a pleasant experience to be out somewhere in a shirt with poop or spit up on it and no clothing alternative.
  • Overestimate the number of diapers and wipes for travel days - You can typically get diapers and wipes at your destination, but you need to have enough with you for flights or train rides to account for multiple blowouts as well as travel delays. Especially nowadays with many flights being canceled or pushed back. Don't get stranded at the airport or waiting on the tarmac without enough diapers. A good rule to go by is one diaper per travel hour plus a few extras to account for travel delays.
  • Medication - In addition to any prescription medications your kids need, it's a good idea to bring infant/child pain medicine as well as a nasal spray. These come in clutch if you end up with a sick child while away from home. Just be mindful that the bottle size can't be bigger than 100 ml. It's best to check your local regulations before packing. There are also single-dose pain medications specifically for travel.
  • Comfort item - This is the item that helps soothe your baby or child. Maybe it's a pacifier, a stuffed animal, or a blanket. Whatever it is, pack that thing where it's accessible when you need it. If a pacifier is your child's comfort of choice, I'd bring several. Those things always seem to jump onto the floor and planes are not the cleanest places. Sanitize what you can (tray table; bathroom), but know that your child will more than likely get exposed to germs that you don't have much control over.
  • New toys and books - Surprising your child with new items helps keep their attention longer and makes the time more fun. One way to make it even more fun is to wrap the items as presents. It adds to the excitement and takes up a few more minutes. 
      • Busy Box - You can buy a premade box filled with small activities and toys to keep your child busy or create your own.
      • Magnetic Story Board Set - These spark your child’s imagination and can keep them busy for an extended period of time.
      • Lamaze Highchair Toy - You can suction this to the tray table for your baby to play with. You don’t have to worry about it falling on the floor.
      • Animals Figurines
      • Small cars
    1. Art supplies - Bring crayons, a coloring book, and an activity book to keep your child entertained. I also like bringing a set of markers that only work on a special coloring book. That saves me from worrying about my toddler becoming Jackson Pollock and getting markers all over the back of the seat in front of him or himself. Below are a few items I love. 
        • Melissa and Doug Water Color Books - These books come with small brushes that hold water. As your child paints with them, colorful pictures appear on the page.
        • Crayola Color Wonder Mess Free Art Desk - This kit is filled with stamps, ink pads, mess free markers, coloring sheets, and a lap desk. It’s perfect for traveling.
        • Play Dough Kit- You can buy a premade box filled with fun play dough and small toys designed to delight their senses while they actively engage in imaginative play! You can also create your own.
      1. Smartphones or tablets, kid headphones, & splitter - Many planes don't have individual screens even for four-hour long flights. It’s a good idea to load your phone or tablet with movies and shows before the trip. Just be sure to pack the kids’ headphones and splitter cable if you have two kids sharing one screen. The other passengers probably don’t want to listen along to Cocomelon.
      2. Plastic bags or wet bags - Kids are gross sometimes and when traveling with them you'll inevitably have trash or soiled diapers while you're out without access to a trash can or laundry. It's best to plan ahead and bring something to store trash or soil diapers and clothes in.
      3. Snacks, snacks, and more snacks - Hungry kids = cranky kids. Stave off the hangry by coming prepared with easy snacks like Cheerios, crackers, bananas, clementines, nuts, dried fruits, carrots, homemade healthy cupcakes, fruit pouches, rice crackers, or pretzels. 
      4. Empty water bottles for each family member - You can fill them up once you get through airport security. This will save you from dishing out a lot of money for overpriced water for everyone. 
      5. Stroller or bassinet cover - This is a good idea for small babies who only sleep in the dark. When traveling you usually need your baby to be able to nap on the go. Check out the CoziGo cover. 

      6. {The Ella Nursing Dress}

        COVID Considerations

      7. Practice mask-wearing at home - Children 2 years and older are required to wear masks in a lot of areas. (Some countries start their mask mandate at age 5.) Don’t let your flight be the first time they are donning a mask. Get them used to wearing a mask. You could even let them pick out a couple of masks that they’re excited about. It’s also a good idea to be positive about wearing a mask around them. You could even make it a game for them to keep their mask on. For small children, I wouldn’t stress too much if you have difficulty getting them to keep their masks on. Most airlines have relaxed their guidelines at this point and are understanding that it’s harder for small children to keep them on for hours at a time.
      8. Research vaccine mandates and documentation for your destination - Be sure to plan accordingly regarding required COVID testing, vaccinations, and documentation for each family member. When traveling internationally, you’ll need to plan far in advance. Obtaining a visa can take close to two months. A good practice is to contact the embassy to verify the application process and expected timeline, so that you can plan accordingly. 

        General Travel Tips for Parents

      10. Plan in extra time - Everything is going to take longer! That's just the way it goes with kids. You'll save yourself some stress and avoid power struggles and meltdowns if you give yourself extra time to get from point a to point b. I don't think I've ever had a pleasant experience trying to rush my family around. 
      11. Plan ahead for fun - Research your destination ahead of time and plan out activities where the kids can get some energy out. There are usually local parks and playgrounds everywhere you go. You might take the kids to the park for a bit before sitting down for lunch. 
      12. Car Seat - While there may be options for you to rent a car seat at your destination, it's a good idea to invest in a reliable car seat travel bag and bring your car seat with you. It's typically free to check the car seat. Bringing it with you takes away the risk of the rental seat being the wrong size for your child or unavailable by the time you get to your location. 
      13. Stroller vs. Sling/ Carrier - Research your destination to determine whether to transport your child in a stroller or carrier. Hiking or cities with cobblestone streets or tons of hills and stairs may warrant a sling or carrier as opposed to a stroller. If a stroller is the better option for your family, opt for a good travel stroller. You want to look for one that is lightweight, folds up small, and sturdy. Below are some options to check out. 
        1. Schedule down time - Scheduling downtown and naps will help everyone be rested and enjoy more of the activities. It's a good idea to think about this ahead of time, so you aren't stuck far from your lodgings with no way for your toddler to take a nap. 
        2. Tell your kids what’s going on - We have a bad habit as adults of dragging our kids along places and expecting them to come along happily with no questions asked while we as adults want to know what's going on and what to expect. I for sure don't appreciate being caught off guard. The same goes for our kids. Walk your kids through what to expect before flights, public transportation, activities, etc. You can adjust what you say based on their age, but just be sure to fill them in and give them transition time. 
        3. Adjust your expectations - Without being consumed by worst-case scenarios, logically think through things that could go wrong while traveling and how you can deal with them. The biggest reminders I can give you are to be flexible, know that things will take more time traveling with kids, you probably won't get to do every activity on your list, your kids will have meltdowns and complaints, and you more than likely won't feel rested. Trips with kids are about making memories, not resting to feel rejuvenated. If you know that going in, you're less likely to feel disappointed. 
        4. Traveling with your kids definitely takes planning and work, but it can be well worth it for your family. You can even involve your kids in age-appropriate ways to help before and during the trip. Kids are often a lot more capable than we think. Don't write off all traveling simply because you have kids now. You might find that it's something that you love doing as a family. 

          To help you prepare as best as you can we created just for you an amazing Vacation Planning and Packing Checklist. Go check it out and don't forget to have fun on your next adventures!

          At Ellie and Becca, we love supporting you and your family as you make memories together. We want you to feel beautiful and confident as a nursing mother, which is why we designed nursing dresses that make breastfeeding easy and discreet. Our organic cotton fabric travels well too, so take us and the kids with you on your next adventure!


          1. National Conference of State Legislatures. Breastfeeding State Laws. National Conference of State Legislatures. Published August 26, 2021. Accessed May 28, 2022.
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