Summer Traveling (with Kids) Survival Guide

Summer Traveling (with Kids) Survival Guide

Read on for some air-travel travel tips from me — Nurse Practitioner, co-founder of NAPS, and most importantly mom of 3 — who successfully(-ish) managed my first plane trip when my first baby girl was just 6 weeks old. It’s all in the prep, honestly. Prep is what will let you handle any hiccups…and there will be hiccups! 


Prep and packing: 

Contrary to what your brain is telling you, you don’t need to pack everything! Leave the kitchen sink (and baby tub) at home, and source what you can at your destination. Here’s what I recommend:

  • Call the hotel or AirBnB to see what gear and supplies they have. Many have cribs, high-chairs, play yards, etc. available for their guests. You can also ask for recommendations on rental companies that might be able to provide the remainder of the things you need.
  • Check out the local baby gear rental companies. If you can’t get gear or recommendations directly from your hotel or AirBnB, just do an internet search. Many cities and popular vacation spots will have resources you can tap.
  • Make a checklist of what you will have available, along with the small items you’re going to buy when you arrive (for instance, wipes, diapers, and sunscreen). Buying this stuff when you get to your vacation site will free up much-needed bag space! 




Big gear is good to rent on arrival, but there are some things you shouldn’t leave home without. These are things you can pack in your checked bag (you probably won’t need them for the journey itself), but you don’t want to try to buy them when you get there. For instance:

  • SPF bathing suits for the kids and for yourself - you don’t want to be trying to find suits that fit when you get there. 
  • Med bag: Bring the basics so you’re not missing them when you need them most: 
  • Bandaids
  • Neosporin
  • Tylenol or Motrin 
  • Benadryl
  • Any prescriptions for your kids or yourself
  • A hand-held pump and/or bottles! If you’re in need of a pump, check out the Medela!  



Take some time to carefully consider your carry-on provisions - seriously! Having the right contents of this bag can provide for smooth sailing or a rough take-off! 

For baby: 

  • Make sure you have enough diapers and wipes. This may seem obvious, but bring more than you need! 
  • TWO extra outfits for the kid, and at least one for yourself — you do not want to deal with a blowout and no change of clothes on an airplane
  • 2-3 burp cloths 
  • Something to suck can help with cabin pressure (like breastfeeding or a pacifier)
  • Throw that sun hat in the diaper bag, so you don’t forget it! 


For bigs: 

  • A favorite toy: a stuffie, doll, or snuggly item AND something new and interesting: a coloring book, a baggie of crayons and stickers, or even just a roll of Scotch tape. 
  • Water bottle (to fill after you go through security) and an individual bag of snacks. 
  • Tiny bottles of hand sanitizer — the kind that you can tie to backpacks. 
  • A package of wipes if they get sticky.  
  • ONE extra pair of underwear and a shirt/pants in case someone spills or has an accident.
  • For toddlers, something to chew on and for older kids, gum. Of course, they have to understand not to swallow it (that was around age 5 for my daughters).


Navigating the airport: 

For baby: 

  • Wear your baby in a carrier through the airport and onto the plane. It’s way easier than getting a stroller through security. Airlines allow you to check your stroller and car seat for free- take advantage! 
  • Check your bag, car seat, and stroller at curbside check-in, if it’s available at your airport. Make sure the stroller and car seat are in proper storage bags to avoid damage...there are some companies, like UPPAbaby, that will replace your product if it is damaged during travel but only IF it was in their travel bag. And label the bag with your name and contact info before you check it.
  • Once your gear is checked, pop the baby into the carrier to navigate security…hands-free! 


For bigs: 

  • Use the stroller! Bring your stroller through the airport, and load it up! This way you aren't carrying extra weight and if your flight is delayed, you have something to push the baby around in. You can gate check it and a car seat, again, for free. Just make sure you allow for the time it takes to have the stroller inspected at security, and that you have your storage bags with you all the way to the gate.


Liquids, important liquids: 

  • You can fly with breastmilk, formula, baby food, and your pump - and your baby does not have to be with you to fly with breastmilk. (Remember, though: if your baby is NOT with you- don’t forget your pump!!) 
  • It can also be in any quantity. 
  • You can carry breast milk in a cooler (it can be in a cooler for up to 24 hours) and you can bring your own water to mix up formula. 
  • This policy is clearly spelled out on the TSA site, and if you're ever worried you'd get pushback at security, print the guidelines out and put them in your diaper bag for the flight. 


On the plane: 

For baby: 

  • Plan to wear them in your carrier for most of the journey
  • Feed them during takeoff and landing
  • Remember that babies cry. It’s louder to you than it is to people around you, and there’s nothing you can do but embrace the chaos.


For bigs: 

  • If it's in your budget, ideally your kid has their own seat. Bring your car seat onto the plane, and have them buckled in for the flight. This is great because it contains them and is similar to riding in your car. Perfect for kids who are more mobile, like our runners, who would prefer to run up and down the aisle! 
  • Utilize that carefully packed travel bag! Try to get ahead of their attention span with new activities every 30 min (or less if they are anything like mine!).


Best of luck to ya and try to have fun with it all!  What’s the saying, it’s not the destination, it’s the journey? 

To keep up with all our travels and more tips for parents, sign up to receive our newsletter, Nappenings! 


About the Author

Emily Silver is a Family Nurse Practitioner and International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC). She is also a co-founder of NAPS. NAPS supports women throughout pregnancy and up through early childhood with an in-depth online learning platform, Nurture by NAPS, a wide array of virtual classes and consultations and even in-home lactation and nursing care.

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