This post is from the Hauling in Heels archive (if you know, you know). I wrote it in July 2014 when my first child was around 10 months old. By this time, I’d taken her on several flights with me, many of them long-haul. Although 9 years old, the advice in this post stands the test of time. It’s been edited slightly from the original.
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Baby on Board
Before having a baby, I was probably the lightest packer out of anyone I knew, both men and women included. If I was to be somewhere for under a week, there was no question I was going to carry on. However, despite being so little, babies have A LOT of stuff. As a nursing mom, I can’t realistically leave my baby home for more than a night. So what’s a frequent flier to do? Here are my top five tips on traveling with a baby while keeping yourself healthy and sane.
Tip #1: Have a travel companion
My first choice is my husband. If that’s not feasible, I see who I can bring out as a “nanny”. For example, my sister can sometimes be persuaded with a plane ticket and free meals. On a business trip, this is an absolute must because bringing a baby to a meeting is not an option, although my daughter did make an appearance at ConExpo 2014 when her aunt missed her flight and didn’t get in until much later. Other benefits are helping to carry bags (and if you’re flying together, then this increases the baggage allowance) and helping to carry the baby when you need to organize said bags.
Tip #2: Pack with intention
Packing cubes are unbeatable for maximizing carry-on ability. I recommend getting a set in one color way per person. I plan out what my daughter and I will wear each day and put them in the bags dedicated to clothes. This saves a lot of space, and it later saves a lot of time during my trip when getting my baby dressed because I’ve stacked everything by outfit. Her socks go in the bag made especially for underwear. Otherwise, I’m spending way too much time hunting down the tiniest socks ever. There’s a bag dedicated for shoes so there’s no need to worry that gym sneakers are intermingling with dress clothes. I love my toiletry bag because it’s one of those hanging ones that won’t clutter a tiny hotel bathroom counter. The company who made mine went out of business, but here’s a comparable one that looks pretty awesome.
Tip #3: Sharing is caring
I “share” beauty products with my daughter, and this enables me to pack much lighter, especially with carry-on liquid restrictions. Cold-pressed virgin coconut oil works as a body moisturizer for both baby and me. Dr. Bronner’s liquid soap in the baby version likewise works as a body soap for us both. Lucas Papaw Ointment doubles as a lip balm and diaper cream. Natural baby wipes (like from the Honest Company) are great for the obvious but also for removing makeup.
I employ the “two birds with one stone” approach as much as I can, but for some things, my baby just doesn’t have a need for them. This is where the obvious comes in, which is to stock up on travel-sized versions when available. With perfume, most perfume brands have sample size sprays that they will happily give out when you purchase (or think about purchasing) one of their perfumes. Snif, Henry Rose and Maison Louis Marie are cleaner perfume brands that offer this. Otherwise, rollerballs are great too, if your scent comes in one. And some products are two-in-one, like this cream blush by Kjaer Weis, which doubles as a lip color and a blush.
Tip #4: Less (liquids) is more
Since the restriction on liquids is still very much there (regardless of how strictly it may or may not be enforced, depending on the airport), I find it makes the security checkpoint process a lot less stressful if I don’t have a ton of liquids at risk of being tossed. I use Jane Iredale’s Magic Mitt to wash my face at night and (this is a crazy one) green tea bags to tone my face first thing in the morning. (Edited from original to add: I love these toothpaste tablets…better for travel AND better for the planet!)
Tip #5: Don’t be afraid to do laundry
Sometimes, this isn’t practical, but in some places, there are laundry machines on site. In other places, you can easily find a laundromat. There’s also the option to hand wash select garments, such as lingerie and swimwear, in your hotel sink (one of the aforementioned Dr. Bronner’s many uses is laundry detergent). Do it before bed, and they’re usually dry by morning.
Finally, some things may go without saying, but I was never the type to pack “options” or decide this would be the time to experiment with green eyeshadow. I pack exactly what I plan on wearing and stick to the bare essentials of products. After taking more trips than I can count with baby in tow, I wonder what it’s going to feel like on my next trip when I’m traveling without her. I’ll probably feel like I’m forgetting something.