Flying With Baby: 5 Tips for Packing an Efficient, Lightweight Carry-On

baby on planeThere's traveling, and then there's traveling with a baby. Two totally different things. With the former, you simply hop on a plane; have a cocktail; and sit back as a wave of serenity washes over you. Bliss. With the latter, you hop on a plane, 54 bags in tow; think about how you really need a cocktail; and sit back as a wave of spit-up washes over you -- and then dig through your bags, trying to find a burp cloth.

Yep, traveling with a baby is stressful. Especially when it comes to what you should bring in her carry-on. You want to have all your bases covered, but you also don't want to bring two giant bags that weigh a ton -- not only is that not efficient when you need to find something, you've got an actual baby to carry. The lighter the load, the better.

Here are 5 simple tips for packing a (really efficient) lightweight carry-on for your baby. Bon voyage!

1. Get a lightweight carry-on! Something I've learned from traveling with my daughter is the kind of bag you bring makes a big difference. Also -- controversial statement ahead! -- I don't think diaper bags are the best option. They're often big and bulky, and typically aren't as malleable as regular totes. And the various compartments and zippers restrict you in terms of what you can put where. When you're packing your baby's carry-on, you don't want restriction.

2. Overnight diapers. One of the biggest things I took away from flying with my baby is that overnight diapers -- the ones that absorb for up to 12 hours or so -- are your best friend. Not only do you not need to pack as many as you would "regular" diapers, you just might be able to avoid a mid-flight diaper change.

3. Ditch unnecessary clothing. If your child isn't walking yet, no need to bring shoes (that will probably fall off and get lost anyway). If your daughter has hair, no need to bring 50 bows and headbands on the plane. Yes, we all want our kids to look their best when meeting long-distance relatives at the airport, but the less stuff in your bag, the easier it is to find things. Also, if you're leaving from or going to somewhere cold, try to avoid traveling (on the plane) with your child's heavy coat or snowsuit -- they take up a ton of room. When I flew to Chicago in December, I got dropped off and picked up at the curb, and for the few seconds my daughter was outside, I just bundled her up in a thick blanket and wrapped my coat around her.

4. Don't pack 50 toys. Here's my suggestion: Pack a few "new" toys that your son or daughter has never seen before in hopes that it will pique their interest and keep them from going bonkers, but ultimately, the thing that's probably going to entertain your baby most is an empty water bottle or the Sky Mall magazine.

5. Be flexible with food. If you're nursing, awesome! No need to pack bottles, etc. -- that will lighten your load tremendously. But if you're not, consider bringing those little packets of powder instead of bottles of liquid. Also, if your child is already eating solids when you're traveling with him, be flexible with your schedule/what you feed him. Here's what I mean:

All four flights I've taken with my daughter were under 2 1/2 hours each, so I just forewent solid food on the plane altogether. I wanted to lighten my load, and feeding her squash on a plane seemed like a bad idea. But if I was traveling with her now, I wouldn't have much of a choice -- so I'd bring packets of food. I typically make most of my daughter's food and store everything in nice, neat mason jars. But if I was flying with her -- hell no would I do that. That would take up WAY too much room. There are tons of organic packets of food (some that even come with a spoon attached!) that you could just stash in your carry-on, making baby's load even lighter.


What are your traveling with baby tips?

Image via madgerly/Flickr

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