Tips for Traveling Internationally with Baby

Parents and Family Travel Experts Share Their Best Wisdom

Where will your adventures take your family?

Traveling internationally with a baby can seem overwhelming and intimidating for new parents.

With a few tips and tricks from experts and parents who have conquered the continents, traveling with an infant may just be one of the best trips of your life! Before baby is crawling and then running around, you’ll have much more freedom and flexibility in your adventures, and spend less time gathering up a curious little one.

We spent nearly a year overseas in Europe while our oldest son, now fourteen, was just a baby. With my bundle of joy snuggly strapped in my sling, we strolled cobblestone streets of Paris, browsed markets and piazzas in Italy, and climbed countless stairs in Spain. Together, we explored off the beaten path in seven countries. Eventually, he learned to walk while we were living as locals in Germany.

Traveling with a Baby Can Save You Money

Before your baby turns two years old, most airlines will consider them a “lap child.” That means great news for parents’ pocketbooks! You’ll most likely only be paying for taxes and airport fees for an infant traveling on your lap.

If you make a call when you book instead of using an internet booking agency and ask far enough in advance, many international carriers have baby bassinet bulkhead seats available, often at no extra charge! If you travel off-peak season and hours, ask for a whole row of seats for some extra room for your family.

(I’ve shared my best tips for flying with a newborn here.)

Use a sturdy baby carrier without metal buckles, and getting through airport security will be a breeze! You can just carry baby right through (most) security checkpoints while wearing her.

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Breastfed Babies Travel Well

A breastfed baby will naturally be more adaptable to travel situations, as mom is always right alongside to provide nourishment and comfort. During take off and landing on a plane, allowing baby to nurse will help with the ear pressure changes, and therefore make your infant more comfortable.

Without having to carry a ton of bottles and baby gear, breastfeeding while traveling truly helps you travel light. In fact, breastfeeding and traveling go hand in hand!

Passport for Baby

Getting baby’s passport is the same process as it is for an adult, except that both parents, or verified and notarized consent from both parents, must be presented in person to a passport agency in order to make application.

You’ll need at least six to twelve weeks time to avoid rush processing fees. Why not get baby’s passport right away, in case the opportunity for international travel with baby presents itself? The passport for any child under sixteen will only be good for five years.

According to the US Department of State, the steps to get a passport for baby include:

1. Fill Out Form DS-11 (available here with all the rest of baby’s passport application information)

2. Provide U.S. Citizenship Evidence

3. Bring a Photocopy of U.S. Citizenship Evidence

4. Show Parental Relationship

5. Present ID

6. Bring a Photocopy of ID

7. Show Parental Consent

8. Provide a Photo

9. Calculate Fees

10. Submit Your Completed Application

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Travel light

This is my top tip for any family traveling with a infant internationally or locally: travel light! While airlines and airports may have personnel at the baggage claim area who can help you get your bags, that’s not always the same overseas.

In fact, many hotels and residences don’t even have elevators! Save yourself the headache and hassle, and do your best to pack lighter than you ever thought possible.

Get creative and travel with simple onesies for baby that can be washed in the hotel sinks, and a backpack style diaper bag that doubles as your purse. Opt for baby-wearing and leave the strollers home, just get baby used to being worn before you attempt to travel with her!

When we traveled Europe with baby, it was so much simpler to just carry him in an Ergo where we needed to go than to take a stroller everywhere.

Have Baby, Will Travel

Corinne McDermott, founder of, offers these top three tips:

1) If your baby (or you) are picky about using specific brands of food, diapers, lotions, etc., confirm that they are available at your destination. For some items, it's worth lugging a supply along that will last for the duration of your trip.

2) Determine in advance how you will get around while you're away and if you will require a car seat. If you are renting a car it may be worth it to purchase a car seat specifically for travel that is lightweight. You have no idea of the history or hygiene of rentals.

3) The number one thing: to try to roll with the punches without getting too anxious about delays or mishaps. Making sure you're organized and punctual will help you can focus on enjoying your journey. Traveling internationally can be challenging under the best of circumstances, so staying realistic about what you will be able to accomplish in a day will help avoid any disappointment.

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Be Wise When Traveling

As a foreign traveler, eyes are upon you. With a baby in tow, this can become even more apparent. Keep your eye on your things (as well as the baby) while you maneuver with an infant. In some areas, you can become a target.

We once had $5000 worth of camera gear stolen right from under our noses while shifting baby gear around in Madrid, and another time a video camera taken right from the stroller (which we rarely even used). It’s just one more reason to leave the stroller behind and use a fantastic baby carrier like the Ergo.

Before you travel internationally, most likely you won’t need any additional vaccines for traveling abroad with baby, but you may want to research just in case. 

Avoiding Jet-Lag

We’re all about baby’s sleep here at Babywise, and getting your infant to sleep while away from home can present its own challenges. Try to keep your bedtime routines the same as when you’re home, including lullabies, bath time, and even a special nightlight or blanket. Most importantly, get accustomed to cuddling baby to sleep while traveling. Snuggling baby to sleep can be most beneficial when out of your own element, and will help your newborn to feel at home, wherever in the world you may be.

Great tips for avoiding jet lag with a baby from LiLing Pang, the founder of include:

1) Start the trip off well-rested

2) Re-establish a sensible routine

3) Start slow with the activities

4) Stay Flexible

LiLing says, “The day you arrive, let the children and yourself sleep as much as you need to catch up from the lack of sleep on the plane ride over. Just go with the flow.” Then, wake up at a decent hour the next morning and plan for an easy first day.

McDermott advises parents, “Jet lag and time changes will disrupt your routine, but try to get on local time as quickly as possible by keeping busy and with lots of fresh air and activity. You can't force someone to sleep but you can try and keep them awake until you get your new routine up and running. Being on top of this will help you get back to normal when you return home too.”

Be Your Own Pharmacy

After traveling on more than twenty flights to five countries with her two-year old, Nadine Courtney shares her advice for Vogue, “Be your own pharmacy,” she recommends “Whatever might go wrong often will when traveling with kids. Whether it’s a cold, fever, stomach bug, or just a garden-variety headache, it helps to have your own medicine, prescriptions, and supplies at the ready. Otherwise, you might spend 20 minutes wandering the streets of Copenhagen looking for a pharmacy, only to discover that Aleve requires a prescription. (True story.) Do yourself a favor and bring, at minimum, baby Benadryl, baby Tylenol, a baby thermometer, and adult ibuprofen.”

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I would add to remember and include your favorite baby sunscreen and natural bug repellant.

Where Will Your Adventures Take You with Baby?

With all this trusted advice to keep your international travels with baby safe and sleeping soundly, where are you headed?

Jen Reyneri

Jen Reyneri

Renaissance Woman Jen Reyneri and her husband Luis often live life on the road with their two home-schooled sons. Popular author and speaker, Jen is founder of Spirited and spirit filled, she savors life, poetic words, sabbaticals and strong coffee.

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