If you are looking to travel with your baby/toddler AND sleep, the SlumberPod is a must. This portable blackout pod makes traveling with a baby more restful and less stressful. We recently started using the SlumberPod, and it has been a game changer for room sharing while traveling. After over a dozen trips with our daughter in less than a year, we know the SlumberPod is a travel essential for room sharing situations and/or instances where you are without blackout curtains. Continue reading on for all the reasons we have deemed the SlumberPod a baby travel sleep essential.
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Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links. That means that, at no cost to you, we may get a small commission if you purchase through these links. This helps us keep providing travel resources for you!
SlumberPod is a Baby/Toddler Travel Essential
If you are planning on traveling with your baby and doing any room sharing, or staying somewhere without blackout curtains, the SlumberPod is vital for you having a good experience. The SlumberPod truly solves the problem of trying to get a good night’s sleep while room-sharing with your baby or toddler. The SlumberPod allows you to room share with your baby while they sleep in their crib or pack-n-play undisturbed. After many times when we were room sharing (and not using the SlumberPod) and accidentally woke our baby up (who proceeded to the be awake the rest of the night), we will never room share again without using the SlumberPod. It has been a true lifesaver in any room sharing situation.
Travel AND Sleep
We really wish we would have found and started using the SlumberPod sooner. It is especially useful for frequent trips back to Sam’s childhood home where we room share and there are no blackout curtains. Sleep has always been a struggle in environments like this but now we don’t have to worry about not being able to sleep thanks to the SlumberPod.
Features we love about the SlumberPod
The SlumberPod is a high-quality product designed with stellar attention to detail. The mother/daughter duo that came up with this product really designed it right!
Features we love about the SlumberPod include:
Dark yet breathable fabric
Fan pouch to help create air flow in more warm environments
Bottomless structure that fit over standard sized pack-n-plays and cribs
Ventilation panels and air vents
Baby monitor pouch
Zippered window to access baby
Portable & compact
All of these features make it easy to travel with and use the SlumberPod. It is also ideal to use at home if your baby’s napping area is not dark or you want to be able to access the room without waking them.
We love this product so much that we reached out to SlumberPod to become a SlumberPod partner and get our readers a discount. Use code ALWAYSHAVEATRIPPLANNED$20 for $20 off your order today! SlumberPod is a portable & affordable solution for getting a good night’s sleep while room sharing. The SlumberPod is truly a lifesaver in any room sharing situation. Make travel and sleep both possible, buy your own SlumberPod today!
After traveling all over the world, both near and far, we wanted to give our readers the opportunity to purchase some of our photography. Below are some of our favorite shots. The digital download of each picture is $20. If you have found our content helpful or used one of our guides, this is a great way to support the blog so we can continue to bring more content to you.
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org which picture you would like to purchase. We will then arrange payment via Venmo (or other method) before emailing you the digital download of the photograph (without watermark). If you are interested in purchasing any of our other pictures on the website, please let us know. We also can print/frame a picture for you as well but please inquire as pricing for that is variable.
Happy Traveling, and remember, Always Have A Trip Planned!
Iceland, also known as the “The Land of Fire and Ice”, is really a magical and memorable country to visit, especially with your baby along for the fun. From glaciers to waterfalls to volcanoes to coastline to geothermal baths, the list of natural wonders for you and your baby to adore goes on and on. With Iceland being one of the most scenic and safest countries in the world, it’s the perfect place to travel with your baby. Our Iceland with a baby itinerary will cover seeing all the natural wonders listed above in 9 days while driving the Ring Road/ entire island (over 1400 miles in total) with your baby in tow. We visited Iceland when our daughter was 10 months old and had a really lovely trip with her.
You will not find a better Iceland with a baby itinerary out there. We spent years researching and have picked out the best stops along/off the Ring Road to make for the best trip for you and your baby in Iceland. And when we say years, we mean years. This trip was originally supposed to occur in May 2020 pre-baby (we all know how 2020 went…). Instead, our Iceland trip took place in June 2022 with our 10-month-old daughter. This gave us extra time to fine tune our trip and to also make it baby friendly.
We also have paced this ‘Iceland with a Baby Itinerary’ out based on how we were able to complete traveling around Iceland with our baby in real time. We had a loose plan of what we wanted to do before we went on our trip and then we planned this trip out based on how things played out real time each day. Everything takes more time with a baby, and this real time method helped us better gauge how much we could realistically do in one day. Here is our 9-Day visiting Iceland with a Baby Itinerary.
Note: This guide covers our Iceland Ring Road Itinerary that we traveled with our baby. For more specific baby tips while planning your Iceland trip, please our Top 10 Baby Travel Tips, How to Hike with a Baby and Flying with a Baby posts. Further, this itinerary is really fit for anyone to use but was made with a baby at the forefront of our plans.
Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links. That means that, at no cost to you, we may get a small commission if you purchase through these links. This helps us keep providing travel resources for you!
Overview of Iceland with a Baby Itinerary
Day 1: Arrive & Golden Circle
Þórufoss , Thingvellir National Park, Efstidalur, Strokkur Geysir, Gullfoss, Faxi Waterfall and Kerid Crater
Arnarstapi to Hellnar Trail, Rauöfeldargjá Canyon, Búðakirkja church, Reykjavik
Day 9: Reykjavik & Fly Home
Day 1 Iceland with a Baby: Arrive & Golden Circle
Fly into Reykjavik
We arrived on our flight to Iceland with our baby around 10:30 AM local time (departed from Chicago the evening prior). We’d recommend arriving earlier than this if possible. By the time we got our luggage picked up, went through customs and got our campervan, it was 1:30 PM. By the time we got groceries, it was 3 PM local time. If we were to redo this trip, we would have booked a flight that landed earlier in the day to get more of a jump start on our day.
Tip: Consider staying on your home time if visiting during June or July
Due to the midnight sun (it never actually got dark) occurring in Iceland during our June trip, we never switched our time schedules. Instead, we stayed on US Central Time the entire trip. So even though the time would be 12 AM or 1 AM local time, it would only be 7 PM or 8 PM on our clocks (5 hour time difference).
This decision was helpful not only for our baby but also us. We never had to deal with time changes and had quite a smooth transition into and back out of our trip (although it is never easy to come back to everyday life from a trip…). Also, exploring late at night was great for being the only people at many attractions. Turns out, most people do not do this. So, when we would be at normally very busy attractions at 12 AM local time, we usually were the only ones there. Score!
Tip: Buy groceries in Reykjavik before starting your trip
Grocery store options are very limited once you leave Reykjavik. Stock up on some essentials before you head off on your journey
We recommend stopping at Kronan to pick up some groceries. We found this grocery store chain to have the best prices and variety throughout our trip. On the north side of the Island (where we did not encounter any Kronans), we would recommend stopping at Netto.
There is also a Costco in Reykjavik that we stopped at in addition to Kronan to buy some drinks in bulk.
Tip: If you have extra room in your luggage, bring as much nonperishable food as you can.
Food is EXPENSIVE in Iceland. The expense of food is logical given that Iceland is an island but coming from the midwest where cost of food is very affordable, we were in a bit of sticker shock. Bring what you can to cut back on cost.
Drive and Visit Golden Circle Attractions
Þórufoss (1 hour 5 minutes from Airport)
Porufoss is a slight detour off the regular Golden Circle route, but it is definitely worth the time to stop as you will likely be the ONLY people there! This waterfall is so peaceful. It is less impressive than some other waterfalls you will see on this trip, yet it is likely one of the only ones you will have to yourself, especially on the Golden Circle. Our baby loved watching and listening to the waterfall here.
Finding Porufoss: After about 15km on Route 36, turn left onto Route 48. Drive for about 5km and then you will see a small sign on the right for Þórufoss.
Note: If a site has FOSS at the end of it, it’s a waterfall. FOSS=waterfall.
Thingvellir National Park (16 minutes from Porufoss)
The next stop on your Iceland road trip with a baby is Thingvellir National Park. This National Park is of historic importance as this is where the Icelandic Parliament met between 930-1798. Thingvellir National Park also is home to the rift between the North American and the Eurasian tectonic plates. These tectonic plates move 1mm-18mm/year! Between the tectonic plates is some of the clearest and cleanest water in the world.
Note: You can snorkel between the tectonic plates here. We initially had a tour booked to snorkel the Silfra Fissure with Tröll Expeditions in May 2020. We did not rebook this for our June 2022 trip as we had our baby in tow and also felt we would prefer to do more hiking here than snorkeling.
Parking is 750 Kronos (pay in bathroom)
In Thingvellir National Park, be sure to hike to Oxarafoss. The falls here cascades over the rift between the tectonic plates that is a visual reminder that you are standing on the border of these tectonic plates. This 2.6 mile loop hike goes by fast. This hike goes through Thingvellir National Park, past several other attractions in the park, including Pingvellir church, making the hike seem shorter.
2.6 mile loop hike with 744 feet of elevation gain
Efstidalur (40 minutes from Thingvellir National Park)
The next stop on your Iceland trip with a baby itinerary is Efstidalur, a family run farm turned into an ice cream parlor and restaurant. Here you can enjoy farm-to-table dining while overlooking the mountains or the farm cows. During dinner, our baby liked watching the cows eat through the large windows as well as playing with the silverware. Oh the simple joys of a baby.
Warning: It’s a bit pricey. Dinner and ice cream for the 2 of us (baby did not get her own meal) cost about $75 USD. This is pretty expensive in comparison to US prices but actually quite on par for Iceland standards, especially for farm-to-table dining.
Finding Efstidalur: 801 Bláskógabyggð. On Route 37, after the split from 365, drive about 12km (you will pass Route 366 on the right). You will see a sign for the farm on the left side of the road.
The next stop on your Iceland trip with a baby is the Strokkur Geysir, a thermal area that erupts every 6-10 minutes. Our baby loved watching the Geysir bubble up and erupt. She thought it was funny and would giggle when it started to bubble.
Tip: Go late at night for little to no people. We went right before sunset at 11:30 PM local time in June and only saw two other people. Otherwise, this spot is very popular and busy during the day.
Gullfoss (10 minutes from Strokkur Geysir)
Next stop on your Iceland road trip with your baby is Gulfoss, one of the largest and most powerful waterfalls in Iceland. Gulfoss flows down in a three step staircase-like pattern before plunging into the river below in two dramatic stages. It is a short walk from the parking lot down to the waterfall here but if you walk on all the trails around the waterfall, it is about a mile.
Tip: Go early in the morning or late at night to have it to yourself. Otherwise, like Strokkur, it is really busy.
Faxi is a waterfall hidden gem that most people drive right by. Here you walk from the parking lot down to the waterfall in a couple short minutes. This stop is not a must do but a quick 20 minute stop that we recommend taking if you have time. We saw some very friendly Icelandic horses just before we pulled into this parking lot.
Finding Faxi Waterfall: Located on road 35 between Strokkur Geysir and the town of Reykholt (there is a small sign on the left when you are driving South pointing towards the falls).
750 Kronos to Park
Kerid Crater (45 minutes)
Up next on your Iceland with a baby itinerary is Kerid Crater, a volcanic crater with crystal blue water. The green around the rim contrasting the red soil and blue water is truly stunning. You can walk around the top of the rim and/or bottom rim. Do both! The views are equally beautiful at the top and bottom rim but different
400 Kronos per person for trail use (during attendant hours), children under 12 free
In Selfoss, there is a Kronan grocery store. Be sure to stock up on fresh groceries again tomorrow morning as supply options only get more sparse the further you get away from Reykjavik.
Day 1 Driving Map- 3.5 Hours of Driving
Day 2 Iceland with a Baby:South Iceland
Seljalandsfoss (1 hour from Selfoss)
The next stop on your Iceland with a baby trip is Seljalandsfoss, almost 200 feet tall. It is one of Iceland’s most unique waterfalls as you are actually able to walk behind it!
WARNING: Don’t ruin your camera here. If you walk up to/behind the waterfall, it will get wet.
Tip: Waterproof Everything!
Be sure the whole family, especially the baby, has waterproof gear. We almost did not bring a Baby Rain Suit for our baby and that would have been a huge mistake. We would have not been able to walk behind the waterfall. This would have been a real shame because she loved walking behind it and being misted by the waterfall. She couldn’t stop giggling!
TIP: Don’t forget to look at the little waterfall next door: Gljúfrabúi
Gljúfrabúi is the secret waterfall, hidden in a cave less than a 10 minute walk to the left (when walking from the parking lot) from Seljalandsfoss. Many people don’t even realize it was there because they are so mesmerized by Seljalandsfoss and do not walk further down the trail. It isa little smaller than Seljalandsfoss with a 130 foot drop, yet arguably as inspiring as Seljalandsfoss.
Note: You have to wade through a shallow stream into this cave. Be sure to have waterproof boots, like the ones we recommended above, to do this. The stream is shallow and we had no problem safely doing this with our baby strapped to us in our hiking boots.
After you leave Seljavallalaug, a short drive will take you to Skógafoss, another epic 200 foot waterfall. Don’t make the mistake of only viewing the falls from the bottom. Be sure to head up the stairs and check out the area above the falls. There are 526 steep stairs to make the climb to the top overlook and the trail that continues on.
If you keep walking along the river, you’ll also encounter some other smaller waterfalls before the main drop. These falls are also quite beautiful and perfect for tourist-free photos. Our baby seemed to like these smaller waterfalls better than the main Skogafoss here. She must like scenic spots better with less people too!
There is about 1.5 miles of round trip walking to/around here to see different waterfalls/views . We walked to the bottom of Skogafoss, climbed the stairs to the top overlook of Skogafoss and then to the next waterfall after this. The trail from the top of the falls actually goes 26 miles so you can make as short or as long as you want
Note: Supposedly, per our research, the lighting at this waterfall is better in the afternoon and you may see a rainbow with the sunlight. It was raining when we visited in the afternoon so we really cannot speak to this being true or not.
Kvernufoss (1 minute from Skogar Museum)
A short 15 minute walk from the parking lot takes you to Kvernufoss, also known as the “Hidden Waterfall.” It is a quick walk with unworldly scenery to this waterfall. This was Natalie’s favorite waterfall hike up to this point in the trip. It is a great bang for buck hike. Also, we only saw two other people at this waterfall which was a tranquil contrast after visiting Skogafoss and Seljalandsfoss (as both were quite crowded).
Note: This trail is located very close to the Skogar Museum. You could park at the museum and walk over to the trail located just to the east. Find the fence you need to climb over (ladder goes over the barbed wire fence) and then take the path to the waterfall. You will not be disappointed with the views.
In the summertime, many Atlantic puffins can be found nesting on the cliff faces of Dyrhólaey
This spot is not far outside of Vik and you can see Reynisfjara Beach from here
Note: The lighthouse is only open 9 AM- 7 PM local time
This spot was actually closed when we arrived. It is only accessible 9 AM- 7 PM local Icelandic time. We arrived at around 9 PM local time and unfortunately were unable to visit. We do not feel we missed out, but this is likely the best opportunity to see Puffins on this trip itinerary. So if you have never seen Puffins (we have seen them in Kenai Fjords National Park Quick Guide) or really want to see them in Iceland, be sure to arrive before 7PM or after 9 AM local time.
Reynisfjara Beach (22 minutes)
The next stop on your Iceland with a baby trip is Reynisfjara Beach. This is a short walk out to the black sand beach with the iconic massive hexagonal basalt columns. When we visited Reynisfjara Beach, it was super windy. Our baby girl found it quite amusing!
Caution: Beware of “sneaky waves” on the beach. Do not go anywhere where the sand is smooth (or has had water obviously wash up on it). People often get close to the water, turn their backs and then get swept away by the large waves that sneak up on them. Numerous people have drowned. Don’t be one of them.
Vik (11 minutes)
Up next on your Iceland road trip with your baby is Vik, a remote seafront village in south Iceland. Our favorite spot in this village was the pretty church on the hill surrounded by picturesque purple flowers
Fun fact: These purple flowers, alpine lupine, are actually an invasive weed (yet so pretty!)
This village has several restaurants, a gas station and a grocery store. Vik was actually much smaller than we expected. We ate at the Stronan Pub in Vik that had some nice distant views of Reynisfjara Beach. The food we had here (pasta and lamb chops) was also quite good. And, most importantly, this place is open until midnight! We actually tried to eat at two other restaurants but they closed at 9 PM local time and since we stayed on our home time, we needed a place open later.
*Look for all the different scenery as you drive further on the Ring Road*
Laufskálavarða (30 minutes)
This is a small lava rock area with many rock cairns that remained after a large farm was destroyed by the eruption of the Katla Volcano. The tradition here was to stack stone cairns as a sign of good luck while crossing the area. This is an interesting quick stop right off the road.
Eldhraun Lava Field (16 minutes)
Mossy lava field that looks like something out of the Teletubby show from the 90s. The Apollo 11 crew came here to train for their impending moonwalk. Route 1 runs directly through Eldhraun so you cannot miss it. It is a quick stop/drive through.
Stay in Laki or Skaftárhreppur (camp or accommodations). Alternatively, stay in Vik and drive about an hour more the next day
Day 2 Driving Map- 3.5 hours of driving
Day 3 Iceland with a Baby:South/East Iceland
Fjaðrárgljúfur (10 minutes)
Absolutely stunning 1 mile long, 300 foot deep beautiful slot canyon. The third platform has the best views of the canyon and there is a waterfall at this spot too. And there will be less people at this platform as most tourists only make it to the first viewing platform.
Fun Fact: Justin Beiber’s “I’ll Show You” music video features this spot
Vatnajökull National Park is the next stop on your tour of the ring road with a baby on board. You could spend days in this massive national park. We saw the highlights of this park by hiking to Svartifoss and the Svinafellsjokull Glacier.
Parking costs 750 Kronos/vehicle
Iconic Svartifoss waterfall
Svartifoss is known for the hexagonal basalt columns that surround its cascading falls
Fun fact: The Basalt Columns here inspired Hallgrimskirkja Church design in downtown Reykjavik
This waterfall is further from the road than most other waterfalls in Iceland but well worth the extra effort. There are three traill options to see Svartifoss. We recommend the mid-option (what we did). Here are the options to see it:
Same as the shorter option but on this trail you take a different route back to the trailhead to make a loop.
Do this one!
On this loop hike, on the way back from Svartifoss, we did not see any other hikers. This part of the trail was so peaceful in comparison to the first half of the trail (the part that most people do as an out and back, option #1). For not much added effort, you’ll likely have this part of the trail to yourself, get better views of the waterfalls leading up to Svartifoss and see the snow capped mountains in the distance better.
Loops out to the east rather than the west (mid-option does this) and takes you past a couple other waterfalls
The Svinafellsjokull Glacier is a really pretty spot where you can touch parts of ice that have broken off from the main glacier. Baby G loved touching (and tasting) pieces of ice glacier. We also only saw a few other people on the trail when we visited mid-afternoon, making it a very peaceful short hike.
Fun fact: This glacier was used in filming of Interstellar, Batman Begins and Game of Thrones
Caution: Sometimes this glacier is closed due to landslides
Next, stop for a meal at the Adventure Hotel in the small quaint village of Hof. This is the nicest restaurant and the best food we ate in Iceland up to this point.
Hof is a very small quaint and peaceful village on the southeast part of the island. Hof, and this area in general, has very limited eating, lodging and camping options. The next place with lodging, camping and dining options is Hofn which is about 60 km away.
Hangandifoss/Múlagljúfur Canyon (36 minutes)
This hike with several waterfalls, most notably Hangandifoss, truly offers out-of-this-world views. At the summit of this hike, you overlook the stunning Múlagljúfur canyon with the flowing Mulaa river and Hangandifoss waterfall within it. You also can see the snow-covered volcano Oraefajokull in the distance. Pictures and words do not do this view justice. Baby G was a smiley little peanut for this hike. She was very curious about all the different views throughout the hike. We also only saw 3 other people throughout this hike, making it very serene.
Caution: Loose gravel/slippery in a lot of spots
Natalie actually tripped and fell forward with G strapped to the front of her while on this trail. G was fine, Natalie’s leg and arm took a beating but nothing requiring medical care thankfully. We would still hike this trail again but just be very cautious hiking on the gravel path as it can be slippery in spots. We would advise not hiking this with a toddler who is mainly walking themselves though.
3.6 miles out & back, 1,204 feet of elevation gain
Jökulsárlón Glacier Lake + Iceberg Lagoon/Diamond Beach (12 minutes from Canyon)
The Jökulsárlón lagoon is filled with massive ice chunks that have fallen from the Jökulsárlón glacier . This lagoon is over 800 feet deep-making it the deepest lake in all of Iceland.
There are several pull-offs from which you can see the lagoon. Feel free to park at one or several of them and soak in the different views. We recommend parking at the parking lot just past (east of) the bridge for the best views.
You might even be lucky enough to see a seal here—we saw about 10!
Don’t forget to spend some time near the ocean at Diamond Beach.This beach got its name because of the crystal clear ice chunks that you’ll find on the starkly contrasting jet black beach. We were here at sunset and the views were stunning.
Tip: Go here early in the morning or late at night to avoid the crowds
Stay overnight in Hofn or at Vestrahorn Mountain
Drive about 1 hour to the Hofn or Vestrahorn Mountain area. We saw many sheep on this drive, many on the road where the speed limit is 90 kilometers per hour. See our Iceland general tips for further details about sheep in Iceland.
Day 3 Driving Map- 3.5 hours of driving
Day 4 Iceland with a Baby:East Iceland
Hofn (1 hour from Jökulsárlón Glacier Lake)
Icelandic fishing town in the southeastern part of Iceland. Near Hornafjörður fjord and with views of Vatnajökull.
Fun fact: Vatnajökull is the largest and most voluminous ice cap in Iceland
Honestly, there is not much to see in Hofn but there is a grocery store. Be sure to stock up on food again here as there is not anywhere to buy supplies for almost 3 hours to the north. Unfortunately, the grocery store in Hofn was closed the day we visited (for an unknown reason) so we had to stop in the next main town, Eglisstadir, about 3 hours to the north. We got a hotdog and sandwich from the gas station here and they were surprisingly good.
Vestrahorn Mountain (21 minutes from Hofn)
The next stop on your Iceland with a baby itinerary is Vestrahorn Mountain located on the Stokksnes peninsula. Located here is a black sand beach next to the tall spring mountains. The area was a bit fog-covered when we visited, yet the contrast of the mountains with the black sand beach was still quite stunning. It was very windy here and Baby G got a kick out of that.
You can also walk around a small Viking village here. It is neat to see a primitive Viking settlement.
The beach at Stokksnes is private and there is a small entrance fee, 900 Kronos, to drive down to the beach
Drive route 95
Next on your Iceland road trip with your baby, drive Route 95. This gravel road has so many waterfalls along it (you literally will see a waterfall on either side of you driving at all times) and there are also very few cars/people on it. Taking this route is not out of the way either and it actually gets you to the next waterfall (Hengifoss) hike on this itinerary in less time than driving Route 1. Other travelers we encountered saw reindeer on this road, but we were not so fortunate.
Hengifoss and Litlanesfoss Hike (3 hours from Vestrahorn Mountain)
The Hengifoss is the third highest waterfall in Iceland at almost 400 feet tall. It is quite impressive and with the red streaking in the rocks around the waterfall, it looks quite different from the other waterfalls you have seen at this point.
This was actually our favorite hike in Iceland at this point in the trip. It was not overly strenuous or technical so you could get into a nice flow state. Also, there were so many waterfalls and other scenery to see on the way to Hengifoss that the hike went by really fast. We further only saw about a dozen other people on the trail which was a nice contrast to some of the waterfall hikes on the south part of the island. Most importantly, our daughter was in a great mood for the hike. She babbled most of the time and then fell asleep in our carrier. Happy baby = happy parents!
This restaurant had a large variety of food options for a reasonable price and the staff was friendly. Also, there was a cute high chair for baby G. And it was open when we were driving through town. If you want to eat at a restaurant today, Egilsstadir is really the only town you will be able to do that.
Seydisfjordur (1 hour from Hengifoss and Litlanesfoss Hike)
Up next on your Iceland with a baby trip is visiting the town of Seydisfjordur. This town felt like something out of a fairytale. The town has a quaint blue church with a rainbow road leading up to it and really picturesque fjord/mountain views. We had a lovely time walking around this town with baby G. Most tourists don’t make it to this town as it is a bit out of the way and this allows for a more local experience.
Further, driving to this town is half the experience. To get here, you drive straight through the mountains. The scenery driving was much different than any other part of our trip. There was much more snow cover on the mountains than anywhere else on our trip up to this point. Similar to other parts of our trip, we saw many pretty waterfalls and sheep on our drive to this town.
Stay in Seydisfjordur or Egilsstaðir
Day 4 Driving Map- 4.5 hours of driving
Day 5 Iceland with a Baby:East Iceland
Hike Fardagafoss (in Egilsstadir)
Getting to this waterfall is a peaceful, relatively short, 30 minute hike. It is certainly not a must do but a local hike located very close to where we stayed night 4 in Egilsstadir.
Fun Facts: An old folktale claims that a female troll used to occupy the cave behind the waterfall. Also, the notorious outlaw, Fjalla-Eyvindur, sought shelter in the cave behind Fardagafoss in the 18th century, but was driven out by locals.
Stock up on supplies in Egilsstadir
There are very limited options for supplies/groceries on the east and north side of the island so be sure to get gas and food here as you will not see another gas station or grocery store again until you reach the Myvatn area (Reykjahlíð).
Rjukandafoss (40 minutes from Egilsstadir )
This very short walk leads to a pretty 3-part waterfall located almost right off the road. Short walk right off route 1.
The next stop on your Iceland with a baby itinerary is this unique canyon. Stuðlagil Canyon is filled with tall basalt columns and unique streaks of color. You can either hike out to this part of the canyon (east side) or view it from a viewing platform (west side).
We went to the west side viewing platform as well as hiked out to the east side of the canyon. The hiking views on the east side of the canyon are much better than from the viewing platform. While hiking, you can see both sides of the canyon and even climb down into the large basalt columns. Sam did this and got some cool vantage points. We would rate this hike as easy from a technical standpoint as it is a level gravel path and flat in most parts. Also, you can really get into flow state with this hike.
5.7 Miles Out & Back, 561 feet of elevation gain from P2 parking lot.
You can potentially park 1.5 miles closer at P1. However, you need to have 4 x 4 drive as this road is ridden with potholes. We only had 2 wheel drive on our campervan and did the longer hike.
How to find Stuðlagil Canyon:
When heading to Northern Iceland from Egilsstaðir, you need to take a turn to Road 923. Then you drive about 19 kilometers to the farm Grund where you will find a parking lot and a path to the riverbank (5 minute walk). This takes you to the viewing platform on the east side of the river and is where Google Maps will take you to if you type in “Stuðlagil Canyon.” The viewing platform is reached by climbing down (and then up) about 200 stairs and is a very short walk from the parking lot. There is a stand here with food and drinks for sale as well as restrooms you can use for a small fee.
To access the hiking trail, you need to drive back 5 minutes to P2. There will be signs on how to access the hike at the viewing platform food stand too.
Dettifoss and Selfoss (2 hours from Stuðlagil Canyon)
The next stop on your iceland road trip with your baby is Dettifoss. This waterfall is said to be the second most powerful waterfall in all of Europe. It is located in the desolate Vatnajökull National Park. There is another waterfall here, Selfoss, that is only a few hundred meters downstream from Dettifoss. You can access Selfoss via a rocky footpath (follow the sticks marking the trail to navigate). Be sure to wear sturdy hiking boots as this rocky path is quite uneven and took us longer to hike than expected because of its uneven nature.
How to access: There are actually two different roads that lead to Dettifoss, but make sure that you enter from highway 864 (not 852) for the best view on the east side
Note: The road to the east side is pothole ridden and it will take about an hour to get to the waterfall. However, on the east side, you can walk along the edge of the gorge to get better views of Dettifoss and Selfoss. If you do not want to deal with the gravel road, you can enter from the west side on a paved road. However, you will likely get very wet and because of how the mist sprays, likely have a difficult time viewing the waterfall itself.
2.3 miles out and back, 498 feet of elevation gain
Next, stop at the Hverir Mud Pots. Here, you may think you have left Iceland and landed on a different planet. We have never been to Mars but this is what we imagine it looks like. While the scenery is stunning, the smell from the sulfur here is truly terrible. It smells like rotten eggs and neither of us could stand the smell too long.
Grjótagjá (7 minutes from Hverir Mud Pots)
This is a quick stop to look in the cave that became famous from Game of Thrones Cave as it is where Jon Snow and Ygrette get it on. It is a neat spot and is unlike anything we had seen on our trip so far. The constantly changing scenery in Iceland is astounding.
Stay in Myvatn/ Reykjahlíð area (20 minutes from Grjótagjá )
Day 5 Driving Map- 4.5 hours of driving
Day 6 Iceland with a Baby:North Iceland
Hike around the Dimmuborgir area in Myvatn
On the first stop today of your Iceland road trip with a baby, you’ll hike through unique volcanic rock caves and lava rock formations in the Dimmuborgir area. There are several short trail options here. We hiked the red trail which ended up being about 1 mile total. Baby G mastered using our water bite valve,and it was nothing short of adorable.
Caution: Beware of the midges if you are visiting in the warmer months. These small bugs don’t bite but sure do bother you in swarms. Many people were wearing head nets to keep them away. We did not have head nets so we were just constantly swatting at them. Myvatn literally translates to “lake of midges” in Icelandic so this area really in well known for these annoying bugs.
Swim at the Myvatn Nature Baths
Next, stop at the Myvatn Nature Baths for a bit of spa time. This location is an outdoor lagoon with milky blue water that is naturally heated by hot springs. Our baby loved swimming and playing around the milky warm water. We also found this spot to be very relaxing and with some really stunning views. Unlike the Blue Lagoon (outside of Reykjavik) that does not allow children less than 2 years old, all ages (with an adult) are welcomed here. Kids 0-2 are free to swim too. This lagoon is also less crowded than blue lagoon with equally beautiful baths and (arguably better) views.
Tip: The earlier you get here, the less people there are. There is no time limit on how long people can be here so it tends to be busier later in the day as more people accumulate.
Tip: Get groceries and gas before leaving the Myvatn area
Husvak (46 minutes from Myvatn)
Up next on your Iceland trip with a baby is the charming little village of Husvak. This village is well known for its incredible whale watching and picturesque harbor. The most famous landmark of the town is the quaint wooden church, Húsavíkurkirkja, in the center. We could not get enough of the Harbor views while here. We did not book a whale watching tour but if that is something you want to do, do it here!
Eat at Gamli Bakur whilein Húsavík! The dining room decor and harbor views are on point. The food was some of the best we ate in Iceland as well. We loved our seafood pasta, fish soup and lamb steak. The lamb steak was the best lamb we had in Iceland and the fish soup was the best fish soup we had in Iceland. The food and vibes were a real win here.
Godafoss (40 minutes from Husvak)
Next stop is Iceland’s most powerful waterfall, Godafoss. Godafoss is actually not just one waterfall but about five waterfalls together. Godafoss translates to ‘Waterfall of the Gods’. Legend has it, it got its name from when pagan Gods were thrown into it after Iceland became a Christian country.
The hike here is an easy walk along the cliffs to the falls. Be careful though as it is *literally* right along the cliffs. You can also hike down to the base of this waterfall on a short rocky path for some even more up close views. The hiking trails total about 1.5 miles if you hike them all on both the east and west side of the falls.
Drive to Akueryki and stay in Akureyri (30 minutes from Godafoss)
Day 7 Iceland with a Baby:North/West Iceland
Explore Akueryki (30 minutes from Godafoss)
Next stop on your Iceland with a baby trip is Akueryki, the second largest city in Iceland. Here, park & visit the free Lystigardurinn Botanical Gardens in the city center. The paths at these gardens make for a leisurely walk around the different flora of the area. There are lots of pretty flowers and one of the most northerly botanical gardens in the world.
From the Botanical Gardens, you can walk to the iconic Akureyrarkirkja church. We recommend staying parked at the Botanical Gardens as parking is more difficult once you get further into the city center.After visiting Akureyrarkirkja, walk down to the main street of the city center and stop at the cute shops. Additionally there is a small park, and our daughter loved playing in the miniature viking ship and going on the slide with Natalie (her first time on a slide!)
Drive to Snaefellsnes Peninsula (5 hours from Akureyri)
Next up is a 5 hour drive from Akureyri to the Snaefellsnes Peninsula. Make sure to make several stops along the way to break up this long drive.
Stop at Kolugljufur Canyon
This rural canyon has a tiered gorge located about 20 mins southeast of Hvammstangi. Also, it is only a short (less than 5 km) detour from the ring road. The best part is that you will likely be the only one here as it is just far enough off the beaten path that most tourists do not make it here. To get to the canyon, you drive through ordinary farmland and then suddenly, BAM, this massive canyon arises. We spent about 30 minutes hiking around. You could also have a picnic in this peaceful spot as there is a picnic table near where you park.
Fun fact: Legend has it that the female Kola troll dug this canyon and her treasure is hidden in it.
Get a meal at Sjavarborg Restaurant in Hvammstangi
Sjavarborg restaurant in Hvammstangi has large windows that overlook this fishing town’s bay. In this bay, whales are often seen breaching. We did not see any during our dinner but if you are lucky enough, you may see one during your meal. Our daughter liked looking out the large windows regardless of whether the whales were there. We had the fish of the day (cod) and a grilled sweet potato topped with chickpeas, coleslaw and peanut sauce. Both were delicious! The decor in this restaurant we’d describe as modern meets industrial harbor front.
Start to explore Snaefellsnes Peninsula
Stop at the Iconic Kirkjufellsfoss and Kirkjufell (5 hours from Akureyri)
Next up is the iconic Kirkjufellsfoss waterfall and Kirkjufell mountain. The falls themselves aren’t that impressive but the uniquely shaped Kirkjufell mountain in combination with the falls makes for a very pretty scene.
Tip: To get the iconic photo that everyone loves, you need to walk from the car park up towards the waterfalls. There is a bridge to cross over and walk down.
Parking 750 Kronos per vehicle
Take in the views at vibrantly colored Svortuloft Lighthouse (45 minutes from Kirkjufell)
Next stop on your Iceland with a baby trip is the unique Svortuloft Lighthouse. This lighthouse is so cool because it is bright orange and really contrasts the black lava rock along the coastline. Seasonally, during the summer, there are a lot of different birds in the rocks on the coastline too. We were the only people here at 11 pm local time when we visited. We had a nice dinner in our campervan overlooking this spot with our daughter. She loved sitting in her compact camp chair.
Caution: The road leading out to this unique spot is very rough yet still drivable with 2-wheel drive.
Stay in Arnarstapi or Hellnar (40 minutes from Svortuloft Lighthouse)
Day 8 Iceland with a Baby: West Iceland Snaefellsnes Peninsula
Hike the Arnarstapi to Hellnar Trail
The first activity of your eighth day in Iceland with your baby is hiking the Arnarstapi to Hellnar trail. This is an easy walk along the bird-filled (seasonally in the summer) cliffs lining the coastline between the small towns of Arnarstapi and Hellnar.
Before making your return journey from Hellnar, stop at Fjoruhusid Cafe. This cute cafe with indoor and outdoor seating is located along the water. Stop here for some tasty local Icelandic food and stunning ocean views.
This short (less than 0.5 miles) trail leads to some stunning cliffs that lead into a canyon where water flows through. Be sure to enter the canyon to see the impressive views from lower down as well.
Fun Fact: Legend has it a half man/half troll named Rauöfeldargjá lives in this canyon.
Stop at the iconic Búðakirkja church (25 minutes from Rauöfeldargjá Canyon)
This famous, and very frequently photographed, black church on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula stands out amongst the green flora surrounding it. The church is very picturesque but also very busy. We would advise visiting this spot in the early morning or late at night to avoid the crowds
Drive towards Reykjavik (2 hours and 20 minutes) and stay in/outside of Reykjavik
Day 9 Iceland with a Baby: Reykjavik
Explore Reykjavik on your last day in Iceland
This church located in the Reykjavik city center is named after a 17th century hymn writer and took 40 years to construct. The organ pipes here mimic the basalt formations, like at Svartifoss, found throughout the country.
ISK 900 to go to top for city views
Go to a Museum in Reykjavik
We did not have time but go consider visiting one of the museums below:
Iceland Phallological Museum (AKA Penis museum), ISK 1700
National Iceland Museum (Viking artifacts), ISK 2000
Get Lost Walking Around the City Center
There are some fun, interactive paintings on the street. Natalie had a fun time hopscotching the 106 spot hopscotch. Who decided it should be 106 rather than 100 spots is a great question!
We walked through the neighborhood around the city center and saw some unique architecture while getting a glimpse into local life. While doing this, we stopped at a local park. Our baby girl crawled around and played with a local baby. She loved it and we enjoyed our conversations with the other baby’s parents.
Where to Eat in Reykjavik
Braud & Co
Bakery known for cinnamon rolls and buttery croissants. So delicious, soft and worth every penny .
This lively cafe has only two items on the menu–a daily changing vegetarian and meat soup. The soup here comes in a scrumptious sourdough bread bowl. The wait staff was very friendly and they had a fun, unique highchair/rocking chair for our baby to play in. She loved it and we got a kick out of it too.
ISK 2400 for soup in bread bowl
Drive to Airport and Fly Home
Note: Slow this itinerary down or speed it up as you please. We found this itinerary to be very manageable in a campervan with our curious, and very wiggly, 10-month-old. If you do not have a baby (or pokey adult) in tow, you may be able to do it in 8 days. If you want more downtime and/or plan on staying in hotels rather than doing a campervan, we recommend taking 10+ days to do this itinerary. Also, if you are traveling without a baby and want to go to Sky Lagoon or the Blue Lagoon near Reykjavik (do not allow babies under 2 years old), we recommend 10 days as well.
General Iceland Tips
IMPORTANT: You need a PIN number to buy gas in Iceland even if you are using a credit card
You likely will need to call to get a PIN number for your credit card in order to use it to get gas in Iceland. We had to call to get a PIN number for our credit card prior to our trip and it took about 2 weeks to get it so do this ASAP (right now would be a good time). Be sure to store the PIN number somewhere you will have access to it on the trip. We never have used a PIN number with our credit cards before so we are glad we found out about this prior to our trip.
Also, get gas as often as possible. Gas stations close early and do not stay open 24 hours a day (unlike what we are accustomed to in the US).
Campervan Offers More Flexibility and Allows for a Consistent Home Base
We LOVED having a campervan to explore Iceland with our baby. It allowed us so much flexibility. It was great to have a consistent home base and not have to unpack/repack each day, especially with a baby. We would have not been able to see as much as we did with our baby if we had done hotels instead. Also, a campervan was more economical than rental car + hotels.
We rented our Campervan from Kuku Campers. We would highly recommend this quirky campervan company. Friends of ours have rented from Camp Easy and they also had a positive experience. We rented a 5 person campervan for the 3 of us and felt that was the appropriate size. We appreciated having a little extra room.
Tip: Play around with the reservation campervan system and see when a multi-day discount kicks in to save some $. For the time we were visiting, a multi-day discount applied to our campervan after 9 days. With this discount, our campervan actually cost less for 9 days than it would have for 7 days. Score!
Bring Waterproof EVERYTHING!
Seriously though, from waterfall spray to the unpredictable weather, you will want waterproof gear for the whole family. So glad we had a Baby Rain Suit for G. It kept her dry and happy exploring with us.
Do not speed, high fines, cameras will catch you and you may get a ticket months after you return
Do not stop on the road unless clearly marked. It’s dangerous and you can get a fine.
There are more sheep than people in Iceland
Do not hit them. Easier said than done as they like to stand in the middle of roads where the speed limit is 90 kilometers per hour. It’s about a $500 fine if you do hit one. The Police and owner must be contacted too.
Food to Eat in Iceland
Kleina (fried pastry, not our favorite)
Snudur (Cinnamon Bun, most delicious cinnamon buns at Braud & Co in Reykjavik)
Skyr (Flavored Yogurt, pretty sweet and thin in comparison to the Greek yogurt we have become accustomed to eating)
Geyser (Rye Bread) & Soup (best fish soup in Husavik at Gamli Bakur, delicious bread bowl soup atSvarta Kaffid in Reykjavik)
Lamb Hot Dogs (Can get almost anywhere, inexpensive, all taste pretty much the same (delicious) per Sam)
Most campsites cost about 2000 Kronos per person/night
Do not need to make reservations prior to visiting unless visiting the first week/weekend of August (banking holiday in Iceland)
If you pull up to a campsite after staff has left for the day, just pull into an empty spot and pay in the morning
Hiking is a great way to spend time outdoors with your baby. Exposing our daughter to nature and adventure at an early age through hiking was very important to us. However, the logistics of hiking with a baby can feel overwhelming. With the unpredictability of an infant, in regards to pretty much everything (feeding, sleeping, changing, fussiness, etc.), and the logistics of hiking with a baby (supporting their head, carrying all your/their gear, protecting them from the sun, etc.), going on a hike with a baby can seem impossible.
However, with the right mindset, gear, practice and dedication, it can be done successfully. We spent a week hiking with our 5-week-old in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan (even doing a 10+ mile hike one day), completed many hikes in Hawaii when our baby was 3-months-old, hiked in El Yunque National Rainforest in Puerto Rico when she was 7-months-old, hiked along the southern coast of Mexico when she was 8-months-old and hiked to more waterfalls than we can count in Iceland when she was 10 months old. Additionally, we have completed many hikes around our home with our infant. After all these hikes, friends and family asked us to share our tips on how to hike with a baby. Below are our tips for hiking with your baby.
Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links. That means that, at no cost to you, we may get a small commission if you purchase through these links. This helps us keep providing travel resources for you!
When it comes to most aspects of life, including hiking with your infant, attitude really is everything. Be patient and flexible with your adventure. Know that your baby will be in charge and you are going to just have to go with the flow. When our daughter is sleeping (she loves sleeping in her carrier), we hike as far as we can. When she needs to eat or is fussy, we stop and take our breaks. We stop as much as she needs.
For example, on a 10 + mile hike with her at 5-weeks-old, the first 6 miles of our hike, we only had to stop twice because she was mainly sleeping but the last 4 miles, we had to 5 times as she was cluster feeding. If we would have had a rigid attitude about when we were stopping, this would have certainly frustrated us. However, knowing we needed to be flexible and that we were going to roll with the punches set us up for success.
Set Realistic Expectations
Not only is having a flexible attitude important but also setting realistic expectations. Everything takes longer with an infant, including hiking (and even writing this post) so set realistic expectations in regards to how long a hike will take you. For example, when we set out on a long hike with our 5 week old, we knew that between stopping to feed, changing her diaper, doing tummy time with her, etc, it may take us twice as long to complete the hike as it normally would without her. In reality, it didn’t take quite that long, but it was better to mentally prepare for a longer day than a shorter one. Having these realistic expectations prior to starting this hike really helped us have a good experience.
Do a Trial Hike
Before going on a long hike, try out a shorter hike. We started with a 2 mile hike with our carrier at a nearby park. This helped us navigate using our carrier with our baby and bringing all of our supplies with us. It also helped us figure out when we were ready to do some longer hikes.
We were ready to do some longer hikes and travel with our baby when she was 5, almost 6 weeks old. However, a lot of people will not be ready at this point and that is okay. Giving birth is a major event and it takes most mothers 6 weeks, if not longer, to recover. Also, some babies will not be ready this young. If you have a baby who hates the carrier or is colicky, a hike at this age may not be right for you. Give yourself grace.
Have the Right Gear
Having high quality gear for hiking with your baby will make a big difference in both your comfort and your baby’s comfort. Here are the items we use and recommend:
Having a comfortable and high-quality carrier is, in our opinion, the most important item to invest in for hiking with a baby. This Ergobaby Omni 360 Cool Mesh Baby Carrier is great because it can be used from 7lbs-45lbs and you do not need a separate infant insert to use it with a newborn. It offers great head support–on our hikes when our daughter was younger, it kept her head still and supported (while carrying her facing in). Now that she is older, since about 3.5 months, she really only wants to be carried facing out in this carrier. She does not want to miss seeing anything while hiking!
This carrier was recommended to us by our pediatrician for hiking as well as by family and friends for everyday use. It is very comfortable for whoever is carrying the baby. Natalie has hiked over 12 miles with it at one time, while also wearing a backpack, comfortably. With the way it is designed, it puts most of the weight of the baby on your hips. Further, this specific Ergobaby Carrier has a cool mesh design that helps keep the baby better ventilated. It also has an included head sun/rain cover that comes in handy often.
Great for Hiking & Beyond
Beyond hiking, this carrier is great for everyday use. Natalie often has worn it around the house when our daughter is fighting sleep as she really likes sleeping in it. Natalie tried on a lot of different brands of carriers prior to purchasing this one and it is hands down the most comfortable (for both parent and baby) and easiest to use. Some of the other carriers she tried on, especially the Infantino ones, had so many straps and felt very awkward. Make the investment in this carrier.
This changing pad is easy to lay on the ground and change your baby along the trail. The Skip Hop Portable Changing Pad wipes off easily and has a place to store diapers, wipes and diaper cream as well. It also fits compactly in your hiking backpack. We use it when we are out and about during our day to day life too.
These breastfeeding tops make breastfeeding anywhere discrete and easy. Bearsland Breastfeeding Tops make it easy to nurse her while sitting off the trail on a log. Natalie has been living in them since our daughter was born, while traveling and at home, and owns 6 of them. These particular tops are more economical than most breastfeeding tops which is a plus as well. You may have to try out a couple types of breastfeeding tops before you find one that works for you.
A compact UV protective umbrella will allow you to create shade wherever you need it while hiking. When we hiked in Hawaii, this was particularly helpful as the sun was plentiful while shade was minimal on many of our hikes. We use it to create shade for our baby while hiking (especially important early on since babies cannot wear sunscreen until 6 months) and to create shady spots for our baby while changing her or doing anytime out of the carrier. Also, when we unexpectedly got rained on while hiking in Hawaii, it kept our baby nice and dry. This particular umbrella is great because it is compact and UV protective.
You will need to pack out all your diapers and these contain them well in addition to keeping the smell down.
Be Dedicated and Don’t be Paralyzed by Fear
That being said, do not let your anxieties about hiking with your baby paralyze you. To be honest, we were a bit nervous to take our baby on her first hiking trip. We were mainly fearful of the unknown and what kind of days she would be having on days we planned to do different things. However, we are so glad we did not let those anxieties stop us and ripped the bandaid off. We made our days flexible, nothing was set in stone and everything was on our own time. With the right gear and expectations, we had a great first hiking trip with our baby girl and many other successful hikes since then.
You CAN Hike with your Baby
Many people told us hiking and travel would not be possible with a baby. However, that is not true. Adventure is still completely possible with a baby. People who say you can’t adventure with your baby are either too scared and/or not dedicated enough to make it happen. Everything takes longer and requires a lot more planning with a baby, but once you accept that fact and work with it, you’ll realize it can be done. The reward and accomplishment of trying and completing traveling adventures with your little one is worth it.
Traveling with a baby can seem overwhelming. From trying to feed your baby on the go to getting you baby to sleep in a new environment to trying to time activities around naps, traveling with a baby may seem just too complicated. However, don’t let the fears of traveling with a baby stop you. In our experience, exploring the world with our new curious sidekick has been one of the best parts of parenthood. Although traveling with our baby has never made traveling easier, it certainly always makes it more memorable. In our opinion, the extra planning and effort of traveling with your baby is completely worth it. After taking over a dozen flights and trips with our daughter, here are our top 10 baby travel tips.
Disclaimer: Every baby is different. Below is what has worked for us with our daughter who is 11 months old at the time of writing this.
Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links. That means that, at no cost to you, we may get a small commission if you purchase through these links. This helps us keep providing travel resources for you!
Travel Baby Tip #1: Be Flexible
This is our top baby travel tip. Flexibility is key to successfully traveling with a baby. If there was ever a time to go with the flow in life, this is it. We always are flexible with the timing of everything we do traveling with our baby. We always work around her schedule. If she needs to nap, we pivot whatever we are doing to allow her to do that. If she needs to eat, we adjust whatever we are doing so she can do that. Since having our baby, we have intentionally chosen trips that allow us that flexibility.
Other than our flights, the times we need to be places are not set in stone and we remain very adaptable. We come up with a tentative itinerary for what we want to do but then adjust it based on her needs. We do not book any tours when traveling with our baby and rather research areas to act as our own tour guide. This allows us to explore each place at our own pace.
For example, we recently did a campervan road trip around Iceland when our baby was 10 months old. Having a campervan allowed us so much flexibility and time independence. We were able to be our own tour guides and create our own schedule. It further was really nice not to have to unpack and repack our luggage everyday, especially with all the extra things you have with a baby. For more information on our Iceland trip with our baby, please see Iceland with a Baby Itinerary.
Travel Baby Tip #2: Realistic Attitude, Lower Expectations & Under Schedule
When traveling with a baby, bring a realistic attitude. As one of our friends once said, his “super power” is having low expectations. Whatever your expectations are of your trip, lower them and then lower them even more. Everything takes longer and tends to not go exactly the way you expect with a baby. If you have high expectations going into a trip, you likely will be disappointed.
One expectation and reality you need to face is that there is no way you are going to get as much done as you previously did without your baby. Don’t set yourself up for failure thinking that you can do it all. Things that used to take us 10 minutes when it was just the two of us now take 30+ minutes.
A great example of this is getting on the hiking trail. We used to just hop out of the car, throw our gear on and hike. Oh the simple days! Now, we need to feed our daughter, change her diaper/clothes, get her in the carrier and then get ourselves ready before heading out on the trail. It may not sound like that much but the reality is it always takes much longer than we think it will. And we are perfectly okay with that! However, we have learned to schedule plenty of flex-time throughout our days to accommodate for the extra time things take with the baby.
Less Is More
We’d recommend planning half (or less) of what you typically do without your baby. If the day is going well and you get more done than expected, awesome, you can do more. However, allow yourself that flexibility. If you set the expectation to do too many things, you’ll be very disappointed when that doesn’t happen.
For example, when we went to Iceland with our Baby (see Iceland with a Baby Itinerary), we made a tentative plan of things we wanted to do and then took each day as it came. We actually under-scheduled so much that at one point, we were over a day ahead of where we thought we would be and this gave us a real sense of accomplishment. However, had we over-planned and been ‘behind’, we would have likely been stressed and frustrated. Instead we were dancing for joy that we were traveling with her very efficiently from our perspective.
Budget More Time For Everything
Similarly, anytime we go for a hike, we budget the entire outing to take twice as long as it would take just the two of us. In reality, it typically does not actually take that long. However, we are much happier when we finish earlier than expected rather than much later than expected. It’s all about perspective. It doesn’t make the hike take any less time or any less effort, but a shift in perspective is really a game changer.
Travel Baby Tip #3: Practice Napping On-The-Go At Home
When you are at home, still have baby ‘practice’ contact naps and napping on the go. It is going to be very hard for your baby to adjust to napping on the go in a new environment if your baby only ever sleeps in one place at home. Since our daughter was about four months, she typically takes all of her naps at home in her crib. However, we still strive to do a couple contact naps, stroller naps and car seat naps every week. This makes it easier for her to nap on the go when we are not at home.
For example, when we were in Mexico when she was 8-months-old, she would nap in her stroller while we explored. This allowed us a ton of flexibility as she was able to rest on the go and we did not need to return to our Airbnb everytime she needed to take a nap (which is good since she takes a lot of naps). If your baby only knows how to sleep in a crib or pack-n-play, you are going to be quite limited in when you can go out and do things. Also, if we need to do any driving while on a trip, we typically try to do it when she needs to take a nap as she tends to fall asleep while driving in the car. This tactic can allow you to get quite far on your journey with a sleeping, content baby.
Travel Baby Tip #4: Practice Sleeping In The Pack-n-Play at Home
Similar to practicing on-the-go naps, practice sleeping in the pack-n-play or whatever baby’s sleeping arrangements will be on your trip. Typically, our daughter sleeps in her crib at home, but we attempt at least a nap a week in the pack-n-play to try to keep her adjusted to it. This makes the pack-n-play not completely foreign to her when we try to get her to sleep in it while traveling in a new environment. If your baby is somewhat familiar with the spot they are sleeping in while traveling, the environment being different might not affect their sleep schedule as much as it would otherwise.
Tip: If room sharing (especially in a hotel), get a SlumberPod, a compact portable pop-up blackout cover for your pack n play. SlumberPod is truly a must-have if room sharing while traveling. It is a portable & affordable solution for family room-sharing and getting a good night’s sleep. SlumberPod allows you to room share with your baby while they sleep in their crib or pack n play undisturbed. Use code ALWAYSHAVEATRIPPLANNED$20 for $20 off your order today!
Travel Baby Tip #5: If Your Baby Is Having Trouble Sleeping, Try Not To Sweat It
Also, if you can tell that your baby needs to take a nap or to go to sleep but is resisting it, try not to sweat it. Your baby will sleep eventually. In the moment, it is really easy to get really frustrated and think maybe you should have not taken your trip. In reality, your baby could just have as much trouble sleeping at home. With constant growth (physically and developmentally), babies have some better days, and some worse days, in regards to sleep. It is good for your baby to experience new activities and places. Raising a baby who is flexible will set him/her up for success in the future. Remind yourself of that in moments of frustration.
Travel Baby Tip #6: Use Your Stroller Everywhere Possible
Having our stroller with us everywhere we can while traveling has been a game changer. As mentioned above, our daughter knows how to nap on the go in our carseat/stroller combo travel system, and it makes us a lot more flexible. We call her stroller/carseat combo our “portable nap machine.” We do not have to worry about where/when she is going to take a nap if we have our stroller with us.
CoziGo is the portable stroller/carseat/bassinet blackout cover we use. If we are in a warmer environment, this is the fan portable stroller fan we use to help keep her cool under the canopy. The darkness this cover provides, combined with the movement of pushing our stroller/carseat combo, is the perfect environment for getting our daughter to sleep. Every baby is different but sleeping in a covered stroller has worked well for us. If your baby sleeps better babywearing on the go, you may just want to exclusively do that. Our daughter will sleep in our Ergobaby carrier, but she pretty quickly will wake up if we stop moving or have to bend over (since she was over 3 months old).
Travel Baby Tip #7: Learn to Feed Your Baby Anywhere
Our next baby travel tip is to learn to feed your baby anywhere. If you are nursing, figure out how you can make yourself comfortable nursing your baby anywhere. If good nursing tops make you more comfortable, buy those. If pumping and then bottle feeding your baby in public makes you feel more comfortable, do that. If you are formula feeding, figure out how you can have access to water (or bring it) everywhere you go while traveling. These are some of the nursing tops that Natalie used earlier postpartum. Natalie has gotten very comfortable nursing our daughter virtually anywhere while traveling. We feel very strongly that a mother should be able to nurse her baby anywhere she is comfortable. You are responsible for taking care of your baby, not other people’s thoughts in regards to how you are doing that.
Travel Baby Tip #8: Start Small For Your First Trip
For your first time traveling with your baby, start with a short trip not too far from home. This will help you gain some confidence traveling with your baby and help you figure out what you really need. For example, we went on our first trip with our baby to Pictured Rocks/Upper Peninsula of Michigan, which is less than 6 hours from our house, before going on our first big trip to Hawaii . You may want to start even closer to home than that though.
This road-trip helped us test out traveling with our daughter and helped us figure out the things we really needed to pack when exploring with her. We very quickly realized there were a lot of items we did not bring with us on this first trip that we would have liked to have had. We made a list of all these items so that we were more prepared for our next, longer, trip.
Travel Baby Tip #9: Label Mishaps As Plot Twists
One of our most important baby travel tips is having a positive attitude. A positive attitude really goes a long way when traveling with a baby. Labeling mishaps as plot twists help make the unpredictability of a baby part of your adventure. Baby won’t sleep in your hotel? Plot twist. Baby not tolerating the baby carrier on a long hike? Plot twist. Baby has a blow-out on the plane during take-off when you cannot get up to change it? Plot twist. In the moment, these plot twists can be quite stressful. However, with the right attitude, you will get through them and maybe even look back on them fondly. Some of our most comical memories are mishaps that we viewed as plot twists.
Travel Baby Tip #10: Invest In Baby Travel Items
We stick to a budget and borrow many baby items (we lend them out too). All the below items we have found to be worth the small investment and very helpful to have while traveling. We are only recommending the items we have repeatedly used and loved.
Sleeping is the MOST important aspect of successful baby travel. The SlumberPod & CoziGo are must buys when traveling with a baby:
SlumberPod: SlumberPod is a portable & affordable solution for family room-sharing and getting a good night’s sleep. The SlumberPod allows you to room share with your baby while they sleep in their crib or pack n play undisturbed. A true lifesaver in any room sharing situation. Use code ALWAYSHAVEATRIPPLANNED$20 for $20 off your order today!
CoziGo: We use this portable blackout curtain to create a dark space for our daughter in her carseat or stroller. This helps lull her right to sleep in her carseat, especially if we are driving. This also works on a convertible carseat which is huge since you no longer have the handle to use to drape a blanket over the carseat to create darkness. Total game changer. Can also use it as a sunshade on walks. Use the link here for a discount!
CoziGo: We love this portable blackout curtain to create a dark space for our daughter in her carseat or stroller. This helps lull her right to sleep in her carseat or stroller on-the-go. This also works on a convertible carseat which is huge since you no longer have the handle to use to drape a blanket over. Total game changer. Use the link here for a discount!
Contrary to popular belief, you really can continue to travel, adventure and explore with your baby. Travel does not have to end when you welcome a baby into your life. Although it requires more planning, patience and time, in our experience, it is completely worth all of it. Traveling certainly looks different than it did before we had our daughter but, in our opinion, it is even more rewarding with more memorable, and unexpected, moments. We have made so many priceless memories with our daughter while traveling that will last a lifetime. We hope these baby travel tips give you confidence that you can travel with your baby too.
Anything you’d add to our baby travel guide? We hope to inspire you to adventure with your baby! Please reach out to us if you find this post helpful and inspiring. Hearing from our readers motivates us to continue to put out more content for you.
If you have a dream trip you have always wanted to take, take it now! Or at least start planning it. We have heard every excuse in the book–I’ll go when I retire, I’ll go once I finish school, I’ll go when I have more time, I’ll go when I pay off my mortgage, I can’t get enough time off of work, I have too many kids, my kids are too young, right now’s too busy, etc. In reality, there is never going to be a ‘perfect’ time and you are never going to be able to see everything. However, go explore and experience what you can! Stop making excuses, if you want to travel, make it a priority and make your dream trip happen now.
Now, we are not saying drop all your responsibilities and blow all your money. It may require some creativity, but you do not have to spend a lot of money or time to take a trip. You are the only one who can make change in your life so stop rationalizing why you can’t travel and figure out how you can. If you’re not convinced yet, see our top reasons below as to why you should take your dream trip now.
You’ll Never be as Young as you are Today
Seriously though, you will never be as young as you are today. You want to hike in all the National Parks? No better day to start than yesterday. As morbid as it sounds, physical activity only gets harder and more dangerous as you get older. For example, when we were in Zion National Park hiking, we passed a couple, in their upper 70s, looking defeated and sitting on a rock next to a hiking trail, only about a ¼ mile into it. The lady said to us “Goodness, I wish we were young like you so we could really enjoy this.” This comment really drilled home how lucky we are to be making time to hike as many National Parks as we can now.
Likewise, life is too short and no day is guaranteed. We all know some otherwise healthy person who got in a car accident, had a stroke, got diagnosed with terminal brain cancer at a young age, etc. and now is permanently disabled or even worse, dead. If there is a place you want to go, make it happen. Waiting until the “perfect time” is just an excuse. Stop making them! Live your life as though tomorrow or next year may not exist.
You Never Know when a Place you want to Visit may be Gone or Destroyed
Wildfires, hurricanes, terrorist attacks, global warming, the list goes on. You never know when the place you want to go may be destroyed by a natural or human cause. For example, the recession of Exit Glacier in Kenai Fjords National Park in Alaska is really profound and sad. Some of these natural wonders may be gone before you make time to see them. Make time to see them now!
Oh 2020, how you taught us so much. Never, ever did we fathom the COVID 19 pandemic would occur and have us all on lockdown in Spring of 2020. Now, it is unlikely we will have another pandemic in the near future but one thing this pandemic has taught us is you never know what tomorrow will bring. We still may have some travel restrictions but take this time to explore the places you can see. Plus international travel is making a comeback. We already have 3 international trips booked this year. G is going to get good use of her passport.
Have we convinced you yet to start planning your dream trip now? Carpe Diem!
Here are some ways to “force” yourself to commit to a trip:
Request vacation before you know where you are going (we often do this!)
Book flights and then plan your trip (we often do this too!)
Determine trip budget, then plan accordingly (weekend trip vs longer more distant trip)
Add social pressure. Tell family and friends you are going before booking to add social pressure to encourage you to book
Make a list of the top 3 places you want to visit and figure out how you can make those trips happen (we do this at the beginning of every year)
Any reasons you’d add to our list of why to take your dream trip now? We’d love to hear your questions and feedback. Please leave us a comment.
You go on a trip to relax and get a break from the daily hustle and bustle of home, right? Well, sometimes this ideal is not the case while traveling, especially if you are taking a trip and not a vacation. Here are some tricks we have learned on how to decrease stress while traveling.
Under-scheduling helps you actually enjoy the things you are doing. You don’t want to feel like you are rushing from one place to another and have no time to do any spontaneous activities. We find that once we arrive at our destination, we usually get tips from locals or other travelers on things to do we may not have known about before getting there. We always allow some wiggle room in our itinerary to add these things on spontaneously.
2. Be flexible with your schedule, especially the first day
You likely will be fighting jet-lag or may have gotten delayed/missed a flight (all have happened to us) so you want to make the first day of your trip flexible depending on what happens during your travels. For example, the first day we got to Athens on our first Europe trip, we were quite jet lagged. We powered through the morning exploring the city but in the afternoon, we planned to lay down for only 10 minutes and before we knew it, hours had passed and it was time for dinner. Thankfully we had not planned anything more than what we did in that morning, and this allowed us time to rest up before continuing on our 3-week Europe trip.
3. Schedule a rest day in the middle of a long trip
On our first trip to Europe, we were there for 3 weeks. Halfway through the trip, in Cinque Terre, we had a “rest day” where we hiked in the morning on the trails but then spent the majority of the day relaxing at our Airbnb on the balcony and then watched a movie. We believe this “rest day” was very key to the success of this trip. It allowed us time to unwind and reset for a day while still taking advantage of the beautiful place we were visiting.
4. Do NOT switch accommodations every night
Switching where you are staying every night on a trip, can be draining. To unpack and repack everyday gets old very quickly. While traveling, we try to spend at least 2 nights in several places, even if we are moving frequently. Can you leave early the next morning for your next destination so you can stay in the same place two nights? The less moving around you do, the more relaxing the trip will be.
A great way to maximize what you see while not moving is going on a Avalon European River Cruise (not a large cruise ship, less than 100 passengers). We highly recommend the Danube river cruise we did in November 2018. Everyday we woke up in a new destination without changing accommodations and it was one of the most relaxing Europe trips we have had (Coming soon…Why you should go on a European River Cruise).
5. Treat yourself to a massage
One of our favorite ways to unwind on a trip is to get a massage. Maybe even make it a full spa day! Spa and massage experiences are different all over the world so it is a fun way to get another view into a culture in addition to relaxing. One of the most interesting spa/massage experiences Natalie ever had (Sam sat this one out) was at a Hammam Bath in Morocco. That experience is a post all on it’s own (see Hamman Bath: Not Your Average Bath).
We hope this post helps you to stop stressing while traveling. Any tips you’d add to our list on ways to decrease stress while traveling? We’d love to hear your feedback and questions. Please leave us a comment!
Before we had our daughter, we were naive to the ins and outs of flying with a baby. Many people told us flying with a baby would be too much of a hassle and that our travel lives were over. With the whispers of these naysayers in our ears and knowing all the extra things you need for traveling with a baby, we were worried we might not be able to successfully do it. We also were concerned we would be hit with very high fees to check baby items like car seats and strollers. However, after flying with our baby over 15 times, we have realized it really is possible to continue to fly with your little one by your side.
Flying looks quite a bit different than it previously did when it was just the two of us. However, we have been able to adapt and wouldn’t have it any other way now. For any new parents out there who are flying with their baby for the first time and needing some guidance, here are our tips for flying with your baby.
Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links. That means that, at no cost to you, we may get a small commission if you purchase through these links. This helps us keep providing travel resources for you!
Note: This post was written when our daughter was 5 months old and updated when she was 10 months old. You will likely find it most helpful if you are flying with a baby this age or younger. Also, every baby is different. Below is what has worked for us. For more baby travel tips, please see our Top 10 Baby Travel Tips and our How to Hike with a Baby posts.
Extra Free Checked/Carry-On Items
Prior to having our daughter, we had no idea that you were allowed to bring extra items onto the plane with you and check extra items without an added fee when flying with a baby. This is a huge benefit when traveling with a baby as the number of things you need to fly increases, what feels like, 10-fold. Thankfully, you can bring your car seat, stroller and breast pump as extra items without extra fees.
Gate Check Car Seat and Stroller
Items you can gate check for free while flying with a baby include your car seat and stroller. We had no idea that you could do this prior to having a baby, and it really is a game changer.
How to Tag Gate Checked Baby Car Seat and Stroller
When gate checking these items, make sure you talk to the airline attendant at the desk for your flight to get the proper tags to gate check them. If you do not plan to use your car seat or stroller at all in the airport, you could alternatively check them prior to going through security for free as well. We don’t recommend this though as we really like having our stroller/car seat combo with us while in the airport. Therefore, we prefer to check them at the gate. We find it much easier to push our baby around in the stroller at the airport rather than to carry her or baby-wear.
Note: Make sure to read each airlines policy regarding gate checking. As an example, American Airlines only allows a carseat OR a stroller to be gate checked. You can check both for free at the counter before security but only one at the gate. Every other airline we have flown has allowed us to gate check both.
Important International Travel Note on Gate Checking
You do not get your stroller back at the gate after international travel as you do with domestic travel. Instead, you get your stroller back after you go through customs, usually at the same spot where you get any checked luggage. This is important to note because without your stroller, it can be more difficult to get through the airport while carrying baby, especially if you were prepared to have your stroller to help you manage your luggage and/or carry your carseat. In these situations, bring something to baby wear. Or, if you want to use a stroller in the airport before going through customs, use a compact stroller in the airport, rather than a travel system, that you can bring onto the airplane and fit in the overhead compartment. It you choose the latter option, check your stroller from a travel system with any other checked luggage rather than at the gate.
Car Seat and Stroller Covers
We recommend using a bag to cover up your car seat and stroller to try to prevent damage and scuffs when you check them. There are more simple bags, like the ones we use, and more fancy bags that may have more padding. These are the basic stroller bag and car seat bag we use to gate check our items. We have had no issues with our car seat or stroller being damaged using these. If you are looking for something with more protection, go with a padded option like this durable travel stroller bag or this padded car seat bag. Another upside of using these more bulky bags, in addition to extras protection, is that you are able to put some other items in there, like diapers and wipes (allowing you to check a couple extra items for free).
If your Car Seat or Stroller are Damaged
Hopefully you never have to deal with this but if your car seat or stroller are damaged in transit, you should be able to get a refund from the airline for your car seat/stroller. If this does happen to you, make sure you speak with an airline representative before you leave the airport. From what we have heard from other travelers that have had damage to their car seat and stroller, it is much easier to get a claim started at the airport than over the phone.
Also, make sure you take pictures of the damage so that you can submit that with a claim. It is also helpful if you have the receipts from purchases of your stroller and car seat. If you have not already thrown those receipts away, keep them in a safe place at home. You do not need to bring them to the airport on the off chance your car seat or stroller gets damaged.
Parent tip: In our basement, we have an old shoebox where we keep receipts for all different baby items. We also have another shoebox where we keep all the manuals of different baby items. These take up very minimal space and are out of sight but have come in handy several times.
You are also allowed to bring your breast pump on in addition to any other carry-on you may be bringing. It is considered essential medical equipment and does not count towards your standard carry-on allowance. We always bring Natalie’s pump in a small backpack and slip a couple extra diapers in there too. In addition to the breast pump, you are allowed to bring a small bag for the baby. We just bring our diaper bag. We have never had any issues with anyone questioning the number of carry-ons we have with a baby.
Alternatively, we could check this breast pump easily for free prior to security. However, we’ve had luggage previously get lost and/or damaged and we do not feel comfortable doing this as a breast pump would not be an easy item to replace very quickly if it did get lost.
How to Get a Free Seat for Baby/Car Seat
Although we always plan to gate check our car seat and stroller, we sometimes do not actually have to check our car seat. When we check in for the flight, we always ask if there are any extra seats. If there are extra seats, then we will ask the attendant at the gate for our flight if we can bring our car seat onto the flight for free (essentially a free seat) rather than gate check it.
Out of all the flights we have been on with our baby, we have only had to gate check our car seat 3 times. Otherwise, there has always been an extra seat on the flight and we have been able to bring it on for free. That means 85% of the times we have flown we have gotten a free seat (for anyone who likes statistics).
Note, this is a gamble if you are going to get a free seat though. You will have no idea if the flight has extra seats on it or not until you are at the airport before the flight. If you are nervous about not having an extra seat and do not want to fly without your car seat or an extra seat for your baby, you should buy an extra seat for your baby to guarantee that you have this space. We have been lucky in that every time we have flown with her as a lap infant, we have been able to get an extra seat next to us for free.
Getting Baby to Nap/Sleep on the Plane
When our daughter was 3 months or less, we really had no issues getting her to sleep. If she was tired, she slept pretty much anywhere or anytime. However, as she has gotten older, she needs more of a dedicated space. We have found several products to be very helpful with creating this environment conducive to sleep for her on the airplane.
Carseat Canopy Cover
This carseat canopy has really allowed us to create a favorable environment for our baby to sleep. It creates a nice dark space for her to sleep. When we cover up the infant carseat with it, if she is tired, she is typically out within 2 minutes. It’s magic.
Update: Use the CoziGo, a portable pop-up blackout cover, for convertible carseat and/or stroller
Once we switched to the convertible carseat, we needed a different solution to getting baby to sleep in her carseat on the plane and in her stroller in the airport as the carseat canopy was no longer an option without the handle of the infant carseat anymore. We found the CoziGo, a compact collapsable blackout cover that allow baby to sleep in the carseat or stroller on-the-go, and love it. We wish we would have found it sooner and it has been a game-changer for getting her to sleep in her convertible carseat on the plane and in the stroller at the airport. Use the link here for a discount!
Noise Canceling Headphones
We have found these noise canceling headphones to be helpful when there is a lot of noise you cannot control on the plane (ex. other crying babies, a loud snoring stranger, a screaming toddler, etc.). These block out the noise and keep baby from being distracted (anyone else’s baby have FOMO?). Typically, our daughter does not need these unless there is a lot of distracting noise in the rows near us. She actually does quite well with the hum of the airplane as it seems to act as white noise for her. These headphones have also been very helpful at loud events in non-travel life. For the minimal cost and space they take up, they are worth having in your tool box.
Toys and Tummy Time
We recommend attaching toys with pacifier clips to your carseat and/or baby. This helps to prevent them from falling on the floor. Our daughter really loves this! We typically attach toys that can be easily wiped off too as they tend to touch something germy at some point throughout our travel days. Bring and keep some sanitizing wipes handy too!
Moreover, be sure to bring a blanket to use in the airport for some tummy time. Especially on long travel days and during layovers, we have found this to be very helpful to let her move around on the ground without her actually touching the germ ridden airport floor.
How to Navigate the Airport when Flying with a Baby
Navigating through the airport with all of these items, in addition to your baby, can feel like somewhat of a circus. However, with the right system, it can be done seamlessly.
Utilize Stroller Basket
The key to our system of getting through the airport with all these things is our car seat/stroller combo. This is the carseat/stroller combo travel system we use and highly recommend it! Our stroller itself is actually not that big because our car seat just clicks right into it. It also comes with a bassinet that is really great to use early on with a baby at home. This bassinet attachment is pretty bulky though so we do not bring that with us while traveling.
In the stroller basket, we put Natalie’s pump bag underneath and then Natalie‘s breast-feeding pillow on top of that. Both of these items fit underneath the car seat part of the stroller quite well and are secured well there. Also, to make it easier to check our stroller at the gate, we always have our stroller bag out underneath the breast pump bag so it is ready for us to put our stroller in when we get to the gate.
Then, we put our diaper bag on the back of the stroller by hanging it over the push handle. Our stroller/carseat combo has a cupholder and a phone holder on the opposite side that makes it easy to secure our diaper bag backpack with the straps. This is the diaper bag we use and recommend with its comfortable backpack straps and all of its compartments.
Wear your Carry-Ons when Flying with a Baby
Then, we have our own carry-ons worn on our backs. Natalie wears a fanny pack as well that she just keeps our tickets, our phones and hand sanitizer inside. Any other luggage, we roll through the airport. This situation is much easier done with two people, one takes the stroller and the other takes the bags that need to be checked. We would say if you are traveling solo, try to pack a lot more lightly. Ideally, just bring or check a backpack and no rolling luggage if traveling solo. It is going to be quite difficult to push a stroller and have other bags to roll around the airport if you are by yourself.
Bring a Breastfeeding Pillow when Flying with a Baby for Comfort
We recommend bringing a breast-feeding pillow on the flight, particularly if you are nursing, for your comfort. However, this also can be very helpful for a baby to nap on even if you are not nursing. This idea was the number one tip someone gave us before going on a flight with our baby. Initially, we were thinking the nursing pillow would be too bulky and we were not planning to bring it. However, right before our first flight, someone told us we really should bring it and we were so glad we listened. This pillow really has made our flights much more comfortable for Natalie and G.
Natalie uses the Boppy Breastfeeding Pillow and really likes it. Natalie also has a cover for the pillow that we use while in the airport. Planes are quite germy so it is nice to just be able to take this cover off when we arrive at our your destination and not worry about the pillow being dirty.
How to Carry Breastfeeding Pillow
Getting onto the plane with the breastfeeding pillow can be a bit of a tricky situation when you’re managing a baby, diaper bag, breast pump and your own carry-on. What we have found what works the best is to put the breast-feeding pillow around your waist (looks like a life raft) and shimmy down the aisle carrying the other items in hand and on your back. It might look a little bit funny but it works well when you do not have your hands free to carry it. If this sounds like too much hoopla to you, the flight attendants are often more than happy to help you carry some of your items onto the plane to your seat too.
How to Change a Diaper on the Plane when Flying with a Baby
When the baby is little enough and you are traveling with a companion (and have your own row on the airplane), we recommend changing your baby’s diapers over your lap. Bathrooms on airplanes are already so small and changing a baby in there is even more cramped. To change our daughter’s diaper on our laps, we put our knees together to make as much surface area as we can and then one of us holds her on the changing pad and the other one changes her diaper. This really only works if you have two people.
This link takes you to the changing table we use, Skip Hop Portable Changing Pad, and recommend. It is very easy to wipe off, compact and has a zippered slot for a diaper/cream/wipes. We also carry it for everyday use.
Almost every airplane does have one bathroom with a changing table in it. To find out which one has the changing table, ask the flight attendant when you board. Be sure to bring antibacterial wipes to wipe off the changing table in the airplane bathroom before using it. Also, try to have everything out and ready before starting to change baby’s diaper as you will be a bit crunched for space. We have had better luck with doing standing diaper changes in airplane bathrooms since our daughter was about 7 months old. A good attitude and viewing events in a comical light goes a long way when it comes to changing a baby’s diaper onboard an airplane.
Tip: Try to change the baby’s diaper right before you get on the plane so you’re less likely to need to change it during the flight
How to Prevent Ear Pain when flying with a Baby
The best way to prevent ear pain is to have the baby suck while taking off and landing. Typically, you would try to feed the baby at these times. However, as all parents know, babies are on their own schedule. You cannot always plan out a feed exactly at that time. If you are breastfeeding, offer that. Or, if you are bottle feeding, offer that. If the baby won’t take those, try giving him/her a pacifier.
If your baby won’t do any of those things, you can give baby your pinky finger to suck on. We always use hand sanitizer on our pinky and then completely let it dry before inserting it into baby’s mouth and hitting the roof of the baby’s mouth. This stimulates the suck reflux and then the baby should suck. We have done this during every takeoff and landing (when G was not nursing). Knock on wood, we’ve never had any issues with ear pain. Granted, our daughter wouldn’t be able to tell us if she was having any ear pain but she has not been fussy during take off/landing on any of the flights we have taken.
What Airline to Fly with your Baby
Fly Southwest Domestically with your Baby
Previously, we would have told you to fly whichever airline has the least expensive route you are looking at flying. However, if it is not much more, we highly recommend booking Southwest Airlines. Southwest is so family friendly. Their open seating policy really benefits families. On Southwest, you are always allowed to board between the A and B group. This guarantees you can sit together with your family and will have that much needed overhead space.
When you do fly other Airlines
That being said, other airlines we have flown with when we have assigned seats we have not had any issues. We have been able to bring our car seat on these flights for free with assigned seats as well. When we ask if we can bring our car seat on at the counter, they tend to have to switch our assigned seats around. We then tend to end up in the last row of the plane, which is not always the most desirable. However, we will take it if it means we can all sit together and bring our carseat on board for free.
Tip: On Airlines where you do pick your seats beforehand, pick an isle and window seat where the middle seat is still open. This creates a higher probability the middle seat will remain open if the flight is not full.
Most airlines are going to be quite accommodating if they have an extra seat. Does any stranger really want to sit next to an unpredictable baby if they don’t have to?
We hope this guide helps you fly with your baby. Anything you’d add to our guide flying with a baby? We’d love to hear your feedback and questions. Please leave us a comment!
Explore local spots you would not have found on your own
Food tours are a great way to experience the unique cuisine and culture of a new place. Food tours will bring you to local spots you may have never discovered had you been searching for places to eat yourself.
For example, in Rome, Italy (see Rome, Italy Quick Guide), we took a food tour where we went to 10 plus restaurants and shops that we would have never walked into on our own. These locations were tucked away from the main drag and not flashy nor well marked. Additionally, at most of the places, the staff communicated solely in Italian. With going to these local spots, we were able to experience more authentic Italian food from local, non-touristy, spots.
We encourage you to walk into places you may not instinctively be drawn to–there may be a really cool local restaurant or bar behind the doors you are missing out on. You can always turn around and walk out if not. You really have nothing to lose! We have had luck with this on our own even and how we discovered our favorite hole in the wall restaurants in both Essaouira, Morocco (see Morocco Trip Reflection) and Lisbon, Portugal (see Lisbon, Portugal Quick Guide).
Try cuisine outside of your comfort zone
Participating in a food tour will also force you outside your comfort zone. This cuisine may involve trying something new with a local guide’s suggestion which you may not have had before.
For example, on that same food tour in Italy, our guide encouraged Natalie to eat some cured pork (typically Natalie avoids cured meats) on some fresh Italian bread. Now Natalie raves on the reg about how that was the most delicious piece of pork she has ever tasted!
Dine like a local
Also, these tours afford you the opportunity to dine like a local. On a food tour in Barcelona, Spain, our guide took us to a market with only locals (besides us) and helped us pick out fresh fish that was then prepared for us by the kitchen staff at a separate small cafe within the market. Talk about a cool experience!
We have taken local pub hopping tours, such as a Brews and Bites tour in Prague, Czech Republic. The pubs we stopped at were not ones we would have instinctively gone into because they were really off the main drag. However, visiting these establishments really made us feel like locals and experience the culture. If you want to eat (or drink) like a local, take a food tour. The local guides help connect the food to the culture to enrich your traveling experience.
Unplugging while traveling will enhance your travel experience ten-fold. Disconnecting allows you to more fully immerse yourself in the culture around you and activities you are participating in while traveling. It helps you to live in the present moment, rather than in the virtual world of your phone.
Through unplugging while traveling, you can avoid being distracted by what is going on at home or on social media. Trust us, you will get a lot more out of your travel experience if you are not distracted by your day-to-day virtual responsibilities and social media. Here are our top 4 reasons on why you should unplug while traveling.
1. By disconnecting, you will have a much richer travel experience
Living in the present moment and experiencing a new place is very difficult if you are constantly checking your phone or social media. Unplugging while traveling from email, social media, texting, etc. is exceedingly freeing. You realize that the world at home will continue on without your attention. In case of an emergency, we maintain personal email to communicate with family while traveling. We also provide our family with our itinerary, including accommodation contact information, in case emergency contact is needed. Otherwise, we completely unplug from work email, texting, social media, etc. while traveling.
Talking with strangers can give some of the best and most memorable travel experiences
You will also be more likely to connect with others around you when you unplug. For example, if you are entranced by your phone while riding on a train, plane or doing virtually any activity while traveling, you are unlikely to engage with those around you. You will be missing out on the opportunities for real world connections that surround you. We have had some of the best conversations with strangers while traveling, many of whom we now call friends. Please see our post Why You Should Talk to Strangers While Traveling for more on this topic.
Stop scrolling, use your senses to take in the world around you
Does scrolling social media ever give you as much satisfaction as getting lost in a real world moment? We encourage you to unplug and be more present while traveling to fully experience those sensations around you. Smell the ocean breeze, take in those mountain views, listen to the sounds of the rainforest and taste those delicious pastries, all while undistracted by technology. We guarantee you will have a much more rewarding travel experience while unplugged.
Connect with your family
During our travels, some of our most cherished memories include seeing our baby girl experience parts of the world for the first time. Some of these include seeing her captivated by waterfalls, listening to her babble while hiking and watching her mesmerized by all the different plants in the rainforest. We may miss these treasured moments if we are distracted or ‘plugged in.’ Also, we largely credit connecting with each other very quickly through not being distracted by the internet. When we first met and we were living in Belize (where we had no internet access), we would spend hours talking, uninterrupted by technology. Further, we have had some of best conversations while on hikes in the ‘middle of nowhere’ where we had no cell phone service. We did not miss the internet or our cell phones during these times one bit!
Use your brain power and be creative
Likewise, in modern day, you can easily Google the answer to almost any question. For example, why is the trail named this, why are the streets here made with cobblestone, what is that celebrities’/acquaintance’s name, etc.. We rather try to figure out the answer or hypothesize the answer ourselves, prior to checking the internet. Even when we are not truly unplugged we will do this. We often do this with other people too and make it a game. It actually is pretty fun!
2. It’s much safer to NOT post on social media while traveling.
You may be super excited to post those pictures of your experiences but trust us, social media can wait. Also, it is much safer NOT to post in real time. Do you really want all your Facebook friends or Instagram followers to know you are not home? Post them when you come back to relive some of your fun moments.
3. Learn an area better by navigating without GPS.
Typically, we unplug from texting and GPS too while traveling, but that is variable, depending on if we are still in the US. The best way to reduce the possibility of distraction while traveling is to turn your phone on airplane mode. Then, do NOT connect to Wi-Fi (this will still allows you to still take pictures with your phone). While we travel abroad, we do not buy cell phone/data plans. If you are still struggling to unplug or committing to being on airplane mode without connecting to Wi-Fi, consider using an app, such as Offtime to help you.
This decision makes it a bit more tricky to navigate, as we do not have real-time GPS. However, it forces us to learn the area we are traveling through much better than we would using GPS. We download offline maps from Google to help us find our way without data. Navigating without the GPS, that we have become so reliant on in day-to-day lives, certainly makes for more of an adventure while traveling!
4. We all need a break.
Unplugging is a mindful form of self-care. We all need a break from the day-to-day grind and this decision will give you a true break/vacation from that. In everyday life, there are not a lot of opportunities to be unplugged for extended periods of time. Take advantage while you are off work and not at home.
Likewise, we have also started doing periods of being unplugged at home (a couple hours here and there) while not traveling. We find these breaks to be very helpful with staying present everyday.
We encourage you to try unplugging when traveling and let us know how it goes! Did it help you be more present? Was your travel experience richer? Do you feel less distracted? We are guessing your answer will be yes to these questions.
We hope this post inspires you to unplug while traveling. Anything else you would add to our post? We would love to hear your feedback. Please leave us a comment.