Why You Should Take Your Dream Trip Now

Why you should take your dream trip now

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

Why you should take your dream trip now

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. 

Please see Zion National Park Quick Guide for more information on visiting Zion.

Life’s Too Short & No Day is Guaranteed 

Why you should take your dream trip 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.  

Worried about traveling with baby? See our How to Hike with a Baby and Flying with a Baby post to help give you some tips and confidence.

Worried about budget? See our 5 Ways to Save on Flights, How to Save on a Rental Car, How to Book Accommodations on a Budget and Budget Europe Guides (20 cities & counting) for some of our budget tips.

Worried it will be too overwhelming to plan? See our National Park Guides, United States Guides, Europe Guides, Africa Guides and Travel Tips! We have over 75 posts and counting. There is surely a place in one of those you want to visit.

You Never Know when a Place you want to Visit may be Gone or Destroyed 

Why you should take your dream trip now
Glacier Recession, Kenai Fjords National Park

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!

Please see Kenai Fjords National Park and Seward, Alaska Quick Guide for more information on Exit Glacier.

Never know when a World-Wide Pandemic may Occur

Why you should take your dream trip 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

  1. Request vacation before you know where you are going (we often do this!)
  2. Book flights and then plan your trip (we often do this too!)
  3. Determine trip budget, then plan accordingly (weekend trip vs longer more distant trip)
  4. Add social pressure.  Tell family and friends you are going before booking to add social pressure to encourage you to book
  5. 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.  

Did you find this post helpful? If so, please share it with a friend, like our Always Have a Trip Planned Facebook Page, follow our Always Have A Trip Planned Instagram and subscribe to our emails below.

And remember, Always Have A Trip Planned!

How to Stop Stressing While Traveling

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 and stop stressing while traveling. 

How to Stop Stressing While Traveling

1. Under-schedule

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 the rest of our 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 river cruise.  We highly recommend the Avalon European 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!

And remember, Always Have A Trip Planned!

Did you find this post helpful? If so, please share it with a friend, like our Always Have a Trip Planned Facebook Page, follow our Always Have A Trip Planned Instagram and subscribe to our emails below.

Why You Should Take A Food Tour While Traveling

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.  

A local meat and cheese shop on our food tour in Rome

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.

A local shop in Rome on our food tour
Another local shop on our food tour in Rome

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

Local market in Barcelona
A local market in Barcelona

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!  

Brews & Bites Food Tour in Prague
Brews & Bites Food Tour in Prague

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.

Eating Italy Rome, Italy

Discover Walks Food Tour Barcelona, Spain 

Eating Prague Brews & Bites Prague, Czech Republic

The Best of the French Quarter New Orleans, Louisiana  

Have you gone on a Food Tour while traveling?  Anything you’d add to our reasons why they are great?  We’d love to hear your feedback.  Please leave us a comment! 

And remember, Always Have A Trip Planned!

Did you find this post helpful? If so, please share it with a friend, like our Always Have a Trip Planned Facebook Page, follow our Always Have A Trip Planned Instagram and subscribe to our emails below.

How to Plan Your First Europe Trip on a Budget

Where do you even begin when planning your first Europe trip? This is a question that has been posed to us many times by friends and family. From picking which cities to visit, to the logistics of budgeting time and sticking to a reasonable budget, it can seem overwhelming. However, after visiting 16 different European countries and traveling across the pond on 5 separate occasions, all on a budget, we can help. Here is our step-by-step guide on how to plan your first multi-city Europe trip on a budget.

Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links. That means that, at no cost to you, we may get a small commission if your purchase through these links. This helps us keep providing travel resources for you!

Park Güell, Barcelona, Spain
Park Güell, Barcelona, Spain

1. Write a list of MUST and WANT to go places on your trip  

Divide this list into countries and even further into cities and attractions.  Writing these places down will help you see potential routes for your trip. There are so many places to visit in Europe that you have to start by narrowing it down somehow for your first Europe trip.  Remember you cannot go everywhere on just one trip. Regardless of the amount of time you spend, there will always be new places you want to explore or see. 

On our first Europe trip, we picked the countries first based on our two country MUSTS—Greece and Italy.  We then looked into flight options.  Most of the departure flight options routed us through Ireland, which was on our WANT list, so we added Ireland to our itinerary as well.  Looking into flights/train services to/from the cities you want to go will help you see what stops make more sense logistically than others.

For example, some MUST cities on our list were Rome, Cinque Terre and Venice but a WANT was Sicily.  Logistically, with how our route worked out with train schedules and pricing, it didn’t make sense to go to Sicily and this was crossed off our list. 

Cinque Terre, Italy
Cinque Terre, Italy

2. How much time do you have?

Can you be flexible?  Determine how long you want to or can be gone for your trip.  As a general rule of thumb, plan to be in each city you visit 2-4 days (including travel time).  We find that if you travel any faster than this, you feel quite rushed and it takes away from the experience.  Don’t try to go to too many places, especially on your first Europe trip—you want to enjoy it!  For our first Europe trip, we felt we had the appropriate amount of time each place by spending 3 days in Athens, 4 in Santorini, 3 in Rome, 4 in Cinque Terre, 2 in Venice, 3 in Killarney and 2 in Dublin. 

Remember, your biggest cost of your trip is going to be your flight to Europe so the more places you can go while already there and the longer you can stay, the more cost effective the trip becomes.  If you can be flexible with your schedule and extend your trip, it will not only allow you to see another place or spend more time at your favorite place but will also potentially save you money on flights (see blog post on 5 Ways to Save on Flights).   If you cannot be flexible with dates (a lot of people cannot be with their work schedules), this will help you determine how many places you can go and further narrow down your MUST and WANT list.  

Prague, Czech Republic
Prague, Czech Republic

3. What is your budget?

How much do you want to aim to spend a day?  Can you be flexible?  Your budget will affect where you go on your trip as some places are much more expensive than others.  For example, our goal on our first Europe trip was to spend less than $100 a night on accommodations (this ensured we always had a private bath).  In Greece and Italy, this was not a problem but in Ireland, this was nearly impossible.  We always set a budget for our trips but tend to be flexible with the budget depending on location. This flexibility creates less stress when planning knowing you have a little wiggle room.

To get a general cost idea of different European Cities, we suggest referring to Europe On A Shoestring and the Fodor’s Essential Europe books. Most travel books have general pricing data. You can easily buy these on Amazon (use the links above) or you can try to check them out from your local library. 

Also, make sure to look at depart/return flights for the dates you tentatively want to go on your trip.  For our first trip, due to work, we were limited to the dates we could depart/return and had to bite the bullet with a more pricey flight option. This is not something we regret but we have since learned how to save on flights (see blog post on 5 Ways to Save on Flights). 

Burano, Italy
Burano, Italy

4. Determine starting/ending point of your trip and book arrival/departure flights  

What makes the most sense logistically?  What makes the most sense cost-wise? When we went to Spain and Portugal, it was over $600 less per person to fly into Madrid and out of Barcelona than it was to fly into Lisbon and out of Barcelona.  Logistically, it would typically make more sense to start this trip in Lisbon but with only 2 hours difference in total fly times and a $600 cost difference in flights per person, changing our route only made sense.  We still went to Lisbon but changed our initial planned route from Lisbon—> Madrid —> Barcelona to Madrid —> Lisbon —> Barcelona.  In general, roundtrip flights to/from the same point tend to cost less but if money/budget is not as big of a priority as seeing more places, always start and end in different spots.  For more on how to save on flights, see blog post on 5 Ways to Save on Flights). 

Amsterdam, Netherlands
Amsterdam, Netherlands

5. Finalize Stops on Your Trip

After booking arrival/departure flights, book flights and trains in between cities. A tip for a first timer, sometimes taking a train between cities actually cost more than a flight. Look into both options but a flight is your best bet if you are short on time.  That being said, we have had some of the best conversations with people we have met on trains in Europe. (See post on Why You Should Talk to Strangers While Traveling

Stonehenge, England
Stonehenge, England

6. Book Accommodations

Look into all options—hotels, pensions, Airbnbs, etc..  We first look into accommodation recommendations from people (friends, family, coworkers, fellow bloggers, etc) who have traveled to the places we are going.  For your first Europe trip, it is always nice to stay at places that you know people in your network have liked.  Then, we look into options from our travel reference books and Airbnbs.  We usually end up staying at a mixture of accommodations based on what’s available, location and cost.  When you do not have a car, we find it is worth it to pay a little more to stay closer to the main areas of a city we want to see so we can walk everywhere.  Walking around a city is a great way to see it from an angle you may not have otherwise (see post, coming soon, on Why You Should Walk Everywhere While Traveling).

Use this link to get up to $65 off your first Airbnb

Please see How to Book Accommodations post for more on booking accommodations.

Vatican City, Italy
Vatican City, Italy

7. Book Excursions  

You may be able to book some excursions when you get to your destination but during peak season, you want to make sure you book popular excursions beforehand.  For example, we went to the Vatican during peak season in July and needed to book our tour several months beforehand. Investigating activities that are free or require admission ticket beforehand is important to evaluate. Sometimes areas that are free still offer guided tours that can be helpful for those that want to hear from a local about the history and culture.

One of our favorite European excursions to book is a food tour.  Our favorite European food tour was in Rome through the company Eating Europe. This company has tours in many countries/cities and we’d highly recommend going on one—it will be a highlight of your trip (see post Why you Should take a Food Tour While Traveling).

We hope this post helps you plan your first Europe trip on a budget.  See all of our Europe Guides for more information to help you plan your first Europe trip. We’d love to hear your feedback and questions. Anything you’d add to our guide on planning your first Europe Trip on a Budget? Please leave us a comment! 

And remember, Always Have A Trip Planned! 

Did you find this post helpful? If so, please share it with a friend, like our Always Have a Trip Planned Facebook Page, follow our Always Have A Trip Planned Instagram and subscribe to our emails below.

5 Ways Stay in Shape While Traveling

This is a question we get asked very frequently–how do we stay in shape while traveling?  

Hiking in Gridwood, Alaska

Simply put, we stay in shape by remaining committed to staying active every day while traveling.  We make sure we get in some sort of activity every day, whether that be a dedicated workout or active travel through hiking, biking, running, walking, kayaking, etc. You may not feel like working out or doing something active every day while traveling but you will feel much better if you do.   Movement is not only important for your physical health but also your mental clarity.

Here are 5 ways to stay in shape while traveling:

1. Morning HITT or bodyweight workout

Hiking in Arches National Park

If we have a long day of driving or flying, we make sure we get in at least a brief workout, even just 20 minutes, in the morning before leaving.  Many of the places we stay at do not have gyms so we typically do bodyweight or high-intensity interval training (HITT) workouts in our room or outside. 

  • Example workout: approximately 30 minute full body workout, using only body weight, that can be done in a small space, 10 second break in between each exercise:
    • 50 Jumping Jacks
    • 20 Squats
    • 30 Russian Twists (left one, right two, etc) 
    • 50 Mountain Climbers (left one, right two, etc) 
    • 15 Push Ups  
    • 50 Flutter Kicks (left one, right two, etc) 
    • 30 Skaters (left one, right two, etc) 
    • 10 Burpees
    • 50 Bicycle Crunches 
    • 20 Lunges (left one, right two, etc)
    • 30 High Knees (left one, right two, etc) 
    • 30 Second Plank 
    • Repeat 5x 
      • If you have less time, repeat as many times as able.  Even if you can only go through one round of this workout, do it. Some activity is better than no activity!
  • Example workout: approximately 20 minute HITT workout that can be done in a small space, 10 second break in between each exercise:
    • 20 Tuck Jumps 
    • 10 Burpees
    • 50 Jumping Jacks
    • 15 Push Ups
    • 50 Mountain Climbers 
    • 30 Speed Skaters
    • 30 High Knees  
    • 50 Flutter Kicks 
    • 20 Frog Jumps
    • Repeat 3x
      • Or as many times as time allows. Once is better than none!

On our last trip, we literally pulled up this article to do these workouts.

2. Wake-Up 30 Minutes Early to Workout

Morning running views in Essaouira, Morocco

If we are on a group tour or on a tight morning schedule, we will wake up 30 minutes earlier than we would normally need to so that we can complete a brief workout.  Even though you may feel tired getting up a little earlier, you will feel much more awake and ready to seize the day after the workout.  Regardless of what you decide to do, stay committed to always doing at least some sort of physical activity every day. Even if you can only fit in a very brief amount of exercise into your day, some is better than none.  

3. Go for a Morning Run or Walk

One of our favorite ways to see the sites of a city is going for an early morning run through the city.  These sites are usually without the crowds in the early morning, making a morning run not only a great way to get a workout completed but also to see some of the sites.  For example, in Venice, we went for a run around the island in the morning. It was a completely different vibe than the night prior as the main square and waterfront were nearly empty in the morning (see Venice, Italy Quick Guide).  Furthermore, in Barcelona on a morning run, we were able to see Park Guell without all the tourists and get some of the most amazing pictures as the sun was rising (see Barcelona, Spain Quick Guide).  

4. Walk Everywhere

If we plan to walk to different sites throughout the day, we may not do a dedicated workout. Walking to/from places is our activity for that day.  In general, we try to walk as much as we can while traveling, you see so much more of an area this way and it is a great way to stay active! While in NYC, we took the opportunity to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge to see Manhattan from the other side of the East River (above) and were afforded some of the best city views. See Why You Should Walk Everywhere While Traveling and New York City Quick Guide for more information on both.  

5. Plan a Hiking, Kayaking or Biking Adventure 

Hiking is one of our favorite ways to stay active while traveling–not only does it give us a great workout but it also affords us some of the best views and time in nature. (See The Perfect One Week Itinerary for Hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park and Alaska Road Trip: The Perfect Guide for active vacation itineraries). We have also done some amazing kayaking in Alaska and Hawaii (see Whittier, Alaska Quick Guide and Kauai, Hawaii Quick Guide).  Many cities offer biking tours as well and are another fun way to actively a new city (see Amsterdam, Netherlands Guide). 

Bonus of staying active: Try all the new foods you want! 

One of our favorite parts of traveling is trying new foods. Staying active allows us to add some extra calories and try all these new foods without guilt.  We often hear people talk about how they gain weight while traveling.  Fortunately, we have not had this problem despite always trying all the new foods and never restricting ourselves.  If we want to eat something, we eat it! When we were in Italy, we ate gelato twice a day and no, we did not gain any weight. We actually both lost weight on that trip, likely because we walked so much. When you are consistently dedicated to remaining physically active and living a balanced lifestyle, you can indulge while traveling. 

Note-Parents, we see you. We know things don’t always go as planned, especially when traveling with kids. If you had a rough night or need that extra 30 minutes, allow yourself some grace. You don’t need to stress yourself out more because you did not get your morning movement in. Remember, some movement is better than none so just try to incorporate it throughout your day.

We hope this post inspires you to join us and to commit to staying active while traveling.  Any other tips you have?  We would love to hear your feedback.  Please send leave us a comment.

And remember, Always Have A Trip Planned!

Did you find this post helpful? If so, please share it with a friend, like our Always Have a Trip Planned Facebook Page, follow our Always Have A Trip Planned Instagram and subscribe to our emails below.

Booking Trip Accommodations on a Budget

When we book accommodations for a trip, it is a balancing act between cost, location and offerings by the accommodation.  In general, we try to spend less than $150/night, find a central location and get private bath accommodations. However, this varies greatly between destinations. There is no right answer when it comes to where to stay but here are some questions to think about when looking into accommodations for a trip on a budget. 

  1. How much time do you plan to spend at the accommodations on the trip? 
  2. How much money do you want to spend? 
  3. Are you renting a car or not? 
  4. Do you want to be able to walk most places you are visiting?  
  5. Are you looking for somewhere to sleep only or looking for other offerings (such as spa, kitchen, etc.)?
  6. What is more important to you, convenience or cost? 
  7. Do you want a private bathroom/bedroom?

For each place you visit, you will likely have different answers to all these questions.  For example, when we travel in Europe, we are typically looking for somewhere conveniently located, where we can walk most places, but nothing too fancy as we plan to spend most of our time out exploring.  Conversely, when traveling in the US, where we typically have a rental car, a location can be much further from the city center and we can find more cost effective options.   Once you’ve thought about the questions above, below are several different resources we often use to figure out the “best” place for us to stay.  Here are our tips for how to book trip accommodations on a budget.

Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links. That means that, at no cost to you, we may get a small commission if your purchase through these links. This helps us keep providing travel resources for you!

1. Word of Mouth References

Booking Trip Accommodations on a Budget
Marble House Pension in Athens, Greece was a word of mouth budget accommodation recommendation

This is our #1 recommendation for booking trip accommodations on a budget. These suggestions are always the first options we research.  If you are planning a trip, talk to your friends, family and coworkers who may have traveled to the area.  People love to talk about their travel experiences and may have great accommodation recommendations for you.  You can read all the books and reviews you want but word of mouth recommendations, including your favorite travel blogs, are unmatched.  Speaking candidly to someone you know provides great insight into what might be the best place to stay. We have stayed at some of our favorite spots through word of mouth references.  

2. Lonely Planet and Fodor’s Location Books

Booking Trip Accommodations on a Budget
Lapepa in Madrid, Spain was a recommendation from the Europe on a Shoestring Book

If the word of mouth references are not right for us (too expensive, not central, not available, etc.), these are the next resources we use.  We have found the Lonely Planet books, particularly the “…on a shoestring” books (Europe on a Shoestring), and the Fodor travel books (Fodor’s Essential Europe) to be very helpful.  Each of these books gives a breakdown of hotel options based on price, location and type of accommodation.  We typically only look at the options under $150/night but there are options in these books for all price ranges.  However, sometimes none of these accommodations, within our price range, are available and we have to search elsewhere.  One of our favorite finds in these books was the adorable Lapepe in Madrid, Spain.

3. Airbnb, VRBO and Booking.com

Booking Trip Accommodations on a Budget
We found our cabin in Estes Park on Airbnb

Even if we use one of the above accommodation options, we will look at both Booking.com, VRBO and Airbnb to get a general idea of price range and availability in the area we are looking to stay.  Airbnb and VRBO are great when we want a kitchen at our accommodations, particularly on hiking trips. However, it is really variable if Airbnb’s and VRBO’s are less or more expensive than a hotel so we always check booking.com as well.  We also really like staying in Airbnb’s because these stays tend to give us a more local experience. Some of our favorite Airbnb’s were in Kenai Fjords National Park, Anchorage, Alaska, Rocky Mountain National Park, Arches National Park, Zion National Park and Santorini, Greece. See all these guides for the details!

Use this link to get up to $65 off your first Airbnb

4. Hotwire

Views from out beachfront Hotwire hotel in San Diego for less than $100/night

Another great resource we use when booking accommodations is Hotwire.com.  Hotwire gives you the price, star rating and general location for hotels but you do not find out the exact hotel you are staying at until after you have committed to the booking. This website is great when you are looking to stay in a general area but do not plan to spend a lot of time at your hotel.  These are usually great “just looking for a place to sleep” options.  We have used Hotwire 20+ times and have been pleasantly surprised by our accommodations all but one time at a two star hotel.  As long as you book 3 star or above hotels, we think you should always be satisfied with your experience and it is a great way to save some money.  Our favorite find on this accommodation booking platform was in San Diego where we snagged a beachfront hotel for less than $100/night!

There are plenty of other resources and websites for booking accommodation but based on our trial and error, we recommend the above options as your go-to strategies.  We hope this post helps you plan your next trip accommodations on a budget. Anything else you’d add to our guide on how to book accommodations on a budget?  We’d love to hear your feedback and questions.  Please leave us a comment!

And remember, Always Have A Trip Planned!

Did you find this post helpful? If so, please share it with a friend, like our Always Have a Trip Planned Facebook Page, follow our Always Have A Trip Planned Instagram and subscribe to our emails below.

The Best Hiking Apps

Hiking is one of our favorite ways to get out and explore while traveling.  We look forward to summiting mountains and finding some of the most spectacular views in the world through hiking.  A big part of how we find and decide what different hikes we want to complete is through using different hiking apps. Through seeing pictures and reading reviews, we find inspiration for the best trails to complete.  These apps also give us all the details about distance and elevation, which are very pertinent details when preparing for a hike.  Here is a list of our three favorite apps below. 

#1 All Trails App 

Arches National Park
Arches National Park

This website really has the best database of hiking information. On this website, you can see the top hikes in an area and search different trails.  The information on this app is usually very accurate which is always important when planning a hike.  We like to use this application to plan out our hikes as you can make different lists with it (i.e. Anchorage hikes, Arches National Parks hikes, RMNP hikes, etc.) and share them with your friends. 

Our favorite feature of this app is that you can track your hike using it.  Even if you do not have data or service, you can track your hiking route using your phone’s GPS, just on airplane mode.  This feature has helped us several times, most recently at Arches National Park (see Arches National Park Quick Guide). When we were uncertain if we were on the right route, we simply pulled up the app and were able to make sure our GPS was still tracking on the correct path.  

The comments section of the hikes on this application are very helpful as well.  In the comments section, people rate the hike and discuss pros/cons as well as current trail conditions.  Reading these remarks the day of or before is a good way to be even more prepared for your hike. Important points we have used include finding out if there is snow on the trail or finding out the trail is closed in one section. 

There is a free version and a paid-for version of this application.  We use the free version and it does everything we need it to do, even the tracking.  If you try to track your hike on the free version, it may give you an error message at first but as long as you have the hike previously saved to a list, you should be able to track it.   

All Trails

​#2 Hiking Project App  

Shortoff Mountain, Linville Gorge
Shortoff Mountain, Linville Gorge

This website is similar to All Trails but with a smaller database.  We like this application because it shows the top hikes in certain areas in a more straightforward way than All Trails.  You can download offline maps from different states and then search for different hikes while you are in the area without data and without having a specific hike saved in advance. We download the states prior to our trip where we are visiting to have this information handy.  We found this application to be extra helpful in North Carolina (see Hiking Shortoff Mountain near Asheville, North Carolina) where some of the trails we hiked were not on All Trails. 

Hiking Project

#3 National Parks App

Lion Lake, RMNP

This application is made by the same developers as the Hiking Project application and quite user friendly as well.  It shows you the top hikes in each National Park that is in its database.  Most of the National Parks are on this application but the database is still growing.  We use this application mainly for inspiration for hiking views we want to see through pictures on the app. This app is how we found one of our favorite hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park to Lion Lake (see Top 5 Long Day Hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park).  Definitely check out this app if you are headed to one of the National Parks. 

National Parks App

When planning a hiking trip, we use a combination of all three of the above apps (only the top 2 if it is not a National Park) to decide which hikes we would like to complete. All three are great references and we recommend downloading each.  Additionally, given required cellphone use to track hikes, always charge your phone prior to leaving, have other members of your party download the app, and consider a back-up battery pack for the extra long hikes.

Looking to plan a hiking trip? Please see: 

Can you tell we really like to hike?

Are there any other hiking apps you use?  Please leave us a comment. We’d love to hear about them and hear from you. 

And remember, Always Have A Trip Planned! 

Did you find this post helpful? If so, please share it with a friend, like our Always Have a Trip Planned Facebook Page, follow our Always Have A Trip Planned Instagram and subscribe to our emails below.

How to Hike with a Baby

Hiking with a baby

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. 

Hiking with a Baby
Various Hikes with our Baby

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.  

How to hike with a baby
Hiking with our 10 month old in Iceland

For details on our first hiking trip with our baby, please see Pictured Rocks/Upper Peninsula of Michigan Guide For details on our Hawaii Trip with our baby, please see Maui, Hawaii Quick Guide, Haleakala National Park Quick Guide, Big Island, Hawaii Quick Guide, 5 Stops on the Road to Hana and Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Quick Guide. More information on our Puerto Rico, Mexico and Iceland hiking adventures to come soon!

Hiking with a 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!

Flexible Attitude

how to Hike with a Baby

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. 

Hiking with a baby

Set Realistic Expectations

Hiking with a baby
Hiking on Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore with our 5 week old

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. 

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:

hiking with a baby

Front Carrier: Ergobaby Omni 360 Cool Mesh Baby Carrier

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.  

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. 

Breastfeeding Tops: Bearsland Breastfeeding Tops

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. 

Portable Changing Pad: Skip Hop Portable Changing Pad

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. 

Compact Umbrella: UV Protective Compact Umbrella

Hiking with a baby

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. 

Diaper Bags: Munchkin Diaper Bags

You will need to pack out all your diapers and these contain them well in addition to keeping the smell down. 

Do a Trial Hike 

Hiking with a baby
Hiking in Haleakala National Park in Hawaii with our 3 Month Old

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.

Be Dedicated and Don’t be Paralyzed by Fear 

hiking with a baby
Hiking with our 5 week old in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

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. 

Hiking with a Baby

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.  

To read more about our hiking adventures with baby, please see Pictured Rocks/Upper Peninsula of Michigan Guide, Maui, Hawaii Quick Guide, Haleakala National Park Quick Guide, Big Island, Hawaii Quick Guide, 5 Stops on the Road to Hana and Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Quick Guide. More information on our Puerto Rico and Mexico hiking adventures to come soon!

For other traveling tips with baby, please see our Flying with a Baby post.

We hope this guide helps you plan a hike with your baby.  Anything you’d add to our guide? We’d love to hear your feedback and questions.  Please leave us a comment!

And remember, Always Have A Trip Planned!

Did you find this post helpful? If so, please share it with a friend, like our Always Have a Trip Planned Facebook Page, follow our Always Have A Trip Planned Instagram and subscribe to our emails below.

Flying with a Baby

Before we had a baby, we were naive to the ins and outs of flying with one.  Many people told us flying with a baby would be too much of a hassle and not worth our effort.  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 with a Baby

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.

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. 

We use this carseat/stroller combo travel system and love it.  However, some people really like to baby-wear their baby in the airport. Try out both and see what you like better!  If you are going to baby-wear, we recommend this Ergobaby carrier.

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.

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.

Breast Pump

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 2 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 86% of the times we have flown we have gotten a free seat (for anyone who likes statistics). 

No Guarantees 

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.

 Flying with a Baby

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 carseat with it, if she is tired, she is typically out within 2 minutes. It’s magic.

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!

 Flying with a Baby

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

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.  

 Flying with a Baby

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

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. 

For tips on how to fit all your luggage in a carry-on, please see our blog post How to Fit all your Luggage in a Carry-On.

Bring a Breastfeeding Pillow on the Plane 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 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

 Flying with a Baby

Fly Southwest Domestically

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!

For more tips on navigating adventuring with a baby, please see How to Hike with a Baby.

And remember, Always Have A Trip Planned!

Did you find this post helpful? If so, please share it with a friend, like our Always Have a Trip Planned Facebook Page, follow our Always Have A Trip Planned Instagram and subscribe to our emails below.