Traveling with a Baby!

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I'm Katelyn James Alsop, a photographer, educator and momma who believes any photographer can have a profitable AND purposeful business.


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Part of me wonders if this post should be the start of it’s own series. Does it REALLY belong in the “Ask Anything” series that I’ve been adding to for the last 8 years? It’s not really about PHOTOGRAPHY…. it’s about how we’re managing a baby and still doing what we used to do…. TRAVEL! Well, we’ve had so many requests from photographers asking about how we’re doing it with Evy, because they have destination weddings coming up and they aren’t sure if they should take their baby! So here’s what we’ve learned!

Now, I am NO EXPERT on anything BABY…. and I feel a little self-conscious posting ADVICE for parents, because I’m so new at this. But I also realize that if I wait until I feel like a PRO, I’ll NEVER share ANYTHING about being a momma. I’ve heard you never really feel like you’re mastering this whole “parenting” thing, and so Michael and I are just learning as we go!

I’m just going to share what we have found that works (and what doesn’t!) and if it helps someone, that’s GREAT! If it’s not useful at all… well then, uhhh… I don’t know what to tell ya. Sorry you wasted 10 minutes scrolling through this post! I’ll be sure to include a few cute baby pics to make it worth your time! ha!

So, Evy is 5.5 months old…. and so far her travels have included:

  • riding to Raleigh, NC
  • visiting OBX, NC
  • Flying to Atlanta and then traveling to Rome, GA
  • Riding to Syracuse, NY and back in 28 hours
  • Traveling by car to NYC, and then flying to Milan, Italy
  • Traveling around Lake Como, Italy for a week with her cousin Micah!
  • Flying home from Italy (an 8 hour flight!)
  • Flying to Florida
  • Flying home from Florida!
  • Flying to NYC, hanging out in the airport for 11 hours, and then flying overnight to Glasgow, Scotland
  • Spending 12 days exploring Scotland by ferry, hotel, Air B&B, long daily drives into the countryside, and then flying back to NYC!
  • Staying in NYC for one night and doing some Brooklyn exploring.
  • And flying back home to Virginia!!
  • She’s also visited her great grandparents multiple times who are 2 hours away!
  • Visited her great grandma who is 4 hours away!
  • And of course, she’s visited her Boyfriend Knox and his parents, who are our best friends, at LEAST 5 times, and they are 2 hours away!

Basically….. she was made to travel! PRAISE THE LORD!

We prayed for a baby who would travel well…. and we got one! I think that’s the first thing that you have to realize. I know that some babies aren’t happy in their carseat. They scream and cry after an hour and that definitely puts a damper on traveling. Someone gave us this advice when we first got pregnant and it was this…..

Travel from the VERY beginning… even though it’s scary!

So, when Evy was 6 days old, she made a road trip to meet her Great Grandparents and she did GREAT! She didn’t know any different! Then she went to our hometown 2 days later, and while we didn’t let anyone hold her or touch her hands, everyone loved getting to see her! She did great, and we started to feel more comfortable being out with her. Sure, they say not to take your baby anywhere for WEEKS… but that didn’t feel right to us. We were careful with her. We were cautious and mindful of germs and temperatures and keeping her safe, and it turned out to be a GREAT decision.

So at 4 weeks old, I decided that if Michael went with me, I could speak at the MTH conference that was 3 hours away. We would be staying in a hotel and we worried about her crying too loudly, but thankfully we were at the end of the hall, and she slept like a champ. That’s another thing to consider when deciding if you’re ready to travel…..

Is your baby allowing you to SLEEP at all? If not, you may already be miserably tired and traveling is REALLY not going to be enjoyable for you during this season.

Evy slept through the night at 2 weeks old. She was a chunky 9 lb 10 oz baby who nursed and slept like a champ from the very beginning, and I honestly think that played a HUGE role in what we felt comfortable doing. So if your baby is having a hard time sleeping and you feel depleted of energy… don’t give yourself a hard time if traveling was miserable. You have a lot on you! Evy’s sleep patterns are such a gift to us and we realize how much of a blessing that is!

So lets fast forward to PLANE TRAVEL! We flew with her to GA before taking her overseas and that was nice, because we felt like we got our feet wet first and learned what we LIKED and DIDN’T LIKE! Here are the first things we learned! :

  1. TAKE THE STROLLER: For a split second we debated lugging the stroller and its’ travel bag through the whole airport. Why not just WEAR Evy in the Solly wrap or the Ergo, right? Wrong. It’s SO hot at the Atlanta airport sometimes. It’s HOT on the plane when you first board. Wearing a baby would have been miserable for us. We LOVED plopping her car seat onto the stroller and piling tons of luggage under it and hanging the diaper bag off of the back handle. Oh it was so wonderful! I loved just lightly pushing her all over the place! …. Also, she loved being in a familiar seat! You’ll need a stroller bag. We took our Uppababy Stroller with our Cybex carseat. We LOVE them both so much! Hands down those are two of our best baby purchases!
  2. CHECK THE STROLLER AT THE GATE: Don’t check the stroller at check-in… just pack it up a few minutes before they call “Those that need additional time to board” and you’ll be good to go! Ps. Be ready to move quickly because more than once, they caught us off guard and we didn’t make moves to the door quick enough before they let Zone 1 go, and then you feel bad for making everyone wait on you!
  3. MAKE FRIENDS ON THE WAY IN!: Michael would hold Evy and stand up at the aisle seat on the plane, and she smiled at everyone coming on and basically the whole plane loved her before we took off.  So when she squawked a few times during our trip to Florida, everyone just turned around and smiled at her like “It’s ok because she’s so cute!”. HaHa (On our most recent trip, our friend’s baby, Knox, just WAVED to everyone as their boarded and they all melted! It’s the sweetest thing!) This is also a great way to get on the good side of the flight attendants! They’ll look out for you if you make an effort to connect with them from the very beginning!

So now lets move on to INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL. We took our baby AND my sister’s baby to ITALY so that we could shoot a wedding while my sister and brother-in-law watched Evy. It was also a fun trip together! The babies were 12 weeks and 20 weeks old on that trip! It was a BLAST… we had a few rental car hiccups… but the babies did AMAZING!  And just recently we took Evy on a big trip to Scotland with our best friends Buddy and Jill, and their baby, Knox!! Here are some tips we learned from taking our babies abroad! :

  1. THE DOUBLE STROLLER WAS AMAZING! : We chose the Uppababy stroller for many many reasons. (Michael did a ton of research and we asked for alot of opinions!) We knew that our two best friends were pregnant and that we would be traveling together. So we got a stroller that we could use for two babies, not just one! BEST DECISION! Micah or Knox sit on top in the “Rumble seat”, and Evy gets stuck on the bottom since she’s the smallest! (In her carseat!). This is just the variations of seats that we use but there are so many other combos that you could do! 
  2. SECURITY: We are pre-checked but even with that advantage in the security line, you never can tell what they are going to do with your baby stuff! Sometimes they let us keep the stroller all set up and they just do a wipe down of it… other times we have had to dismantle it and send it through the machine! No matter what though, you have to take the baby out and carry him/her through the detector. (You can opt out of the detector if you don’t want your baby to go through it, but that will take longer). They will allow one bottled water if you have an infant with you, and we never tried taking breast milk through security internationally. We did take it through security for domestic flights and it was super easy!
  3. HAND SANITIZER AND WIPES: We always wipe down the tray table, arm rests and seats on the plane! We did this BEFORE baby, and we never really got sick after traveling, so this can’t hurt!
  4. TRAVELING OVERNIGHT: We’ve done this twice now. We kept the babies up late…. until like 11pm… and then took an overnight flight to Europe. It worked GREAT for us! Evy slept 1/2 the flight to Italy and the WHOLE flight to Scotland! What a dream!
  5. THE CUBBY COVE!: This was a last minute decision before our Scotland trip and it made such a difference! We bought this “Cubby Cove” which is a cheaper version of a “Dock-a-tot”, and it got to us within two days! (Thanks Amazon!) Evy slept on this across our laps the ENTIRE flight. It felt like normal bedtime to her. It’s breathable and it allowed us to sleep, because she couldn’t roll out. Then, once we got there, she slept in this in hotels, on the floor in the airport, and in our Air B&B…. it was such a great decision! Now she’s using it at home in her pack-n-play! It’s PERFECT for her little harness that she’s wearing, because it keeps her legs lightly propped up and supported at night! (Ps. We also bought Evy an “Arm Swaddle” after having to switch her from being a tummy sleeper to a back sleeper because of her harness, and it’s amazing!) We took the Cubby Cove in a rolling carry-on bag folded up! We actually stuffed a “play mat” into this same small suitcase too, and the babies played on it each night at the house! Ps. In the picture below, she has her arm swaddle on and so she literally can’t move that blanket. We were in a cold hotel room, but she can’t wear pants because of her harness and the sleep sack makes her sweat too much, so a blanket was necessary! So please no emails about how bad it is to let your baby sleep with a blanket! haha We are well aware! :)
  6. DIRTY EVERYTHING BAG: You need a plastic bag of some kind to hold dirty bibs, clothes… basically anything that gets slimed or pooped on! And then rinse it out as soon as you get to a hotel or wherever you’re staying, because we had one bib get mildewy… and I don’t know if it’s salvageable!
  7. NEW TOY: We didn’t do this with Evy, but our friend Jilly bought Knox a toy he had never seen before, and it was such a fun surprise for him that kept him entertained and engaged longer than a familiar toy!
  8. WATER CUP: Evy has a fascination with empty water bottles and so we introduced her to a non-spilling sippy cup with about a 1/4 cup of water in it and she LOVES it! She’ll drink a little, play with it, suck on it… it’s such a great way to keep her busy right now!
  9. SOUND MACHINE: Don’t worry, we checked the decibel level and it’s fine. We use a sound machine to help keep her asleep at night when we’re all in close proximity in a hotel room! Evy thrives in busy, noisy settings and so this muffled hum allows her to sleep through hotel noises… especially the rooftop band in NYC that played until the wee hours of the morning!
  10. NURSING DURING TAKEOFF: The babies had no problems with ear pain on our flights! However, we do try to nurse Evy on the way up. That usually results in an instant nap that sometimes lasts for hours! (YAY!!!) I heard this from so many people that the nursing and sucking helps their ears to adjust to the altitude changes.  Also…. we fly Delta, and we’ve had so many flight attendants tell us different things about “baby rules”. Basically… do what you need to…. just don’t change them in the seat. That seems to be the only universal no-no. One lady tried to tell me that Evy HAD to be on my shoulder during take-off. No way…. we ignored that and said she needed to nurse, and it was fine.
  11. DELTA SKY LOUNGE AT JFK: It was worth every penny! We had over 10 hours to wait for our overnight flight. With two babies! So we paid to have access to the Delta Sky Lounge, and the babies took naps there, we got work done and we had drinks and snacks all afternoon and evening!
  12. STROLLER RAIN COVER: We left the house before the trip and couldn’t find our Uppababy Rain Cover, and so we bought a cheap generic one and used it SO much! If you’re going somewhere wet…. this is important!
  13. USE YOUR 24-70 LENS: It’s such a stress relief to just use ONE lens when traveling with a baby! This lens shoots WIDE and TIGHT, and it’s perfect for trips! If you want to get really technical…. we divide up the “media” tasks when traveling with Jilly and Bud. Jill makes the video, and I take the pictures for the most part! It’s a perfect combination!
  14. RENTAL CAR SIZE: If you’re new to traveling with a baby…. the old “tiny” rental car won’t cut it! You have to make sure it has enough room for your bags, the stroller and the carseat!

And before you think “Well, this all sounds too good to be true… your baby sleeps well, eats well and smiles at everyone”… I’ll let you in on a little secret….. we have our fair share of issues. Evy is a dream baby, yes, but she also has some unique things about her that have made traveling quite a challenge. She’s currently in a Pavlic Harness to try to correct her Hip Dysplasia. We cannot take this off. We can’t bathe her normally. She can’t sit or lay normally, and she can’t wear pants of any kind…. it makes things interesting! Also…. she had a little intestinal virus while we were gone (we’re assuming that’s what it was!) that made diaper changes a NIGHTMARE. She also randomly does something once or twice a month that we like to call a “fountain”… where she throws up EVERYTHING she just ate and then smiles afterwards, leaving us in a puddle of milky-slime. Yep. I know that’s gross…. it’s even more gross when it happens in the welcome area of a historic Abbey in Scotland and a nun has to come clean it up. Yikes. But you know what…. we survived it all. We did it. We took our baby to the other side of the world, not once but TWICE, before her 6 month birthday, and we actually enjoyed ourselves.

Traveling with a baby isn’t for everyone. There were things I had to miss out on (like a massive hike and a picnic in the heat), but it’s all good. We made so many sweet memories and our little girl is learning how to be incredibly flexible and adaptable in any situation! I’m so proud of her. Not only did she travel to Scotland…. but she traveled to Scotland in a restrictive harness and never cried about it. She’s truly amazing, and we’re so in awe of her!!!!

So, sorry for the super long post, I hope these tips were helpful! I’m sure there are other tips I could share, but I have other things to get done, so maybe we’ll have to do a Part Two as we learn more and travel more!!!


Thanks for reading!

— Katelyn

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