7 Tips for Traveling Overseas with a Baby

By  |  14 Comments

we survived traveling overseas with a baby! if you aren’t giving me virtual air-high-fives right now, i’m gonna need you step it up and slap that air.

my husband and i traveled with our 9 month daughter, atlas, from denver to the united kingdom! we were gone a little over two weeks and overall, it was a fantastic trip! i had a ton of anxiety leading up to it because of the long flights, how often we would be moving through the UK (9 hotels total) and of course…packing.

Tips for Traveling overseas with a baby

perhaps i’ll do a baby specific packing list in another post because it can get overwhelming and one may start thinking about throwing out diapers and packing wine instead.

related: the ultimate printable packing list for women

while there were many things learned and discovered during our adventures through the rolling hills of england and wales, i’ve narrowed it down to some pertinent ones for everyone’s sanity.

here are 7 tips for traveling overseas with a baby:

1) airlines do infant tickets/bassinets differently

this was super frustrating. in the US, children fly free under 2 as long as they sit on your lap. on british airways, you have to pay 10% of the adult ticket for your kid under two. my husband spent 6+ hours on the phone with BA sorting this mess out. he was able to reserve a ‘cot’ on our flight home with BA (though then they didn’t have the ‘lay flat’ one on board, which was extremely frustrating since atlas is a stomach sleeper and loooong).

on the way there, we were flying american airlines but they partnered with british airways. here’s their absurd rule on the bassinet/cot reservation – you can’t call to reserve one. it’s first come, first serve at the gate and then it goes to the youngest baby! what! super frustrating.

here is a helpful site i wish i would have found before our travels but it will help you figure out the rules and regulations for specific airlines.

2) pack light

this seems pretty obvious but it’s much easier said than done. atlas and i shared a checked bag suitcase (nuisance to carry around, especially on trains but had to be done). my husband had his own carry-on since he was working and needed to have his shirts with him for his 6 keynotes. we used a backpack as a diaper bag (SO helpful), had her carseat and stroller.

i was very proud of myself when i discovered this handy way to carry around the carseat when i had to get us from the hotel room to the lobby by myself. i was also thankful that we measured her a week before we left and she still had an inch before she grew out of her bucket carseat!

i packed a decent amount of toys for her and planned to let her play with various ones throughout the trip. turns out, my kid loves to play with the hotel room key cards, packaged cookies, shampoo bottles, my hair brush, etc. point being: you really don’t need all that many toys because at this age, they are curious about so many ordinary things!

i will say it’s very helpful to bring familiar things from home when it comes to bedtime and nap time rituals. we brought her small, inexpensive noise machine to lull her to sleep as well as her new snuggle buddy – a small, plush giraffe. if your child is used to certain books or other things, bring those along to help make the hotel rooms feel a bit more like home!

3) have plenty of memory on phone/camera

if you are traveling overseas with a baby, chances are it’s probably their first time. as a first time mom, i can personally attest to wanting to capture all the firsts and it gets a little crazy. do not get that horrid message “storage full!” as you are trying to take a picture of your baby’s first cardboard cut out. right?!

also don’t save this process for last minute or fumble around while you are on your trip trying to clear photos. you don’t want to accidentally delete something you really do want!

4) request a cot/crib when booking your hotel

travel with a baby is exhausting, especially when you are dealing with jet lag. many hotels allow you to request a crib (or cot, as they say in europe) when booking your hotel. it made a big difference when we walked into one of our hotel rooms and already saw the cot set up and ready for our baby!

plus, sometimes they make them super cute (*snuggle buddy not included):

5) crawl on the floor with your baby in new hotel rooms

i know it seems silly but seriously – get on your hands and knees and crawl around like your baby will in a hotel room. they are masters at finding little pieces of everything in the carpet, behind chairs, under the bed, etc. if you’ve got a crawler, mentally prepare now for how absolutely dirty the hotel room floors are (you can tell because it turns the knees of their clothing dirty).

true story: we were at a hotel room and i found a little tiny screw, no bigger than my pinky nail. atlas would have popped that right in her mouth if i hadn’t found it before her. i have had to give her the baby heimlich twice and the second time was in a hotel room! she found a little corner of a wrapper that had escaped the trash can. it was terrifying.

even if you aren’t a parent, you should know how to do this. you will literally save a life! and yes, i found a british version for your viewing pleasure:

6) allow plenty of time

i am considering getting this tattooed on my wrist in place of a watch. i think all parents can agree, getting anywhere with a baby takes way longer than anticipated. when boarding a plane, give yourself an extra 45 minutes at least. when taking a train, get there in plenty of time to make sure you know which platform your train arrives at (always try to find platform 9 ¾). when you have all of 10 minutes to transfer between trains, start gathering all bodies and belongings at least the stop before you need to get off and stand ready at the door.

7) have back ups (but not too many)

maybe it’s a first time mom thing but i not only strive to be prepared but i pride myself on being over-prepared. two days before i left, i was talking to my mom and she said “it’s not like you are going somewhere that won’t have baby food or diapers!” good point mom, verrrry good point. i took out 30 diapers (while leaving another 30 in) and miraculously, had enough space for a few more essential clothing pieces. yay!

i will say, if you are using formula (because breastfeeding is so f#*!ing hard and didn’t work out despite trying everything) make sure you have plenty of that. here is where you should totally be over-prepared and have a least an extra day or two of formula of hand. while they do have formula in other parts of the world, chances are they won’t have the same brand and you don’t want to disrupt your baby’s system if avoidable!

i was impressed with the united kingdom’s selection of pureed baby food (except for the creamy fish pie one) and diapers so we picked those up along the way! oh and disposable changing pads were an awesome addition to our travels, thanks for that courtney!

whew! there you have it, my top 7 tips for traveling overseas with a baby!

traveling on a shorter trip? check out the 9 ½ tips for the flight with the babe!

even though it requires more effort, planning and energy, traveling overseas with a baby is absolutely doable. it’s fun to explore new places and watch your child take in a whole new world! start them young and you’ll give them a lifelong appreciation for adventure, travel, and culture!

what else would you add to this list?

ps. i wrote a follow-up article about the behind-the-scenes of this trip including bloody noses and blowouts so bad we had to eat on the floor…


  1. Christina @ Hugs and Lattes

    June 28, 2017 at 11:43 am

    I love her excitement in all her pictures! And kudos to you, Mama & Mr. Wifestyle, for braving bringing an infant on an international trip! Your trip to England looked and sounds like it was exquisite!
    Christina @ Hugs and Lattes recently posted…Be Prepared to Fail

    • chelsea

      June 28, 2017 at 4:08 pm

      it was a great time indeed, christina! it’s great to be home though i do miss the ‘traveling vortex’ where responsibilities are less and bills can’t find you. ha!
      chelsea recently posted…7 Tips for Traveling Overseas with a Baby

  2. Vivien

    June 28, 2017 at 2:01 pm

    Thanks for these great tips! This past weekend we just had family friends visit from overseas for a few days layover here…with their 1.5 year old! Interesting experience and felt bad for them as they all suffered jetlag, especially the little one!

    Did Atlas have any jetlag? If so, how did you and Ryan handle that? Curious.
    Vivien recently posted…And the winner of the Division Contest is…

    • chelsea

      June 28, 2017 at 4:17 pm

      oh wow i bet that 1.5 year old had some seriousssss energy!

      atlas actually did pretty darn well with the jet lag going there. she adjusted in about 2 days! coming home on the other hand…it took her about a week (sooo many early mornings). we are getting back into our routine though!

  3. Penny

    June 28, 2017 at 2:14 pm

    You guys are amazing parents and Atlas is so blessed to have you as her parents.

    • chelsea

      June 28, 2017 at 4:17 pm

      thank you penny! i am also so grateful she is a good traveler and seems to enjoy it too!

  4. Audrey

    June 29, 2017 at 6:18 am

    I tried to write this yesterday 😉 I think it’s awesome that you guys travel with Atlas! This sounds like an amazingly fun trip!! I had no idea about the airline rules- that’s crazy!
    Audrey recently posted…Au Revoir

    • chelsea

      June 30, 2017 at 8:46 am

      gaaah you’re so amazing for coming back to post, audrey! i was SOOOO frustrated with our hosting service on wednesday. almost as upset as i was with all those damn different airline rules!

  5. Holly

    June 30, 2017 at 6:21 pm

    Chelsea – my respect for you is over the moon! Thanks for sharing!

  6. Sheila

    June 30, 2017 at 11:10 pm

    I can’t remember any good travel tips from our trip overseas with two little ones several years ago. I will say that if they barf all over you just before landing, you get through the customs line a lot faster. Not really recommended though!
    Sheila recently posted…Supernova Review 4

    • chelsea

      July 19, 2017 at 3:49 pm

      oh noooooo! that’s my worst fear, sheila! i would rather wait in 1 hour custom line than deal with vomit. ahhhhhh!

  7. Pingback: Behind-the-Scenes of Traveling with a Baby • the new wifestyle

  8. Lisa B

    July 17, 2017 at 8:54 pm

    I’m really behind on blog reading BUT I just love this! I’m too much of a wimp to even attempt going overseas with both of my girls right now – but someday!

    • chelsea

      July 19, 2017 at 3:52 pm

      i mean, you are talking about a whole OTHER child! that’s crazy. i don’t blame you. who knows what we will be doing with two kids, lisa!