Though we love keeping business in the United States and letting our American-made lanterns light up homes all around the country, we are also huge proponents of travel. Traveling is one of the greatest privileges in life. It enables you to not only experience new cultures but to also cherish them in a way that widens your worldview and creates lasting memories.
More often than not, you might see our CEO, Karen Good, posting photos of her various travels on social media. These trips serve as serious inspiration for lantern designs (ever notice how each collection is named after a place?), and along the way, Karen’s gotten pretty great at making travel as easy as possible.
Especially considering the fact she brings baby along for the ride. Karen seldom flits off anywhere without her two trusty travel companions, her husband Richard and their toddler Austin. The trio has been everywhere from Guadalupe Valley to Puntacana to Edinburgh, resulting in a wealth of knowledge when it comes to the best traveling with baby tips.
This post will be the first of many new travel-related posts. We will be sharing everything Karen has learned while traveling with the baby, including best baby travel gear, how to handle airplane seating, and plane snacks. Of course, everyone’s kids are different, but we hope these posts will be helpful for newbies needing direction. Plus, why play the guessing game when we’ve already endured the embarrassment of trial and error for you?!
Our Best Baby Travel Gear Recommendations
Small, Portable White Noise Machine
Many parents’ biggest worries when flying with baby is that their child will erupt into a blood-curdling scream on the plane. While there’s no way to completely ensure your child won’t cry during a plane ride, one way to calm him or her is a white noise machine. The machine is helpful in various traveling situations, not just the plane ride. Baby Shusher, $29.99.
Travel Car Seat
We travel with a car seat 95 percent of the time. The only time we don’t is if we’re going to a large city such as NYC where we don’t use a car much. Yes, you can rent car seats when you get to your destination, but from our experience, they are gross, used, and beaten up. To us, the extra hassle is worth it to know Austin is safe. For children two and under, the car seat is ideal because, to your child, it feels familiar and like he or she is going on a trip, not just sitting in a big seat (which can indicate playtime). Now that Austin is two, though, the car seat is a little constricting because he wants more independence.
The travel car seat we use is by Cosco; it’s lightweight, easy to maneuver down the aisle with a toddler on your hip, and easy to install with either a lap belt or latch. We highly recommend it. Cosco Apt 50, $49.99.
Car Seat Luggage Strap
All airlines will check the car seat free of charge. However, if you are using it on the plane, that’s not helpful. It is also worth noting that you can also gate-check a car seat free of charge as well (similar to a stroller). I would always recommend this over checking the car seat as luggage because it is handled much less, and less likely to be damaged.
For maneuvering the car seat through the airport, there is this amazing little strap that straps the car seat to the front of your luggage. Your child can actually ride in the car seat as well if he/she wants to! Austin has a couple of times and thinks it’s funny. It is super easy to use and lightweight. Traveling Toddler Car Seat Accessory, $13.99.
When the plane ride is not during nap time, we bring our Cares harness. It wraps around the back of the child’s airplane seat and the tray table. It essentially turns the seat belt into a harness, similar to the car seat. In our experience, the child is more tolerant and not as restless when we use it. With a traditional lap belt, there is just too much freedom and the child wants to move a lot! We recommend this for when your toddler begins to dislike the car seat as mentioned above. Cares Safety Restraint System, $69.95.
Strap-on Airplane Footrest
O.K., so this one is less for your child and more for you. But it still counts as baby travel gear in my book! If you are going on a long-haul and need to sleep when your child has finally dozed off, this gimmicky-sounding thing is great and totally worth it. It basically wraps around the tray table and becomes a swinging footrest for you so you can half-heartedly try to rest a little. It’s almost like a business class seat if you buy yourself a $7 cocktail and the $9 in-flight cheese plate… Hey, it’s the little things! Sleepy Ride Portable Airplane Footrest, $14.97.
Gate-Check Stroller Bag
We bring our giant Joolz stroller with us everywhere, through the airport, etc. It is great and doubles as extra storage when walking through the airport. All airlines will let you gate-check the stroller, just check in with the gate agent when you get to the gate so you can receive a gate check tag prior to boarding.
I highly recommend a bag for the stroller for gate-checking. Yes, it is annoying and a hassle, and, yes, your child may run down the jet bridge, but strangers and baggage handlers will help you! Plus, I’ve seen how dirty and torn up my gate-check bags are, and I would not want that type of wear and tear on my expensive stroller.
Gate-check bags like the one linked here fold into a pouch that is part of the bag. They are compact and easy to travel with. I travel with the XL Pro for our stroller (it can fit up to a BOB Double Stroller, so it’s roomy) as well as a car seat bag just in case I need to check my car seat. The company also has great customer service—they replaced one of our bags when a strap broke. Gate Check Pro XL Double Stroller Travel Bag, $29.99.
Do you have any these baby travel gear items? Let us know what you think of our picks, and feel free to share your own experiences in the comments!