Gear for Traveling with a Newborn

Best Gear for Traveling with a Newborn

Caring for a newborn is stressful enough. Parents have to plan for everything from feedings to establishing a routine. Now add a family vacation into the mix and that could burst blood vessels to the brain. The best way to eliminate some of the stress of traveling with a newborn is to pack smart. While I’m not a perfect minimalist, I believe that the adage “less is more” is often true and since having a child, this phrase has become a sort of mantra for me.


When planning a road trip with a newborn, recite this meditation as you pack. To make things easier, I’ve even designed an acronym to remember if “less is more” feels a bit trite for your taste. Try FEAST. (Are you kidding me? You’re doing acronyms now? Is this still a travel site?)


This mnemonic stands for feeding, entertainment, adults, sleeping, and transportation and it will provide you with five focal points for packing smart when traveling with a newborn.

Gear for Traveling with a Newborn


F: Feeding

If your baby is breastfeeding, make sure the mother is in the car. That’s most essential. Of course, you’ll also want to pack some helpful tools, as well. Three bottles, two burp cloths, one breast pump (which may come free with your health insurance plan, so call), a bottle brush, soap (if you’re looking for something a little more organic than hotel suds), and a breast pump adaptor, allowing you to pump right into the bottles, cutting out those extra containers that come with the breast pump from your luggage. If your hotel doesn’t have a refrigerator that isn’t overfilled with eight-dollar cans of soda, sacrifice the sink to keep bottles cold. Just make sure to fill it to the brim with ice, keep refilling it, leave a note for housekeeping, and enjoy teeth-brushing and hand-washing in the tub.


E: Entertainment

Keep it simple. This is not a parenting blog, so I don’t claim to know that much about babies, but from my one-baby case study, my subject seems most enamored with people’s faces and the light that streams in through a closed curtain. Thus, you don’t need to overstuff your luggage because you believe that Sophie the Giraffe brings out the coos, while the Curious George doll engenders a stretch of pensiveness. Of course, you should still pack a few toys, but pick your child’s most favorite. On our first trip, we took one stuffed animal, one rattle, one loop of multi-textured rings, one song machine (invaluable for buying a half hour of sleep-filled dining), and one book. Of course, my daughter was most entertained with the different mirrors around the room. (That make-up mirror is a real surprise for a newborn.) The mirror fun was a testament to ultralight trips with a baby. So, supplant the stuffed animal for your right sock, replace the rattle with snapping fingers, and ditch the book for hotel magazines.


A: Adults

Remember those days when you weren’t certain if you should pack the red shorts with the blue top or the red top with the beige pants, so you said screw it and packed both? Well, those days are over. Both parents should be able to fit all of their belongings into a standard suitcase or large backpack. It’s okay to wear the same sweater and jeans every day on a four-day trip. At this point, society only expects that you change your undergarments and apply three swipes of deodorant to each pit.


S: Sleeping

Before booking a hotel room, make sure that they have a Pack ‘n Play or crib for your newborn. Or, if you prefer, bring your own. Three cloth swaddles and a nice fleece one will cover all temperatures and a few unexpected poop-throughs.


T: Transportation

There’s no point in going on vacation, if you’re going to be confined to the room. Get out there and see the sights, partake in the activities, and eat out at the best restaurants where the patrons won’t stink-eye you for a crying baby. (So long as you make the effort to calm your baby at a restaurant, anyone who still has a problem should choke on a chicken bone. By the way, if that does happen, you say: “I’d love to offer you the Heimlich Maneuver, but I think I should continue to soothe my child because she seems to be preventing people from enjoying their meals.” Of course, you can modify the statement to be less passive aggressive or more sarcastic, whichever you prefer.)


Besides wit, you’ll need a car seat and a stroller. There are a few options: We have Joovy’s Groove Ultralight stroller that we plan to complement that with Safety 1st’s Elite 80 car seat. At the moment, however, we’re preferring to use Chicco’s Key Fit Caddy travel system. The car seat snaps easily into the car seat base and clips onto the stroller. While it handles poorly in snow, it’s the least complicated for a family always on the go. If you’re looking to go off-roading with your baby, you’ll want to get an all-terrain stroller. I tested out the Bugaboo Buffalo and it certainly is NOT worth the $1,000-plus price tag. No matter what stroller you decide on, you’ll need a rain shield, too.


Keep in mind, sometimes you’ll be unable to navigate certain attractions with a stroller, so make sure to bring along a baby carrier. If you want a hammock design, which can roll up and hang off your belt, there’s the Baba Sling by Joovy, but if you’re looking for one of those back-pack-like carriers, there are a host of great options. I’ve been using a Lille Baby, which seems to do the trick. Simple is best. With that same motto in mind, put together a diaper bag with diapers, wipes, creams, a changing pad, a pacifier, blankets, and a spare onesie. A cooler can come in handy, too, if you’re planning on bottle-feeding your baby.


Other Ways to Cut Down:

You know that cute outfit that your newborn has where the pants match that shirt and look adorable with that sweater and little hat combination? Don’t bring it. Keep it simple. Onesies are best. If it’s winter tuck her into a fleece onesie, add blankets, and she’ll be set for all conditions. Yes, baby clothes are small, but the more small pieces you pack, the more small bags you’ll be schlepping around with you, the more stuff you’ll have to manage, the more you’ll have to say “Where’s the baby’s…?”


Empty the trunk before the trip. Besides car supplies, an umbrella, and an ice scraper, what more do you need?


The same question can be applied to your bag: Besides clothes, toiletries, medical supplies, and a camera, do you really need that other stuff? Probably not.


Here’s the perfect image of you rolling up to a hotel: one large bag filled with belongings for both parents, one large bag filled with the baby’s stuff, your Pack ‘N Play (if needed), your breast pump slung over one shoulder, and your baby in the stroller.


What do you do to cut down on gear when traveling with a newborn?



Note: Some of the products above were given to me by companies, others were ones that we purchased. All of my opinions of those products, however, are honest. If you’re in the market for any products, consider checking out an affiliate of mine (just below). I’ll receive a small portion of the sale, you’ll save money, and my daughter will have a few more bucks for her 529. (College ain’t cheap.)

[avantlink_ad merchant=”TinyTrekker” title=”TinyTrekker Branded – Half Banner”][/avantlink_ad]

If you don’t have a kid, but need some other packing tips, check out my packing lists page.


Posted on by Noah Lederman in Baby Voyage

2 Responses to Gear for Traveling with a Newborn

  1. Simon @ CampTravelAdventure

    Cute baby! very useful post for travelers who want to visit with their babies. Thanks for sharing this important article.

    • Noah Lederman

      Thanks for reading, Simon, and an even bigger thanks for complimenting my daughter’s cuteness.

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