Oh Baby! How to Master Your First International Travels with a Baby Suzy Guese March 14, 2019 Air Travel, Family Travel, Travel Tips This blog post was updated on April 9, 2020. It seemed like a good idea at the time. You booked a trip across the globe because the cheap international flights were just too enticing or maybe you haven’t been able to leave your house in months. Then the eventual fear, shock, and thoughts of regret creep in and you think you’ve made a terrible mistake. Not only are you going abroad—you’re planning on bringing your baby. That first international trip with a baby can be daunting, if not downright scary, but it doesn’t mean you have to stay home. Traveling to a foreign country with your baby for the first time will be an adjustment, but with some careful planning, you can easily master how to international travel with an infant. Research Your Airline’s Rules for Baby Before you purchase those cheap international flights you’ve been eyeing, you’ll want to know what your airline’s rules are for traveling with a baby abroad. While a baby in your lap is generally free on domestic flights, that isn’t the case internationally. Know what your airline will charge to just have the baby in your lap and be sure you book the proper ticket. If you want a bassinet for the flight, you’ll often need to reserve one in advance as airlines don’t always have them available. Every airline can vary on what age a baby must be to fly. By going over all the rules and regulations, you won’t be surprised at the gate when they tell you they don’t have a bassinet for your 10-hour flight. Take to the skies with your bundle of joy for less with cheap international flights! Meet with Your Pediatrician You want to be sure that your baby is fit to fly and travel abroad. Before you embark on your international travel with baby, meet with your pediatrician. Your doctor can advise you on the health of your child and if an international trip is advisable. If your baby has the green light to globetrot, now is also a good time to ask what medications you should bring just in case your little one should get sick while traveling. Chances are, if you have the right medications, you won’t need them. If you aren’t prepared, you don’t want to be searching the streets of Siena for a pharmacy open at 2 AM. Get Your Documents in Order If your baby is fit to travel, you should begin the process of obtaining their passport for an international trip. Even the littlest travelers have to have a passport. In the U.S., you have to apply in person for a baby passport and that passport is only valid for 5 years. You’ll need the original birth certificate or a certified copy. You’ll also need to take passport photos which can be tricky with a newborn. If you can, schedule your photo session when your baby is most alert and in a good mood. In addition to following all of the proper passport requirements, check if you need to get a visa for where you are traveling. This might require vaccinations for your child. If you know you’ll be traveling abroad with your baby, you’ll want to start the passport process as soon as you can as it can take several weeks for your documents to arrive. Don’t Succumb to Jet Lag’s Power Jet lag as an adult can be a struggle. Add in a baby and it’s downright cruel. If you’re traveling several hours outside your time zone, jet lag will affect your baby in some way. You want to fight jet lag with fire. Don’t over plan the first few days of your international trip. Your baby will need some downtime to adjust and you don’t want tantrums in the middle of jam-packed touring days. In addition, make sure your baby isn’t napping too long. Just as you shouldn’t take a 5-hour nap at 1 PM, your baby should also stick to their normal nap durations. Third, get your baby outside during the daylight hours. Sunlight can help get their circadian rhythm on track with your destination. And just as you have to adjust to jet lag on your trip, be sure you factor in a couple of days when you get home to get your baby back on schedule. Pack the Essentials, Leave The Extras You’ll be packing much more than you normally would with a baby in tow. Babies require a great deal of gear and outfit changes. However, you don’t have to bring every baby item you use at home. Make a list of what your baby actually uses every day. Eliminate items where you can like a pack-n-play or a crib. Most hotels will have a crib you can reserve. If you are worried about packing too many clothes, book accommodations with laundry facilities so you can wash your little one’s items and not bring their whole wardrobe. Stay Organized and Plan Ahead In your early twenties, you might have had no problem with sleeping on the floor of an airport or a 10-hour bus ride to Bogotá. However, with a baby, you can’t always go with the flow of travel, especially in a foreign country. You have to be organized and prepared for any bump in the road with food, clothes and diapers. When your flight is delayed for 6 hours or for some reason the car rental in Riga doesn’t have your vehicle ready, your baby will need the essentials to remain happy through the hiccups. How was your first international trip with a baby? Share your experience with us in the comments below!