The Guide to Traveling alone with a Baby or Toddler

Whether you’re flying alone with a baby or a single mom traveling with a toddler, these real tips from single parents who’ve been there will get you to your destination in one piece.

Traveling as a single parent can be scary, especially the first few times you try it out when your kiddo is still a baby or a toddler. How will you manage your luggage and your baby? Will your kids be okay on the plane? How patient will they be without the comforts of home?

In this guide, we’ve compiled tips from the GoWhee community of travel-pro parents to help you prep for a solo trip with your baby or toddler. With a little preparation, you’ll be ready to have an amazing experience with your child! 

Pack Light

Kids typically need less than you think when traveling. Obviously, you don’t want to skimp on essentials like diapers, but you can seriously cut down on baggage if you pack clothing based on the idea of a capsule wardrobe. This means tops and bottoms that can mix and match, saving the number of outfits you need. It can be very helpful to make a “Travel With Toddler” checklist well in advance so that you aren’t tempted to overpack.

We have a great guide to minimalist family traveling right here with travel tips from Gowhee families if you want more ideas about packing light with kids.

Book Strategically for Bed Times

If you’re flying alone with baby, try to fly right before they should go to bed so they can sleep on the plane. An evening flight is better than a red-eye early morning flight because their sleep schedule won’t be disrupted– you won’t have to wake them up just to get them on the plane. Once you get to your destination, they can continue sleeping in the hotel room and be ready to go the next day.

Take Advantage of Early Boarding

Virtually every airline has early family boarding. For parents with very young infants, this is the perfect time to board. Other parents may find that boarding early isn’t always ideal, because once the passengers are on, the plane still has to taxi and wait to take off. This can mean that your squirmy toddler has to stay seated for sometimes more than 30 minutes before the plane is in the air. 

You need to make this decision based on your child– you know them best, so you’ll know if early boarding is a good idea or not. Talk to the gate agent about your boarding options when you’re flying solo with your child.

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Get the Extra Seat

Many airlines don’t require children under 2 to have a ticket. This means that you’ll be expected to keep them in your lap the entire time. But unless your child is very small, lap babies don’t always like to stay in your lap. Even if your toddler is still of “lap age”, keeping them in your lap the entire flight is harder than you think and exhausting! 

 

You might get lucky and have an empty seat next to you, but you can’t count on that. Both you and your child will be more comfortable and have an easier time on the flight if you spend a little more for the extra seat. 

Try To Book Bulkhead Seats

A bulkhead seat is a row of seating directly behind a wall or divider on an airplane. Bulkhead seats are great for single adults who travel solo with kids. They have extra legroom and there are no seats directly in front of you. 

This means that even a wiggly, antsy toddler won’t be able to kick anybody’s seat! You’ll have more space for changing and feeding the baby if necessary, too.

The only downside is that you can only have one bag and it has to go in the overhead compartment. An easy way to deal with this is to gate-check your larger bag and keep the diaper bag with you in case you need it.

Don’t Forget the Paperwork

If you are a single parent traveling with an infant or toddler and your air travel is limited to domestic flights, you don’t need to worry about special paperwork, other than their ticket. But if you’re flying internationally, there are a few travel documents you may need.

For international travel, everybody needs a passport– even babies. You may also need a child travel consent form and proof of your relationship to the child. Birth certificates can usually be used for proof of relationship, but every country has its own requirements. 

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Book Strategically for Bed Times

If you’re flying alone with baby, try to fly right before they should go to bed so they can sleep on the plane. An evening flight is better than a red-eye early morning flight because their sleep schedule won’t be disrupted– you won’t have to wake them up just to get them on the plane. Once you get to your destination, they can continue sleeping in the hotel room and be ready to go the next day.

Invest in a Travel Stroller with a Baby Carrier

A good travel stroller can save you so much grief at the airport. If you’re flying alone with a baby, choose one with a removable carrier. While you do have to hold the baby in your lap during takeoff and landing, you are allowed to keep your baby in a carrier for the rest of the flight. 

 

You are also allowed to bring car seats onto airplanes, but this cuts down on the amount of carry-on luggage you can have. There are advantages and disadvantages to traveling with your car seat, but it’s definitely an option to consider.

Buy Snacks at the Airport

Snacks take up a lot of space in your bag, and every airport has little shops where you can pick up a quick bite. Look in the cooler racks for healthy snacks like fruit, cheese sticks, and veggies. 

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Trade Your Suitcase for a Backpack

Travel backpacks are great options for single parents traveling with kids. Unlike a suitcase, they’re hands-free, meaning that you can hold onto your child’s hand more easily. Travel backpacks are also great carry-ons for both you and your child– your kid might not like to pull their own suitcase. A backpack is much easier for them.

Keep Kids Entertained with New Toys

Don’t pack the entire toybox! When it comes to packing toys, make sure you have your child’s comfort object and something quiet and interactive like a coloring book. But also consider buying a new toy at the airport. It’s more exciting for them to have one new thing than 10 of their old toys, and it helps keep your luggage light while keeping kids entertained!

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Be Confident & Advocate for Yourself

Travel with kids is challenging enough when there are two adults. Traveling alone with toddler on airplanes can seem overwhelming, but take a deep breath. It’s going to be ok!  

Don’t be afraid to ask your flight attendant for assistance. They are there to help!

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