Tips for Travelling with an Infant to Europe
As co-owners of Ormina Tours, my husband and I knew that when we had our first baby, we needed to quickly become experts on travelling with kids! We have lots of friends and colleagues we could turn to for advice and to inspire us with their past adventures. Its true, you can in fact travel with kids and it can be enjoyable, stress-free, and incredibly rewarding as long as you are prepared. Below are my top tips for travelling with an infant.
Don’t worry – babies are easy on planes
I was super nervous the first time I flew with my baby. I brought too much stuff like all her toys and sheets so everything would smell the same. I quickly learned that babies like new things more than old things. I had brought a giant pillow for her to sleep on during the flight, so she would be comfortable, but planes have pillows too, so I ended up lugging it around the entire trip. Bottom line, babies don’t need much when travelling.
My flying tips for travelling with an infant are:
- Try and time your run around, nap or sleep time. Planes are great places for babies to sleep, lots of white nose and dark.
- Carry them in the front pack in the airport and bring a little blanket for them to play on during layovers.
- Immediately disinfect you seat and surroundings
- Relax – baby will sleep and you can watch a movie
- If your baby cries, do not worry. They do that on planes. Most people have on noise cancellation headphones and will not even notice.
- If you get stuck, ask the flight attendant for help, they are incredible when you fly with babies and are very happy to help.
Stick with the same routine
I always try and fly into the destination in the morning. This then makes it easier to keep the baby awake during the day while sticking to your normal nap schedule. Let them sleep a little longer if the time difference is big, but not too long. Wake them up and keep them in the day light and stimulated so they get used to the time zone.
Organise your days around the baby’s schedule. If your baby is still taking 2-3 naps a day and hopefully sleeps in the carrier, then use those times to go for walks and explore. Even if awake, most babies are happy to explore with you and are very content to just observe their new surroundings. Make sure you always bring a nappy bag with everything you need, and be flexible with your plans. If your baby gets really fussy, don’t push them, just head home.
You will not be travelling the same way you did before babies, but if you slow down, be flexible and work within your baby’s routine, you’ll be fine.
Take advantage of the infant stage
Every baby stage is different and there are pros and cons at each stage. With infants, the great news is they are content to just be. They are happy in the carrier, they will sit quietly on your lap observing the world and even if they do cry…its nothing like a toddler tantrum. Here are some tips to maximise your infant time:
- Eat out – Infants will sit on your lap while you enjoy a meal. They may even sleep in your arms over a glass of wine in the piazza. Trust me when I say this all changes quickly with toddlers (see our toddler travel guide) so take advantage.
- Sightseeing tours – You can strap them in, and they will observe and sleep through anything. When sightseeing, I do recommend booking a private guide over group tours. This gives you a little more comfort and flexibility should you need to stop and change a nappy. Whether you book a private tour of the colosseum, visit the Louvre, or enjoy a wine tasting, you can do it all with an infant.
- Watch a movie on the plane – This might be your last quiet moment on a plane for a while, enjoy it! Put the baby to sleep, lean back and relax.
- Luxurious hotel stays – Babies don’t need kitchens or table and chairs; they just need milk. That makes it much easier to stay in hotels. Take advantage.
Ultimate packing guide for travelling with an infant
- Front Pack Carrier – I don’t recommend travelling with a pram at this age. The front packs are so easy, take up less room and most babies will sleep in them allowing you to sightsee during nap times.
- Monitor – We typically stay in one-bedroom places and bring our monitor so we can keep an eye on the baby. TIP – Use command strips to hang the monitor on the wall.
- First aid kit – include infant Panadol, Band-Aids, thermomotor, nail clippers and Nosefrida
- 1-2 books – for bedtime reading
- Chew toys and comfort objects – Only a few
- Max 1 weeks’ worth of clothes – we tend to find places to do laundry and do lots of it!
- Bottles and bottle brush – if you use them
- Room thermometer – I always keep a little one with me so I know how to dress them at night
- 2-3 Muslin cloths – These can be used as blankets, playmats, burp clothes or sun shields
- Nappies – Only 4-5 days’ worth and buy the rest while travelling
- Nappy cream
- Disposable plastic Nappy bags – For the smelly ones
- Baby sunscreen
- Sun hat
- Baby Soap – Just a small container of it
- Sleep sack – Plus layers for cold nights
- Baby cot sheet – Keep this in carryon if you are flying, you’ll need it for the bassinet on the plane
- Nightlight – Our babies liked to sleep with one, so we always brought a little portable one.
- Travel cot – Optional, you can usually get them from the hotel or apartment. We have the BabyBjorn one and bring it with us; it’s light and can be carryon luggage.
- Hand sanitiser – Squirt it on a wipe to make a disinfecting wipe. Disinfect everything on the plane and any changing stations you encounter. Babies will touch everything and then immediately put their hands in their mouth. Better safe than sorry.
What not to bring
- Lots of nappies – you can buy them anywhere, bring only enough for 4-5 days
- Lots of toys – babies do not need much, and they will be excited just to be someplace new
- Pram – I wouldn’t bring it. It will be hard to manoeuvre on European streets and will quickly become a burden.
- Dish soap or laundry soap – you can buy it there
- Anything non-essential – fancy drying racks, baby towels, bath accessories, etc. You don’t need them, and they will weigh you down.
The car seat question
Do you or don’t you? This is a big question and really depends on the type of trip you are taking. If you are flying somewhere and then renting a car for a big portion of the trip, it might make sense to bring your car seat. All car rental companies do offer car seats, I have personally rented them and we organise them for clients all the time.
Another option is a smaller travel car seat that is easy to install. My favourite right now (as my kids are now older) is the Pico car seat and I like the Evenflow for infants. These are light weight and easy to install on the go.
When travelling in a taxi, you do not actually need your child in a car seat (scary thought but very common). When I travel in European cities, I take a car from the airport to and from my hotel, and then walk or use public transportation throughout the trip, so I don’t travel with a car seat often. When we arrange airport transfers at Ormina Tours, we ensure you have a car seat in the vehicle. This goes for any private transfer we organise ensuring you never need to worry about putting your child in danger. This to me is the way to go!
Travelling with your children is so rewarding, it opens their eyes to the richness of the world and makes them adaptable and resilient. Although it can be scary at first, once you do it, you realise it’s easy. Keep in mind that things change quickly and before every trip I recommend reviewing your child’s current routine and ensuring your trip is accomodating. Every stage is different, right now it’s the infant stage, soon the toddler stage and before you know it, the teenager stage. They all afford their own perspective and give you a chance to see a city from a different point of view. Don’t fight it, embrace it, relax and enjoy the wonderment in your child’s eyes as they explore.
If you are planning on travelling to Europe with your family, get in touch. Our private trips are full flexible giving you peace of mind. We plan everything around your current needs and as parents and we can provide some much-needed guidance and support.
Ormina Tours’ CMO and Co-OwnerTags: family, children, baby, infant