When I was born, my mom didn't travel with me until I was two years old, and only then because my dad had been transferred to a different city and she had no choice. Traveling with a baby was so much harder back then. Today, you can find all kinds of ways to make traveling with a newborn easy, and there are plenty of chances to save along the way.
Each of these tips can save you hard-earned cash when you travel with your baby!
1. Know when you don't have to pay.
Did you know that if you travel with a baby under the age of two, you don't have to pay for a plane ticket? This is called "lap travel" and is permitted so long as you carry proof of your baby's age with you onto the plane.
2. Pack your carry-on with everything you’ll need until you reach your final destination.
As well, when you’re traveling with a child under age two, you can bring extra supplies that wouldn't be permitted with an older child. This helps you avoid paying extra for OTC medicine, juice, formula, wipes, diapers, and other necessities during your trip.
Also, be sure to pack entertainment (tablet + DVDs, books, games, etc.) so you don't end up buying a subscription to the pricey in-flight entertainment system just to keep your kids quiet!
Finally, ask about the airline's policy for carry-on luggage for infants. In some cases, the airline may permit you to carry on an extra diaper bag just for your infant—in addition to your two regular carry-on items.
3. Take advantage of kid freebies.
When you travel with babies and young children, keep your eyes peeled for kid-friendly freebies.
For example, many hotels and restaurants allow kids under age four to eat for free—and sometimes continental breakfast is free for the whole family. For lodging, babies and young children are often permitted to stay for free up to a certain age.
Restaurants, hotels, and planes often have fun supplies like free crayons, coloring paper, patterns, and games to help parents entertain kids during their travels. And many attractions permit kids under a certain age to get in for free, so be sure to ask!
4. Use your stockpile for "passenger pacifier goodie bags."
A friend of mine recently flew cross-country with her newborn for the first time. She was pretty nervous about how her son would do with the changing cabin pressure, so she dug into her stockpile and made small goodie bags for those passengers seated near her.
The goodie bags contained ear plugs, chocolates, crackers, wipes, and other small fun freebies she had gathered through couponing. When she boarded the plan with her baby, she sought out a seat near another family with small children, and she immediately distributed the goodie bags to her seatmates. Her infant did cry during the landing, but she found herself in understanding company.
5. Check in advance to see if the airline or train offers early boarding for families.
Don't be afraid to ask flight attendants if you can board early because you are traveling with an infant—sometimes they will oblige simply out of kindness, even if the official policy indicates otherwise. This will also improve your chances of nabbing one of the on-board free bassinets if you haven't brought your own.
If all else fails, it can make sense to pay a bit extra (usually between $10 and $25 per person) for "early bird check-in" so you can nab a good safe seat for you and your baby and make sure everyone traveling with you can sit together during the flight.
6. Be sure to plan layovers with kids in mind.
If you have a choice between a shorter and longer layover between connecting flights, opt for the longer layover whenever possible to avoid missing your connection and possibly having to pay for expensive extras (overnight hotel stay, meals, rebooked flight fees).
7. If at all possible, book a “family-friendly” hotel with on-site self-serve laundry facilities and in-room kitchenettes.
This will permit you to save money laundering clothes, blankets and burp cloths—and even more if you use cloth diapers. Plus, having a kitchenette will give you more freedom about when you spend money on meals versus couponing on your own dinner supplies.
8. Bring all the paperwork you’ll need for your baby with you on your trip.
Even if you are traveling with a newborn, you must be prepared to show a birth certificate, and, for international travel, often a passport as well.
Plus, for flights, the airlines will also need to see a "boarding verification document" (very similar to your own boarding pass)—you get this at the ticket counter when you check in, so be sure to ask for it if the ticket agent doesn't offer it to you.