Hiking in the red rocks of Sedona, Arizona

By the time Everly turns one year old, she will have taken 21 flights!  That includes layovers, of course, but she has spent at least 10 weeks of her short life traveling the world. 

We always knew that we wanted to travel with our baby, but we are also aware that every baby is different (and we didn’t know if we would have a fussy child).  So we gave ourselves three months to adjust to life as new parents before daring to put her on a plane. Since then, we have been to the following destinations: Mexico, Hawaii (twice!), New Orleans, Florida, Santa Fe, Vancouver Island, boating to the Sunshine Coast, roadtripping in Spain, Mount Baker, Scottsdale, Sedona, and Whistler. It really has been a year of travel!

I decided to write this blog post because I’ve had a number of people ask how we managed to travel so frequently and with only carry-on luggage during Everly’s first year of life.  I will do another post later on my packing tips, but to date, these are our top tips for traveling with a baby.  Enjoy!

Carry-on only! Our Away suitcases, backpacks, and a stroller/carseat is all we bring when we travel with our baby!

Deciding Where to Go

It’s no surprise that travel with a baby is challenging.  But life as a new parent is going to be a sleep-deprived, unpredictable, wonderful mess no matter where you are in the world, and that’s the attitude you need to embrace when you decide to travel with your baby. 

Even though Robin and I are decidedly non-resort, non-big-tourist people, there is something to be said about the comforts of a resort when you’re a new parent.  We blindly booked our first trip to Tulum, Mexico when Everly was three months old and were in for a real surprise to learn that there was no potable water in the area.  Despite that inconvenience, we had an incredible time and didn’t regret the trip for a second.  But the rustic nature of a place like Tulum could be a major drawback for new parents.  The first thing to do is figure out what type of travel experience you want to have, your hard and soft constraints.

Despite rustic accommodations in Tulum, we had a great patio, just steps to the beach, complete with a hammock and foot-wash station

When I start researching places to go with an infant, I always consider the following first:

  • proximity to hospitals and quality of medical care
  • whether or not we need special vaccinations
  • the number of flights needed and total hours of travel to and from
  • if there is a time change

Basically, I’m not going to go anywhere that’s unsafe or that would be difficult for us to receive medical care in case we ran into an emergency.  I also think carefully about how many hours we’ll be in transit and how uncomfortable all of us will be upon arrival.  When we went to Spain, for instance, it took Everly a full week to adjust to the 7-hour time difference, which meant that we spent the first week in a sleepless fog.  That kind of discomfort was something we expected and were prepared for, but it was definitely not relaxing and at times made for some pretty stressful days!

What a lot of our afternoons looked like in Spain as we battled jetlag with our 8 month old — it was not an easy adjustment!

We have put off going to Southeast Asia, even though it’s our #1 destination and we are itching to go back with our daughter.  The reason for this is because we’re still a little wary about the number of travel hours it will take for us to reach destinations like Nusa Lembongan in Bali or Palawan in the Philippines (factoring in layovers, local flights and/or ferries). 

Rather than travel too far abroad, we’ve spent much of the year exploring places closer to our hometown or trying to find direct flights to places like Hawaii, Mexico, or Arizona.  In particular, we were struck by the adventure and beauty we could access in Sedona, Arizona, which happens to be a 3-hour direct flight from Vancouver!

Hiking Mount Baker in Washington State — only a two hour drive from Vancouver

No matter where you decide to travel, rest assured that you’re going to create unforgettable memories.  And, even if you run into frustrating situations, remember that you would probably be experiencing just as many back home too!

Booking Flights

In the seven years that Robin and I have been traveling together (and over 100 flights), we have only ever missed one flight.  It just so happened to be Everly’s first flight.  To Mexico.  At 6 ‘o clock in the morning.

One of my biggest tips for traveling with a baby is—if possible—to choose a flight in the late morning or early afternoon.  A 6 am flight means that you need to be at the airport by 4am.  Which means you need to be awake and getting everything ready to go around 2 or 3 am.  Don’t ever underestimate how much longer things take when you’re packing for a baby…AND when you also need to pack up your baby.  Definitely expect that your little one is going to throw up, have a blow out, or have a meltdown when you’re already late.  Or, what’s worse, she might decide not to sleep the night before, leaving you and your partner completely exhausted and unable to wake up to two alarms!  Flying too early or too late also messes up Baby’s sleep and feeding schedule, which can throw you off right at the start of your trip.  Since that (very expensive) day, we have tried to book flights that put us at the airport no earlier than 9am.

If you can afford to be choosy about flights, try to pick ones that give you a chance to relax on the flight so that you can start and end your vacation with a smile. It took us almost a week before we managed to adjust to the new time in Spain. We finally got to enjoy the beach at Tossa de Mar on our road trip through Catalonia!

If we need to have a layover in our flight, we try to book ones that are at least 1.5 hours long and no more than 3 hours.  There is nothing more stressful than running through an airport with a stroller and baby gear, especially if your little one needs a change of clothes, a feeding, or is just plain fussy.  Alternatively, when taking long haul flights, we’re now getting into the habit of breaking the trip up with an overnight at an airport hotel rather than suffering through a full day of travel, only to arrive at the destination exhausted and with a baby who won’t sleep.  If you have the means and time to tack on an extra night there and back with an overnight layover, you’ll be rewarded with a much more relaxing start and end to your trip!

Choosing Seats

On Everly’s second time to Hawaii, we were lucky enough to book seats with the free bassinet option. She was almost too big for the bassinet, but she still managed to sleep 4 out of the 6 hours!

Even though I’m a sucker for booking my flights on cheapoair.ca , when you have a baby, it’s often worth it to book with an airline directly or to have a travel agent help you with your seats.  We do this whenever we fly on points, and the agents always help us find the best seats for flying with a baby.  Here are some things to keep in mind when booking your seats on the plane:

  • If you’re flying direct, have a long layover, or you’re not in a rush to get off the plane, it can be worth it to book seats closer to the back of the plane.  Sometimes, there are more empty seats at the back AND it’s closer to the restroom.  It’s almost guaranteed that your baby will take at least one massive poop or have a blowout on the plane (from what I hear, Everly is not unique in this department!), so being close to the washroom can be a big help.
  • If you’re bringing your baby on your lap and you’re booking two seats (but there are three seats in the row), try booking the window and aisle seat and leaving the middle seat empty.  This gives you an extra chance that no one will book the middle seat—in which case, you can ask the check-in agent if you can bring your car seat on the flight!  This is a major bonus and can provide you with at least a few minutes of reprieve (or the chance to actually eat or drink without your baby on your lap).  
  • When you check in, always ask the agent if the flight is full or if there’s a chance that you can bring your car seat on the flight.  We’ve been lucky a couple times and even though we didn’t buy her a seat, we ended up getting to put her on one between us.
  • If you’re booking on a bigger plane, ask your travel agent about the bassinet option.  We took a flight to Hawaii and managed to book seats behind the bulkhead.  After the attendants finished their first round of service, they attached the bassinet in front of us and Everly managed to put in 4 hours of sleep—a major win!
  • When Everly got bigger and a lot more squirmy, we started buying her her own seat (like when we flew to Spain), or we have used points to fly business class and hold her on our lap.  The jury is out on which is a more comfortable and/or economical option, but my personal opinion is that any flight over 5-6 hours in length is far more comfortable if Everly has her own place to sleep. 
Up until she turned 6 months old, we always brought her Boppy on the plane. It allowed us to be more comfortable when she slept, and made breastfeeding throughout the trip much more comfortable!

Navigating the Airport and the Flight Itself

The first thing you want to figure out is your actual baby travel system.  You will most likely want a car seat that you can bring with you for taxis, road trips, etc.  And while you can rent a car seat once you land, we’ve always preferred to bring our Nuna Pipa car seat because it’s super light and so easy to attach in a car without bringing the base.  It also works with most major stroller brands as long as you buy the adapters, which will probably set you back another $60-$75. 

Even though it’s one of the pricier strollers on the market, we went for the Babyzen Yoyo because we love how easy it folds up and how sturdy it is (we’ve taken it on the roughest cobblestone villages in Spain and the wheels are still going strong).  It’s super light and easy to manoeuvre, and she has no problem falling asleep in it!

Our Babyzen Yoyo stroller was pricey but such a good investment. He we are in Whistler this autumn, taking a walk around Lost Lake which is stroller (and dog!) friendly.

We usually gate check the car seat and stroller (it’s free!) and pop Everly into her carrier when we load the plane.  This allows for a relaxed and stress-free boarding process.  Plus, you always get priority boarding with a baby and have a lot of extra time to settle into your seat.  We not-so-secretly love bypassing all the lines at the airport, and take full advantage of all the budging that we get to do!

Up until Everly was 6 months old, I even brought her Boppy on the plane (and this was never counted as an extra item!).  We have always been lucky about how easily Everly sleeps on the plane, and having a pillow for her was more comfortable for me, especially when she was breastfeeding.  I also really appreciated having her Boppy with me on trips to help protect my back while nursing.

I’ve never noticed Everly to have any issues with air pressure and her ears on the plane, but many people suggest that you breastfeed, bottle feed, or give your baby a soother during take off and landing to help with clearing their ears (the swallow action helps to equalize pressure). 

As I mentioned before, chances are good that you’re going to need to change your baby at least once on the plane, and dealing with a blowout in a tiny airplane bathroom is an experience all on its own!  Bring a lot of wipes, at least two extra outfits, and then hope for the best!  The flight attendants are always so helpful and attentive, so be sure to ask for help if you need it.

Most people probably dread having to sit beside a baby on a flight, especially if it’s an overnight.  But these days, almost everyone is plugged into their headphones and it’s unlikely that your screaming baby is even heard.  Try to relax and enjoy your time in the air.  I’m a big believer that your baby will pick up on your energy!

Baby-friendly Activities

Tropical or warm destinations are always high on our list, but it’s important to remember that newborns shouldn’t be in the direct sun (at all!) and that they’re not supposed to wear sunscreen until 6 months.  This was a bit of a challenge for us when we took Everly to Mexico at three months, Hawaii at four months, and Florida at five months.  We invested in a great fold-up baby tent (which we quickly learned was not actually sun proof!), a terribly ugly full-body swimsuit, and a few bucket hats—some that never made it back from our travels. 

We bought this tent on Amazon. It folds up super small and can easily fit in a carry-on, but it’s not sun proof, so we always attached an extra swaddle on top for UV protection. This was Everly enjoying the beach in Tulum at 3 months old!

Beach time is always high on our priority list, but most of our coastal adventures this year consisted of sitting under umbrellas or taking turns going swimming while the other watched Everly.  Luckily, she also loves the water, and as she got older and was able to sit up on her own, we began to make beach time more interactive and fun!

Beach time in the Florida Panhandle at 5 months old — we had to take turns swimming and childminding
Enjoying a white sand beach at 5 months old (before she could sit up), with her cousin Naomi, in Florida. This pink full-bodied swimsuit wasn’t very pretty, but it did the job of protecting her from the sun!

We’ve even taken her kayaking in Mexico, paddle boarding on the Sunshine Coast of BC, and on a 4-day boat trip (essentially boat camping).  Some of these activities were a little heart-stopping for me as a protective mother, but my husband grew up on the water and has a calming confidence when it comes to water activities.

Paddleboarding with a baby — I held her while Robin paddled us around! Until she was 8 months old, we used this great infant life jacket that safely keeps her on her back. Now that she prefers to be on her tummy, we can’t use it as much, but it was great for when she was little and immobile!

Whenever we visit a new place, we try to find at least one good walk or hike so that we get to enjoy some fresh air.  Most of the time, this means wearing Everly in the baby carrier, which she usually loves.  The most notable parts of our trips are always the moments we spend outside, discovering gorgeous vistas, mountains, forests, lakes, and valleys.

Discovering arches made out of schist rock in Cadaques, Spain
Probably my favourite travel picture of this year — exploring Fay Canyon in Sedona at sunrise. It was 2 degrees Celcius before the sun came up and then promptly rose into the mid 20s.

Dining with a baby can be tricky or uncomfortable, but we’ve tried—as much as possible—to simply go to the places we would ordinarily go.  We have never been turned away from a restaurant, and most are happy to accommodate us even with the baby.  We’ve experienced some stressful meals, for sure, but we understand that sometimes we have to take turns eating while the other one rocks (or even takes a screaming baby for a 20 minute walk).  One of our favourite things to do is visit a local brewery, winery or find a great happy hour.  We have found most breweries and wineries around the world to be great with children!

On a roadtrip to Bralorne, BC (population 60!), we got to bring Everly into the town pub…and they even let us bring our dog, Lola in after she started barking from the steps out front. Baby at the bar!
Dinner al fresco in Girona, Spain. Not all our meals look this picturesque, but once in a while we get lucky and can even enjoy a bottle of cava! We have never been turned away from a restaurant because we had a baby with us!

Everly is not a napper and has never been on a nap schedule.  She sleeps rarely and when she feels like it, whether she’s in her crib at home or in her stroller.  I know this is a sensitive topic and I’m not bragging.  This is just the way that she is and we’ve always gone with the flow, planning when we can but also understanding that sometimes we will need to pause or head back to the hotel for a nap.  If we know that she’s tired but refuses to fall asleep, sometimes the best way to tire her out is to go for a walk in the stroller or a car ride.  We try to do some sight seeing while she’s napping if we’re already out, and have had some great walks around cities, in galleries, and museums. 

Checking out the Navajo blankets at Shiprock Gallery, Santa Fe, New Mexico

While there can be some early nights while traveling (especially if you’re dealing with a jetlagged baby), we try to choose hotels that have a restaurant and/or bar so that we don’t have to leave the hotel if we’re hungry.  It’s even better if the hotel offers room service so we can all stay in and relax if Baby decides it’s time for bed.  Now that we have a baby, we don’t mind paying a bit extra for a room with some little extras: a big patio, a fireplace, a Jacuzzi, or being right beside the beach.  Once Everly is asleep, it’s nice to have a relaxing place to hang out with a glass of wine!

Enjoying the views from the patio in our jacuzzi tub at the Sooke Harbour House, near Victoria on Vancouver Island

Other Tips

Travel can be so subjective, and the types of things we enjoy might be another family’s nightmare. That being said, here are a few other things I’ve found useful as we traveled the globe:

  • Traveling with other family members (grandparents, siblings) or other friends with kids can be a really nice way to get some extra help–or at least some empathy! Whenever we can, we bring along others with us so that we have other adults to talk to (and hopefully some free babysitting!).
  • We’ve stayed at both hotels and Airbnb’s this year, and they have their pros and cons. Depending on where we are in the world, we typically will start with a hotel because it’s a little easier to settle in and often includes room service or at least has a restaurant on site. If you’ve had a long day of travel, the last thing you want to do is scout out a grocery store and then make your own food.
  • Always check with your accommodations to see if they provide a baby crib or pack ‘n play (most do, or will with a surcharge). Another thing we always asked about is if the room included a fridge for bottle storage! Once Everly began eating solid foods, we became more choosy about rooms with a kitchen (a big help!), but up until 6 months, all you really need is a small fridge.
  • We always forget this, but it really helps to bring a travel-sized dish soap. Unless your room has a full kitchen, it’s unlikely to have anything other than soap and shampoo!


When we travel, the main thing we think about is what kind of travel experience we want to have.  Then, we figure out if it’s suitable to bring a baby along with us.  For now, there are places high on our radar that we won’t visit: Panama, Colombia, the Philippines, Vietnam, South Africa.  We will wait until Everly is a little older and an even more seasoned traveller so that we can tailor our experiences to the things we really want to do.  But there are many places we wouldn’t hesitate to take our baby to before she turns two (and when we can still travel with her for free!): Curacao, Iceland, Portugal, maybe even Thailand! We hope she loves to wander and to wonder just as much as we do.

Getting inventive with sun cover while exploring secret watering holes in Port Renfrew, Vancouver Island
Testing out her sea legs! Baby took a four-day boating trip with us around the Sunshine Coast at 7 months old!
Sometimes we opt for rest and relaxation, like this adorable Airbnb in Scottsdale, Arizona, complete with cactus floaties in the private pool!