Traveling with a Baby by Plane, Train and Automobile

OK, so we didn’t take any trains, but we did travel by plane, bus, Uber and cab. My biggest stress leading up to the trip was how we were going to get through security with Aiden’s 20 million items and then once we go to San Diego how we would manage with the car seat which is not the most portable item in the world. Also, will cabs/Ubers even take people with car seats? I am not sure why I thought this would be an issue, but I did. I did some research on the best ways to take a baby on a flight, and found some helpful advice, but not really as much as I would have hoped, so we just sort of winged it (which is what I think most parents would say they do about 95% of the time). Here are some tips for traveling with a baby by plane and cab/Uber.

Here are some tips for traveling with a baby by plane


When it comes to traveling with a baby by plane it’s important to get all the information about airlines upfront. All airlines are different and you should check with your specific airline for their guidelines for bringing on a lap baby (usually free under the age of 2). We took Southwest and their policy is to check in at the airport and let the attendant know that you have a lap child, then you provide your baby’s birth certificate and they get a little boarding pass.

If you wanted to bring the car seat on, you can purchase a ticket at a discounted rate; I’m not sure why you would want to do that, except maybe to have some extra space since no one would be able to sit in the baby’s seat.

Checking in/Airport Security

Checking in was straight forward and easy. We got the boarding pass with no issues (just don’t forget the birth certificate!) We decided to check our duffle bag and Aiden’s duffle bag and everything else we brought with us. (See Baby on Vacation — Packing for more info on what we brought.)

Security was a little different, but by some miracle, Aiden slept through pretty much the whole thing! I had read that some people like to take babies through security in the baby carrier while others like to take them through in the car seat/stroller. We decided that we didn’t want to check our car seat stroller, so we packed the carrier in the duffle and brought him through in the stroller.

To get through security with a stroller, you have to send the detached car seat (with the handle back) and stroller (if it fits — ours did not) through the x-ray machine. With this in mind, if you have a million things hanging on or in your car seat you should take it all off in advance. We didn’t know this going in, so I ended up holding up the line a bit because I had to take off the car seat cover and hanging owl toy and then take out his pacifier which was clipped to the buckle and his owl soother.

Dan took Aiden through the metal detector and had to get his hands swabbed. I went through the usual body scanner and we met at the other side of security. No huge issues.

Once we got to our gate we checked in the car seat and stroller. They appreciated that we did this early, apparently people wait until the last minute…

Going through security on the way back was super easy because we knew what to expect.

The Flight

We flew Southwest so there are no seat assignments. We were able to board after the “A” boarding pass customers got on during family boarding. A note to unsuspecting parents, parents boarding during family boarding are CRAZY! They will try to cut you in order to be the first on the plane and are very aggressive. I wasn’t really expecting that, but we were on a completely full flight and I guess they were worried they wouldn’t get seats together.

We dropped our car seat and folded up stroller at the end of the jetway and boarded the plane. Very easy!

Once we got on the plane we went to the first available window/middle seats. I took the window seats and fed Aiden. This worked well, he was quiet during take-off and didn’t seem freaked out or anything. On the way back, we went to the back of the plane. It was easier to get to the bathroom for diaper changes, and less stressful to get ourselves settled.

We fed Aiden on take off, landing and one time during the flight. The rest of the time we would entertain him by giving him a toy from the diaper bag or he slept. He was actually really good. The only time he cried was when he was hungry. He had one diaper change and Dan learned that it is really hard to change a baby in the non-handicap accessible bathroom 🙂 The handicap accessible bathroom actually had a changing table so wait for that one to open up.

When we arrived at San Diego we picked up our stroller/car seat and went to baggage claim to pick up our bags.

Getting around San Diego

For the most part, we traveled by Uber or just walked around. Unlike when we are home and mostly use the carrier for walking around, we used the stroller a lot. It was just easier to get places and if we wanted to go somewhere far away from the hotel we could easily pick up an Uber.

I was worried that we would have issues getting around, with whatever transportation we were using not being willing to take a car seat, but taking a car seat in an Uber or cab doesn’t seem to be that big a deal. We traveled in several size cars from a Prius to an SUV and didn’t have issues fitting anything. Even when we had to put the stroller in the trunk.  I mentioned in my previous post that we didn’t bring the infant base for our car seat and that ended up being a good thing because it is so much faster/easier to strap the car seat into the cab or Uber without it and just as safe.

Traveling with a baby by plane, train, and automobile was really not a bad experience. I could see how an older baby, that doesn’t sleep as much and is mobile, might not be as easy to travel with, but I am sure still doable (p.s. check out our experience traveling with a toddler by plane here!)

Have you tried traveling with a baby by plane or train? Share your tips in the comments!

If you liked this post, check out Baby on Vacation — Packing, Baby on Vacation — Managing a Time Change, How to Apply for a Passport for Baby, and Road Trip with a Six Month Old.

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There is a lot to think about when planning a trip with a baby. Here are some tips for traveling with a baby by plane and cab/uber.

Hi, I’m Melissa! I am a mama to an energetic preschooler and newborn, a wife to my amazing husband Dan, and I work full-time as a meeting planner. I started this blog because, after having my first little guy, I quickly learned that exhaustion and baby brain causes you to forget some of the amazing (sometimes horrible and sometimes wonderful) details related to the first several months of raising a baby. Realizing that we would probably have more kids in the future, I wanted to document everything, so we would remember what worked the first time around, and hopefully help other first time mamas along the way!

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