My husband is visiting India and while he's gone, I'm going to visit my mom in another state. What's the best way to manage luggage, baby stuff, and baby by oneself? By that point, my baby will be just shy of 1 year old. We've traveled by plane a couple times before with him but I've never done it completely by myself. Unfortunately, since my husband will be gone we won't be dropped off at the airport and instead will need to deal with shuttle parking.

My initial thought was to carry him in front with my Beco carrier, get a backpack carrier for his car seat (I bought a seat for him so I won't be checking it), take a carry-on suitcase with wheels, and a large suitcase to check. However, that means that I would be carrying 40+ lbs the entire time. I've done it while backpacking but I doubt this will be as ergonomically comfortable.

I've also considered taking our BOB stroller (the only one we have now) but the thing is huge and I can't imagine trying to manhandle it into the shuttle by myself. I just recently saw the Traveling Toddler car seat accessory and I think that might work for most of the trip but again, I'm not sure about the logistics with the shuttle. One thought that crossed my mind was to get a car seat backpack and the Traveling Toddler and use both on various parts of the trip.

Am I over-thinking this? For those of you that traveled alone with a baby, how did you do it?

asked 06 Feb '10, 01:03

Kiesa's gravatar image

Kiesa ♦
accept rate: 26%

Just got back from my trip and we both survived!

For travel to/from the airport, I took Neen's advice and rented a seat on a shuttle van. We live an hour from the airport so I didn't think I'd get anything reasonably priced. However, it turns out for this particular company children under 3 ride for free (not sure if that is typical or not). This means it was actually cheaper to take the shuttle van than to park in the cheapest parking lot at the airport.

I bought both a backpack carrier for the car seat and the Traveling Toddler so I could test them out ahead of time. Eventually, I just decided to use the Traveling Toddler. The car seat bag wasn't compact enough to be able to fold up into a reasonable size when I didn't want to use it. My carry-on suitcase has both wheels and the ability to convert to a backpack. In addition, it has a little backpack that can unzip from the main suitcase.

Until I passed security, I strapped my car seat to the suitcase using the Traveling Toddler strap which uses your car seat's LATCH straps, put the straps of the little backpack around the suitcase handle, and carried my baby on my back. Using this configuration, I was able to roll my carry-on luggage with one hand and my large checked bag with the other. Also, the TSA didn't require me to take my baby out of the carrier going through security which was one less thing to juggle. Once through security, I put my baby in the car seat and, using the suitcase wheels, was able to wheel him around using it like an ad hoc stroller. This was particularly useful for restroom visits.

Boarding and disembarking from the plane was the hardest part. I unhooked the car seat from the suitcase and instead zipped on the little backpack to the suitcase. I then converted the suitcase to backpack mode and put it on my back. The Beco carrier I was using allows both back and front carrying so I switched my baby to the front carrying mode and then carried the car seat in my arms. I had tested this all before leaving our house so I knew I could do it but I was carrying about 80lbs and even though it was for a relatively short distance that might not work for everyone. If I couldn't have carried everything, I'm sure the flight attendants would have helped out but this seemed faster and more efficient to me.

Additional thoughts:

  • The way the Traveling Toddler attaches to your suitcase means you have to unstrap the whole thing to be able to get anything out of the suitcase. Because of this, I had everything I needed before boarding the plane, such as my laptop and diaper supplies, in the little backpack.
  • In order to use the Traveling Toddler, your suitcase needs to be fairly full otherwise the straps don't tighten enough. This wasn't a problem in real life but when testing it, I had to fill the suitcase before it would work.
  • My carry-on suitcase, minus the backpack part, is just small enough to fit under the airplane seat. The little backpack on its own isn't big enough to contain everything one might need for a flight so it was essential I had easy access to the suitcase. I put my little backpack in front of my baby's seat and the suitcase in front of mine.
  • I have a Britax Boulevard car seat which is officially approved for air travel (which the flight attendant did check). You are suppose to recline it when in rear-facing mode. However, on the plane I was on, a Frontier Airbus A319, there isn't enough room to recline it in the rear-facing position. In fact, it barely fits fully upright in the seat.

answered 16 Mar '10, 14:32

Kiesa's gravatar image

Kiesa ♦
accept rate: 26%


+1 for both surviving the trip! Thanks for sharing your experience.

(16 Mar '10, 19:06) cat_g

+1 Great answer Kiesa! Ditto cat g!

(21 Apr '10, 08:35) Emi

An update: My carry-on suitcase handle broke this trip when I tried using the Traveling Toddler. My toddler weighs about 27 lbs now and I tried to push (instead of pull) the whole thing over an elevator lip. Once again I was traveling alone so I ended up purchasing a replacement suitcase in the airport. If you use this, make sure you're using it with a very sturdy suitcase and to always pull instead of push the contraption. For me, it still seems the easiest way to handle an infant/toddler and all the stuff that comes with them alone.

(26 Dec '10, 15:45) Kiesa ♦

Is taking a Taxi to and from the airport a possibility? It would certainly cut out all of the parking and shuttle difficulties, and if you're lucky and get a decent cabbie they will probably even help you get into the terminal with all your stuff.

If I had to travel with a baby again I would be all over that Travelling Toddler thing, that looks like a lifesaver to me!

I've never bothered taking my hugh stroller with me, I bought an umbrella stroller when we got to my sisters the first time and left it there to use when we visit.

I hope everything goes beautifully and you have a wonderfull trip to Grandma's!


answered 06 Feb '10, 06:59

Neen's gravatar image

accept rate: 30%

I have a friend who travels a lot--she has a GoGoKidz Travelmate, and loves it. I've seen a lot of great reviews of it. The disadvantage of it over the Traveling Toddler is you would have to wheel 2 items if you're also carrying on a wheeled suitcase. With either of these, though, I'm not sure how you'd bring the stroller along too.

Another suggestion made to me was to put the baby in a Ergo/Beco carrier, load the carseat into the stroller, and push it through the airport to the gate. Then you can gate-check the stroller, bring the carseat on board, and go. I have heard of people gate-checking BOB strollers, but I haven't done it myself. I would check to see if the airline has size limits on gate-check items. We are using this strategy this weekend for an international trip, but we're just bringing along our umbrella stroller.

Personally, I would re-think your plan to bring a wheeled carry on bag--I think you're going to have enough going on with the carseat/stroller/baby that it's going to be a burden. I would go with a large-ish backpack that you could throw into the stroller to get through the airport.

Lastly, don't forget to ask for help. The flight attendants should be able to help you install the carseat and get settled. Good luck!


answered 08 Feb '10, 04:39

BetsyB's gravatar image

accept rate: 12%

Thanks for the suggestions, I'll have to take a look.

(08 Feb '10, 14:42) Kiesa ♦

I've seen the Traveling Toddler in use and it looked like a good idea to me, though I've never tried it myself. As for the rest of your stuff, it sounds like you've got a pretty good handle on what to do. The times that I've flown with my babies, I was in a situation where either my parents borrowed a carseat from a friend for while I was there, or I got one from the car rental company. I've always flown infant-in-arms.


answered 06 Feb '10, 02:06

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accept rate: 8%

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Asked: 06 Feb '10, 01:03

Seen: 5,287 times

Last updated: 16 Mar '10, 14:32