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Solo with Baby: Essentials for Navigating Travel with an Infant with No Help

Updated: Jan 18

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Woman sitting with baby in stroller

My family and I are no strangers to travel, but I didn’t think that I would have to fly across the country with my infant without help this soon. Unfortunately, my grandfather passed away, and soon after finding out this news, my 6-month-old and I embarked on a journey from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C. by ourselves. I know we’re not the first to do anything like this, but just in case some parents have a little anxiety about plane travel with a baby, here are the things that made my trip a breeze!

Doona Car Seat/Stroller

The Doona is a car seat and stroller combined into one and is an absolute DREAM to travel with. The ease of having what usually would have been two items to carry in a single piece is chef’s kiss. As for checking my Doona (checking a stroller/car seat is free on Southwest Airlines), you can either do this right when you check in, or you can take your stroller through TSA and gate check it. I’ve done both, and both have their advantages. On this most recent trip, I checked the stroller in the beginning to make going through TSA by myself a bit easier. Remember, you have to put the stroller through the scanner, so baby has to come out of it, and to do this, you’ll have to fold the Doona up. This takes two hands. This is why I opted to check the stroller early. Don’t forget to get a bag to protect it, like this one. When you arrive at your destination, the stroller is a car seat, which doesn’t need a base and you can be on your way!

Soft Carrier

Mother holding a baby in a wrap
Baby in a soft carrier

Because I opted to check my Doona in the beginning, I needed a way to carry my baby through TSA and to my gate. I needed two hands for all of this commotion! This is where my soft baby wrap came in handy. I own a Solly wrap, but this one is similar and has a better price point. Side note, I also own a Baby Bjorn structured baby carrier, but I knew my soft carrier wouldn’t give me any issues going through TSA. Once I got to the airport, I used the kiosk to check in, put my baby in her wrap, folded my Doona, placed it in the bag, and took it to the bag drop.


Since my 6-month-old is a wiggle monster and hates being contained, I also brought my TushBaby which is, in my opinion, one of the best inventions for babies in recent history. The TushBaby wraps around my waist and has a seat that sticks out for my baby to sit on. I only need to keep her steady with one arm. At some point after TSA and before getting to my gate, I switched from the soft carrier to the Tush Baby. She's less contained and able to see the world!

Full-Sized Diaper Bag Backpack

My plan was to have as few things as possible for this trip. Hey ladies, you know when you don’t have any pockets, and you have to carry 4,324 things in your two hands? Yeah, I was trying to avoid this. This is why I used a full-sized diaper bag backpack like this one. I wanted the diaper bag to be my only carry-on Item. I needed it to fit the normal diaper bag items, plus an outfit change for both of us, my baby's documents and records, my phone and iPad, wallet, nursing cover, toys, and hats for us when we got off the plane (it was cold in DC!). As a parent traveling with a baby you can take on the plane a personal item, a carry-on item, and a diaper bag, but this would have been too much for me. In case you’re wondering, I attached my tush baby to my backpack with a couple of carabiners.

Nursing Cover

Woman nursing her baby

Typically, I’m not one to use a nursing cover when I’m out, but the airport, and especially the airplane, are such tight and crowded spaces that I crave privacy. The nursing cover I use is soft and breathable, which was super helpful on my homecoming flight, which was very hot and stuffy.

Clorox Wipes 

I keep a to-go package of Clorox wipes with me for obvious reasons. The highchairs at the airport restaurants are usually pretty gross, and since my daughter touches everything in her sight, I wipe down everything. There are plenty of plant-based options if you’re not into the chemicals. I use these plant-based options to wipe down her toys and anything she’ll most likely put in her mouth.

Spinner Toys

It’s hard to keep a baby entertained for 5 hours, so make sure to bring plenty of toy options. One of my favorites is these spinners. My daughter is mesmerized by them! I will warn you, though…they are LOUD. But sometimes, we have to make sacrifices to keep a baby happy. Some quiet options include Sophie la Girafe, this toy, which has a  quieter shaker, or this fun teether (I brought all of these with me)!

Toy Bungees

Of course, anything that my daughter handles will end up on the floor! These toy bungees will make sure this doesn’t happen. I just tied one end to the hinge part of the tray table in front of my seat on the plane, and if my baby became uninterested or accidentally dropped her toys, they would not touch the floor. I also always use a bungee on the stroller so the little one can have a toy when we're walking around. No lost or dirty toys!

In the face of unexpected circumstances, my trip with my 6-month-old became a testament to resilience and preparation. Amidst the challenges of flying solo with an infant for a somber occasion, these essentials transformed the experience in a positive way. I found that careful planning can turn a challenging trip into a manageable and even rewarding experience, even in the midst of life's difficult moments. Also, I must say, these travel suggestions won’t dictate the temperament of your baby. My trip was exponentially easier because I have an easy, calm, go-with-the-flow baby. Safe travels to all fellow parents navigating similar journeys.


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