Tips for Traveling Home From an Out-of-State Adoption

Having the best tips for traveling home from an out-of-state adoption with a newborn baby makes the travel process go more smoothly.

Tips for Traveling Home From an Out-of-State Adoption

When you’re adopting a newborn baby from out of state, you want to be prepared for your trip home with a newborn. Fresh out of the hospital with a newborn, you’ll be physically and emotionally exhausted. The more you can do to get ready ahead of time, the better.

Travel with at least one other adult

If your spouse can’t be with you the entire time due to work or other obligations back home, arrange for another family member or close friend to be with you, especially for the travel days. Having another adult traveling with you will make it much easier to take bathroom breaks and get food and will provide much-needed support during long travel days.

Keep extra baby supplies within reach at all times

You don’t ever want to be thinking, “I wish that I had those [diapers, wipes, bottles, etc.] that are packed in my [checked bag/suitcase buried deep in the trunk].” Whether you’re driving or flying, have lots of essential supplies within close reach at all times, so you’re able to change diapers and clothes and do feedings as needed.

Flying versus driving

Flying versus driving is a personal decision. Both modes of travel have pros and cons. Flying itself is faster but still involves full days of travel and the hassle of having a car seat and stroller on an airplane and renting a car. It also tends to be more expensive. Driving takes longer but gives you flexibility in scheduling stops and packing more gear. Driving also eliminates the car seat hassle.

Consider the length and conditions of the drive and the price of airline tickets. Be honest about what makes the most sense for your family.

Hotels versus Airbnbs

Similarly, there are pros and cons to both hotels and Airbnbs. Hotels offer more predictability and the assurance that hotel staff will take care of problems that do arise. Having shared walls and less space can be stressful with a newborn. If you opt for hotels, whenever possible, stay at hotels with suites so one person can be up with the baby at night without waking up everyone else.

Airbnbs are always more of a gamble. But they can give you more space and the luxury of having amenities such as a full kitchen and laundry facilities without the price tag that you pay for these amenities in a hotel. When you have a lengthy stay, having these amenities is really nice.

When you book Airbnbs, always read the reviews before booking. Staying at a well-reviewed Airbnb with lots of four- and five-star reviews greatly increases your chances of having a good experience. Make sure to read the description in full as well and to get any questions you may have answered prior to booking so there are no surprises.

I have a few tips that are specific to flying and driving, which are as follows.


Bring the infant car seat on the plane

When you’re traveling to an adoption, gate-check the car seat. When you’re traveling home from an adoption, plan to buy an extra seat and use the car seat on the airplane. I know that most people don’t want to spend money on a seat for a newborn. But it’s the safest way for a newborn to travel and gives you the luxury of not holding a baby for the whole flight, allowing you to relax and rest. Factor in the cost as part of the adoption.

Bring a stroller and plan to gate-check it

Similarly, bring a stroller for the airport that you can use with the infant car seat. Most newborns are too small for baby-wearing. Having the stroller also makes it much easier to switch off for bathroom breaks and to get food. Airlines make it straightforward to gate-check strollers.

Allow twice as much time as you normally would for air travel

Taking care of newborns is incredibly time-consuming. Infants need to eat and get changed every couple of hours, if not more often, and it can be a lengthy process. I recommend doubling the amount of time that you usually allow for air travel to ensure that you have enough time.


Plan for overnight stops as needed

When you’re driving to an adoption, depending on the circumstances, you may be trying to get there as quickly as possible. As such, you’ll want to push through longer driving days.

When traveling back from an adoption, allow more time. I recommend a maximum of eight hours of driving in one day. Even with another adult along to switch off driving duties with you, you’ll be exhausted from being up at night with a newborn. You’ll also have to take multiple breaks for feedings and changes. You don’t want to push yourself driving too much, especially when it’s dark.

Plan for driving breaks every few hours

Making stops every few hours will give you time to feed and change the baby and help break up the drive, keeping you alert and refreshed. When you stop, get out of the car and stretch your legs every time, even if you don’t need to eat or use the bathroom.

Essential supplies

Newborns don’t need a lot of gear. As long as they have a safe place to sleep and stay well-fed and dry, they’ll be good. Having the right supplies for sleeping and feeding while traveling makes things go more smoothly for everyone.

Travel bassinet

We used the Munchkin Brica baby travel pod for both of our out-of-state adoptions. It’s extremely lightweight and folds down completely. The travel pod is so easy to set up in any room, which is so nice in a suite hotel or Airbnb, giving you a safe place to set down the baby in the living room, on the porch, etc., throughout the day.

I also highly recommend the Karley bassinet. If you’re planning to use the bassinet for other traveling, at grandparents’ houses, etc., it’s a great purchase that will last you well throughout the duration of bassinet sleeping. It’s not as lightweight and compact as the travel pod but still folds down nicely for car travel.

Please purchase a bassinet for travel with a newborn. Travel cribs and pack ‘n plays are great for older babies and toddlers. But they aren’t safe for newborns.

Infant car seat head support insert

Many babies are born small enough that for the first one or two months, they have trouble keeping their heads up in the car seat. Flying and driving make for long days in the car seat. Having the infant car seat head support insert keeps a newborn much more comfortable while staying safe.

Pre-made formula

Formula is already very expensive. Pre-made formula is even more expensive, especially in the two-ounce bottles that come with nipples. However, for travel days with a newborn, it’s well worth it. You don’t want to deal with mixing powdered formula on the go and with washing bottles in airports or during overnight stays. Stock up on two-ounce bottles of pre-made formula with nipples before heading home. Once you’re situated at home, you’ll be able to get set up with a powdered formula routine.

Bibs and burp cloths

Plan to have at least one bib and one burp cloth for every on-the-go feeding. I know that it seems like overkill. But you’ll go through tons of bibs and burp cloths until your baby stops using bottles, and it’s nice not having to wash them every single day.

Lots of clothes

Have plenty of clothes on hand for messy feedings and blowout diapers. Pack as many one-piece zip-up suits as possible to make changes on the go as simple as possible. If the weather’s warm, look for one-piece zip-up suits without feet to keep babies cool.

Lots of diapers and wipes

Keep plenty of diapers on hand during travel days so you’re ready for multiple changes. Start your trip home with a new pack of wipes for the car or diaper bag.

A stash of pacifiers

If your newborn takes pacifiers, keep a small stash of pacifiers with you. Inevitably, a few pacifiers will get buried in the car seat, lost in the car, or lost altogether while you’re traveling. Having an extra one to pull out as needed helps the trip go more smoothly and may keep you from making an extra stop just to look for a pacifier.

A couple of portable changing pads

Having a portable changing pad handy ensures you’ll be able to do a quick diaper change at any time either in the car or on the ground. If possible, bring a second pad in case one gets dirty before you make it home or to your next overnight stop.

Plastic bags

Having a few plastic bags on hand in the diaper bag or car gives you a place to stash dirty clothes, bibs, and burp clothes. When you don’t have a garbage can nearby, or you’re changing an especially messy diaper, you may want to use plastic bags for diaper changes as well.

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The Best Travel Tips for Out-of-State Adoption with a Newborn Baby

More domestic infant adoption resources:

Visit the adoption section of the blog to learn more about our adoption story and to access lots of other adoption resources, including resources about waiting to adopt and open adoption.


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