Traveling Alone with a Baby
Last year I had the opportunity to travel to Walt Disney World for a conference with the TravelingMoms. With a 6 month old at home, I knew that I’d need to bring her with me for the 4 days I’d be out of town. I was feeling confident and excited. First of all, I was going to Disney World! Second, with only a baby in tow, it was going to be almost like a solo vacation (hmm, almost but not quite!)
I had a lot to learn, it seems! I’ve outlined all the details you’ll need to consider when traveling alone with a baby, with special considerations given for Disney vacation travel.
1. Travel Times
When considering booking your flight, take a look at your baby’s schedule. I chose to fly in the morning, which would fall during my daughter’s first nap of the day. She’s also in a much better mood in the morning than in the evening so I knew she’d be happier during the flight. I was flying from San Diego to Orlando which clocks in at just around 5 hours. I lucked out and she was able to sleep for about 2 hours on the plane while I wore her in the front carrier.
Solo with a Baby Traveling Tip: Choose a non-stop flight whenever possible. Getting on and off the plane with all your stuff and a baby is less daunting if you know you only have to do it once each way.
2. Checked Luggage
One of the best things about a Walt Disney World vacation is that luggage is handled for you when you stay on-site. Check it curbside at the airport and the next time you’ll see it will be inside your Disney World resort hotel room! Yes, they take care of getting your luggage from the airlines and then deliver it directly to your room. One less thing to worry about for sure!
What do you need to pack with you for a Disney vacation? Be sure to check out these two handy printable lists, a list for mom and a list for baby! I’ll mention that I underestimated the number of wipes I’d need and had to buy more on the last day. Fortunately they sold them inside the Baby Care center at Epcot!
Solo with a Baby Traveling Tip: You’ll be lugging your luggage to the front of the hotel on check-out day so make sure you have one that rolls well and isn’t so impossibly heavy that you can’t handle it yourself.
3. Carry-On Bags
In addition to what you’d normally pack in a carry-on bag for yourself, you’re also going to need to carry everything for baby as well. This would include plenty of diapers and wipes, changing table pad, baby snacks, blanket, bottle or cup and at least 1 change of clothes (some babies have intestinal issues during air travel because of the increased pressure, so you might want to bring 2+ outfits!)
Solo with a Baby Traveling Tip: Consider making your carry-on bag a backpack. Not only will it be easier to carry through the airport, you’ll also be able to access your supplies easier when you can compartmentalize in a backpack rather than a cavernous tote bag.
4. Navigating the Airport
From checking your luggage, passing through security checks and making the long walk to your gate, you’re going to need free hands. Holding a baby and juggling these other tasks is tricky so make it easy on yourself and wear the baby so your hands are free. On my flight to Disney World I was allowed to pass through security while baby-wearing and didn’t have to take her off my body. I use a Boba Air Baby Carrier and wore it through my entire trip. Invaluable!
Solo with a Baby Traveling Tip: Wear shoes that slip on and off easily without your hands so you won’t have sit and bend over to tie them.
5. On the Flight
My daughter sat on my lap during the flight, mostly held in her front carrier. I opted not to purchase a seat for her or bring her car seat because I knew that I would not be able to carry it on the travels by myself. Once in my plane seat, I used a sanitizing wipe to clean down any surface that my baby might touch (windowsill, arm rests and tray table).
I was blessed to have an empty seat next to me on the flight there and a completely empty row on the flight home! This allowed me to spread out a bit and use the empty seat to hold my carry-on backpack. You might not be so lucky and of course, space is tight on a plane. Pack your carry-on bag judiciously so you can reach in for what you need quickly when it’s at your feet.
Solo with a Baby Traveling Tip: Forget pulling out the laptop on the plane; with a lap-sitting baby you probably won’t have the space for it on the tray table. Bring a good book or magazine for when baby naps (or heck, take a nap yourself!)
6. Bathroom Breaks
When you gotta go, you gotta go! What do you do when you have to use the bathroom? Because I wasn’t going to have a stranger on the plane hold my baby, I placed her inside the front carrier and still had my hands free to do my business and properly wash my hands. When in the Disney parks, I’d simply roll her inside the bathroom in her stroller and use one of the large stalls. Take the changing pad with you and take care of baby’s needs while you’re in the bathroom too.
Solo with a Baby Traveling Tip: Changing diapers on the plane has it’s own challenges! Be sure to read this post with tips for changing a diaper on a plane from my friend Leslie at Trips with Tykes.
7. Using a Stroller
Since I was using the front carrier to tote my baby through the airport, I opted to leave our regular stroller at home. I had used Amusement Park Rentals in the past for my son and contacted them once again for a stroller on this trip with the baby. It was so convenient to meet them in the lobby, have the rental stroller for the trip and then have them pick it up at the end of the visit. They even included a rain cover for the stroller in case of showers.
Solo with a Baby Traveling Tip: If you choose to bring a stroller with you, roll it right up to the entrance of the plane and the stewards will store it for you.
8. Take the Magical Express
One of the fabulous benefits of staying at a Disney World resort hotel is complimentary use of Magical Express. This is bus transportation that will take you from Orlando Airport directly to the front entrance of your Disney World resort. Babies can lap sit just like on the plane. If you have a car seat they will not allow it on the bus, it will be stored underneath the bus with carry on luggage.
Solo Traveling Tip: If staying off-site at a non-Disney resort hotel and unable to use Magical Express, bring a car seat from home for baby. Services like Uber and Lyft do offer car seats in some vehicles but they aren’t rear-facing seats for babies under 2.
9. Transportation on Disney Property
Once on Disney property you’ll be able to get to and from your hotel to the parks and Disney Springs via transportation buses, monorail system and friendship boats. You’ll be in charge of carrying your baby, folding and carrying your own stroller and handling your own bags so consider this when packing for a day in the parks.
If you find yourself in need of help, ask someone standing in line with you for assistance. In my case, I always had someone asking me if I would like help or they’d even swoop in and grab my stroller to put it on the bus for me!
Solo Traveling Tip: During peak season and when mass groups are entering or leaving the parks, seating can be very limited. There were several times I had to stand on the bus and hold onto the rail. Wear baby in a front carrier so you can hold on to the rails. You do NOT want to take a tumble when the bus turns or stops.
10. Hotel Choice
The rooms at All-Star Music and Sports were on the small side but adequately suited for just the two of us. It had enough space for me to park the stroller in the doorway and the second bed allowed me to spread out luggage and use it as a changing table for the baby.
I was co-sleeping with my daughter so we simply shared one of the queen sized beds. However resort guests can request a pack ‘n’ play portable crib when booking your reservation. It would have been a very tight fit for a crib in the All-Star rooms so keep that in mind when looking at the resort hotel square footage.
Solo Traveling Tip: Getting back and forth from the hotel room to the bus pick-up, the time it took to travel and then the walking from the bus depot into the parks really takes a great effort when alone with a baby! Consider booking a hotel on the monorail line to cut transportation time and struggles.
11. Room Location Requests
On my visit, I stayed in three different hotels. Certainly not ideal but I was padding my stay at the conference hotel on each end of the visit with a Disney Resort hotel. Unfortunately the two Disney Resorts were All-Star Music and Sports, which are both very large resorts. The rooms I was given at each hotel were the furthest walk to and from the front entrance. It would seriously take me 15 minutes of brisk walking to get from my room to the bus each day. It took even longer on check-out day when I was trying to push a baby in a stroller, carry a diaper bag and wheel my luggage at the same time!
Solo Traveling Tip: If you’re traveling alone with a baby put in a request when booking the room for a location that isn’t such a long distance away.
12. Consider Renting a Locker
If you’re packing in everything you’ll need for a Disney day including diapers, wipes, a change of clothes and baby food, consider renting a locker in the Park to hold items until you need them. No need lugging around all the diapers and food for the day if you can store some of them in a locker that allows in and out privileges.
13. Dining at Disney
If your baby is big enough to sit inside a highchair you’ll find that they are plentiful inside restaurants, including quick service locations. I decided not to pack the highchair cover because it was just so big to lug around with me inside the parks. All of the highchairs I used were quite clean and had functioning buckles. I simply wiped the chair down with a sanitizing wipe before putting my baby inside.
Although children under 2 are free to eat at the buffet with a paying adult, I chose to skip the buffets. It’s next to impossible to hold two trays of food on your own as well as handle your baby! I also opted out of full-service dining on my trip as my baby wasn’t eating table food yet.
Definitely ask for help if you need it. Navigating inside the quick service lines with a stroller and balancing a tray of food through crowded seating areas is hard when you’re alone. I requested help from the server when I ordered, asking if I could have assistance with getting my tray to the table.
Solo Traveling Tip: Check out this post about feeding your baby at Disney, including what to pack (disposable bibs and stick-on place mats are a must!)
14. Taking on the Rides
There are so many rides and attractions to experience, even with a baby on board. Since you won’t be able to use Rider Swap on this trip if you want to go on a ride, you’ll have to take baby with you!
Pre-trip, check out the height restrictions on the Disney parks website. If there are no restrictions, you can bring baby with you onto the ride. At both Walt Disney World and Disneyland I’ve been able to ride dozens of things with my baby on my lap, even Pirates of the Caribbean, Mad Tea Party teacups and the Haunted Mansion.
Sleeping baby in a front carrier? Ask the Cast Member at the front of the attraction if you can ride. I was able to hop on Dumbo the Flying Elephant while my daughter napped and she never woke up. At Walt Disney World on the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh I was instructed by the Cast Member to remove her from the carrier and turn her forward facing with her legs under the bar. Keep baby in the front carrier through the queue waits…your tired arms will thank you!
Solo Traveling Tip: Use FastPass when you can to keep the line waits down. You’ll find that getting a FastPass for the non-thrill rides is pretty easy. I even used my choices for character meet n’ greets.
15. Shows for All Ages
Certain shows (like Mickey’s PhilharMagic and It’s Tough to Be a Bug!) have extremely high volumes and may contain some frightening elements. Things like the fireworks spectacular may frighten your baby. If you’re far enough away from the action, she may be fine with the show (mine wasn’t fazed by the noise).
Other shows are very calm, like Enchanted Tales with Belle and The American Adventure. Some shows feature lively music or bright colors (like Finding Nemo-The Musical, Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room or Country Bear Jamboree) that baby may enjoy watching the action. Of course the parades are all very fun for baby to watch as well. All of the indoor shows I saw requested that you leave your stroller outside.
Solo Traveling Tip: Read up on what show elements will be appropriate for baby in the books The Unofficial Guide to Disneyland 2017 and The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World 2017. There are details on the scare-factor of each attraction.
16. Quiet Areas
Baby’s overstimulated? Or do you just need a quiet place to rest and recoup? Check out the Baby Care Centers. There is one located in each Disney Park and it’s a clean place to nurse, feed, diaper change, rock or just relax quietly with your baby. The nursing rooms are dimmed and some have rocking chairs. For more breastfeeding tips at Disney parks see my post on DisneyBaby blog.
Solo Traveling Tip: Bring your cell phone and charging cord inside with you. I found outlets inside the nursing rooms (for plugging in a breast pump) but you can use it to recharge your phone while feeding your little one (so long as someone with a breast pump doesn’t need it).
17. Naptime Needs
Babies tend to sleep wherever and whenever, which is a great thing! However over-stimulation may result in naps that are delayed or skipped and shortened sleep schedules. Rested babies are happier babies so take time to make sure baby gets the rest she needs, even if it means returning to the hotel. I was able to get my daughter to fall asleep in the parks, usually after a feeding and then placing her inside the front carrier.
There were times when my daughter was napping in her stroller. I took that time to browse the shops, stand in line for character meet n’ greets, eat a meal or simply rest and people-watch from a bench.
18. Capture the Moments
You NEED memories of this trip so be sure to take a camera with you! Take selfies. Hand over your camera to Disney PhotoPass photographers. Get in line with the characters for a sweet meet n’ greet. Make sure to get in the pictures yourself, too! Take pictures of it all, you’re going to love looking back at your baby’s first Disney trip!
Solo Traveling Tip: Don’t forget to collect a “First Visit” button to document your baby’s first day at Disney!
19. Accept Help
I was checking out of the hotel on the last day and struggling under all my bags. I had acquired a few souvenirs for the kids back home and my bags were overflowing. I was wearing the sleeping baby in her front carrier, pushing a stroller loaded down with one bag and pulling a suitcase behind me. Suddenly someone came up from behind me and started pushing my luggage for me, a teacher from Minnesota who was on the trip with students. She’d seen me lunking that suitcase across the sidewalk and happily pushed it for me as we chatted on the way to the front of the hotel.
Sure, there are sometimes you really can do it alone but if someone wants to help, let them! It makes them feel good to help you out. I can still remember the conversations I had on the transportation bus with the dad of the adopted children from Africa who carried my stroller on board. And the smile from the Cast Member who carried my food tray to my table.
20. Go With the Flow
For sure, traveling alone with a baby is sure to be a vacation that’s different than any other. You’ll be dealing with diapers, tears and feedings all by yourself. Baby’s having a meltdown at the sight of Mickey? Believe me, it won’t be the first time a baby has cried in a character’s face! Don’t stress, just laugh about it.
And just because you aren’t riding coasters and are going by baby’s schedule instead of your own, doesn’t mean you can’t have a magical time! Think of traveling alone with your baby as the perfect opportunity to do things on this trip that you wouldn’t consider otherwise because you’re at a slower pace. Before you know it, your baby will be joining you on the coasters!
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For more ideas for traveling solo to Disney,
check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!
Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail Orange | Traveling Solo to Disney Loop:
- 1st Stop – Adventureland Pam | 5 Favorite Solo Trip Activities at Disney
- 2nd Stop – Magical Mickey Tips | Mom and Mickey – Top 5 Disney World Solo Travel Tips
- 3rd Stop – My Pixie Dust Diary | Eating Solo at Disney
- 4th Stop – The Delightful Life | 20 Great Reasons to take a Solo Trip to Walt Disney World
- 5th Stop – Saving Up for Disney | *YOU ARE HERE* Traveling Alone to Disney with a Baby
Have you ever considered traveling alone with a baby to Disney? I’d love to hear your comments!