Is It Better to Fly or Drive With a Newborn?

Traveling with a newborn can be challenging. Tending to the constant feedings, diaper changes and crying spells can make it hard to get from Point A to Point B without a lot of obstacles -- whether that's getting from the ticketing gate to your airplane seat or it's getting from your home to your final destination. Every aspect of travel can be more difficult when you have an infant. Every trip is different, so neither driving nor flying is always better for traveling with a newborn. However, there are pros and cons of both driving and flying that parents should consider before deciding which will be best for their next trip.

Advantages of Flying

The biggest advantage of flying, by far, is that it can get you to your destination faster. When you're traveling with a newborn, even a short car ride to the store can seem like torture as your baby cries incessantly. You just want to get to your destination as soon as possible. If you have no layovers, flying can help you do that. Direct domestic flights can take an hour or less. Assuming that your baby falls asleep on the flight or that your partner is able to keep your baby occupied, you can also relax and read a book or watch the in-flight entertainment.

Disadvantages of Flying

Flying might get you there faster, but unless you're willing to shell out for first class accommodations, you probably aren't going to be very comfortable. Seats can be cramped, and unless you want to pay for an additional seat for your baby, you're going to be even more cramped with your infant on your lap. Not only can carrying your baby on your lap be uncomfortable, it can also be unsafe. The only way to ensure your baby's safety is to pay for an extra seat so you can use a car seat. Flying is often more expensive than driving, and paying for that extra seat just drives the price up more. You may also have to pay additional fees for all the gear and baggage you will need to take for your baby. Even if you are a master packer and manage to get everything to fit in your baggage allowance, you will still struggle to get to everything you need quickly and easily during the flight. You'll likely find yourself rummaging in the overhead bin for diapers, blankies and other necessary care items.

Advantages of Driving

When you drive, you have more room for both your luggage and your family, which can make your trip more comfortable. You can spread toys, blankets, snacks and other items around your car so that they are easily accessible, and you don't have to worry about bothering fellow passengers. You can also take as much luggage as your car can hold without having to lug it from place to place or pay extra for it. You can stop whenever you need to so you can comfort your crying baby, take a rest from the car seat or change a diaper in a space that's not cramped and uncomfortable. Your overall trip is likely to be cheaper since you not only have to pay extra fees, but also because the cost of gas will likely be less than the cost of an airline ticket. The more members there are in your family, the more economical driving will be. You also won't have to rent a car when you reach your destination, saving you even more money.

Disadvantages of Driving

Though driving has many advantages, the primary disadvantage is that it can take much longer to reach your destination. A trip from North Carolina to Florida, for example, can take eight to 10 hours by car. The same flight would take about an hour and a half. If you have to stop a lot to give yourself or your baby a break, that will lengthen your trip even more. You may find yourself even more irritable and tired by the time you reach your destination than if you had flown.

How Flying Impacts a Newborn

Newborns are fragile and have a lot of needs. Experts with the Mayo Clinic say that while most baby's can travel regardless of age, your doctor may discourage you from flying shortly after your baby's birth. This is because you could expose your baby to germs that could cause potentially serious illness. Going by car would allow you to control the environment in which your baby travels. Be sure to check with your baby's doctor before you travel to make sure flying is safe for your newborn. Some airlines will require that you have a letter from your baby's physician approving flight for your newborn. When you fly, you can hold your infant on your lap, but this may not be the safest option. However, if you want to use a safety seat, you have to buy an extra seat, which can be hundreds or thousands of dollars, depending on your destination. Traveling by car allows you to keep your baby safe without paying extra. Traveling by car also allows you to stop, rock or feed your baby, or purchase additional items you may need if an emergency arises, such as a sickness or a diaper blowout.