10 domestic adoption travel tips


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by Tim Elder in Archives, Resource Links

For lots of domestic infant adoptions, families will have to travel to another city or state to meet their new baby. This can be a very stressful yet an incredibly memorable trip.

Doing some research and planning ahead of time will help reduce some of the stress and make for a more enjoyable trip. When my wife and I adopted our daughter in 2007, we had less than a week of match time before our baby was born in another state – only 1400 miles away.  

It was hard to have enough time to research and make travel plans in less than one week. We spent a lot of time on the internet and on the phone trying to figure out the best/fastest way to get there, what we would need to bring, where to stay near the hospital, and where to stay after we had the baby placed with us.

Somehow we were able to get all of the travel plans made and bring everything we needed.

Planning and preparation before you get “the call” may seem obvious, but as my wife and I found out, you never know when you may get a “drop in the lap” situation – where you have only a few weeks, days or even hours to get to another city or state. 

Here are 10 tips to help you plan a successful domestic adoption trip:

1. Pack a hospital bag for the baby which includes different sized outfits, baby wipes, hats, soft cloth for spit up, bottles/liners, blanket, wipes, and a diaper bag.

2. Pack a hospital bag for you which includes a camera, video camera, personal care items, book/magazine, cell phone, cash/credit cards, phone numbers, adoption paperwork folder including a travel release form for the doctor to sign allowing the baby to travel by air if necessary.

3. Interview and select a pediatrician prior to your trip.  This will eliminate the need to find one after you get back from your trip. Ask other new parents for recommendations.

4. Prepare your employer that you may need 1 to 2 weeks of vacation/personal time to travel for your adoption.

5. If you need to fly: book it online. The competition between airlines is fierce. All major airlines offer internet fares at a discount to drive customers online where booking is cheaper for them. Take advantage of this.
You can also check out discount booking sites such as or Just be sure your tickets allow you to change your flights in case you have to later.
NOTE: It may be cheaper in the long run to spend more on a ticket that can be changed.
ANOTHER NOTE: newborns up to age 24 months traveling within the U.S. are free (but they need to be in your lap on the flight). 

6. Contact the airlines, rental car companies, and hotels directly to ask for adoption discounts.  Be sure to make sure these discounts are as good as what a travel agent can get.

7. Check with your adoption professional to help you find out the best travel methods to use to get to your destination.

8. Find hotels that are close to the hospital or adoption agency at your destination.  If you are adopting a newborn it is important to get a bigger hotel room that at least has a sink and a microwave to prepare bottles.  It would be better if you can get a room with a kitchenette (and ask the hotel manager for a discount). 

9. You may be able to stay in a vacation home that is normally rented.  See or to check availability near your destination.  Make sure you let them know you want to rent the home because you are adopting.

10. Food preparation. You can prepare some meals ahead of time and freeze them.  When you return home you are going to be tired.  You will be very happy not to have to cook.  

11. (BONUS TIP). A reader shared this one so I’m including it here. Get this really cool travel sleeper crib that you can use in the hotel. I wish we had found this on our first two adoptions.

This is one of the most important trips you will ever take.  If you can have a sense of humor and have the ability to adapt, it will be much more enjoyable.  Do what you can to make it the best time with your new baby.

What do you think?  Do you have some more adoption travel tips?
Leave your comments below. 

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  1. junebug1990 says:

    Great list! We had 24 hrs notice with our daughter so we had nothing and no clue what to do. I will use many of these tips with our next one. For us we had to give a pediatrician’s name before our baby could even be released from the hospital. My musts were a car seat(can’t leave hospital without it either) and our small travel crib which fit right in between us on the hotel bed and we used it for months later.

  2. Tim.Elder says:

    @junebug1990 Wow, 24 hours notice is tough! I thought we were going fast only given a week! Hope you can use these tips on your next adoption. I agree on the must haves: car seat (we bought when we got there) and the travel crib is a great idea. I’ll have to look for one of those since we are matched and hopefully adopting a newborn real soon!

  3. junebug1990 says:


  4. junebug1990 says:

    @Tim.Elder We got our travel crib at Babies R Us but this is what it looked like. I loved it!!! She slept in it for months.

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