Strolling through our yard
Strolling through our yard

It was a relief to see our expenses dip back down into the territory of normal this month. I find there’s invariably an expense burst surrounding a move–and especially a move to a completely different way of life!

Our sojourn from urban to rural continues to unfold, but it seems our relocation spending has started to abate. Quotidian categories such as groceries, household supplies, and gasoline all wended their way down, down, down in a trajectory that’s hopefully a harbinger of our future here on the farm.

The Frugalwoods Fly

Our most notable outlay in July was a whopping $936.53 spent on airfare. Whoop! Yes, we do indeed use credit cards and yes, we do indeed have plenty of credit card rewards points, but, we elected not to redeem them for these trips. In September, we set sail on an unusually long and slightly convoluted trip involving numerous airports, several destinations, and one baby.

From a child-free trip a few years ago...
From a child-free trip a few years ago…

We’re headed first to Florida for Mr. Frugalwoods’ brother’s wedding. Then, Mr. FW will return to Vermont to tend the homestead at peak fall production time while Babywoods and I jet across country to San Diego to: 1) visit my family, 2) attend the annual financial bloggers’ conference, which is conveniently taking place there this year, and 3) possibly regret my decision to fly solo with a baby…

Travel, and marking important family events, are spending priorities for us and I never bemoan the costs associated with such sojourns. Experiences, writ large, are vastly more important to me than things and experiences with family rank above all else.

Mr. FW and I have adult frugal travel on total lock down–international, domestic, by train, plane, auto–we’ve got it covered! Hence, as a documentarian of frugal life, I’m looking forward to cataloguing how to travel frugally with a baby. But as a mom? I’ll admit I’m a tad wary. Tips, advice, and sanity balms welcome.

A Note On Charitable Contributions

Previously, I haven’t included our charitable contributions in our expense reports. However, I’ve received quite a few requests from readers for details on our charitable giving; thus, I’ve decided to start including these donations along with our other expenses. I also plan to devote an entire post to explaining our approach to charitable giving in the future, so stay tuned!

Personal Capital: It’s How We Organize Our Expen$e$

Our garden: still alive!
Our garden: still alive!

Mr. Frugalwoods and I use Personal Capital to aggregate and consolidate our transactions from across all of our accounts. We then drop them into a spreadsheet to provide the below analysis for you fine people.

Tracking expenses is, in my opinion, the best way to get a handle on your finances. You absolutely, positively cannot make informed decisions about your money if you don’t know how you’re spending it. Sounds harsh, but without a holistic picture of how much you spend every month, there’s no way to set savings, debt repayment, or investment goals. It’s a frugal must, folks. No excuses.

Personal Capital (which is free to use) is a great way for us to systematize our financial overviews since it links all of our accounts together and provides a comprehensive picture of our net worth. If you’re not tracking your expenses in an organized fashion, give Personal Capital a try. Here’s a more detailed explanation of how I use Personal Capital for my expense tracking.

Where’s Your Money?

One of the easiest ways to optimize your money is to use a high-interest savings account. A high-interest savings account gives you money for nothing. With these accounts, interest works in YOUR favor (as opposed to the interest rates on debt, which work against you). Having money in a no (or low) interest savings account is a waste of resources–your money is just sitting there doing nothing. Don’t let your money be lazy! Make it work for you! And now, enjoy some explanatory math:

Let’s say you have $5,000 in a savings account that earns 0% interest. In a year’s time, your $5,000 will still be… $5,000.

Let’s say you instead put that $5,000 into an American Express Personal Savings account that–as of this writing–earns 1.70% in interest. In one year, your $5,000 will have increased to $5,085.67. That means you earned $85.67 just by having your money in a high-interest account.

And you didn’t have to do anything! I’m a big fan of earning money while doing nothing. I mean, is anybody not a fan of that? Apparently so, because anyone who uses a low (or no) interest savings account is NOT making money while doing nothing. Don’t be that person. Be the person who earns money while you sleep. Rack up the interest and prosper. More about high-interest savings accounts, as well as the ones I recommend, is here: The Best High Interest Rate Online Savings Accounts.

How To Read A Frugalwoods Expense Report

The below is an itemization of every single dollar we spent over the course of the month. I do this because it’s the most transparent articulation of how we allocate our resources and managed to quit our city life and decamp to the country.

Black raspberries in our garden!
Found: black raspberries!

Want to know how we manage the rest of our monies? Look no further than Why We Don’t Micromanage Our Money. Why do we save so much and spend so little? It’s all in service of our goal to reach financial independence and move to a homestead in the woods (which happened in May!!).

For us, embracing frugality is a joyful, longterm choice. We prefer a simple life to one filled with consumerism and we spend only on the things that matter most to us. Our approach isn’t one of miserly deprivation; to the contrary, we live a luxuriously frugal existence.

Interested in how we keep costs so low? Check out How We Save 65% Annually. If you’re up for some hardcore frugal adventuring, take my Uber Frugal Month Challenge, and, see how we did one year later in How A Year Of Extreme Frugality Changed Us.

But Mrs. Frugalwoods, Don’t You Pay For X, Y, Or Even Z????

Wondering about common expenses that you don’t see listed below? Our August 2015 expense report has the answers you seek!

Alright you frugal money voyeurs, feast your eyes on every dollar we spent in July:

Item/Vendor Amount Frugalwoods Musings
VT mortgage $1,392.86
Airline tickets $936.53 For our epic trek next month.
Groceries $290.05 Happy to see this amount returning to a level of normalcy. Curious how we eat so cheap? Check this out.
Car insurance $242.73 This is 6 months worth of car insurance for our Subaru and Prius.
Household supplies $136.46 All non-food household and farm supplies, including such thrilling things as toilet paper, a tractor drawbar, grab hook, and 14 foot chain!
Internet $74.00 One bill I’m always glad to pay! Having high-quality Fiber internet here in the woods is perfect for our digital homesteading lifestyle.
Gasoline $59.94 Pretty reasonable thanks to our almost exclusive use of the Prius during the summer months.
Cambridge, MA car excise tax $44.37 The prorated amount we owed on our cars for the portion of 2016 that we lived in Cambridge.
Home Improvement $41.80 Something from Home Depot. Can’t recall what.
Electric bill $35.77 Nice and low! We don’t have air conditioning, which helps keep this expense down.
Donation to NPR $35.00 Now that we’re residents of Vermont, I joined Vermont Public Radio–my lifeline for what’s happening in the world.
Doctor’s visit co-pay $20.00
Ethanol-free gas $18.47 This gasoline is used in our various small farm engines, including: the lawnmower, the chainsaw, and the weedwacker.
TOTAL SPENT: $3,327.98  
LESS MORTGAGE: $1,935.12

How was your July?

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  1. I’m impressed you’ve managed to snag such an amazing place in Vermont with a mortgage under $1,400. My sister and I are always talking about moving out of our respective cities (Nashville and Oakland) for a simpler, more affordable life in a rural town. I know it’s a lot of work to care for that much land, but it looks like so much fun. I’m looking forward to seeing you at FinCon! Will Babywoods be making an appearance? 🙂

    1. Yeah, one of the reasons we chose Vermont is because it’s so affordable! So, you should move to Vermont :)!! And, it’s also why we pounced on this property when we did–it was a good deal. Yes, Babywoods will be at FinCon with me (and my wonderful mom will be there to watch her full-time, but I’m sure she’ll pop down to the conference to say hi 🙂 ).

  2. We took our first baby on 3 plane trips–the first was to San Diego. I basically approached preparing for it like a research project, which was overkill! I always find our kids to be much more adaptable than I expect. We rely heavily on routine at home, so I worry when we’re out and not able to follow it, but they do quite well. I recommend bringing some type of white noise (even an app). We’ve about to try flying with two kids this month; wish us luck!

    1. Haha, I feel exactly the same way since Babywoods thrives on her routine here at home! Ack! But, I also figure she’s going to love sitting in my lap all day long. And I’m definitely packing our white noise machine (thankfully it’s pretty small!). Any other tips or advice that you found useful? I’m wondering especially about gate checking the car seat and stroller… Good luck with taking both kids!!!

      1. Gate checking the stroller was no problem for us (we had the car seat on the plane since our son had his own seat). The flight personnel will be used to it, since parents need to do it all the time, and they should be pretty fast at getting it back for you on the other end. For the flight, snacks are essential, especially for a longer flight. A banana or two will save your life if Babywoods decides she’s hungry. Also something to suck on for the takeoff and landing, which can help with ear pain. It didn’t bother our little one, but you never know. Small toys and distractions are also good to bring. We usually don’t let our child play with the cell phone, but for the plane I found a free app (called Bubbles, I think) that’s just bubbles floating up the screen that pop and make the phone vibrate when you touch them. That was simple and good for lots of distraction time. She’ll likely nap for a good portion of the flight, so you won’t need to worry about keeping her amused the whole time. The white noise from the plane engines is a great soporific for babies! For the most part, our son was so fascinated by the new world in an airplane that he was happy just to look around and soak it all in. It went much more smoothly than I had feared.

        One thing to think about is the three hour time change Babywoods will need to acclimate to. When we flew cross country with our nine month old, I started shifting his schedule a few days ahead of time. We went to bed a little later, and got up a little later. I managed to shift an hour, which made the final adjustment on the west coast easier.

        1. Bubbles!!! haha, sounds perfect, I’ll have to look into that. And thanks for the tip on the time change!

          1. I did quite a bit of traveling solo with my son, to visit my parents in FLA. I always kept my stroller with me and checked the carseat. Brought lots of snacks and books with lights and sounds (not too loud obviously) to entertain him. Or at least read him books. There was always something on the plane to keep him occupied. And I found nursing him during take off was the best because then he would dose off for a bit.

          2. I traveled close to 20 times with my son when he was under age 2, and twice with my daughter (now just 5 months). Your daughter will be pretty wiggly, but here are a few of my tips.

            1. Speak to the gate host right away. Explain that you’re traveling solo. The flight attendants will help you with a carry on bag if you ask.
            2. Nursing during takeoff is ideal. When my son no longer nursed, I introduced him to lollipops (not winning mom of the year, but it did work).
            3. Have clorox wipes or something similar on hand (I kept mine in a ziploc bag). Your child will drop her cup, her toys, her books etc. onto the airplane, and it’s nice to wipe them off.
            4. Keep diapers and wipes in the front pocket of your backpack, and ask the flight attendant about a changing table if it’s not immediately obvious that they have a table above the toilet in the plane.
            5. Constipation after flying is common- if she’s eating a lot by then, try and focus on raisins/grapes and avoid apple juice.
            6. everything NNN said
            7. If she screams super loud the whole time, don’t worry, only about 3-4 rows can hear you.

          3. Fabulous tips, thank you! Yes, I too plan to enact some “mom of the year” tricks like letting her watch baby TV… yep

      2. I would ask at the gate (before boarding time) if there is room for you to take the carseat on with you, even if you didn’t purchase the infant a seat. Sometimes they will even rearrange a few seats to accommodate your family. It is a bit more comfortable to have, especially for naps, and of course somewhat safer. If not, we put the car seat in a trash bag to gate check it. Put your name and phone number on it, and the stroller. You can check or gate check all assistance devices for free, including stroller, diaper bag, and carseat. Parents of small children are also invited to board first, but we opted to board last to have less time feeling “stuck” in a seat with an infant. People make much of ear trouble for babies while flying, but we had no problems and I’ve read this is actually very unlikely.

        1. Yes! If there are open seats, they might let you take on the car seat and give you the seat. We’ve done this before, but it didn’t work every time. My daughter’s first flight was at 4 months old and I did it solo because my husband had to change to a later flight due to a work emergency meeting. My hands were very full but there were generous folks who helped me get to the rental car desk with all of our stuff! It worked out. Nursing on the flight helped to calm her too if fussy.

        2. You are a genius! Thank you for all of these tips!!! I like the trash bag idea as I’m not keen on buying the specialty bags they sell for such purposes.

      3. I don’t know if you’ve replaced your phone yet, but we use a white noise app when traveling. Helps our kiddo sleep and nothing extra to pack!

      4. I never bothered with taking a stroller (just used the baby carrier), but we always take the carseat. We either had it onboard (because we bought a seat) or checked it with luggage (when our kid got bigger, age 2-3+).

  3. Best wishes for an uneventful plane trip with Babywoods. We flew with our first son 4 different times before he got age 2 and he did great, especially the 2 trips we took before he turned 1. Also, hoping to hear about FinCon in a later post. I was really hoping to make it this year but did not budget for it so planning for next year.

  4. Gahh, I absolutely hate moving. I can’t imagine how challenging it would be to move from two totally different settings, too. We’re gearing up for renovating the house we close on in September; it’s going to be an adventure!

    I know travel can be pricey and comes with plenty of headaches, but it’s so great to see family. 🙂 I only get to see my Dad about once every three months, but when we do see each other, it’s just more special.

    We haven’t always been people to give to charity, but I think it’s about high time for us to start giving back, now that we’ve reined in our lifestyle and finances. I’d love to read up on your approaches to charity. 🙂

    Oh my gosh, I am so envious of that food budget! We’ve managed to rein in ours from $1,000/mo to $550/mo. It’s been our biggest challenge, but there’s always room for us to keep improving.

  5. I love your payment to NPR 🙂 I listen to NPR almost everyday (and I did on all my commutes before leaving my job this spring!) Your electric bill is awesome too. It’s amazing how much you can save without AC and using the dryer all the time! One comment about moving – we own rental properties and tenants always have a hard time making the rent after a move. Many totally underestimate (or don’t estimate at all) the cost of a move. They will move every year to save $20 on rent – and the $240 they save is gone (plus more!) in each move.

  6. Sending positive thoughts for solo travel with baby! We also live far from family and value experiences over things. I’ve flown alone several times with our one year old and it’s been everything from smooth sailing (slept almost the whole way) to terrible (broke out in full body hives while in the air). For us, it helped to:

    1. have a bottle of pumped milk ready as my normally good nurser refused to nurse in the cramped confines of a plane seat
    2. bring a blanket or changing pad to spread on the airport floor or the changing pad in the airplane bathroom. Letting me just lay and kick for 20 minutes saved us on a long flight. Don’t think about germs.
    3. be the last people on the plane. I’d only pack a bag I could fit under the seat so I didn’t have to worry about space in the bins. I wanted to maximize time he could crawl and run and minimize time spent trapped in a seat.

    Best of luck! You’ll do great!

    1. #2 should be “letting him just lay and kick!” Although, after one flight with a long delay, rerouting due to a thunderstorm, and emergency landing, I also felt a strong desire to just lay down on the airport floor and kick.

    2. Thank you! So you can take the pumped milk through security? Does it have to be less than 4oz? I too am planning to only carry on a backpack (and of course the Ergo) so that we can just keep it in the seat with us. Good call on getting on the plane last!

      1. Yep, pumped milk can go through security and it does not have to be less than 4 oz. When I’ve told TSA about it, their response has varied from “okay cool” and a wave through with no check to opening and looking at the milk cooler bag to testing the outside of a bottle with a chemical strip. They cannot test the milk itself or ask you to taste it. I’ve always had good experiences with them when traveling with a baby and/or pumped milk.

        Oh, and randomly, you might want to bring a roll of washi or masking tape. Every kid I’ve ever seen on a plane loves sticking and peeling off pieces of tape from the window or tray table.

          1. great tips! also, try to do diaper change before or right after the flight if you can (or course they always decide to make you HAVE to change it while traveling) – the one mid air is quite cramped! lol

            you will be fine with the ergo and the tape lol. And no issues on the milk or breastfeeding on the plane for me (we tool 11 flights while they were still breastfeeding and I never had issues or bringing pumped milk). When they get a little older and they start moving around – yikes that gets stressful!

            good luck!

      2. You can bring any amount of pumped milk, they will do some extra checks but there’s an exemption to the liquids rule for baby food and drink (which means your purees will get the all-clear as well). I did recently get a Fage yogurt taken away because it was too big and wasn’t a “baby” yogurt…I tried to explain that it had less sugar than the baby ones but ended up giving up rather than filling out a giant form and talking to a manager! Cooler packs are fine as well.

        When my husband and I travel together with our 1.5 year old we always book the aisle and window seats in the second to last row. No one wants to be in a middle seat in the second to last row so I’d say that for 7 of 10 flights we’ve managed to have an extra seat. And when the flight is full it’s easy enough to offer to switch. Now that I write that I realize that domestic flights might not give you the same option but perhaps a kind check-in agent might be willing to help you out?

        Oh, and regarding checking stroller and car seat – if you don’t have gate check bags of your own ask for them when you check in since sometimes they run out at the gate. I’ve read a bunch about the chance of a car seat getting banged up and decided that it’s a pretty low risk and I’m willing to take it. I live in Colombia and we’ve taken our daughter on probably 20 flights, maybe more, and haven’t had problems. Good luck and enjoy!!

      3. Pumped milk is definitely ok. I’ve had to bring home several days’ worth after a business trip without my daughter. The hotel was very accommodating and gave me a fridge in my room, then froze my ice packs the night before my flight home. And I agree on having one pumped bottle on hand just in case when traveling with her.

  7. Babywearing saved me many times while traveling w/ a little one. Even at 3 I still wear my son in a carrier when at airports, now so he can’t run away! 🙂 I can’t say enough about the wonderful people on the Babycenter Traveling With Children forum. You can tell them exactly what you are doing and the age of child(ren) and you will receive lots of good tips on how to handle the travel plan.

  8. Have a fantastic time on your travels!
    Is it possible to borrow baby gear? When my in-laws came to visit, we were able to borrow car seats, a high chair, a pack n play, and some books and toys from our fabulous neighbors. All the kids even had a play date 🙂

    1. Yes! We are definitely borrowing baby gear at my parents’ house–thankfully my sister and her kids live nearby so we’ll have a full repertoire of kid-related stuff :).

  9. I stopped tracking our expenses halfway through July! Well, I still imported things in YNAB, but I didn’t try to reconcile. Mr. FP moved out partway through the month, and we were in the process of separating our finances, so the spending that month just had very little relevance to the rest of my life.

    Now I have done a “fresh start” budget in YNAB (great trick–it keeps your accounts but ditches all the information) with only my personal credit cards and personal income. August is always a high month because of school supplies (almost a hundred dollars for two kids–and they already had backpack! School sends a long list!) and new uniforms (some of last year’s are wearable, others not so much).

  10. I flew with both boys (4.5 years and 5 months at the time) by myself. It wasn’t bad at all. Though I’m glad the baby wasn’t mobile yet. Now that he is crawling and trying to walk (eek! Too soon! Too soon!) I think it might be harder.

    Here is what worked for us;

    1) Curbside check-in. Most airlines let you check a carseat and stroller for each ticket I’m addition to your suitcase allowance. This was free, but I tipped generously

    2) No stroller in the airport. You can wear the baby in the ergo all of the way through security. This saves you from having to break down the stroller and put it through the scanner while you also hold the squirmy baby

    3) We flew SW so we boarded first. I figured that way, prospective seatmates would be choosing to sit next to the lady with the baby and small child

    4) I pretty much nursed (no cover) the entire time. No one said anything or even looked askance. I started nursing as soon as we sat down so that folks would be aware they would be sitting next to Breastfeeding In Action. I figured most people would prefer nursing to screaming

    5) Accept all offers of help, including the not very helpful ones. The lady behind us wanted to give my kids a bag of salt and vinegar potato chips. I thanked her graciously. People like to feel helpful!

    1. Breastfeeding In Action! I love it! Yeah, my back-up plan is to just nurse her for the entire 7 hour flight ;). Good to know re. the stroller… I was thinking it’d be easier to have it in the airport, but now I’m picturing doing gymnastics with it in security. So I can just keep her in the Ergo while I walk through security? That sounds ideal. And, did you check the carseat base? I’m trying to figure out how to get that thing in there…

      1. Yes! You can wear her in the Ergo right through security. They send you through a special line.

        Re: carseat base- not sure bc he was already in a convertible seat, so no base. BUT you can use the infant seat with no base and it’s actually just as safe, though slightly less convenient. So that’s an option. Or just click the infant seat into the base and strap them together?

        1. Ok fab on the Ergo through security! Good to know. I think we will go the base-less route, sounds like that’s what most people do. Thanks so much!

  11. Hi,
    I am so impressed with you two. I wish I had the discipline and the income to think about early retirement. I’m in my late forties so it’s kind of too late. We have lived a frugal life and live in the ‘country/mountains’ of Montana. We have three kids 9-15 and have travelled with all when they were babies. Our oldest we took to Hawaii when he was 10 months which was an amazingly long flight. He didn’t cry but I would say the best advice I was given would be to nurse/feed when the pressure in the plane changes (like takeoff and landing). It can bother their ears and make them cry. Don’t worry about car seats, get a cover (or they have plastic bags) and you can check it for free. The stroller you can take to the gate but I always had a sling and didn’t bother with a stroller. They are usually happy to be in your lap at your daughter’s age. Thanks again for writing such an inspiring blog.

  12. Can you explain about your Cambridge house? I know you are renting it so it brings in income, but do you not have a mortgage payment on that property as well? Or do you not count it due to the rental income? Wondering how you figure that in your monthly spending records. Love, love this blog! You are such an inspiration! But it’s a sad day not to have any Babywoods pictures.

    1. Good question! We do indeed have a mortgage on the Cambridge house, but since it’s covered by the rental income, I’ve decided not to include it on the expenses list.

  13. Wondering which CC you prefer , and my Comcast bill is a killer (for phone, TV and internet) How is your’s so low?

  14. I bet that you’ll do just fine flying solo. I’ve found folks so generous and helpful in the almost five years that I’ve been a mom. The one piece of advice I have is from my daughter’s first flight when she was 5 months old. We had a fully packed diaper bag and I thought I covered all the bases. Except I neglected to pack a back up outfit in our carry-on. And of course, diaper blowout before the plane even took off! I had diapers, wipes, pacifiers, everywhere I thought I needed but packed all her little outfits in our suitcase. D’oh! I also found that tossing her lovely up in the air repeatedly was the best entertainment. Which just goes to show me again that kids need only the simplest of things with a whole lot of imagination to keep them happy!. Have a lovely trip–sounds like a blast!

  15. I remember the first time I flew solo with the little one, I was a bit terrified but it all turned out ok. It was almost as if junior realized how stressed I was about the trip and knew he had to be on his best behavior to allow it to all go smoothly. He did wonderful and I couldn’t have been more relieved. I was well prepared though with food and entertainment and it worked like a charm. He even slept for most of the flight. Best of luck to you.

    Oh and household supplies don’t typically include grab hooks, chains and drawbars…:) you may need to start a new category! Perhaps farm supplies and equipment?

    Thanks for the update!

  16. Whatever you do, please DO NOT even think about the new craze of handing out goodie bags to nearby passengers on your flight in case Baby FW cries. I cannot believe this is even a thing. But here is the proof from the NYT just last week.

    Make sure you have a change of clothes for baby (make that 2) and for yourselves in your hand luggage. You never know when or where spitting up and leaking diapers will occur. My two both flew across the Atlantic at 3 months old to see grandpa….it will be fine. Most people will be very helpful. Ask the flight attendant for a large bottle of water to keep you hydrated while breastfeeding. Make sure the baby is sucking on you or a passefier when taking off (until level-off altitude) and landing. That’s when their ears hurt the most.

    Enjoy your vacation!

  17. Flight expenses! Oh the humanity! Our last 19 flights have been paid for with frequent flyer miles. I’m just finishing writing up my solo trip to Macedonia though where just the fees and taxes alone I still had to pay almost came up to $200.

    I also contribute to NPR every year whenever Ira Glass guilts me into it. I used to give to WNYC for Radiolab, but they waste my donation by sending me mail pleading for more money, so I stopped.

  18. I have two questions for you that don’t necessarily go with this post. Since you do freelance work now, do you mean you make income from your blog? I never see any advertisements on it. Also, how do I go about determining what percentage of my income I am saving and what percentage I am spending? We have taxes taken out of our paycheck, of course. We have retirement and company stock taken out. We also put money into various savings accounts from the paycheck. It seems confusing to me to figure out.

    1. Good questions! Yes, we do make money through the blog (via affiliate marketing) and also through my freelance posts, which I’m paid to write for other financial websites. We’ve made the decision not to plaster Frugalwoods with ads because that’s just not in keeping with our ethos :).

      Calculating % saved is one of those things that people do in many different ways. It’s really about what makes the most sense to you. Here’s a post that outlines exactly how we calculate ours: Our Savings Rate Revealed

      Hope this helps :)!

  19. Kudos on the VOIP! It’s creative and I don’t think many people venture there. 🙂

    Question – what’s your experience with property rentals? Seems like there’s so many factors in making a rental truly passive (finding a good location, finding a decent price for property, finding good tenants, etc). Have you experienced any nightmares?

  20. Love seeing you all enjoy the homestead! My husband and I recently did a big move ourselves and it involved flying from Hawaii to Louisiana with our 3 year old, twin 1 year olds, and two cats. We survived, so can you! My tips are to bring a pillow for the baby to lay on. The baby sleeps better and your arms are free. Also, I wasn’t aware at the time, but later learned that I could have checked in the pack-n-plays for free in addition to the carseats and strollers. I found the only part that was really difficult was security. You can ask for a private screening if needed, we did. Good luck!

  21. My props to anyone brave enough to fly with a baby. I get terrible motion sickness even riding in a car, and have spent every flight I’ve been on knocked out by Dramamine. I’m waiting for the kids to get older before we try and take them on a flight.

  22. Question regarding your auto insurance, are you saying the $242.73 is what you pay every six months for both auto’s??? If so, may I ask who you use? I thought we had a good price on ours but we are nowhere close to that amount!! Thanks

    1. Yes, that’s correct. We have Geico and it’s so low for several reasons: we don’t have daily commutes, we have liability not comprehensive, we both have perfect driving records, and we have small-medium sized cars. Hope this helps!

  23. I definitely recommend nursing at takeoff and landing to avoid painful little ears! And depending on if BW likes being in the car seat or not, I loved having the stroller in the airport, even sometimes just as a rack to hang my bag on! Then I gate checked it. You might also check on your car seat – mine had an approved way to seat belt it in to a car when traveling so that I didn’t need the base. And finally, I found that the more stressed I was, the more stressed my babies were so I just tried to keep reminding myself that even if they were crying the whole flight, it wouldn’t last forever! You will do great!

  24. So here are my recommendations for flying with a baby, but #1 is probably a moot point already since you already bought the tix:
    1. Buy a seat for the baby. The reasons:
    – You get extra storage under the seat
    – It’s much safer to have the baby in a seat for takeoff and landing. Bonus: you have the carseat and don’t have to check it.
    – It’s also great for eating (solids) and napping. And there’s “a place” for the baby if you have to pee!
    – Nobody wants to sit next to someone with a baby, but especially if it’s a lap child
    – More choices on where to sit (only certain rows have an extra O2 mask for a lap child)

    2. Bring extra clothing in your carry on – for you AND babywoods. We flew a lot with our first child when he was a baby, and it was always a long flight – either cross country or cross the ocean (Hawaii). It’s super convenient to nurse onboard when the baby is that young. I flew alone with my big boy a few times…I think the first time he was a little over a year old. He wasn’t nursing anymore. It was an overnight flight and that little bugger did not want to go to sleep. He eventually fell asleep after I plied him with pretzels. However, he woke up a few hours later and he was soaking wet…diaper leaked ALL over. Changing a baby in an airplane lavatory is awesome! Luckily, baby clothes are small and I had spares. (Super duper lucky because the airline lost our luggage and I didn’t get it back until 5 days later – after I returned home.)

    3. Snacks (the pouches are great), a couple of new toys, a blanket, and your favorite carrier of choice.

    4. Seems weird but when the boys were babies and couldn’t settle down on a plane, I’d stroke their head from top down to their eyes and they fell asleep.

    5. Calculate the # of diapers you need and triple it.

    6. Baby wipes, and the individual alcohol based wipes. I’m a bit of a germophobe.

    1. Agree with point #1. It boggles my mind that babies are allowed to fly without a seat. You can’t even hold your purse on your lap when you take off but somehow you can hold a baby? !!??!! I know it is important to be frugal, but the safety of my kids always seemed worth a few hundred dollars!

  25. Oh, and I agree with some of the other posters to accept help!!

    So that flight where I had to changed a soaked 1 year old overnight? It was the first of 2 flights. The second flight, we had middle/window seats. The aisle was one of the tallest men I’d ever seen. A dad with 3 boys, and his boys were on the other side of the aisle. Probably the oldest was 10.

    When we got to our final destination…that sweet man. He handed my 25 lb backpack to his eldest child. He carried my carseat. All I had to carry was the baby and diaper bag. It was AWESOME. Then he handed me my stuff when we got out of the plane so I could rearrange.

  26. Nice to see you’re able to keep the expenses down despite the move. Good luck travelling solo with Babywoods. I have no advice as I am not a parent except that most people had/have kids so are a lot less annoyed than you probably think they are when your baby is crying.

  27. You’ll do totally fine with the baby. People at airports love babies. Snuggle and nurse for the whole flight, you’ll be fine. Essential oils are nice for lifting spirits and clearing the air. Personally, I don’t pack a lot of toys or distractions because they only keep the baby’s attention for, what?, 2 minutes. I’d rather improvise with straws and the tray table than dig in a big for a pointless toy. Maybe I’ll change my tune with an older baby, but we flew 12 times before my daughter was one. This age is easy!

  28. Good luck traveling with baby. We haven’t flown anywhere with our little one yet, but we have done a few long drives. After one hot, sweaty drive we got this cool pad for her car seat and it is amazing:
    It sounds like you have a great attitude regarding airfare. I always hate paying to fly, so I rarely do it. When I do fly somewhere I try to stay a long time so I feel like I’m getting more for my money.

  29. I was comparing our budget to yours and I see where we need to do some work. One question I have is (sorry if you have answered it elsewhere) do you not buy life insurance? Maybe you do yours through work or do an annual premium which is why it doesn’t show up on this budget?

  30. Nice July FrugalWoods. I’m in the process of writing my July financial update right now!

    Traveling on a plane with a baby is difficult. In my experience (two boys), the baby is almost never comfortable. I wouldn’t expect to get a lot of rest on the plane either.

    Bring plenty of toys and things to entertain your baby….new things they haven’t seen before. When it comes to holding a baby’s attention, some toy they’ve played with a zillion times will pale in comparison to the new and interesting airplane experience.

  31. Glad to see that you’re enjoying Vermont so much. I’ve had a renewed appreciation for where I live this summer because it’s been so nice. Sometimes I take it for granted. You have a lot of advice here on the traveling with baby, so I’m sure you’ll be fine. I know it’s an expense, but I agree with the person who said buy an extra seat, especially on such a long flight, alone. With Mr. FW, you don’t need to. But a crowded flight can be difficult. Hope it goes well for you. Sometime, I’d like to ask you about the benefits of yoga, more for an older person, if you wouldn’t mind.

    1. I think yoga can yield benefits for anyone! What’s so wonderful about it is that you don’t need expensive, complex gear and you can get started at absolutely any level/skill/ability. And, you can do it in your own home! I really like the free website Do Yoga With Me ( and they offer all different levels and types of classes. There’s a section for beginners and for seniors, so you can start wherever you feel most comfortable. I hope you enjoy it!

    1. Hello Bean. I have been in Vermont for eleven years, and, yes, they are high. But, you have to compare apples to apples. They are not as high as many other places around the country. And you can really see where your money goes here. The air is clean, the water is clean, the roads are always well-maintained and plowed in the winter. Gosh, they even mow the sides of the roads to keep back any brush. The schools are very good. Everywhere you look the environment is pristine, something Vermonters pride themselves on (bad English, I know). Everyone is different and looking for different things, but I pay the high-ish taxes here happily because I can see the difference. Just a humble opinion.

      1. All I wanted to know is learn how the Frugalwoods plan to budget for the taxes, especially moving from Cambridge, MA, which has very low property taxes. No criticism of VT at all, just trying to learn more about budgeting.

        1. Bev is right, we Vermonters are kind of in love with our state–we just can’t help it :)! So, to answer your question, we will pay for our property taxes the way we pay for everything else–via our extreme frugality. We actually don’t budget at all, rather we operate on frugal autopilot and spend as little as possible as our default modus operandi. For more on our anti-budget, check out this post: Put Your Life on Frugal Autopilot. And for more on how we manage our money, check out this one: Why We Don’t Micromanage Our Money. Hope this helps :)!

  32. My daughters are older now but I always gate checked the stroller and regular checked the car seat. This includes two trips to Europe with my younger one. The only time it got nerve wracking was the time when there was a possible bomb at our terminal. We got shifted to another terminal on a bus and could not get our luggage because it was in the evacuated terminal (reasonable reason for a luggage delay). We were on Delta and all their spare car seats were in the shut down terminal. I walked over to AirTrans and explained that I was not their customer but that I was hoping to borrow one of theirs (reasonably sized carriers keep extra car seats at their terminals just in case they lose someone’s checked car seat). They not only gave me a car seat but said I could keep it for the week so I would not have to drive back to the airport until I flew home and asked if there was anything else at all they could help me with. I found that checking the car seat and gate checking the stroller was the way to go, even when truly bizarre things happened.

  33. Flying with a baby is not so bad, especially since you’re still nursing. I flew alone with my then 9 month old to a wedding. Check bags, use the ergo, bring books, and even shell out for some phone apps. Free apps have ads baby will hit. We love the peekaboo series: barn, Halloween, presents, forest, wild, etc. I got the bundle. Make sure you add a lap infant in advance to your ticket. They will give you an extra seat if they can. Good luck!

  34. That’s some really affordable car insurance. I’ve been shopping around. I have a 17-yr. old son who is getting ready to take his driver’s test and my car insurance will go through the roof. Care to go public with your insurance company?

  35. Lovely plans to look forward to! You’ll be fine travelling with Babywoods. We went on a trip all through Europe last year when Toddler CTC was still a Baby CTC, and I was surprised by how much fun and how little stress we had.

    As long as we kept her sleeping ritual somewhat in order she was fine and well-rested, and she enjoyed all the attention and entertainment on the road. We could have stayed on the road forever that way.

  36. I don’t have a baby but have traveled and seen plenty of people traveling with babies…. Make sure to ask for the front row seat in your section (ie the one facing the front wall/bathroom wall in your section) since you get more foot room. You don’t get a conveniently placed tv in front of you, but you have space to spread a small blanket or diaper bag on the floor in front of you, and you can get up without bumping your neighbors. I’ve seen plenty of babies in carriers/blankets happily sprawled out on the floor space there since they get to do something besides sit on your lap then.

  37. Oh goodness, trying to remember what we did for flying when my daughter was that tiny. Definitely nursed most of the flight; I chose to use a cover so she wasn’t distracted/ripping herself off to look around(ouch!). I don’t think we ever travelled with the infant carrier carseat, we moved to a convertible at ~ 9 months. Here’s a hack for that if you’re planning to bring a rolling bag:
    We did bring the seat using that hack after 2 years old when we had to buy her a seat and knew she’d be more comfortable in her own seat.
    Prior to that when we didn’t bring a carseat I think we parked at the economy lot, rode the bus to the airport, and rented a carseat at the car rental place at our destination. Yeah, they’re the cheap $35 Cosco Scenara carseats. Yeah, they’re kinda grubby and might be missing something. For a week I figured they were good enough, and I didn’t have to deal with wrangling a seat through security. And Yes, big-ass Britax carseats are sometimes too big to go through the scanner. Each airport is different, I’ve had more success at some than others. For what it’s worth you could buy a Scenera for less $$ than renting one, but I am willing to pay for reducing the hassle there.

    Let’s see, what else at that age? Full stinky diaper as the plane begins descent? Check. Managed that diaper change on the seat back tray in 90 seconds or less. Snacks, screen time, walking up and down the aisle, whatever you need to do, go for it! Kids seem to fly better under age 3 than over, from what I’ve seen and experienced.

  38. I love your monthly updates! Thanks for posting! Ah flying with a baby. My first born flew on about 6 flights before she was a year and then we flew to Italy when she was 2. You can do it! I think it is a bit of a toss up between the ergo and having the stroller. It really depends on how much you are bringing with you and whether you are willing to schlep it all on your back or push it in a stroller. Personally I prefer the stroller because then my back doesn’t hurt as much from carrying everything and I can just push the baby and my other stuff in the stroller. Plus I fly out of Denver where you have to walk FOREVER to get to any gate, so the stroller is awesome minus the minor inconvenience of getting through security. Just leave yourself enough time and you will be fine. TSA is usually very accommodating to parents with babies.
    Our carseat clips into the stroller and has a base for the car. We gate check the stroller and ask if there is room for the carseat on the plane when we get to the gate. If not, we just gate check it. As for the base, we check that before getting to the gate. It will come out with bulk items. It made me nervous whether it would make it to my destination every time, but we’ve never had an issue.
    On the flight, I nursed my daughter at take off and landing and it seemed to really help with her ears. Other than that, just give yourself plenty of time and accept any and all help. You got this!

    1. Thank you for this! I’m leaning towards taking both the Ergo and the stroller (which is a lightweight snap-n-go that the carseat clicks into, sounds like the same thing you have). Good to know re. the carseat base–so do you have to pay to check that at the baggage counter?

      1. Nope! You don’t have to pay to check baby paraphernalia (carseats, carseat base, strollers, etc.). There are actually a lot of nice accommodations for traveling with a baby (under 2) that help make your life a bit easier, like being able to bring breastmilk and baby food, and going through the metal detectors instead of those stupid scanners and just being able to bring more stuff to the gate. I would carry on a diaper bag, my purse and then my actual carry on. I don’t remember if that part is actually by the book but no one ever said anything to me. And the baby came in handy another time when we missed our connection in Charlotte, NC flying back from my husband’s grandma’s funeral. The next flight wan’t until 6 am. The airline was going to make us either stay in the airport or pay for our own hotel. I stood at that counter with a screaming baby in my arms and told them there was no way we were sleeping on the floor and we weren’t paying for our hotel. The lady took pity on us and gave us a free room but didn’t do the same for the angry guy behind us. Thanks baby girl!
        Anyways, another tip I have is if your carseat gets gate checked take the headrest pad thing with you because you will lose it! We learned the hard way. Good luck!

  39. I flew solo with my baby a couple of times when he was under one, and I found it pretty easy. As soon as I walked over to the check-in area, I found myself flanked by airline staff rushing me to the front of the line. I felt like a VIP! I guess they want to make sure you get through quickly so that your kid doesn’t start wailing and annoying other customers. 😉 I carried my son in the Ergo and used the stroller to carry his travel cot and diaper bag. I just let him nurse as much as he wanted, and he slept most of the flight.
    Flying with him as a toddler has been a bit more challenging… My husband and I are about to fly to Europe with him. We live in Australia, so it’s about a 24 hour flight – NOT looking forward to it! I brushed frugality aside yesterday and splurged on this ridiculously expensive toy in the hope that it will keep him entertained on the flight for at least five minutes:
    Good luck – I’m sure you’ll be fine!

    1. Thank you for the encouragement! And good luck on your flight–that latches board looks awesome 🙂

  40. I was wondering if you regularly look at what your retirement budget would be, along the lines of the advice given in “Your Money or Your Life”? I get some generous benefits through work like health insurance and cell phone reimbursement that really help our savings rate now but those costs would come roaring back in retirement. I am constantly tinkering with my magic retirement number for different scenarios (different ages of my children, covering periodic big purchases, paying off the house or not, etc.). It makes semi-retirement feel a little safer, especially with a family.

    1. Yep, we run those scenarios all the time and have a stable of spreadsheets with which we conduct our calculations. Better to be safe than sorry :)!

  41. When I was Nannying the family did a trip to the U S from Australia we were on and off planes 12 times, with a 5 month old, a toddler, a 3 year old and a 5 year old…….I wore the baby in a simple mei ty and the diaper bag was a backpack, which left me hands free to take care of my luggage case, which was then checked in for each flight.
    The baby was used to sleeping on a baby lambskin, so wherever the skin was placed felt like his own bed and he settled well wherever we were, then just rolled up and strapped to the backpack or put in the Phil &Ted pram the older kids were using.

  42. Lots of good advice here. You’re planning ahead and you’ll be fine. Once, I traveled by myself with my older two kids, who were then two-years-old and two-months-old. I did not buy the baby a seat, so he was in a Maya Wrap baby carrier. Yes, nursing was very helpful. For the toddler – I’m sure I did give her snacks! This was before the smartphone era, so I believe it was a little book or crayons and paper to play with. I do remember giving her stickers, as well!

    I definitely recommend taking extra disposable diapers and wipes, and a few disposable plastic bags to use for trash bags (re-use produce bags, grocery bags, etc.) I remember another mom asking me in an airport if I had any extra diapers, because her baby had an upset tummy and was having diarrhea. She was running out of diapers. Yes, one is likely to find disposable diapers for sale in an airport, but it will cost more, and you don’t want to have to search for diapers with a baby who doesn’t feel well (all the while, waiting to board a plane)! That’s why I also suggest the extra wipes and trash bags. Peace of mind is worth it. Thankfully, I did have extra and could share with her. Enjoy your trip(s)!

  43. Wow, so many useful tips for flying with babies and children. My daughter flew with Emma when she was 13 months old and it went much better than she anticipated. She brought books and a an electronic tablet with games and media. Emma isn’t allowed that type of entertainment at home, but it was great to keep her occupied when she became bored.

  44. I’m swooning over your mortgage in Vermont! Regarding travel costs – I sometimes go back and forth between paying for flights and using miles. I was a lot better at using 100pct miles a few years ago. I think getting a dog has made me less likely to book trips with miles. I end up not committing to trips until the last minute until I’m sure I can get boarding. I use mostly Southwest and JetBlue and by that time, I don’t want to waste miles.

  45. Do you make money from your blogging? I had heard you can but didn’t know if it was a true thing or not. Hope that’s not too nosy ????

  46. 5 kids over 16 years. 2 things make travel easy…clean diapers and a well fed baby. Of course is it easy for me since my wife did all the breast feeding (in many public places). I am eternally grateful for her keeping the babies calm over the years with her feeding. Good luck!

  47. My “babies” are all grown up now. But when they were small I worked for an airline (long gone Eastern Airlines), and we traveled with them a lot. My suggestions:
    – Benadryl: (assuming that Benadryl makes your child drowsy…some kids it makes hyperactive, so do a trial run before you get on the plane) Yeah…yeah…I know…you shouldn’t drug your child. But it was our pediatrician who initially made this suggestion. A wise doctor, he said, “If you did it every night, that would be very bad. But on the occasional flight: it makes the child happy, it makes your fellow passengers happy and it makes you happy. So what’s the problem?” Not only did I use it on our kids when they were small; I myself take Benadryl for overnight flights to Europe. I get a decent sleep and I wake up refreshed as we’re landing in Paris or London or wherever.
    – Take advantage of the airport shuttle to get you to and from the gate: As an airline employee, I was reluctant to use the airport shuttles (you know…the beeping carts that zip through the concourses). One time, though, we had a tight connection that we would never make without assistance. We heaped three car seats and three kids and carry-on luggage (as a pass rider, you never check bags) and ourselves on the cart and were whisked effortlessly to our next flight with time to spare. After that, I always informed the flight attendant that I’d need a cart. You will need to tip the driver–but it’s money well spent.
    – Babywoods is too young to pack her own bags now, but as soon as she can, have her pack her own books and toys in a small backpack that she carries herself. Of course, you still have to pack diapers and wipes and food and clothes and all the other truly essential stuff. But if she packs her own toys and books, she will very quickly learn to be a responsible traveler. The first time our kids forgot to pack a favorite toy…we did nothing. They managed without, and they learned not to rely on us. Result: Our three children have been AWESOME travelers all their lives.

    Bon voyage!

  48. Hi Frugal,
    I just started reading your blog as I’m currently in the position to start homesteading and I was wondering what you all do/did for a living. What was your initial budget and savings? To me, these are the biggest concerns as we plan the move with less than $1,000 mortgage, 1 car, and an adequate savings, but neither of us have worked “high paying” jobs and don’t see any in the area in which we will be moving. Thanks and keep up the great work.

    1. Hi Jake-Thanks for reading! So our approach was to both work well-paying jobs for close to 10 years and to save a very high percentage (over 70%) of our income. We also both continue to work from home here on our homestead. Here are a few posts that’ll hopefully give you some more background on our approach: Career Management: How We’re Reaching Financial Independence On Two Nonprofit Salaries, The Finances Of Our City Rental And Country Homestead, Frugal Homestead Series Part 2: Here’s The Budget, and Why (and how) I Became a Work-At-Home Mom.

      I hope these help and best of luck to you on this exiting adventure!

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