I am a worry freak when it comes to traveling on long road trips or flying with Lillian. I have had to brave it alone doing both. I have done lots of talking to other moms and flight attendants, and have done internet research while compiling my own personal observations on how to make flying with a baby easier. I even have one friend who gave me tips from a child educator on this very topic!
Let me say just say this… there is no amount of preparation that can prevent a meltdown or temper tantrum. These things just happen sometimes. People are more compassionate for the traveling parent than I gave them credit for. I have had many people lend a hand.
I decided early on that the joy of seeing friends and family and keeping my life far outweighed the discomforts of traveling. So I chose not to let distance stop me from living my life. I am so thankful now that I have taken these trips! Lillian and I have bonded and grown in confidence, together. Believe me, traveling might be stressful. There have been times I sweated like crazy just trying to get to my destination.But it is worth it.
Which leads me to this: I still wanted to come up with some sort of a plan so I wouldn’t kick myself at the airport. Anything to make it easier on myself, Lillian, and all those around us would help! So here are the tips I have found useful for flying with a baby. Hope it helps!
1. Remember to check in online.
This seems simple, but I always forget. If you don’t have assigned seats or check in on time, ask when family boarding is and be prepared for it.
2. Bring baby shot records or birth certificate.
I definitely missed this step the first time I took Lillian on a trip. Check with your airline for rules but most do need to see one of these forms of identification.
3. Check your bag(s).
Try to have the least amount of baggage as possible with you walking through security and the terminal. Checking bags helps lighten your load.
4. Have someone walk you in.
This seems simple but gets overlooked. If you can have your ride help you get checked in you can focus on getting your bag properly tagged, your boarding pass tucked away in a good spot, and take care of any last minute baggage shuffling.
5. Dress for the security check.
With a baby it can be difficult to get everything in order at the security line. Put your liquids in a bag easy to access, wear slip off shoes, avoid belts and heavy jewelry, and have baby ready to be pulled out of carrier. This is my least favorite part of traveling. Bah.
6. Eat before you arrive at the airport.
This sounds silly, but I love eating at the airport. I always get a Starbucks or sandwich and enjoy it before the flight. This has proved impossible for me with Lillian. Last time I tried to eat with baby I ended up with a Sprite spilled all over the seat and a half eaten salad on my lap! Awful. But brings snacks to munch on if your sweet little one falls asleep and gives you a second to eat:).
7. Pack as little as possible for carry-on bags and be hands free through the terminal.
I have learned to pack lean. Don’t bring anything that is not a necessity in your diaper bag.
Also, make sure to pack your diaper bag strategically. I put snacks on one side, easy to reach. I put toys in another compartment. Then I put diapers, wipes, feeding supplies, and changing mat in another area. It is extremely difficult to manage tons of bags in the teeny tiny seat you pay hundreds of dollars for. I have had to look for Sophie the Giraffe under the seat a couple times and it was no bueno.
Next, consider taking a stroller and car seat with you to the gate. Most airlines will allow you to take an fill an empty seat on the airplane with your car seat if the flight is NOT full. Check before your flight with the gate attendant for your specific airline policies. I have been lucky several times and it has been awesome not having her on my lap. I feel like she is safer and the extra room is heavenly. If the flight is full then the attendant will check your car seat. *When you arrive to the gate they will tag your stroller for you to be checked, and you can stroll your baby straight to the airplane and leave it right before you board. This has worked wonders for me, and allowed me to check extra equipment for FREE! (If you prefer not to take this equipment, use a hands free baby carrier like a baby Bjorn.)
Toys, toys, toys! Apparently hand puppets work well on airplanes as a good distraction. I bring a hand puppet, light up musical toy, homemade rattle (Cheerios in a small Tupperware), teething toy, and my i-phone which has a few episodes of Yo gabba gabba (the sleep episode works wonders!). Just remember to keep the volume low!
9. Find a cozy spot.
I try to find a spot near the back of the plane. I seek out family friendly people that will understand if baby is a bit moody. I say a friendly “hello” to the flight attendant if possible, as they will be my helper during the flight. I like to sit near the restroom. I have often had rows to myself by sitting in the back, especially if the flight is not full.
10. Feed during takeoff and landing, and consider giving baby pain reliever if they are teething or in pain from elevation.
I feed my baby a bottle during takeoff and landing to relieve ear pressure. I also bring snacks such as baby crackers and puréed fruit packs to keep her little mouth moving.
One more thing to keep in mind: timing. If your baby is happier during the morning, consider a flight then. I usually fly at night because I can bank on Lillian sleeping. Just a thought.
I hope these tips help you as you prepare your travels! Good luck to you. Be a brave and relentless parent as you travel and live your adventure!
Hi All! I just wanted to add a few tidbits POST baby travel adventure.
-Remember to change your babies diaper before you get on the plane. I know, simple, right? I almost forgot!
-You can actually check two bags in and take your stroller and car seat with you to the gate and they will check it there. That saves you some serious money. Just make sure to have help to and from the airport.
-I found another lady with a baby and sat with her. It was fun and awesome, and like a play-date!
Hope this update helps!
Please leave any ideas you have below:).