I completely intended to write this earlier, but as those with kids know, time seems to fly by!
As most of you have read from previous posts, I’ve done a little traveling with Miss Charlotte over the past couple of months. We’ve taken two roads trips (about 3.5-4 hours) and four plane rides. So I thought it might be helpful, or at least entertaining, to write a post about how our travels went and how to travel with a baby.
The road trips weren’t too bad since they weren’t that long and there’s something magical about a car seat and movement for babies – it is truly the cure for getting them to sleep! The best part about road trips is that you don’t have to worry about trying to pack light as you can just throw anything and everything in the car and not have to worry about security checkpoints! Granted, it was hard to pack for MN as I had no idea what I would need/want for spending a week away from home.
So here’s what we brought with us to MN:
– Bassinet for sleeping (Jed had our pack and play down in Texas for our visit there)
– Bottles and bottle warmer
– Boppy pillow
– The obvious – clothes, pacifiers, a couple of blankets, burp clothes, etc.
My mom picked up diapers and wipes and we also bought a playmat to keep at Grandma and Grandpa’s house for future visits since we didn’t bring any toys with us.
Now taking a baby on a plane was a totally different story. I was SO excited for us to visit Jed, but I was also SO anxious for traveling by myself with a 2-month old. My nerves were a wreck that week. I was literally googling advice every day for about two weeks to figure out what I needed, what to expect, etc. Here are a few sites I visited that were really helpful:
I also called the airline we were traveling on to ask them questions and make sure they knew I was flying with an infant in lap (since I bought our tickets through a third-party agent).
The Diaper Bag:
Of course I packed the usual items, but I made sure to only pack a day’s worth so as to not overload it as I would have to carry it (thankfully we have a backpack diaper bag, which works great!). I packed diapers, wipes, pacifiers, a blanket, hand sanitizer, an extra change of clothes for Charlotte, a changing pad, I had two bottles for on the way down, an empty thermos (I’ll explain why), my phone and wallet (with only necessary items such as driver’s license, credit card, etc.). I also packed my iPad thinking I could use it to distract Charlotte on the plane, but I never used it and packed it in my checked luggage on the way back. I also packed infant Tylenol and gas relief drops. Of course all the liquids were in a plastic bag at the top of the bag for easy accessibility, along with the iPad and bottles.
As for the empty thermos, I brought that along to heat up bottles. I wasn’t sure if they would be able to heat the bottles on the plane and I also didn’t want to have to wait for a flight attendant, especially if Charlotte was really hungry. So once we got through security, I went to a coffee shop and politely asked if they would fill it up 1/4 full of hot water. That way, when I thought she was starting to get hungry, I just put the bottle in the thermos for a minute or two and it warmed it right up! It worked great and I highly recommend this method if you’re not sure you have another way to heat up a bottle.
I’m sure you’re all familiar with the usual security checks such as making sure liquids are in plastic bags and needing to remove your shoes. I made sure to wear shoes that were comfortable but also easy to take off/put on since I would have one baby, one diaper bag and only two hands. What I did not know was that they needed to check the milk. So when we got in line, we went through the regular metal detector (not the full body scan) and then also had to have my palms checked (this is a security check for explosive residue I guess). After having my palms tested we followed a TSA agent over to a machine that could check the milk without opening it. Of course it was broken so they did have to open the two bottles and put this strip over (not in) the milk to test. After that, we were done.
The Way Down:
On the way down to Texas I decided to carry Charlotte in a Baby Bjorn. I figured this would be easiest and best as she would be close to me and be comforted by being close. It was probably great for her, but it was not ideal for me traveling alone. Thank goodness I didn’t have to go to the bathroom because I wouldn’t have had anywhere to put her down (or I would have had to be really creative and she would have had to sit on my lap). The Baby Bjorn is great once you get baby in it, but trying to put it on while holding a baby is basically impossible. Thank goodness the flight attendants were all really helpful and held Charlotte while I put it on. You’re not allowed to keep the baby in a carrier while in flight. I didn’t ask why, but am assuming it’s because you need to put on your seat belt and you can’t do that easily with a baby strapped in a carrier.
Right when I got in my seat I got out a bottle and the thermos of hot water and got it ready knowing I would want her to have the bottle during take off. They say it’s good for a baby to suck on a bottle or pacifier while taking off/landing to help with the pressure changes in their ears.
Charlotte did really well on both the flights down. She was awake and alert the whole first flight and slept through the second one.
The Way Back:
We bought a small, fold-up stroller down in Texas and I decided to take that instead of using the Baby Bjorn on the way back to Des Moines. This worked SO much better because I was able to go to the bathroom and even more importantly, interact with her while we were waiting for our next flight. Plus, our connecting flight was pretty far away in the airport and it was much easier and faster to walk her in the stroller than to carry her. I did make sure to cover the stroller with a blanket so that she wouldn’t get overstimulated and also to try to keep germs at bay. It was nice as I could just check it at the gate and carry her onto the plane with me. Much easier than trying to get in and out of the carrier.
Again, Charlotte did well on both flights back to Des Moines. A little fussiness on the first flight, but that was because she was tired and she fell asleep pretty quickly after a bottle.
Things to Consider/Know:
1. Try to fly during baby’s nap times/sleep times (if possible). It worked that we flew at night as she slept on the second flight each way.
2. Try to get the bulkhead seats or aisle seats (unless you’re flying with someone). Luckily I didn’t need to get up and rock her, but if I did, I would want to be in the aisle to make sure it would be easy to get up and walk with her a little bit.
3. Ask if the flight is full or if you can be moved to have an empty seat next to you. They did this for me on the way back and it was so nice to have a seat to put things on since I didn’t have anyone traveling with me to help.
4. Bring one more bottle than you think you’ll need. We were delayed going down and coming back, which seems to be the norm now. I always say it’s better to have and not need than need and not have!
5. Diaper bags are in addition to your carry on.
6. I double diapered Charlotte as we were having a lot of blowouts. I bought a cloth diaper and put the outer cover over a disposable diaper – just in case.
7. Ask the flight attendants for help. All of the flight attendants were so helpful and willing to help us on the flights – from putting the diaper bag in the overhead compartment to holding Charlotte while I put on the Baby Bjorn. Don’t be shy to ask!
8. Certain liquids like milk and medicine don’t apply to the 3 ounce rule, but only bring enough to cover the flight(s).
9. I put Charlotte in pajamas since they would cover her feet and we were traveling at night. It kept her warm and I could also put her straight to bed (after a quick diaper change) upon arrival home.
I’m sure there is a lot more, but this is the important stuff that I can remember.
Have you flown or traveled long-distances with your little one? What do you recommend? Anything you didn’t have that you wish you did?