Growing up, when it was time for our family vacations, we all piled in our van and hit the road. I can’t even begin to count how many road trips I’ve taken in my life, many of them to Florida! Those were the days when it was far more economical to drive a huge van 15+ hours than it was to buy four separate plane tickets. Today, I’m not so sure that’s the case. I took my first flight when I was 18 years old (to Spain no less… how is that for a first flight?), but since moving to Florida, I have become a frequent flyer.
Our daughter first flew when she was two months old and has taken a total of five trips by plane. Needless to say, she’s growing up very differently than I did, but that’s what you get when you have family all over the country. I took my six month old son on his first flight a couple weekends ago, marking my second solo trip on an airplane with a baby. That in itself is an accomplishing feat.
Here are a few things I’ve learned while traveling with our tots:
Pack as light as possible.
Most of the time, I find myself packing far less for myself so I can still pack what I think I’ll need for the baby. Anything that will make their daily routine as normal as possible is a must.
Borrow as much as we can
Car seats, pack-n-plays, strollers, and this past trip I even borrowed a breast pump! Don’t worry, I brought all of my own accessories, but they took up far less space than the entire pump would have.
For our trip this fall, we won’t have the luxury of borrowing items since we are going to a different city, but I’m planning to look into renting car seats and using a hotel crib. Also, I usually send a small list to our hostess to have them pick up some diapers, wipes, and baby food in advance to save space when packing. If that’s not an option, you could always ship diapers and wipes to your final destination so they’ll be there when you arrive.
Pack identification for your child
…even if it’s clear that your baby is a lap child under the age of two. I was shocked when we showed up with our two month old and they asked to see her identification. We didn’t have anything with us, but ended up getting her shot records for our return flight home. Now we never leave home without them.
If you’re child is pushing the age of two, they will most definitely want to see a birth certificate or shot records. On that note, we always flew with a lap child and have lucked out with an open seat next two us twice. Our trips were short enough that we never considered purchasing an extra seat, but if you’re traveling a long distance, it may be good to consider.
The quickest way to get through security at the airport is babywearing! The perk of babywearing is that you do not have to take baby or toddler out of the carrier to go through the metal detector. TSA will pull you aside to do a quick swipe of your hands to make sure you’re good to go. This is even better when you have a sleeping baby that you don’t want to disturb.
I am a huge fan of the Ergobaby carrier since it’s easy to get on and off and can be worn in the front or back. Although, once you board the plane you do have to take them out of the carrier for safety purposes. We have also traveled with an umbrella stroller, since we needed it on the trip — but you do have to put the stroller through the x-ray machine at security. I always prefer to wear my child, especially if traveling alone!
Traveling with a baby or toddler can be very nerve wracking, but I have been pleasantly surprised how nice and understanding people can be. While flying solo, several different people have offered to put my luggage in the overhead bin and take it down for me. I happily took them up on this and thanked them profusely.
This past trip while my completely overtired child was screaming on the flight, a couple (sans their own children) started talking to me about how their own children fought going to sleep too. It was comforting to me to know that they’ve been there too, and even if they were completely annoyed by it, they didn’t let it show. The bottom line is, try not to stress yourself out too much. Even if the trip isn’t going as planned, you’ll survive — and the destination always makes it worthwhile.
We will be taking our first trip with two tots soon, so if you have any tips for me, I would love to hear them!