WhatIWore: Last week Felix and I took our first flights together as we traveled to visit my sister in southern Alabama. I’m no expert, but things did go pretty smoothly, probably because I crowd sourced some tricks and tips from other parents before I left. My baby is six months old for reference. Here’s what we did and why it worked for us! Please feel free to jump on this facebook post and add any additional ideas!
Step One: Ship Large Items Ahead of Time
I made the choice to travel without a carseat or stroller through the airport and baby wear Felix instead. I’ve heard horror stories of car seats being damaged in the cargo hold of the plane and once one of those are broken, it’s dangerous for a child. Instead, I bought a $44 carseat online and had it shipped to my sister ahead of time for her to install prior to picking us up in the airport. It would cost $50 round trip to check it and didn’t want to haul it with me on tight connections between flights (I believe you can gate check it if you don’t have that issue). In the same order I also got a big box of daytime disposable diapers and wipes. This saved me suitcase space and I only paid for one checked bag.
Step Two: Go Hands Free
In the airport I wore Felix in a soft baby wrap and took a backpack, which let me have both hands free to get out my tickets, have a bite to eat or grab something from my jacket (I wore a style with big, easy to access patch pockets). My backpack was small enough to fit in the bins overhead (which I did after the first flight) so I took out one extra Ziplock with me on the plane with water, toys and anything else I thought I’d need for the following flights. This also left me with more leg room. Although I had to take Felix out of the wrap for take off and landing in the plane, I kept him in the wrap through security and while in the airport terminals.
Step Three: Get Organized
The night before I left I got out a Sharpie and some gallon sized Ziplock bags and labeled them with contents. Something like:
- Bag 1: Change of tee shirt for me, onesie for Felix (wish I had brought two for him!)
- Bag 2: Toys for the Plane (Sophie, teether, Pigeon)
- Bag 3: Liquids and Medicine (my medication, baby Tylenol, hand cream, nasal spray, chapstick)
- Bag 4: Package of wipes, 3 diapers*
- Bag 5: Computer, Camera and Phone cords and chargers
- Extra Bags for dirty stuff
This was a great way for me to be sure I wasn’t forgetting anything and to know what was in each bag (instead of just packing things in different compartments). I also realized what I didn’t need with me on the trip by using this method, thus lightening my load for subsequent flights. I felt like between the baby and the backpack I was carrying 40+ lbs around with me, but at least I got my workout in both days!
*While we’re on the topic of diapers, I packed 10 high absorbency overnight disposable diapers total for our travels (as well as extras in our checked luggage). I changed Felix before getting on each flight and I thank my lucky stars we had no blowouts or poo action on the plane (but those farts… man those are henious). Ten diapers were about two per hour and I only went through 4-5 on each travel day (while at the airport or in flight). Everyone says take way more than you need and I agree! They’re lightweight so as long as you can cram ‘em into your bag, take ‘em! My little ziplock kit came in handy instead of my big backpack when I had one change to do on the plane (thought it was going to be a five wipe sitation, turned out to be those aforemented toots). I refilled my little change kit with diapers when I was at the changing station at the airport.
Step Four: Remember that Everything is a Toy**
Felix spent the flight playing with: my necklace, a half empty water bottle, my iPhone and the safety card in the backseat pocket. And that was it. I had other toys ready to go, but he just liked being in a new/different place and seeing new things. Other parents have told me to keep some new toys hidden from your little one until on the flight to fight the boredom factor.
**Unless it’s something like a plastic bag and marked this is not a toy. Duh.
I also tried to move him around as much as possible when he was awake. Facing me, facing forward, facing me but with his feet on the floor. Standing up in the aisle and swaying for a minute. When he found something he liked, mommy complied. Honestly, it was work and I was happy to be at my final destination but it wasn’t that bad. Thanks Felix for being such a trooper!
Step Five: Keep Calm and Carry On
People are nice to women with babies! I was a little worried I’d have that baby that screamed the whole flight but out of my four seatmates, three of them were men who told me about their own kids as soon as I sat down. People would make eye contact with Felix and smile and make faces. Everyone was very friendly to us. Two guys even offered to trade me for an empty row (I said yes). People know you’re doing your best, even if your child is having a hard time. And keep in mind that everyone’s ears hurt from pressure on the plane, not just your little one. Landing seemed worse than take off for us. I opted to feed Felix any tme my ears started popping, so get that boob, bottle or sippy cup ready!!
Finally: Be Flexible
I was really lucky to have good travel karma on this trip. My friend Nelson says that if you expect travel trouble, you’ll get it, but if you go with the flow, everything will work out. I think it’s true too! This time I planned my connection through a city I where I had friends just in case so I wasn’t worried about the possibility of being stranded if a flight was canceled. I used to be a captial B about going through security and get so pissed about having my bags triple checked. This time, in my mind I was like “whatever! I’m not hiding anything in my baby wrap!” (yes, they did try to look in there!) I connected from Gate B to Gate E and I wasn’t an anxious mess looking up my flight on the board. I just strolled over there and made it in enough time to get a snack.
Having a good, laid back attitude was essential and I’m so glad that everything worked out. Minus one thing: my jeans split in the crotch sometime between a bathroom pit stop in Indy and one in Florida. Ha! I didn’t even realize it! I had on a long jacket, so it wasn’t a big deal and used an iron on patch to fix it up before I wore the jeans again. But if that’s the worst thing that can happen, I’ll take it!
Do you have any essential travel tips for other parents? Please share on facebook, and let us know how old your baby/kids were when you traveled! I know I’ll need more ideas by the time we fly and Felix is a toddler!