Ooooo the idea of going on vacation is usually filled with warm, fuzzy feelings. Beaches, food, maybe some drinks, a good book, seeing a new place...whatever it may be, it's going to be amazing.
Until you realize you have a baby. And that baby must also come with you.
Then images of your last plane ride home from Mexico surface where a baby was crying on the plane for 3 hours and you look down at your little Jimmy and think "o shit, that could be him".
I would really love to tell you that if you follow everything in this blog your plane ride will be as smooth as a bald man's head (get it?)...but the reality is, you could do everything right and your baby may have alternative plans.
BUT these tips will certainly help make the trip more organized and less stressful, even if little Jimmy does cry the whole way.
P.s. How adorable is little Miss Esmé in her summer hat!!
1. What Seats Should You Pick
Before you even think about what to pack or how to navigate the traveling, you need to book your trip! If possible, you should try to select your seats ahead of time, even if you have to pay a small price...it will make it worth it. If for some reason, you cannot pick your seats, when you get to the airport, either speak with the check-in peeps or the people at the gate. They can sometimes switch seats and are more inclined when they know there is a baby involved.
If you get to pick your seats, opt for an aisle seat. If you're traveling with your partner, you can both do an aisle seat or you can do one aisle and one person in the middle seat. The aisle seat is key because you can easily get up and down with the baby rather than trying to shuffle from the window seat past strangers.
2. Baby on lap or in own seat?
This is up to you. Some things to consider are: babies travel for free under 2 when sitting on someone's lap. The downside is then they are on your lap the whole time. Also, some people don't like this because should anything happen with the plane like an accident, the baby is not in a secure seat like a carseat. If you wish, you can opt to buy your baby their own seat.
3. Airport Tips
Arrive 20ish minutes earlier than you normally would. There tends to be a little bit more involved with a baby because you now have a lot more luggage and there may be additional security checks done if you have formula and such. On our way back from Florida we had to have all our carry-on bags and things inside swabbed and double-checked since we brought formula with us. Obviously not a big deal because we weren't trying to smuggle drugs across the border but it does add more time to the process.
Wait to get onto the plane until everyone else is on. Airports generally let families on before the normal crowd but it's more ideal just to wait until the end. Once you're on the plane you're going to be sitting for at least 30ish minutes until take-off and when the seatbelt sign comes off so waiting until everyone else is on saves you from having to sit in your seat for an addition 10-20 minutes until ready for take-off.
4. What To Do With Your Stroller
There are two options here: you can either check your stroller with your luggage or you can bring it with you to the gate and gate check it when you get on the plane. We opted for the latter as this allowed Esmé to stay in the stroller through all the security check points.
If you check it with your luggage, definitely have your baby carrier ready so you can throw little bubs in there. If you check it at the gate, you will want to fold it up & bag it about 5-10 mins before getting on the plane. You will then carry it down the hallway to the plane entrance and leave it right there and some lovely airport person will stow it away on the plane somewhere. It will be waiting in the same spot when you get off the plane.
5. Buy Stroller + Carseat Bags
We all know that our luggage gets tossed around when being handled by the airport people. Your stroller is no different. Unless you have a stroller you don't care about, I recommend buying traveling bags for your stroller + carseat. You can look on Amazon or wherever you purchased your stroller and they should have their own travel bags for purchase.
6. How To Help Their Ears
We all know that crappy feeling of our ears popping when taking off or landing. Now imagine being a baby and not knowing what that feeling is...it sucks! Try to time it that you feed the baby during take-off and landing. If they aren't hungry but do take a soother, have that ready to stick in their mouth. The sucking motion helps avoid/alleviate their ears popping.
Esmé was not bothered by the take-off or landing at all so we are very thankful for that!
7. Carry-on Diaper Bag
This is where being organized comes is key. We brought two carry-on backpacks and a small fanny pack type bag (Emmanuel wore it. Hello dad alert LOL). The fanny pack held our passports and boarding passes so they were easily accessible. One of the backpacks held the things we wanted on the plane: headphones, book, iPad etc.
The other backpack is Esmé's diaper bag. These are the items we put in her bag:
Formula + bottles. We use canned formula so we brought 6 on the way down and 4 on the way back. Make sure you account for the time spent in the airport when deciding how much to bring
Extra change of clothes for Esmé + an extra t-shirt for us. Babies are messy. Need I say more
2 bibs + 2 spit up cloths
Ziploc baggy: baby Tylenol + nose sucker. Esmé had a cold when we left but I would still bring the baby Tylenol anyways just in case
Mesh baggy: toys. We brought about 4 different toys for her to play with
Portable change station. This had wipes, 10 diapers, plastic bags and change pad in it. If you don't have one of these, no worries, but I would recommend putting these in a separate bag in your diaper bag. It's much easier to grab this then have to worry about taking the whole diaper bag to the bathroom
Spare soother. If you have a soother baby, you definitely want to make sure you pack an extra soother just in case your current one gets lost or breaks
Carrier. Babies tend to be less fussy if they are being rocked and bounced around a little bit. This is easier to do if you can stand and walk around. Using the carrier is a great way to keep baby happy while ensuring your arms don't fall off from holding them. On the way to Florida, I stood in the back by the washrooms and held Esmé for most of the flight so she could sleep. Unfortunately on the way home the seatbelt sign was on most of the time so we didn't get to stand much.
Overall, travelling with little munchkins can really go either way...smooth sailing or a shit storm...but at the end of the day, it will definitely help to be prepared for the first, be super organized and remember to take deep breathes. You'll probably never see the folks on your plane again so who cares if they were miserable because your baby cried...babies cry, it's one of their best skills. Those people will get over it!
Good luck mama.