You guys, this trip really sprang up on me. I’ve had my flight booked since February, but for some reason, I can’t believe it’s actually HERE!
We’re heading to sunny (well, it BETTER be) Florida to celebrate the wedding of two of our dear friends. I’ve flown many a time for work and pleasure, but this marks my first trip with the babe… and I’m doing it solo with my wild and crazy one-year-old.
As someone who doesn’t do well with anxiety-inducing scenarios, I took to the social outlets for pre-travel input from the experts — MOMS. Here are some great tips they shared with me to make my expedition through the airport/flights a little more manageable.
Make a Packing List
This is something I’ve always done, but it’s even more important when you’re packing for two and the second party demands your attention while at home. The trips I’ve taken where I didn’t make my list, I ALWAYS forgot something important (like the time I went to a business meeting in Miami wearing mismatched shoes).
I started my list a week ago when I wasn’t in crunch mode and have gone back to refine it several times. This will help me tonight when the actual packing begins — I’ll simply need to casually dash through the house checking off items as I go.
This is a tip I learned during my first days of work travel. Checking in RIGHT at the 24-hour mark ensures you have a pretty good spot in the boarding line. Set a reminder on your calendar and phone to make sure you don’t miss this opportunity. We fly American Airlines, so I knew I didn’t want to be stuck in a group towards the back. There’s a good likelihood I’ll board early with having the baby anyway, but I am not taking any chances.
Arrive a Bit Earlier than Usual
I’m one who is always getting to the airport exactly 1.5 hours before my flight. This time is broken down like this: 30-45 minutes for security, 30 minutes for getting to the gate, using the restroom and getting a drink and then boarding 20-30 minutes before takeoff.
With a child, security may take a little while longer. In addition, there’s the inevitable diaper change requirement and possible need to feed. I’ll plan for a 2-hour prep to ensure she and I are both comfortable without rushing around.
Car Seats Ship Free
If you need to pack a car seat for your travels and aren’t planning to use the seat while in-flight, most airlines will accept your car seat through baggage for FREE. My best friend regularly travels with hers and says she wraps the seat in trash bags before her trip to make sure it doesn’t get dirty in baggage.
Wear Your Baby
If your kiddo cooperates and tolerates a front-wearing sling, consider using it through the airport. It will free up your hands for other things, like toting luggage.
Umbrella Stroller over Full Stroller
If your little is like mine (a la ENERGETIC) and a sling isn’t an option, opt for an umbrella stroller. According to the airline websites, any strollers over 20lbs must be checked at the ticket counter. You will certainly need the stroller while getting through the airport, so an umbrella stroller gives you that option while being light and compact for deconstructing at the gate.
Pack Frozen/Fresh Breastmilk and Formula Wisely
If you plan to carry on breastmilk like I am, you’ll want to keep it accessible and clearly labeled. TSA requires you to declare any liquids over 3.5 oz for a security check.
If your liquids are defrosted, plan for an extra 5-10 minutes while they test the fluid. A TSA agent told me during my last flight that if my milk had been frozen they would not have had to test it in their system, so freeze if you have the option!
Nurse/Bottle During Takeoff and Landing
As adults, we all know the old trick of chewing gum or blowing out during takeoff to make sure your ears pop with the altitude change. Babies, unfortunately, do not know this golden rule. Plan to nurse your baby or offer them a bottle during takeoff and landing to ensure their ears aren’t impacted by the climb and descent in altitude.
Entertain with Books, Apps, Toys and Stickers
I had planned to bring toys for Ev to play with, but I know how quickly she’s ready to move on to the next item. What do you do when you’re stuck on a 2-hour flight and your little one has moved through all of the toys in 10 minutes?
Whip out one of a few items:
- Stickers: A co-worker and several Moms on Facebook suggested sticker books. The stickers require time/skills to peel off of the page and keep a child busy without making a mess.
- Mobile Apps: Download wifi-free apps to your phone or iPad that are educational and NEW to the baby. This will help keep their interest and maybe even put them to sleep!
- DVD of TV Shows or Movies: If your child will watch TV, consider downloading a movie to your mobile device prior to your flight. This way you don’t run the risk of your entertainment failing mid-flight.
So what other tips have you been told? Anything worth noting to make sure your trip is a success? Much love and MUCH appreciated!