Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Traveling with a Little One

hello and happy almost hump day! as i mentioned in little man's 9 month update, we just got back from visiting husband in new york so today i thought i'd write a little bit about my experience traveling with a little one. having only flown with him to and from new york, i am by no means an expert, but here are a few things i did learn.

on the flight to new york, i had my husband with me, so i felt much better about making the trip there. an extra set of hands was definitely helpful. on the way home, however, i was flying by myself, so i took the time to make sure i was there early, had a decent layover in between flights so i wasn't rushing with the little one and talked (made nice) with the flight attendants so that if lincoln did end up having the dreaded meltdown on the plane, at least they'd be nice to me, haha!

before our flight, i reached out to friends with little ones who had already flown with babes, and that was so very helpful! they almost  all had the same things to say. be prepared by packing lots of diapers, changes of clothes (for both you and baby!), plenty of formula/breast milk, snacks, and a favorite/new toy. bring your stroller with you and an ergo/wrap so you can push baby/luggage through the airport and gate check those larger items. most of them suggested trying to get a window seat, but i found it was better to be in the aisle (but more about that later).

let's talk about what to pack first! in my diaper bag went 10 diapers (seriously 10!) and plenty of wipes. we were traveling all day and i wanted to be prepared. two changes of clothes for baby and an extra shirt for me (little man still has a tendency to spit up), burp rag, bib, a blanket, squeezable baby food (life saver!), teething biscuits and baby "puffs" for him to snack on, a couple of teethers, a rattle and a few other random toys i knew he liked.  i also packed 3 empty bottles and individually packaged formula packs.  we purchased bottled water once we got through security to mix with the formula (for you nursing mamas who want to bring breast milk through security, i would just call the airport ahead of time and make sure you won't have an issue. everything i've read has suggested that you shouldn't!) i also had my wallet, cell phone, etc. i can honestly say i used each and every one of these items and while i probably didn't need 10 diapers, i was happy to have more than enough as opposed to running out. the extra set of clothes was perfect too, because we had a little feeding mishap on one of our layovers and i ended up squeezing food all over the poor little guys shirt.

we made sure to bring our stroller and this was a lifesaver! our stroller is big enough that it could hold an entire duffel bag on the bottom and i could hook the diaper bag onto the handle, so having it to carry both our luggage and the little guy meant that i could be hands free while being in the airport. it was super easy to gate check (you get to board the plane early with little ones, so you have plenty of time to fold up the stroller as you're boarding the plane and leave it at the gate) and if the little guy fell asleep during our layover (he did on the way home) he could sleep peacefully in the stroller and i didn't have to sit and hold him.

we also brought our ergo, but i think we could have gone without this. i had it with me, particularly for on the way back, thinking if i had my hands full with baby/luggage, i could just strap him on me and then put suitcases, etc. in the stroller and push. i never ended up using it and found it easier to just check the luggage and just have the stroller, diaper bag and baby with me.

on the flight there, we had a window seat and a middle seat and then on another flight we had an aisle seat and a middle seat. the perk of having a window seat is you can distract the little one by having him look out the window. everything is so new to them that it can hold their interests for a while. i think this would be a great idea for toddler aged kiddos, but for the younger ones (under one) i found having an aisle seat was much better. lincoln got fussy (ok all out screamed for the first 20 minutes or so of our second flight on the way to NY) and it wasn't until i got up with him and walked to the back of the plane and rocked him to sleep that he calmed down. had we been stuck with the window seat and had to disturb people sitting next to us with a screaming baby, id on't know how well that would have gone down. having that aisle seat allowed me to get up quickly and calm him down quickly. it was also nice to let him sit and "play" in the aisle while we were flying and after the flight attendants served drinks/snacks. it gave my mama arms a rest! ;0p

i think this next little tip is probably already well known, but i'll just reiterate it quickly here anyways. make sure to feed your little one a bottle or give them a pacifier on both take off and landing so their little ears don't start to hurt! if you can't get them to take either, and they aren't sleeping, i found having snacks on hand helped too. at least this way their chewing/swallowing and hopefully that will help their ears "pop."

when it came to boarding the plane, it's pretty easy. if you're traveling with little ones they let you board early so you can get yourself situated. i made sure to take advantage of that and unpack everything i thought i would "need" and put it in the seat pocket right away so i wasn't having to constantly get out of my seat and into my bag. when it came to getting off the plane, i got up and moved to the back of the plane (by the flight attendants) and let everyone off before me, because i knew it would take me longer to pack up my stuff and get me and baby off the plane. this was just a little way i tried to be considerate of people who may of been in a hurry and i think it went a long way/people appreciated it.

finally, since we were flying across the country i knew we were going to have to stop. we made sure to give ourselves a longer layover on the way home when i was traveling by myself, so i wouldn't feel rushed or have to run through an airport with a baby. this was huge. it was really nice to be able to take my time getting off the plane and then have time to get food for both lincoln and myself, change his diaper, and give him some time to play/stretch his legs before getting cooped up on the plane again. if you aren't in a hurry and time allows, i would highly recommend giving yourself a little time to get from one flight to another.

overall, with the exception of the 20 minutes i mentioned above, all of our flights were super successful! little man either slept or cooed and played with the people around us. we were super lucky to be sitting next to very nice people who "played" with the baby and the flight attendants were wonderful and made sure we had everything we needed.

one last tip...i mentioned that i "made nice" with the flight attendants on each flight. this really paid off on my flight home because they ended up switching me seats so that i would have an empty seat next to me which gave me more room and allowed lincoln to play a little bit. this was HUGE! and a highly recommend checking in before each flight to see if the flight is full or not. if not, it never hurts to ask to get moved to a seat with an empty one next to you if you're traveling with a lap infant. that extra room is everything!!

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