Sun, surf and seafood! Three of my favorite things. We just got back from our amazing trip to Maui. It was everything I could have dreamed of- beautiful weather, breathtaking beaches and spectacular sunsets. Oh and the food… to DIE for! We’ve been to Maui a few times with our families, but this was the first time that we traveled just the 3 of us (myself, my husband Jon and our 5 and a half month old son Ben). We didn’t really know what to expect, but surprisingly, it was a lot easier than we anticipated. The 12 hour plane ride was a bit of a challenge though. I think that we will definitely try to fly direct next time. I’ve come up with a “top ten list” for traveling with babies on a plane. I hope that this is helpful to some of you who plan on traveling with your little one. Gone are the days of worrying only about your suitcase, carry-on and what the movie will be on the plane!!
Top Ten Tips for Traveling with Tots (under 2):
10. If you plan to leave your car at the airport, book the Park 2 Go Valet service. It sounds luxurious and expensive, but we did the math, and it was actually comparable to paying for a taxi (cheaper in fact). It made things so much easier for us. You leave your car with the Park 2 Go staff when you get there, jump on a warm bus that takes you to the departure gates, and then your car is warm and ready for you when you get back! And it was only about $60.00 per week (cheaper if you book online)!
9. Research your airline and know what you can bring and what will cost extra. For our flights, we were each allowed one carry-on item for our baby. So my item was the stroller and my husbands item was the carseat. You can take these right up to the plane doors and leave them for the airline staff. They will be ready when you get off the plane. You are generally allowed 1 check in bag per person and one carry on (+ purse or small backpack). I used my baby’s diaper bag as my carry on and brought my purse as well.
8. Pack strategically. Most airlines require that your luggage weighs no more than 50 lbs per piece. And you are not allowed another checked in bag for your baby unless you purchase them a ticket (under 2 usually fly for free). My bag weighed 47lbs and my husbands weighed 47.5 lbs! And we thought that we packed light!
7. Pack enough food for your baby before getting to the airport and pack extra just in case! If you’re exclusively breastfeeding, it makes things a lot easier. If you are pumping or feeding baby formula, things get a little more complicated, especially on long flights. If you’re pumping, make sure that your breast milk is kept in leak-free containers and kept in a small cooler. Pumped milk can be kept in a cooler for 24 hours before consumed. If you’re formula feeding, don’t mess with powdered formula unless it’s made up in advance and put into a cooler. You can purchase canned formula which is much easier. Have clean bottles ready in the diaper bag or carry on so that you’re not scrambling when baby gets hungry. Also, have the flight attendant warm the milk in good time (or warm it yourself). Bring a little travel-size bottle of dishwasher soap just in case you need to wash bottles or pump gear. There is no way to sanitize them on the plane though (not that I know if anyways).
6. Pack healthy snacks for yourself. Most airlines do not offer complimentary meals and snacks anymore. Which in my mind is ok, because the food was never that good anyways! Pack a sandwich or two along with snacks like trailmix, fruit, granola bars, crackers and cheese or grab a latte or steamed milk before getting on the plane (if you can juggle it). You want to make sure that you have enough energy to get through your flight. Trust me!
5. Bring a baby carrier (Bjorn, Snuggli, Ergo, Beco, wrap or something like these). I used my Ergo all the time! It makes it so much easier to carry your baby throughout the airport and on and off the plane with a carrier, because your hands are free for other luggage. If your baby is anything like Ben, he/she likes to be in the carrier more than the stroller anyways because it’s comforting. It’s also easier on your back.
4. Changing diapers: To my dismay, some airlines do not have change tables in the washrooms. Ugh! SO if your kid decides to have a big blow-out… well, sucks to be the parents and the poor souls that are sitting close to you. Pack lots of ziplock bags for dirty diapers/sleepers and a portable soft change pad that you can put on the floor to do a quick change. Some airlines do have a change table in the bathroom that opens above the toilet. It’s cramped in there, so plan to bring only what you need (diaper, wipes, ziplock bag?). Pack lots of diapers, wipes and extra sleepers.
3. Bring toys to entertain your baby! Bring 2-3 easy-to-pack toys for your baby (especially if over 3 months old). We had the infamous Sophie the Giraffe, a hand puppet and a couple of other toys that saved our lives. Especially if you have a day flight and your baby is wide awake, you’ll want a few options to turn to. If you’re out of toy options, try the air sickness bag- use it as a puppet or let your baby scrunch it up. I swear- it works!
2. Sitting on the plane: First and foremost, for your own sanity and for those around you, get two seats together (so that you and your partner are sitting together). If you’ve only booked two seats, make good friends with the flight attendant and the other airline staff and beg them for bulk-head seats (where you can attach a little bassinet to- genius!), or see if there is a row of seats that is free so that you can plunk your baby in the middle seat. Bring a nursing pillow, even if you’re not nursing, so that it’s easier for you to hold your baby on your lap and for them to sleep. Try to get an aisle seat so that you can easily get up and walk up and down the aisle to settle your baby. Pray that you have nice people around you that likes babies and realize that they DO cry (most people are like this). Hope that you don’t have a miserable old lady that gives you dirty looks every time your baby makes a peep. Not speaking from personal experience or anything…
1. Practice patience. Try to be extra patient with your partner (especially if your partner is a hormonal nervous new Mom) and with your baby. Have a positive attitude- after all, you’ll probably never see these people again and you’re probably going somewhere hot and nice!