Apologies for the delay between posts: life has been a bit crazy lately!
During our short absence, we took our little geek on his first plane ride across the country! I was very anxious about the whole process of flying with a baby, but I can happily report that we actually had an excellent experience and made it back in one piece! Read on to see some tips and lessons learned that we’re passing on to you!
PS: Pardon the lack of pictures! During everything it didn’t occur to me to take pictures! Whoops!
Flying anywhere nowadays seems like such a hassle: with the strict TSA guidelines, long lines, and not to mention that it is exhausting to travel, adding a baby in the mix seems like it’s own special level of hell. But traveling with a baby can be incredibly empowering (though still exhausting!). We flew across the country from Raleigh, NC to Denver, CO for vacation. Here’s what we did to make our trip a success.
1. Get Your Mind Right
To me, this was truly the hardest part. I had a ton of anxiety because I was scared of flying with our son despite me being a seasoned traveling pro! But then as the day got closer, we had a good talk about taking our time and expecting things to take longer than they normally would if we were traveling alone. For some reason, this totally shifted my mindset. Going through security and the general stress of traveling with children sucks. There’s no way around that. But if you go into it knowing to expect the stress, it’s actually empowering. Embrace the suck! And you know what? We did, and things went awesome. Even if it didn’t go super smoothly, we survived it, and isn’t that what matters?
2. Book an Early Flight (On a Weekday)
Early flights aren’t the most fun to wake up for, but when traveling with a baby it can be a lifesaver. Make it a weekday flight and you’ll really reap the benefits! We booked our flight for 7:30am on a Thursday morning, and it was perfect. The security lines weren’t too long and the airport wasn’t very crowded. Then, Baby A slept for almost the entire 3.5 hour flight since it crossed with his morning naptime. Talk about winning!
3. Check Your Bag
If you can afford it, I very much recommend checking your luggage. We had a Pack’n’Play and one big suitcase for everyone’s clothes that we checked. If we had to lug those items through the airport in addition to the stroller, carseat, diaper bag, and backpack it would have been miserable. Since we flew Frontier (also highly recommend!), we were able to get a special rate for luggage by checking-in 24 hours prior to the flight. It saved us about $60 so I would say it was worth it!
4. Wear Yo Baby Through Security (and Declare Your Breastmilk/Formula)
I actually saw this tip on another blog floating around on Pinterest, and I am so glad I did! Barclay wore little A through the airport and security, and it freed our hands to worry about our other gear. The security personnel were insanely helpful and encouraged us to take our time. We told them upfront about our formula and bottles of water and they did not make us pour out anything! We had to put those items in their own scanning receptacle, but there were no issues. Barclay wasn’t asked to remove Baby A from his carrier, either: they simply scanned his hands for any residues. No one was rude or pushy. The security in Raleigh and Denver made our experience extremely pleasant, and it helped that Baby A was entertained by all of the new sights and sounds.
5. Determine if You Need the Carseat on the Plane (Or Gate Check it!)
It’s easy to look at the cost of airplane tickets and exclaim that you will hold your baby for the duration of the flight…until the flight occurs and then suddenly you realize that holding a baby (or toddler) for hours isn’t as easy or as relaxing as you had hoped. Our flight was 3.5 hours with no layovers, and one of the best decisions we made was to buy Baby A his own seat and bring the carseat onboard with us. Baby A doesn’t sleep if you hold him, but he slept almost the entire flight both ways by having his own seat. My guideline is that if a flight is 3 hours or more, then buy an extra seat. International flights? No question!
We gate checked the stroller, and the attendants let us board early so we could install the carseat (only take a couple of minutes). Was it more expensive? Yes. Was it totally worth not having to deal with the stress of wrangling a baby for 3 hours? Oh hell yes.
- Feed your baby during take-off and landing so their ears can adjust to the pressure
- Don’t use the lavatory water to mix bottles! It is chemically treated and not intended for human consumption!
- Not every lavatory has a changing table, but you can easily identify which ones because of the signs
- Wait for everyone to get off the plan before un-installing the carseat. It’s less stressful that way!
- Pack some sanitizer wipes: airports and airplanes are pretty germy
- Be sure to bring a few toys and a couple of outfits for baby and mommy (or daddy!)
- Have fun!
After traveling with a baby, it feels like you can do it anything!
Have you ever flown with your baby before? What are some tips that helped you? Let us know in the comments below!