When I was a new mom I scoured the Internet, parenting magazines and books to find tips and tricks for traveling with a baby. It is where I learned my best tricks and some ideas on how to stay sane when traveling with a little ball of chaos. Now that I am an experienced, or at least novice, parent traveler I wanted to share my best advice with you. Here are some things that you might not know but could really help keep you sane before traveling.
Please keep in mind I am a perfectionist. So I make lists. Tons and TONS of lists! I make a list for my daughter including everything down to how many diapers she will need, what needs to go in her first aid kit, exactly how many pieces of clothing, even the stroller. We have totally been the couple who didn’t make the list and in our haste forgot the stroller. EEKK!
I then print out anything and everything that has a confirmation number on it. We put it all in one folder and that stays with us throughout the whole trip. We keep it in our carry on. This way whenever we check into a hotel, go to board a plane or a cruise boat, we have anything they could possibly ask for. It has saved us in the past.
Know your rules! This one has saved me many a headache. When you are traveling on a plane specifically it always helps to know what to expect. Here are the rules that I personally feel not a ton of new moms realize and get most held up during travel or nervous before leaving.
- You ARE, I repeat, ARE able to carry formula, pumped breastmilk, juice or water onto the plane through security. This also includes medications. Just tell the TSA agent in advance.
- You diaper bag is not considered your carry on. It is a personal item, like a purse, but not a carry-on. So if you need a small suite case you can still bring it.
- Car seats and strollers are FREE to check. You do not have to pay extra for them. You can also gate check them (NOT big strollers that weigh over 20 lbs, but I don’t know if I’ve ever seen one of those!). This is what we do. That way we see and have our stroller during all layovers. Helps for running to the next flight.
- If your kids are under 12 they get to keep their shoes on. Might not seem big now, but not having to take 10 minutes to argue with your child about who gets to tie their shoes after security, helps.
- If you are carrying your sleeping baby in a baby sling or carrier you will have to wake them up. What I mean is you have to take off the sling. You cannot go through security with it. You must hold your child while walking through the metal detector. By the way, if you are pregnant and do not want to go through the scanner, you can request not to. I have done it, I promise.
- Once on the plane, if your child is a lap baby, you again cannot sit with them strapped into the carrier for take-off or landing. They have to be open on your lap. Kinda freaks me out but they are VERY strict with this policy.
When we were traveling with my mom, my daughter wanted nothing but my mom’s hard glasses case. That thing kept my daughter entertained for almost 2 hours! Never in my life did I expect that. Moral of the story, only bring what you think they need, don’t over pack your diaper bag with toys. You never know what will hold their attention and layovers can be a killer! Plan on needing extra diapers, wipes, clothes, food, etc…. Bring EXTRA. When you go out to a store you think, well I can just pick “Blank” up or it is just a short trip.
When we were heading to Wisconsin with my daughter, 6 months at the time, fate decided that her tummy was not feeling well. She proceeded to go through all 5 diapers, which I normally have in the diaper bag. She has never in her life emptied my bag. NEVER. I thought it’s only a four-hour flight and we might be out a total of 6 hours with travel. She went through 5 in three hours! Poor baby, I know, but she also messed two outfits and I only carried one extra. We had to scour the airport for diapers, which are surprisingly not easy to find. We also had to purchase an airport onesie. She survived. I know it was just the stress of travel and probably a little bug. She kept a smile on her face the whole time, she is a trooper I give her that.
The airline is not your enemy. Full disclosure, my father in law works for an airline. We have only ever flown that airline when he is with us but he does work for them so we hear the horror stories of what passengers put employees through. We have always taken to heart the phrase “Kill them with kindness”. It works people! I promise you! Especially on flight attendants, they don’t want to deal with difficult people, neither do the gate agents or bag attendants. I’m not saying it works every time but most. We have had employees help with our luggage, tell other passengers to knock off their complaining, help us when the baby needed changing, wake up passengers, all kinds of little things. When traveling with a baby it’s the little things that help.
In that same thought, be nice to the people around you. Traveling sucks! I know it does. By that token, you, or rather that beautiful bundle of joy you are holding, is the LAST thing passengers on any form of transportation want to see. Sorry, it’s not fair but it’s true. You know the look I’m talking about. Before you had kids, chances are you gave it! The “Please, no don’t sit next to me or don’t be my seat” look. If you smile at people it tends to go a long way. If you apologize in advance, it might suck, but they usually laugh and tell you not to worry. Usually…
Unfortunately, you do not have the upper hand in these cases and acting like you do only pisses people off more. If you acknowledge that you know you have a child and they might be great or they might not be people can be okay. If you act like it is your right to be there with a chip on your shoulder people do not respond well. I know it is your right, so do they. I’m not saying be submissive or whatever but think about how you felt when there was a screaming child on that plane or train before you had your own. It sucked.
Lastly, if you baby has a total meltdown and screams the entire time you are traveling it is going to suck. Embrace it. You are most likely never going to see these people again. Don’t let it ruin your entire trip. I am not a good follower of this tip but I try.
We are currently getting ready to take our sweet girl on a cruise to Alaska. Why, because we do whatever the family wants to do. We don’t act like we don’t have our daughter rather she fits into our lives, not the other way around. So, are we up for a 4-hour time change, sure? How about a 7-hour plane ride, in total 11 hours of travel, hmmm okay. 12 days away from routine, familiarity, and schedule…well, I hope the whole family survives. I will let you know.
Kristin, The Perfectionist Mom
Originally published June 30, 2014
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