Dear mama friends, Just because you have a brand new baby does not mean your life is over! Sometimes I know it can feel that way... but it doesn't have to be true! :) Case in point: Izzie and I have traveled over 6,000 miles together since she was born!
Of course, I absolutely did not expect to be traveling with Izzie nearly as frequently as I have been these last six months! Two Saturdays ago she flew on her 14th and 15th flights! Thanks to two spur-of-the-moment weekend trips to visit faraway friends, an unexpected funeral to attend, and a faraway wedding, she has flown almost monthly since she was born!
Now, I usually prefer to travel as light as possible, but with an infant, that's not always very light. Because of this, I've discovered a few unique ideas that can help traveling through airports with an infant a little easier. Hopefully you will find them helpful as well!
1. If possible, wear baby through the airport in a carrier without metal.
When Izzie was too little to wear in my Boba Carrier, I wrapped her to me using my infamous ring sling. I love that thing...! But I learned quickly that I had to remove the carrier itself as I walked through security because the metal rings would set off the detectors. I could opt for a pat down search (which I did on my trip home that time around), but it takes time and I'm a fan of being speedy in an airport until I've arrived safe and sound at the gate. If you love your ring sling, plan for a few extra minutes for a hand-swipe and pat down!
My carrier of choice: my soft-structured Boba carrier. Most airports allow you to leave baby wrapped to you as you walk through the metal detectors. Make sure you insist to walk through the old ones - not the new x-ray machines. The x-rays are not healthy for baby!
2. Have someone drop you off at the airport.
Having an extra pair of hands to help roll in luggage you plan to check (along with the carseat) is huge. I almost always drive myself to the airport, but anytime I was dropped off (like when I was returning home), it was a huge help to have someone else carry my bags!
3. Carry on LIGHT. One bag if possible!
Unless you luck out with an empty seat next to you on your flight, you likely will not have the opportunity to pull out a laptop or get any work done with an Infant In Arms, so don't worry about having easy access to your technology! Bring a diaper bag, toss in your ipad and cell phone, and leave it at that!
If you are a photographer traveling for work, then obviously you will have an additional carry-on bag with all of your equipment. My favorite is the ThinkTank Airport Bag. But, gosh, what I wouldn't give for it to have FOUR wheels...! That thing is HEAVY loaded with equipment! Let other's help you lift that heavy bag while you're wearing your baby, please!
Quick tip: Toss a package of diapers (and maybe a few favorite toys) into the carseat before you zip up the carseat bag. This helps save valuable space in your check-bag!
4. Plan to feed baby at take off.
I can't tell you how many times this was suggested to me. It helps baby's ears pop a bit more easily when he or she is eating at take-off. Definitely plan on this if it is your first time traveling with your baby!! It's a very common issue for infants to struggle with the cabin pressure. Izzie doesn't seem to have a preference either way, but it was always the first thing someone suggested when she began to get fussy. :)
Quick tip: If you have your baby on a strict routine and you don't want to feed her at a non-feeding time, a pacifier may do the trick here!
5. Take your own snacks!!
Especially if you are a breastfeeding mama. While some planes say they have snack packs available for purchase on board, it doesn't seem to be common practice to stock them on domestic flights. In other words, I have never had success purchasing one. I went a good eight hours without eating thinking I'd have time between layovers on two different trips. That was two times too many. ;) I'm finding that layovers are either VERY short and you're running from gate to gate, or they are VERY long and you have time for a meal... or two. :) Either way, now I always throw some LaraBars, an empty water bottle to fill up at my gate, and a few other snacks into my carry-on.
6. Take a picture of your parking space.
Because you have enough to remember on your own, snap a photo of the sign nearest to your parking space in the garage. Scroll back to it on your phone when you return from your trip and you won't be lost looking for your vehicle!
Quick tip: Pass all the full levels in the parking garage to guarantee a spot near the elevators! The lots seems less crowded the further you are from the main level. I almost always park on the top level, or second-to-top if the top isn't covered. :)
7. Help yourself to the family restrooms.
They are there for YOU! If it's open, use it!! It can be SO nice to just put everything down, lay baby on a changing table and take a deep breath!! Whew...! It's hard work carrying a baby and bags through airports full of crowded spaces. The family restroom is a GREAT place to REST from it all!
9. Prevent yourself from germs and illnesses.
Wash your hands! Wash your hands! The airport and plane are full of germs... and this is coming from a non-germaphobe! It's honestly surprising the number of hours that can pass between restroom pit-stops. If you're traveling with an itty-bitty baby, it's SO important to keep your hands clean!! Take along a tiny bottle of hand-sanitizer to help prevent illnesses for you AND baby.
Quick tip: Pack a muslin baby swaddle blanket to use as a spit up wipe, a dirty-floor-protector, and infant temperature control. I love these because they are big enough to use one end as a drool cloth and the other end as a blanket, plus they are thin enough to shove in your carry-on without sacrificing much space!
10. Prepare baby for sleeping on-the-go.
If your little one is used to sleeping with a lovey, swaddle, or in a sleep sack, take those items with you on the plane!! If you know ahead of time that you will be traveling with your baby once he or she is earth-side, then take steps from the beginning to start a portable sleeping routine.
For us, our bed time routine looks like a diaper change, lotion application, being zipped into her Zipadee Zip blanket and singing a song while gently rocking her. All of this can be done while she is in my lap on a flight. This has worked well for us and Izzie has done great on every flight with the exception of her last two. I blame age and over-exhaustion for those instances. :)
BONUS: This should go without saying, but ACCEPT HELP from others!
Almost all of my flights have been completely full and the passengers sitting next to me have been awesome about playing with Izzie, making her smile, sharing their tray tables (because it's nearly impossible to have your tray table down with a baby in your lap), and even holding her while I cleaned up a few spit-up incidents!
So there you have it! I hope these tips help your next airport travel adventure a little bit easier on you! It's been fun traveling with Izzie these past few months, but we are definitely excited to be settled in at home for a while. She's at the "routine is a must" age... so we're making it happen!
Do you have any tips you would add to this list? Share them in the comments for other mamas to read!!