I have traveled often, from flying with my parents as an infant and even more as I got older, both alone and with someone else or a group. I “know the ropes” so to say, but once I flew with my own child, the whole game changed. It takes much more preparation, patience, and practicality.
Traveling is normally such a fun, exciting experience. You get to pack those fun clothes you’ve been dying to wear, maybe get a drink or 2 that you wouldn’t normally treat yourself to. But traveling is taken to a whole other level when you add an infant into the mix. Mamas, it’s OK to admit: Traveling with an infant is HARD. Traveling with an infant by yourself is STRESSFUL. Getting through it and looking back to say you did it is AWESOME. Yes, be proud of it! It’s no easy task, but hopefully these tips and tricks will help make it a little easier.
- Nap time flight
Try to find a flight that falls around nap time for your little one so he/she is more likely to sleep.
- Call in your reservation
If your little one is under 2 (i.e. considered a “lap infant”), you will most likely have to call the airline to make your reservation. There is not usually an option online to add a lap infant (which is free, so take advantage of it while you can)!
- Direct flight
It seems to go without saying, but get a direct flight if you can to avoid the extra travel time/exhaustion.
- Birth Certificate
Bring your little one’s birth certificate!! I have only been asked for it once of all the times we have travelled with him, but it is always required to bring. You don’t want to be asked for it that one time and not have it with you.
- Hands free
Be hands free as much as possible! I have found the best way for me is to carry my little guy in his front carrier rather than using a stroller (I feel the stroller creates more work with having to go through security, bathroom, boarding and all that). I also use a diaper style backpack, and have a rolling carry-on suitcase. I can either wear the diaper bag on my back, or loop it over the suitcase handle.
- Carry on
I highly recommend bringing a carry on (definitely rolling one) with clothes for you and baby, along with travel sized toiletries just in case of a missed/cancelled or delayed flight (thank you for that save last time, Jennie ☺).
- No loose items
The backpack style diaper bag is a huge help with this, especially with outside side pockets. Definitely have easy access to your personal belongings (ID, boarding pass, wipes in case things fall on the floor), but also be able to put them away so you’re not carrying everything at once.
- Slip on shoes
No one wants to be trying to calm or distract a baby while trying to untie/take off shoes and put them back on (among the hundreds of other things you’ll be having to get together going through security).
- Use the family bathrooms
There is so much more space, not to mention it’s much more private. It also helps avoid that akward “excuse me, excuse me” as you squeeze past all the ladies in the bathroom line just to get to the changing table!
- Prepare for ear popping
Use the paci, boob, bottle/sippy, and/or snacks to help with ear popping for your little one! Swallowing/chewing/sucking will help them clear things up and be much more comfortable.
- Screen and toys for distraction
Use your phone to help distract your little one [if you want to do so]. I personally use it, but not everyone wants to, and that’s ok! If you do plan on it, make sure to download any videos/games ahead of time (because of no wifi). It also helps to have travel friendly toys on hand (small, not too much noise)! I found these helped for the time he was awake and active. Of course, we all know how little ones are… They may very well prefer your headphones or water bottle to play with. But hey, at least it helps distract them!
- BE STRONG
Most importantly, BE STRONG (which you already are). It’s exhausting. Stay hydrated, remember to eat (even if it’s just snacks here and there), ask for help when you need it, and DON’T let ANYONE get to you over a fussy baby.
You are awesome and you got this! Happy travels, mamas!