If you’re like me, your family doesn’t live in the same town, or even same state as yourself. Maybe you’re about to travel for the upcoming holidays. Or maybe they do all live in the same town. If you find yourself travelling with a small child, I hope you find my experiences helpful.I was stressed thinking about this trip. I didn’t want *that* kid on the plane. You know the one I’m talking about. The one who screams the entire time. How would I manage my daughter all by myself? I thought about it long and hard and even started this thread.
I’m happy to report that travelling alone with her wasn’t too difficult, here’s what I learned along the way.
First, think about what you’re bringing. I probably packed too much, but I wanted to make sure my daughter had plenty of clothes for her to wear. Some days, she goes through two or three outfits. I was able to do laundry while we were visiting family, so there really was no need for me to pack quite so much. Still, I managed to pack one suitcase for the both of us, as well as her diaper bag. I also brought the stroller and car seat.
Prior to leaving, check your seat assignment. You don’t want a middle seat on a full flight, trust me. It’s awkward at best.
Make sure you arrive at the airport at least two hours in advance. You might want to plan for extra time during busy, peak travel times.
Going through security can get awkward with a little one. The car seat and the stroller have to go through the x-ray machine and you’ll have to carry your child with you – all the while trying to get everything through the x-ray machine. Don’t forget to declare any breast milk or pre-mixed formula that you have or they’ll end up going through your entire bag like they did to mine. If they do go through your bag, be sure and check to make sure that the breastmilk or formula lid is secure. Otherwise, it will probably spill all over the diaper bag and the carry on luggage of your fellow passengers. And yes, we know this first hand. I had 5 ounces of breast milk though and was allowed through without any problems.
Once you have your shoes back on and everything put back together, you’re ready to find your gate. I mainly used the stroller to push our stuff around on and had my daughter in the mei tai. The stroller worked out well though for when I had to use the restroom, which I made sure to do before getting on the plane. I was able to sit down and nurse for a few minutes before being allowed to preboard (which I got to do with a little one). That two hours sure goes quick!
I gate checked the stroller and car seat. On Continental you are allowed to check those items for free, in addition to your regular bags – be sure to check with your airline to see if this is the case for you.
Try not to think too much about the usual schedule you and baby have and instead, try to just go with the flow. If the baby is sleeping while taking off, let baby sleep. If baby needs to nurse, feel free to nurse (unless you’re flying Delta :p). On our way out, my daughter slept for the first two hours – take off never bothered her at all. The next two hours she alternated between nursing and feeding. Everyone was so happy that she was well behaved. This was a middle seat on a full flight, and I learned my lesson of not checking it out before the flight!
On our return trip, my daughter decided to sleep nearly the whole time, heck, I even managed to catch a bit of shut eye. I was in a window seat and even managed to not have someone next to me. There was only one seat open in the whole plane, so we were happy it ended up next to us. She nursed at take off and landing this time.
Once you arrive at your destination, if at all possible make sure someone comes inside the airport to help you out. There’s no way I could carry a suitcase, diaper bag, apnea monitor, baby and push a stroller, and unless you’re supermom, you probably won’t be able to either.
Happy holidays and happy traveling!