Traveling with kids is no easy task.
Since my son was born I have been fortunate to have the opportunity to travel frequently. As he as gotten a little old over the last year his needs have evolved and I've learned a new trick on each trip.
1. Avoid Flying During Witching Hour
If you have the luxury of choosing which flight you take, try to avoid your child’s witching hour. I've timed flights perfectly, poorly, and had well timed flights delayed. The easiest flights for us were early in the morning. Transfer sleeping baby to car, wake them at the airport, feed them breakfast while you wait to board to that they are happy during boarding. Nothing scares fellow passengers more than an unhappy baby. Flying during meal time can be tricky and messy, but often unavoidable if you are taking a longer flight. We recently flew at bedtime due to a flight delay and had a serious struggle to get Little B to sleep.
2. Bring A New Toy
I always bring a new toy that Little B has never seen. Make sure you can tether the toy to you or your baby/toddler do that it doesn't drop on the floor and roll away. When Little B was really young I made sure that I had extra pacifiers in case one hit the floor, now I do the same with toys. For an older Toddler a new app on a tablet or smartphone might do the trick as well.
3. Pack extra clothes
Pack an extra complete outfit for your little one, including undershirt. Maybe 2 if your baby is prone to spit-up or blowouts. Packing an extra shirt for you isn’t a bad idea either.
4. Pack Extra Food and Milk
I try to pack snacks for every eventuality without going overboard. I keep a healthy stash of Cheerios with me at all times when traveling, as well as a generous helping of animal crackers. I also bring more milk with me that he would drink on an ordinary day. I almost always prefer to give him a little snack or a few extra ounces of milk instead of dealing with a cranky baby on a flight. A recent flight was delayed 2 hours due to a mechanical issue. Picture entertaining a curious one year old in an airport. The occasional Cheerio kept him happy for most of the delay. (I’ll be sure the write another post about what happened to my Cheerio stash during the delay.)
5. Check your bulky baby gear
Airlines allow you to check carseats and strollers for free. I recommend buying a stroller travel bag for any baby gear you are going to check. I personally bought bags at a baby big box store. I use my Ergo carrier (link to Ergo) to carry Little B through the airport instead of a stroller. When he was super tiny, one TSA agent didn’t even see him tucked in there as went through security. Several stroller manufacturers warranty their strollers if stored within their branded travel bags. In this case I would invest in the branded travel bag. Otherwise the generic bags are sufficient. This is a personal choice, but it has worked for our family. I know that many friends prefer to have their car seats and strollers with them in the airport, but I prefer to check. I rarely have a connection to make, so I haven’t worried about my check bags not making it to my final destination.
6. Pack Light
While I understand that I have just listed off a ton of things you need to bring with you, you also need to keep in mind that you need to have your hands free for your little one. I make sure that I bring a single bag that can hold everything. Nothing drives me crazier than having multiple bags and not knowing exactly which bag something is when I need it. This also makes boarding and deplaning easier.
There are very few compliments better than "Your baby is so well behaved!" from someone who was sitting near you on an airplane.