With holiday travel just around the corner, I wanted to re-share this blog post in case you have a flight (or any sort of travel) planned with a baby. Mal and I were (totally) clueless during our first couple of flights with Quinn. We’ve since flown across the country more than a half dozen times with him, and it gets easier and easier every time, but I still remember one of our first flights to Seattle and, holy cow, we were a hot mess. Anyway, I hope you find these tips helpful!
Ok, here we go. I broke this post up into four sections (before you travel, at the airport, on the airplane, at your destination) to help organize the information. Our trip went fairly well, but, of course, there were some things we would do differently the next time we fly with Quinn. I made sure to note those below. I hope you find this post helpful!
BEFORE YOU TRAVEL
Make an insanely detailed packing list – We did this about four or five days before our trip, so we could add to it as we thought of things. That way, we had plenty of time to think through our packing list and not forget any of the essentials. We also made note of how many of each item we should bring (i.e. 5 onesies, 4 bibs, etc.). FYI: We packed enough diapers, wipes, and food for the trip to Seattle, but we saved space in our luggage by buying more of these things once we arrived at our destination.
Buy covers for your car seat and stroller to protect them – We planned to check both our car seat and stroller at the gate (we have the KeyFit Caddy system), so we bought covers to protect them. The one for the car seat was totally worth it (it was cheap and kept the car seat clean), but the one for the stroller was kind of a waste of money. It was annoying to put on and take off, and I don’t think it did all that much. Mal didn’t even use it on the flight home. We’ll probably skip the stroller cover the next time we fly with Quinn (or at least until he’s outgrown his car seat and we’re onto a different stroller).
Use backpacks as carry-ons to free up your hands – Every airline has different rules regarding luggage, so we made sure to check before we started packing. Mal and I ended up each packing three items: 1) a suitcase, which we checked before going through security, 2) a backpack, and 3) a “personal item” (Mal took Quinn’s diaper bag and I had my big tote). This worked out perfectly, and it didn’t seem like we had a ton of stuff with us.
Pack extra everything in your baby’s diaper bag – We probably went a little overboard with our baby supplies, but we didn’t want to run out of anything because you never know how travel can go! Quick note about our diaper bag because this is the one thing we would definitely change after our first cross-country adventure: Make sure everything you need is in ONE bag. Mal and I had mostly all of Quinn’s stuff in his diaper bag, but we had his toys in one of our backpacks and disinfecting wipes in another. It wasn’t a huge deal, but we were definitely scrambling mid-flight to get exactly what we needed.
Use Ziplock bags to keep things organized – We ended up packing a lot of baby supplies in Ziplock bags to keep them organized and easy to find (i.e. toys, snacks, tiny travel-size items, etc.). We had plastic baggies tucked away in all sorts of compartments and pockets! After our travels, we just threw them away.
AT THE AIRPORT
Bring (or buy) easy-to-eat food – Mal bought a couple of slices of pizza at the airport, which were pretty easy to eat while standing up holding a baby. I got a salad, which was not as easy to eat. Next time, I’ll get a sandwich or smoothie or something I can eat quickly and with one hand if needed.
Wear your baby through security – This made going through security with our stroller and car seat so incredibly easy. We used the Ergo for carrying Quinn, and it worked great. I’d highly recommend this carrier – it was so easy to use and comfortable for both parent and baby!
Keep a travel-size package of disinfectant wipes on you, like in your pocket – It took me a little while to figure this one out since I kept reaching in my bag to grab the wipes, but, eventually, I put them in the pocket of my hoodie for easy access.
ON THE AIRPLANE
Wipe down everything with disinfectant wipes as soon as you get to your seat – Airplanes are kind of gross, so as soon as we got to our seats, I wiped down the tray, arm rests, safety info, etc. to keep things as sanitary as possible for our little family.
Buy a bunch of inexpensive toys to keep your little one entertained – Quinn is easily bored, so I went to Target and CVS to buy him about a half dozen new toys to keep him busy on the flight. The newness of each item kept him happy and entertained.
Quinn really liked these teethers because of the different textures, which were fun to touch with his little fingers and feel in his mouth.
Feed baby at take-off and landing – The drinking and swallowing helps with the changing pressure that your little one will likely feel in his/her ears. We packed three bottles and portioned out the right amount of powdered formula for each one. Once we were through security, we bought a big bottle of water to prepare them when we were ready.
AT YOUR DESTINATION
We borrowed a lot of baby gear from friends of my in-laws, so we didn’t need to bring a lot with us on the plane. But now that we own the Chicco 360 Hook-On Chair as well as the hiking backpack, and we know how travel-friendly they are, we’ll likely take them to Oregon and Maine this summer on our family vacations.
Questions of the Day
Have you ever flown with your little one? How’d it go? What would you do differently the next time you travel?
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This post was originally publish on March 5, 2015 and republished on December 19, 2018.