advice for future self: traveling with baby

A few weeks ago my anxiety peaked as I planned to board an airplane with an 8-month-old. I had read online forums, checked the mom groups, texted a handful of parents I knew with frequent-flyer babies. I calmed myself by repeating that if other babies could do this so could Arlo. And I increased my anxiety thinking of a screaming, barfing, pooping baby in a small enclosed place, with people who buy airline tickets already annoyed by the future mini-humans who might be sharing their air space.

So I planned, debated, planned more, second-guessed my decisions, packed the bags, and called the cab to the airport. Some of the things I’d planned worked out pretty great, others not so much. Like I’m glad we got seats in the back close to the bathrooms, I loved the compact stroller we bought, and changing his diaper on the plane could have been worse. But if we had to do it all again, which we will in a few months, I’m going to remember a few things…

DIAPERS:

  • Advice: Order diapers to your destination and save luggage space.
  • What I thought: We brought enough for a day, then bought a small pack when we got there. This saved space in our suitcase on the way there, but the leftovers took up space on the way back.
  • Next time: I’m packing diapers. We probably overpaid buying the small pack, and the extra room on the way back can hold potential souvenirs.

CARSEAT:

  • Advice: Rent a carseat when you get there.
  • What I thought: We had issues finding a cab with an infant carseat to and from the airport, plus the one we rented was kind of dirty.
  • Next time: I’m taking our carseat. You really only have to deal with it from the cab to the checked baggage, it checks for free, plus it’s more peace of mind on the safety of the seat.

STROLLER:

  • Advice: You can roll a stroller all the way up to the gate, and then gate check it for free.
  • What I thought: We did this on the way there, it felt like extra luggage we had to haul around. And we had to pick it up with the checked baggage anyway.
  • Next time: Check the stroller with baggage and use the baby carrier instead. One less thing to worry about through security. (Side note plus: we bought a stroller that folds to the size of a carryon and we love it.)

BABY FOOD:

  • Advice: Formula and baby food can go through security.
  • What I thought: This was pretty awesome, we even got in water for an extra bottle if needed.
  • Next time: Try sneaking in Diet Coke in a bottle for Tyler’s addiction.

Of course, all this self-advice could go out the window in a few months when I’m dealing with an almost 1-year-old, potentially larger diapers, and a pack-n-play we didn’t need for this last trip. (So yay new debates in a few months!)

Beyond the packing, the flights went about as I had hoped, and better than my worst nightmares. On the way there it was Arlo’s bedtime so, after choking on some lettuce and freaking out his dad, he slept for most of the flight in the baby carrier. On the way back it was mid-day, so he slept for a nap, sympathy screamed for a bit with a nearby baby, ate/barfed, and slept some more.

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4 thoughts on “advice for future self: traveling with baby

    1. We actually checked ours anyway because all the airlines have different carry-on requirements and I didn’t want to bother with it. But they do make a few compact fold strollers that it’s possible! We have the Mountain Buggy Nano; but the Yoyo, Zoe or City Tour are also pretty small. If you wanted super compact though, the GB Pockit is like backpack size.

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