Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Traveling with a Baby or Toddler

I'm certainly not a pro but I have traveled with Molly Anne at many different ages and here is what I've learned.  

1.  Be organized before you leave the house - know the number of bags you will carry onto the plane, know how many bags you can hold and pull while pushing a stroller (and before you check your bag), know where you're going to park so you can get to the terminal by walking or by bus.  How will you get onto the bus while holding a child?  All that - know it before you leave the house.  

2.  I always always always take a stroller into the airport.  I've traveled with Molly Anne since she was itty bitty and I never wore her through the airport (I know a lot of people swear by this but I don't).  I've always had her in the stroller.  When she was small, I kept her in the infant car seat and clicked in on top of the stroller to roll. Now I keep her in the stroller through security until the last second when I put the stroller through the X-ray machine and I carry her through the metal detector.  The stroller comes back out of the machine and she goes back into the stroller until we get to the club or the gate.  I do let her walk around in the Admirals Club (thank you work for my membership!) in Charlotte or in a small area near the gate, mostly to get energy out.  But I watch her like a hawk!  Walking to the gate -- back in the stroller!  I don't need to be chasing a toddler through the airport.  And my child won't be on a leash.  Gasp!

3.  Let's talk bags!  

SUITCASE - I always pack Molly Anne's and my clothes in one large suitcase and check it.  I don't enough hands to roll two suitcases, hold two bags on my shoulder and push a stroller.  Although I have done it under a weird circumstance, I don't recommend it. ;)   

DIAPER BAG - Through security I take her diaper bag and have it stocked with easy food, an empty water bottle, diapers, wipes and a spare change of clothes.  A little secret is that I also take an unopened bottle of water.  I've done this since she was little when she had formula and even though she hasn't had a bottle since she turned 1, I've continued to bring a water bottle. I just leave it visible in the bin and they test it when I am through security. They say, "anything for the babies," so I take advantage of that!  Saves me $4 for a bottle of water.  By the way, always take a bottle of water onto a plane in case you're stuck on the tarmac for an hour. Been there.  Do not want to be there with a child. 

OTHER BAG - I also take another large Longchamp bag.  Inside I have her backpack with stuff for her to do including her headphones so she can watch my iPad.  I put her monitor in here because I always need that at my parents. Her special blanket, bunny and baby duck are in a large Ziploc.  My makeup bag with a phone charger is also in the Longchamp.  And my purse is in here too. 

(You can see my bags here - suitcase, stroller, diaper bag and other bag)

4.  Before Boarding - well the biggest goal is to keep them entertained.  We usually do a snack and have a potty break (aka change her diaper) before walking to the gate.  If we have a delay, I may give her my phone to watch something on YouTube which uses all of my data up but I don't care ha!  I want her to watch something different than what she can watch on the plane which I already have downloaded on my iPad.  

The other thing I do before boarding is to rearrange my two bags if need be.  For example, I had my iPad and her headphones in my "other bag" this past weekend.  Well if I didn't get the seat next to me, I'd only be able to have space for one of my bags under the seat in front of me PLUS I'd have a toddler on my lap.  So those things needed to move to the diaper bag which was going under my seat so I'd have easy access to them.  I take as much out of the diaper bag so I can easily navigate it too.  After I get to where I'm going, I swap those few things back.  Little detail that makes life easier on the plane.

5.  Boarding the plane - well this gets exciting, especially when they're 14 months old and still don't walk or when they're 20 months old and don't listen to you.  If you're on a small jet, you have to walk out to the plane instead of walk in the jet way.  So you're out there with a bunch of trucks and loading apparatuses everywhere and you have to have both of your hands to put the carseat and stroller in their own big red gate check bags.  Yes, most people are very kind and will help but I was nuts and wanted to do it all myself.  So when she wasn't walking but was sitting up, I'd sit her right down on the ground and do my thing - easy.  When she is walking, wild and doesn't listen it became more of a challenge but thankfully I only had to do one bag and every time, she actually did listen and stood right beside me without moving.  Just a little Mama juggle!

6.  Entertainment on the plane:
 - well, first, get an iPad.  And don't be above using it.  A few days before you go, download all of the apps and movies you can imagine.  I used to use my Amazon Prime membership and download episodes of Sesame Street but then I got smarter and actually bought movies or 1.5 hours of continuous Elmo that she will watch over and over.  It made sense financially.  They take a lot of time to download so plan accordingly.  Then they can watch those when your iPad is in airplane mode.  

 - apps that we liked when she was 6 months old and still do now - Video Touch (all of them) and Peekaboo.  When she was young, my friend gave me advice that they don't need to know that iPads have sound.  I thought this was genius.  Thank you Rachel for the app suggestions and Katie for the sound suggestion!  Now, we use these headphones so she can hear Let It Gooooo on Frozen! ;)  Thank you Kristen for suggesting these!
video touch apps

 - I've seen other things you can do on the plane to entertain them like post it notes and junk like that.  I think some of that stuff is silly.  If you've got good snacks, a full stocked iPad and some crayons, you should be gravy.  Molly Anne enjoyed playing with stamps this last flight.

7.  Four other things:
 - apologize to everyone around you before you take off and make a joke out of it.  On our flight last week, people around us kept telling me how cute she was.  I said, "we'll talk in two hours then you can let me know what you think - haha!"  

 - grab a glass of wine or two before boarding if you can.  It really does help. ;)

 - don't feel badly for annoying other passengers.  One - you'll never see them again.  Two - they should have brought headphones with them.  Three - who cares what they think. (My Dad taught me that last one!)

 - you will survive.  Our worst flight ever was when she was around 9 months old and I HAD to change her diaper while laying her across a toilet in the tiniest bathroom ever.  Yes, I did have a disposable mat to lay her on but still!  It was such a small plane/bathroom that they didn't even have a sink.  It was traumatic but guess what?  We survived.  I did decide after that incident that nothing could ever phase me as much as that did.  And so far, that holds true.  

Go fly with your baby and don't be afraid of it!  It gives them wonderful experiences!  


Emily: Three boys and a girl blog said...

Great post!! We are traveling to Michigan with the boys in july and it is really the only time we ever fly each year. Jack is easy peasy now, he will sit still and watch the ipad/nap and has his own seat. Graham is going to be a nightmare I feel. Jack has always been a great flier, he really sleeps through most every flight. I am praying That Graham will either sleep or be entertained by the iPad and maybe he will sit with Jack in the same seat. I loved all of these tips and even though we don't travel often by plane I have done all of these!

Margot said...

Love this post!!! You've got this traveling thing down pat. Need to look back at this for your bag organizing tips in a few weeks!

Leslie said...

I totally agree about the importance of being organized! One other thing that has helped me is using a bookbag instead of the usual diaper bag. It doesn't look cute, but it helps keep your hands free!

MCW said...

I starting flying my nephews from NY to MD when they were babies (alone.) One time when one was about 18 months old, he wanted to do was sit on the mans lap next to us! Thank goodness the man has a little one the same age. He let Bryant sit with him the whole time. It was actually fairly relaxing for me. ha.

Mindy said...

You make traveling with a toddler look easy!!! Love all of your tips...if I am ever brave enough to do it again, I'll def have to refer back to this post!!

Anonymous said...

This post reeked of arrogance. You have one child who you park in front of an iPad most of her waking hours. Gasp! Give advice when you have toddler twins and, gasp, won't use a leash. Your blog has become a total hate read for your "I know it all" attitude.

Shauna said...

First flight with Sarah in tow next week... luckily it's only a two hour trip so I'm hoping (fingers crossed) between nursing and standing up and sitting down over and over again (yes, this keeps her occupied right now), we'll be covered.

rox said...

PROPS to you for solo traveling with MA! I will screen shot Conner's apps on the iPad and email them to you. Been meaning to do that - #momfail Honestly, though, he has outgrown most of them. He does the puzzle ones CRAZY fast. So - we need to find some new, challenging ones. That Peekaboo one sounds familiar for sure.