Next week, we are flying south for a few weeks!
My parents spend a few winter months in Florida so we are going down to visit! I'm really excited to see my parents, it's been over a month which for me is a long time! However, in order to get some warm sun on our faces we need to conquer a big hurdle...first flight with baby! Naturally, I'm feeling a little anxious about it.
So as this is something I have never done before, I cast a wide net to get all the advice I can. I reached out to all my friends and family for their infant travel pro-tips. I have one particular pal who lives on the west coast but her family is still on east coast, so she's done tons of transcontinental flights with her sweet girl. I got lots of awesome ideas and useful information. So I've distilled all the amazing advice into a few guidelines that I'll be using.
Make a Plan
This one seems obvious, right? I am a planner, always have been. I'm pretty sure any mom traveling with their little one makes a plan! What I did was think about all the gear we are bringing and how I plan to handle it on my own because we'll be flying back without Rob. We're checking the carseat and one large suitcase for the baby and me. We will get MC through security either in the carrier or umbrella stroller. Plus I have a backpack diaper bag so I can be hands free and I'll check the stroller at the gate. Right before it's time to board I will do a diaper change, say a quick prayer that she does okay with the altitude then take her on board in the carrier.
Be Prepared YET Flexible
Every mom told me this. Have plenty of everything - milk, snacks, bottles, pacifiers, wipes, ziplocks, toys, clothes, diapers. Whatever you think you need, bring more. Further down I've listed exactly what I plan to pack in the diaper bag! I'm a very structured person. Creating a schedule was the only thing I could do to feel somewhat in control when Mary Clare was born. I often need to remind myself that I don't need to be so rigid with her schedule. So I know in this case, I'll really need to be okay with letting go of "the plan" and roll with it. If there is a time to accept that baby will not be on schedule, I think flying on an airplane is it!
Expect the Worst:
It sounds pretty negative but hear me out. Whenever I'm anxious about something, my Dad tells me to think about the worst possible outcome and see if you think you can handle it. So I would imagine for me the worst possible situation would be that Mary Clare is incredibly uncomfortable and cries the entire time. Okay, would that suck? Yes! Could I get through a 3 hour flight? Yes! Is it likely she will cry for 3 straight hours? Absolutely not. Here's to hoping she is her usual cheerful self.
I'm not a really into hand sanitizer. I way prefer a good old fashioned hand washing. In fact, I've read that over sanitization may actually suppress the development of the immune system and may cause food allergies! It's a bit of a touchy subject but read about it here if you are interested. This is not to say I don't think hand sanitizer has it's place. I'm actually pretty nervous about my little one getting sick on the plane. It seems this flu season has been especially brutal. My doctor told me to be sure to wipe down the seat. A good friend of mine who has 2 adorable babes and another due in just a few weeks gave me the inside scoop on this. Her aunt is a flight attendant and she told her that seats are not cleaned between flights. BARF! So I will be sure to wipe down the seat, tray table, seatbelt with disinfecting wipes when we get settled!
Smile at Strangers:
I'm going to be sure to be extra friendly to people. Honestly, I think most people love babies...as long as they aren't crying! So I would like to think most people will offer to help me if I need it. Maybe I have too much faith in humanity but I think people are good. A few friends said, if she cries you will feel worse about it than anyone else? Well I figure everyone has headphones these days, right? Staying calm is the best thing I can do on the plane. Though I imagine that's much easier said that done.
Pro-Tips from Traveling Mamas:
1. Make sure baby is sucking on something during take off and landing. Nurse, give a bottle or offer the paci; just as long as baby is sucking it will help their ears pop and adjust to the altitude.
2. Do a diaper change right before boarding.
3. Get good at using the bathroom while the baby is in the carrier. Okay, I know, that sounds gross but honestly, when traveling alone you gotta do what you gotta do. Practice beforehand?
Baby Travel Gear!
Car Seat Travel Bag: we have the Uppababy Mesa. UB makes a car seat travel bag but it's expensive. So I went for a bag that is about half the price. J.L. Childress also makes a gate check bag that's not nearly as sturdy but cheaper still. I think if you are checking something you'll want to get a bag that has some padding to it to protect it.
Gate-side Check Stroller Bag: this is basically a nylon baggie with a drawstring at the top. It's inexpensive but it has no padding, I'm hoping being checked gate-side it won't be roughed up too much? That remains to be seen. It also has a handy, zip up, storage pouch that attaches to the stroller for when you aren't storing the stroller.
Skip Hop Diaper Backpack: I've been coveting this diaper backpack since I saw it on Nat's Next Adventure. (If you haven't checked out Nat's blog, you must! She is one of my mommy blogger inspirations!) Since I already have a diaper bag, I haven't let myself buy it...until now! Traveling solo with MC was a great excuse. Being hands free while traveling with your babe is essential and a backpack is the ultimate hands free item!
Whatchu got in that bag?
Here is comprehensive list of what I will be packing in the diaper bag. What am I missing, mamas?
Eat: bottles, formula dispenser, bibs, burp cloths.
Play: this goofy rattle she's obsessed with, board books, wheelie toy recommended by an avid mama traveler
Soothe: bunny lovey, pacifiers, Sophie the giraffe teether
Clean: diapers, aquaphor, baby wipes, paci/bottle wipes, anti-bacterial wipes, ziplock bags for anything dirty or wet, a few changes of clothes.
So next week, I will do my best to put all this advice into action. Most importantly, I will pack my best attitude! I'm going to be as chilled out as I can and remember whatever comes our way, we can handle it! I promise to report back with all the dirty details. Please, please chime in and give me your tips! I'll take any help I can get! I'm so glad to have so many awesome fellow mamas to count on, it really does take a village! Feels like we will be basking in the sun in no time!