I will soon be taking a trip to visit my family, and I will be bringing my almost 8 month old daughter along. My husband is busy during the summer months, so he will not be able to come on this trip, nor will he be able to drive us to the airport. So, in preparation, I am doing my research ahead of time, so I know what to expect on our travel adventure. Here is my plan:
Stroller or backpack carrier?
Since I am driving myself to the airport, having to park in long term parking, and taking a shuttle from the parking lot to the airport, I am leaving the stroller at home. I simply can’t imagine having to get on the shuttle with a stroller, a baby, a suitcase and the bag I am taking on the plane with us. I simply don’t have enough hands.
Instead, I am bringing my baby carrier. My daughter loves riding in it, and having her in it will allow me to be hands free. I can load everything onto the shuttle, get our tickets, deal with security, etc., all with her in the carrier.
I figure if I really end up needing a stroller while we are on vacation, I will buy a little umbrella stroller for $10. Problem solved!
- Airline tickets
- Copy of birth certificate
- Consent form (apparently if only one parent is flying, it is possible that the ticket counter asks for a consent form from your spouse allowing the child to fly). This has to be notarized and include the child’s name, who they are traveling with, where they are traveling, a statement of permission, along with contact information.
I just called my airline (Southwest) to check about this and they DO NOT require it, but other airlines might.
- Change of clothes for baby
- Plastic bags
- Snacks/Solid food for baby (easy/minimal mess)
- Fruit pouches
- Yogurt melts
- Milk (we are breastfeeding… but if you need formula, that would also be on the list.)
- Sippy cup (fill with water once through security- a coffee shop should be able to help you out)
- Hand and face wipes
- Burp cloths
- Nursing cover
- Sound machine (may help baby sleep and drown out some of the noise if sleeping in the airport)
Going through security
As of 2011, you are allowed to wear your baby through security in a soft structured carrier. You are not required to remove your baby from the carrier.
You will most likely be required to do an additional screening. This will include a hand swab that is very quick.
You are always allowed to opt out of the fancy imaging machines that some airports have you walk through. They will simply do a pat down instead. I plan to do this since I am wearing my baby. I also did this when I was pregnant.
You are allowed to bring food; it simply has to go through the x-ray machine and does not need to be in bags or separated out.
You are allowed to bring more than 3 ounces of liquid (breastmilk, formula, and/or medicine for baby). You simply have to declare it at security. It still has to be in a Ziploc back and separated from your other items. They might test the liquids as well, so be prepared to open liquids and give them a sample. We won’t be worrying about this since she is breastfed. I will be bringing an empty sippy cup that we will fill up with water once we are through security.
Your stroller has to be folded down and placed onto the belt to go through the x-ray machine (another reason I am not bringing a stroller- as this is a hassle).
Aisle seat or window seat?
I haven’t decided which is best yet.
Aisle seat- allows you to get up move around with your baby. It allows you to go to the restroom without having to ask people to move. It also allows you to stand as soon as the plane lands and is done taxiing, instead of getting stuck in your seat. I usually get an aisle seat for this reason, as my tailbone is usually killing me by then.
Window seat- will be better for privacy if you’re nursing (which most likely I will need to). Also, if your baby is sleeping, you won’t have to chance getting disturbed by the person next to you that suddenly wants out of their seat.
Either way, since I am flying Southwest, and it is open seating, I plan on letting anyone that sits next to me know that I will be nursing. I want them to have a chance to move if it makes them uncomfortable.
For us this is a non issue, since I am driving myself to the airport, and my parents will be picking me up. They already have a car seat that my daughter will be able to use.
Car seats are one time use, however. If a seat is in an accident, it won’t necessarily show any signs of damage. The reason I bring this up is that checking a car seat on a plane is not ideal. The car seat could be thrown around and damaged. We’ve all had luggage come back damaged. That damage may not be visible, just like the damage from a car accident wouldn’t necessarily be apparent on the car seat.
If there is a time that I need to have a car seat with me, I plan to do one of the following options:
- Take the car seat onto the plane. You can attach it to the seat just as you would in a car. With this option you have to lug it around the airport, and you have to pay for a seat for baby.
- Buy an inexpensive car seat, check it (in its original box so no damage will occur), and use it at your destination. The original shipping box accounts for being thrown around in shipping and makes the risk of damage much less. I’d either give it away or sell it before we return home.
- Look into getting a rental car with a car seat in it for our destination.
My daughter is so young that, when I booked the tickets, I knew her schedule would change by the time our trip came around. So, I didn’t worry about our schedule. Ideally, however, you would keep this in mind. Perhaps plan the trip during a nap if you think your baby will sleep. If you think your baby is going to be too interested to sleep, plan the flight to be just after a nap.
In general, flying in the morning is best. The airports haven’t had a chance to get delayed yet, and babies tend to be more flexible at the start of their day. You’ll know what’s best for you and your baby though, and each circumstance will be different.
Don’t forget that your baby will need help popping his ears! Just after takeoff, I’ve read that it is best to give your baby something to drink (bottle/nurse/sippy cup) to help pop his ears. Worst case, give him something to suck on and that should help as well.
Experienced travelers… what tips and tricks have you learned along the way? Leave a comment and let us know!
Once I give this whole traveling with baby thing a shot, I’ll have an updated post to write! I’m sure I’ll have adjusted my plan and have some tricks up my sleeve for next time!