When my wife and I first had our son Axel, we were a little concerned about how this would affect our traveling lifestyle. After all, we have heard plenty of horror stories about traveling with infants, and of course, have been passengers on an airplane when there is a screaming child. One thing I didn’t expect was that the logistics of getting on the plane would be more difficult than the plane ride itself. Axel has now flown from the Bay Area to Seattle, SoCal (2x), Boston and we are currently headed to Maui. From these trips we wanted to pass along tips to help new and expecting parents feel more assured when traveling with their infant.
1. Make sure to bring your stroller and car seat all the way to the gate.
Many new parents are aware that airlines will check car seats and strollers free of charge, however did you also know that they will gate check them as well? I have seen many parents in the baggage claim line checking their car seat and stroller only to have to carry their child though the airport and on to the plane. We have found it much easier to attach the car seat to the stroller and then use that to go through security and get to our gate. Once you board and get to the end of the jetway, simply remove the car seat, fold the stroller and they will be waiting for you once you disembark. The bonus is obviously that you get to use the stroller going through the arrival airport as well.
2. Sit in First/Business Class
I know, I know, this isn’t always feasible. Before you rule it out, let me tell you why you should concider splurging for that first class ticket. First, the extra space is super helpful in making you and your infant more comfortable, which means better naps. Second, having a dedicated flight attendant makes it much easier to get hot water and other necessities to make a bottle or other needs your child may have. Third, after all the logistical hurdles of traveling with an infant, you are going to need that extra Bloody Mary! Yes, you might get some dirty looks from people who think First Class should be kids free but don’t concern yourself with them.
You will also notice I didn’t say BUY First Class tickets. There are many other ways to confirm a seat up front like using miles or elite status upgrades. Nick Running Travel can help talk you through your options.
3. Feed your baby during Takeoff and Descent
Babies have a very tough time with changes in air pressure. That ear popping that you experience while flying is due to the lowing and raising of the air pressure in the airplane during climb and descent. Unfortunately, babies don’t have the ability to pop their own ears like we do. By giving them a bottle, nursing or giving them a pacifier during these times you are encouraging them to reduce the ear pressure by doing the same jaw movements that you would do.
4. Be aware of your carry-on requirements
Infants do not get their own baggage allowance. This can sometimes come as a surprise to new parents. That means your diaper bag will now be considered a personal item. If you are use to traveling with a laptop bag or purse as your personal item, you will need to rethink your strategy. When traveling as a couple, I no longer carry my work bag and instead put my computer and other items in the top of my rollaboard. Make sure you plan ahead so you aren’t forced to gate check something that you planned on using onboard.
5. Make sure your hotel is aware of your needs
No need to pack a crib or other baby products, most hotels have all that and will gladly have it waiting in your room on check in. One of the perks of working with Nick Running Travel is that we do this for you. We can confirm cribs and other infant items well in advance so you don’t have to stress on what to pack. We even work with the hotels to have some surprises waiting for both parents and children!
6. Frozen milk can be brought through TSA security checkpoints
One difficulty of traveling is that no liquids over 3 oz are allowed through security, so as a nursing mother how are you supposed to feed your baby on a long flight? TSA allows for frozen liquids to be taken through checkpoints. Our trick is to not take the milk out of the freezer until right before leaving the house and ensure that its well-insulated. Once you are on-board ask a flight attendant for hot water to defrost your milk and you are ready to feed.
7. Be prepared for naps
If your baby is used to a certain outfit/blanket during naps make sure you bring that onboard. When it’s time to go to sleep try to mimic the same process you would use back home. If your baby is wearing the same nap outfit as back home its likely they will fall asleep easier. If your flight happens to fall during the same time as nap time its very helpful, if not don’t worry the sound of the plane engines should soothe your baby to sleep.
Overall, traveling with a baby can definitely be stressful, but by following these tips, travel can be a rewarding experience for you and your growing family. If you are thinking of traveling with your newborn and are looking for assistance, contact Nick Running Travel, and we are happy to help with your next travel experience.
The best tip....... Have fun with it!!