After 15 months on this Earth, my daughter Ry has officially been on 5 round trip plane rides, so your guess is probably that I must be a pro at traveling with a toddler, right? WRONG!
Every time we travel, we learn a new trick to put in our back pocket for next time.
Traveling alone with a kid, is really hard work, but I think we’ve almost got it down to some sort of science. Check out our top 11 tricks for traveling with your baby. Are you ready for smooth sailings?!
1. Secure your “Kid Holder”– KEEP THE STROLLER AND CAR SEAT WITH YOU UNTIL YOU ARE ABOUT TO GET ON THE PLANE! Okay I know what you’re thinking… “Now Laurin, why on Earth would I do that when this kind ticket attendant says she will take it at the ticket counter?” Well, would you rather lug your 20 lb. baby around on your hip, or would you rather glide through the airport with ease?
Also, and this is even more important, do you really want to wait 20-30 minutes after all the baggage from your entire flight is gone for them to finally release the strollers? This never fails; it’s like in their eyes, baby strollers and car seats aren’t as, or equally important as baggage. In my mind it makes more sense to just put ALL our belongings on the belt at once!
“But Laurin, if I don’t give the ticket attendant my car seat and stroller at the ticket counter, when will I give it to them?!” I’m glad you asked my friend. So, you’ve gone through the entire airport process, and now you’re hangry and at your gate. Politely go up to the gate attendants and inform them that you have a two-piece car seat/stroller set that you need tickets for. They will pull out two bright pink/orange tickets and attach them to your stroller. THEN, (now read closely) when you are on the walkway about to get on the plane, there is usually a door with car seats and wheelchairs. That is where you will undo your stroller and car seat and just leave it. Then they will put it under the plane, after all the baggage, of course! If you are unsure about this, there will be a flight attendant available as you are boarding who will be able assist you. Do you know why this is a lifesaver? Because, when I get off that airplane, guess what is immediately waiting for me… my stroller and car seat, along with the wheelchairs. This part of the trip usually makes my day, especially since I’ve had a wiggly one year old on my lap for the last two hours.
Okay the rest of these are easy!
2. If you can, pack a carry-on. There is nothing more
exciting than being stuck in a city you weren’t expecting to be in on a delayed flight with nothing extra to wear and minimal clothes, diapers, and snacks for baby. So, if you’re able to pack a carry-on and take it on the flight do it! (People are always willing to help) This will be a lifesaver for the unexpected.
3. Lap Child is a musssst! If your child is between 14 days and two years old, he/she is considered a lap child and can ride free! Don’t get discouraged if you don’t see this option on the website, airlines like Southwest require you to call and add the child to the flight for security purposes. Just simply, call, add your child, and make sure they send you the updated itinerary. You will also be required to bring either the most current shot records or birth certificate to confirm the child’s age.
4. Avoid Layovers. I know this is sometimes unavoidable, but if I can pay an extra $10-15 for a straight shot, sign me up! Who really wants to get on and off of two or three planes with a kid, heck, if I’m honest, I don’t like to do it when I’m alone!
5. Flight time. Again, if applicable, try and schedule flights early in the morning, mid-day or late at night (according to your child’s schedule) to promote a non-cranky in flight baby. When you are shopping flights really stop to think about what your baby’s nap and feeding schedule is. You don’t want to make baby wait for food while you are trying to navigate the airport…
6. Elevators are our friends. Avoid escalators. This may sound like an easy one, but when you’re in a rush (and I’m guilty), putting your baby in your baby carrier, that strapped to your chest, while holding onto the stroller, while riding up an escalator seems like a good idea. In reality, it isn’t worth the stress of something happening like accidentally letting go of the stroller or dropping things. It really is a major safety hazard… I guess that’s what those signs mean. LOL.
Hide, I mean place extra bags or items under the stroller carrier. These days, airlines charge you per bag and per ticket! So, if you followed rule #1 and still have your stroller at the gate, you can be like me. I am infamous for putting my extra shopping bag, camera bag, or laptop case underneath the stroller just to get to the airplane door, then taking it out to enter the plane.
8. Guard your milk. With today’s TSA rules getting stricter by the day, I had an encounter in Atlanta where they threw out my milk. Apparently, the guy was new, but I went around and round with him, until I had a crying baby and 20 minutes until boarding time. But I was right. Milk is food for the baby and should NOT be trashed. Oh, and side note, if you are traveling with your breast pump, that is considered medical equipment and does not count as extra baggage. So, it’s free. 😏
9. Ask for extra seats. This one is pretty neat. Often, flights aren’t full, which means there will be extra seats. Before boarding, simply make your way to the gate counter and ask if the flight is full, if the answer is “no”, you’re good! Now you have a seat, and baby does too! I would only recommend this for children who are walking. If you child is smaller it’s not the end of the world, now have a two-seater bed for you and your mini to stretch out on!
10. Use the restroom at the airport. There is nothing worse than having to maneuver to the back of the plane with your mini, into an EXTRA MINI closet that they call a restroom, then with your kid, squat, and figure out how to successfully wash your hands. Even using my baby carrier, it just feels wrong!
11. Avoid the back of the airplane. I have always prided myself on checking into the flight 24 hours before to make sure that I am in group A, but now that I have Ry, I don’t have to worry, because we’re always group A! Sitting closer to the front, will allow you to get off easier, faster, and with more help if needed. Being in the back row of the airplane, with a crying kid, a purse, diaper bag, and a carry-on is not somewhere I would ever want to be.
I hope this helped you all as much as it help me! Save travel, my loves!