At 8 months old, Prima has traveled on 24 flights. I didn’t make my first flight until I was 18. And back then I remember being so confused about the seat belt, and nervous as all get out. I think that, by the time Prima is 18, she will be an absolute pro – and probably will have no idea what my experience was like!
So yes, we’ve flown (and driven) a lot with this little girl. Here is a list of what we have found to be helpful. Your mileage may vary.
- A backpack is so much better than a regular diaper bag, but this Ju-Ju-Be diaper bag is even better than the backpack. We packed almost all of her things into it on our last trip. We found it very easy to quickly grab whatever we needed.
- Bring a lightweight baby carrier (this one that our sister-in-law found for us is amazing!) Carrying an infant around an airport in a heavy car seat begins to majorly suck after five minutes. Note: we don’t bring a stroller because 1.) we don’t plan to use anything other than our jogging stroller, 2.) we do not want to drag it through the airport and all around with us, and 3.) we love babywearing!
- If you are comfortable with it, and want to pay, use a car seat provided by the rental company. Please note that I’ve also heard of disasters with expired car seats, dirty car seats, or no car seats available even though you reserved one with your rental.
- If your baby is comfortable sleeping on the floor, a thick blanket as a mattress is so much smaller than a pack ‘n’ play. And depending on where you are headed relatives/friends may be happy to let you borrow their pack ‘n’ play.
- Those baby food pouches are good stuff, especially if she suddenly begins to refuse a bottle. That was almost a disastrous trip.
- Roasted sweet potato slices make excellent baby snacks, especially if you are trying to be cheap/gluten free. Feeding Finn is my new favorite site for DIY baby finger foods. The Norseman and I actually loved this lentil bake maybe more than Prima did!
- Sometimes TSA will let your bag of breastmilk through, no comment. Other times they will hold it up, and take foreeeever to test it. This generally happens when we have something else in the cooler with it (like baby food pouches, or fruit or something.)
- Babies under 2 years can travel as a lap infant for free on all airlines. But you will typically need to call and make your reservations instead of making them online. We haven’t had any issues adding her at the counter (Southwest) but Delta got a little fussy.
- Bring a copy of the birth certificate every single time. The airlines use it to verify the reservation information, and TSA can ask you to show it when you go through security. We haven’t been asked that, yet. Also, if you forget your child’s birth certificate at home, and then need to make a panicked call to your pet sitter, who just happens to be walking through your door, and request a picture of the birth certificate – the airlines should still accept that. Southwest did this last trip. Thank goodness!
- If there are 10 other babies on your flight, and all of those parents checked their stroller/car seat stuff at the gate, then your car seat, which you checked at the baggage counter, will probably come out at the gate. So instead of frantically searching all of the conveyors and the lost and found baggage area, just wait by the gate with all the other parents to see if comes out, then head off to the conveyors. Just speaking from experience here. 😉
- If you hate those whole body x-ray machines, hold the baby and make your spouse go through it. You get to go through the other scanner. Every single time.
- TSA Pre-Check is 100% worth it, if you are traveling on a regular basis. That said, sometimes you won’t get it on your boarding pass, or you will but your spouse won’t. This is apparently part of a random selection criteria that seems to only ever hit my husband, and for flights when security is ridiculously backed up or we are really late.
- You can’t wear baby in the carrier during security, during take-off, or landing. All other times it’s good to go.
- If you want to feel extra safe, buy your baby a seat and bring that car seat on board and strap it in. Infant fares are discounted.
- Sometimes, if the flight is not full, the flight attendant will try to get you next to an open seat so you can put your car seat in it. (This only applies if you brought it to the gate with you, even though you are doing the lap infant thing.)
- Enterprise is by far the best rental car company, ever. We use them every single time, and get outstanding service. They generally upgrade us to a larger car, especially if they think that we can’t fit the car seat in the back, or just because (like this last time – the guy thought an SUV would be safer, and he didn’t see any compacts in the lot.)
- Consider bringing a sun shade and a mirror with you, so that you can shade your baby from the sun when your car seat’s shade can’t, and so that you can make a more educated guess about why your little one is screaming and screaming on a long car ride. This is the sun shade we drape over Prima’s infant car seat (I have no idea if it will work well with the transition car seat, which we need to move to shortly.) This is similar to the baby mirror that we use.
- Know that at some point, when you have been traveling all day long, your little one will just be done, and will cry and not be consoled until he or she is out of the car seat. But then, I feel that way too by the end of a long day of travel.
None of these products or services mentioned are affiliates of this blog (although it would be nice! Ha!) Rather, we’ve used them, love them, and recommend them based on that. Although, even if we were affiliates, it would only be because we had used, tested, and loved a product.