I’ve had a few weeks to digest and the ups and downs after our first airplane vacation with Miss Caroline and I am back to bring you some (what I hope to be) helpful suggestions you can use for your next jet-setting trip.
Here are my Top 10 Travel Tips for a Happy Family:
1. Mom and Dad Need to Pack Light. I used to be the person who would take a huge suitcase and pack it to the max for a long weekend trip, yet now I know it’s just not feasible whn traveling with a baby now… A good number of airlines make you pay to check your bags, so it’s essential to pack ONLY what you need. I made that happen by making a list and checking it twice and only bringing one extra outfit. Even better, I distributed Caroline’s necessities between our bags so we could keep it to two checked bags.
**Note: you can check your carseat for free. We bought the Britax carseat travel bag and absolutely LOVE it. It protected the seat, has straps so you can carry like a backpack, and wheels as well. Great investment and you can purchase here. (cheaper than Amazon and BRU)
2. Check the TSA Site for Regulations on What You Can Carry-On. Luckily for us, they are pretty easy on new parents…you can bring formula, water, medicine, and anything else you need. Just allot extra time in your schedule for them to scan your bags through their machines. Overall, I was impressed with their procedures and how easy they make it to travel.
**We brought Caroline’s birth certificate with us for verification, though we never had to show it. Apparently, it is up to the airline’s discretion if they make you present it, so check that out beforehand, too.
3. Benadryl is a Friend Indeed. I think every single person on our plane was thankful we bit the bullet and gave CC a little concoction prior to takeoff. Her doctor had given us the OK to do so, and I think it helped calm her nerves as well as ours. We also made sure to give her a bottle during takeoff and landing to help those sweet ears of hers pop. Snacks were a must to have on hand, too–we brought along puffs, mum mums, and baby food in pouches for easy eating.
4. Leave Your Germ Fears at the Door. Let’s face it, airports and plans are filled with germs so go ahead and realize “it is what it is” and there isn’t a lot you can do to avoid that. Bring along a travel pack of antibacterial hand gel and some wet wipes and do the best you can. My favorite places to wipe off were seat trays, the airplane manuals (because Caroline loves to touch and feel them), and changing tables in the restrooms.
5. Set Expectations Low to Avoid Disappointment. We went into our trip knowing it could go well, or it could go REALLY bad. Jeff and I just kept reminding ourselves we would make it through, we would try not to get stressed out, and at the end of the day we were traveling to see family and that made it worth it for us. Just don’t be too hard on yourself! If your baby screams, try to calm them down…if you can’t, walk the aisles. We did this a few times and the flight attendants were more than accomodating to help us out.
6. If People Stare or Act Rudely, Kill Them with Kindness. We had a few of those people give us the nasty looks or say “great!” when they saw we were on their flight, yet it’s not like we could help it…it’s funny just how inappropriate some people can act, but we were ALL babies at one point so I just smiled at them and went about my merry way. It’s the holidays people…get over yourselves! There were two separate instances where corporate guys were seated next to us and as scared as I was that they would get upset when CC acted out, they were the ones playing peekaboo with her and smiling to get her attention. Looks can be deceiving ;).
7. Buy Baby Necessities Once You Reach Your Destination. This was a HUGE help to us. Luckily, we rented a car so we had our own transportation. As soon as we arrived in LA, we headed to the nearest Walgreens and stocked up on baby wipes, diapers, and formula. I only packed enough in our suitcases and carry-ons for one day and this was a lifesaver. It meant we weren’t traveling with extra “stuff” and we could get what we needed later. If this is an option for you, DO IT. I promise you’ll thank me later.
8. Invest in an Umbrella Stroller. One lesson we learned from this trip was that we need an umbrella stroller, and soon! Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE our Britax stroller, but for travel, we need something smaller and more compact. I’m checking out the Maclaren and Uppababy models and hope to purchase one ASAP. (if you have any feedback, send it my way!!)
9. Buy Some New Toys and Introduce on Your Trip. I had a few mommy friends tell me to surprise CC with a few new gadgets she hadn’t seen before to keep her occupied during travel. This helped tremendously, too! We bought the Fisher Price iPad cover and downloaded some apps to keep her entertained… she also got a new electronic storytime book and a fresh set of keys that make all sorts of LOVELY noises :/.
10. Make the Most of It and Have Fun. My grandmother’s favorite saying is “it can’t last forever” and I had to remind myself of this a few times on our trip. It was challenging because Caroline didn’t sleep well in hotel crib, was tired and irritable on a few occasions, and was just getting over her ear infection, but we made the most of it and had a wonderful time visiting Esther. We had fun, took our time, and can look back on this first “trip” as a successful one.
There you have it! It’s no David Letterman list, but here is to hoping it helps some new mommies get their bearings in order and not get overwhelmed when they travel for the first time. Good luck to all you friends out there adventuresome enough to do it, too!