One perk to overseas living is that you get really good at traveling with your baby. Harper is about to turn one (ugly tears) and she has been on 8 flights so far! Three of those are 12 hour flights and two were 7 hours long. We have a specific routine for our travel so I thought we would share our tips with you!
1. Trade in your diaper bag for a backpack. I’m not even sure why they make shoulder diaper bags anymore. It will be much less hassle and feel more hands free if you use a backpack. If you’re carrying it because you want it at your destination just pack it in your luggage or opt for a small tote that fits in your bag easily.
2. Get a hands free carrier. I could absolutely not have lived without this. Granted, most of the time I was traveling alone. But still, you want this! For one of the long flights Harper refused to sleep so I was forced to hold her. This item was invaluable then and during travel time in the airport.
3. Travel as light as possible. You don’t need an 10 extra outfits or 40 diapers for the plane ride. Bring 1-2 extra sets of clothes and go for one pieces if you can. Don’t forget to pack one extra shirt for you too. Check your luggage, it will be worth the $25 dollars to have less to carry!
4. Leave the car seat and stroller at home if you can. Ask your hosts if you can borrow theirs, maybe their friend has an extra, or sometimes even hotels can provide those things for you.
5. Get a bulkhead seat. When you check in for your flight ask the desk agent if there are any bulkhead seats available. These seats are equipped with bassinets! Yup, you heard right. If they say no you have two more chances to get one. Next, ask your gate agent. Lastly, beg the flight attendant. Just a note, only large planes have these.
6. Pack meals for you. I know this sounds either silly or like a “no brainer” but it was pretty much impossible to eat the provided meals on the planes (when I was traveling alone). I mainly survived on granola bars and smoothies during my trips. Since I was breastfeeding it was really important that I ate frequently and stayed hydrated. So make sure you’ve got lots of snacks for you to eat easily and even one handed.
7. Don’t Stress! Go into the trip knowing that your baby WILL cry on the plane and that is OKAY. People are generally very helpful and kind to parents, especially when traveling alone. Asking or accepting help will be the key to your survival. Most parents know what it’s like so don’t be shy.
Before you finalize your bags go through the whole trip in your head. I will literally visualize all my bags and how I will get from point A to point B with them and think about what I am carrying from gate to gate. This helps me determine if what I’m taking is realistic. Remember that if you are traveling internationally and pay for a 10% lap child ticket you can check a bag for your baby (with most airlines). You will also need to claim your bags and re-check them during your first stop into the US. So if you are landing then taking a connecting flight the rest of the way home be prepared to handle your bags and your baby.
I hope these tips really help everyone. If you have additional advice don’t forget to leave it below in the comments!