We booked our first family vacation (more on that later) with Fox when he was still going through a fierce phase of witching hour meltdowns. So the idea of boarding a plane with a seemingly emotionally unstable newborn made me more than anxious. I began scouring the internet for articles with numbered lists with pro tips on how to travel with a baby. Aside from breastfeeding during takeoff I couldn’t find much help. It turns out there isn’t much in the way of tips and tricks when it comes to flying with an infant – because really there’s not much you can do beyond just doing your best. So in order to prepare myself for Fox’s first flight I imagined the worst – inconsolable tears, irritated businessmen, and blowouts of epic proportion.
Everyone says to expect the unexpected – I had been so busy preparing for the worst that I didn’t expect to have a chill baby who is a total champ at traveling. Fox loved being carried through the airport in his Sakura Bloom sling. He smiled at strangers. He managed to time his poops perfectly for just after landing. The passengers on our planes couldn’t help but comment on what a sweet, cute baby we have.
I also didn’t expect to have to spend the night at the airport due to inclement weather followed by an available crew unwilling to work a little bit of overtime to get a full plane of passengers from Dallas to Oklahoma City (a 29 minute long flight). Fox and I slept face-to-face together on a cot under a thin fleece blanket. And by sleep I mean closed eyes while trying to ignore the bright lights, bustling cleaning crew, and freezing AC.
But more than anything… I didn’t expect to be so grateful to be traveling with a baby. My baby. I was grateful that I had something a bit more meaningful to focus on than my own self-absorbed and trite travel frustrations. I was grateful that if I had to spend the night in the airport I got to do it with my little family – I was so glad we were all together. I was grateful that my baby seemed to delight the other distressed passengers – he brought a little light, levity, and big toothless grins to an otherwise miserable situation. I was grateful that while it wasn’t the best time ever that we now have a memorable story – that ended with us all home safe – to tell about Fox’s first flight.
But if you’re stumbling upon this page looking for some more than an anecdote here are some tips for traveling with an infant:
• Feed your baby during take off, descent, and as much as possible in between. For as much work as breastfeeding can be it was super convenient for traveling. I wore a scarf which has become a wardrobe staple for a bit of discretion when it comes to feeding Fox in public.
• Wear your baby. I love carrying Fox kangaroo style (facing out with his legs tucked in) in the Sakura Bloom through the airport. You can even wear your baby through security – but I recommend using an Ergo or another carrier without any metal.
• Pack light. At one point I considered packing Fox’s little play gym and maybe a portable high chair. I also thought it might be a good idea to pack my breast pump, just in case. But all the stuff is just not necessary. All he needed, really, were a few diapers, a change of clothes, his swaddle blankets, a pacifier, and us. I did load a few baby apps on the iPad just in case but he’s still a little young to care much about that.
If you have more tips for traveling with babies (by plane, train, or car) please leave them in the comments.
P.S. All photos taken with an iPhone 5S and edited with the VSCO app. (Another way to travel light is to leave the DSLR at home).