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(This arti­cle may or may not con­tain affil­i­ate links. What does that mean?)

When I found out I was preg­nant with my daugh­ter, every­one was quick to tell me that my trav­el­ing days were over. Deter­mined to prove them wrong and con­tin­ue to explore the world, I made the deci­sion to take her with me.

Was it chal­leng­ing? Ummm, yes. Imag­ine chang­ing the dia­per of a ram­bunc­tious tod­dler in a room bare­ly big enough to squat. But it was total­ly worth it. So grab your wine and let me tell you how to sur­vive your first flight with your baby.

What to Pack

Being a par­ent means the days of pack­ing an hour before head­ing to the air­port are over. Now, I have to care­ful­ly plan each day of my trip. So make some space and start lay­ing out your clothes, and toys, and books…

Checked Suitcase

  • For every out­fit you bring, take two for your kid
  • Half an entire sleeve of diapers
  • Every pair of socks your child owns plus two pairs of their shoes
  • One light coat (no mat­ter the season)

Carry-On

  • The oth­er half of the dia­per sleeve
  • An entire pack of wipes (you just nev­er know)
  • Snacks
  • Snacks
  • More Snacks
  • Two sound­less toys
  • A large blanket

Par­ent Trav­el­er Tip: Check the car seat with your lug­gage. If you take it onto the plane the flight atten­dants require you to buck­le it in leav­ing no room if your baby wants to get out. And they will.

 

How to Navigate the Airport

The stroller is a life­saver for air­port nav­i­ga­tion. But it’s impor­tant to keep in mind that push­ing a stroller and pulling mul­ti­ple suit­cas­es is no easy feat. Do your­self a favor, bring some cash and rent a lug­gage cart.

How do you push a stroller and a cart, you ask?

Push­ing down on the lug­gage cart makes it move with ease. Essen­tial­ly, it’s like push­ing two strollers. Even if you’re just going from the car to the check-in counter, it’s worth it.

 

 

Par­ent Trav­el­er Tip: Breast­feed­ing? Most air­ports have pri­vate rooms for nurs­ing moth­ers. If you’re lucky, your air­port will have a Mama­va Pod (aka a pri­vate breast­feed­ing room, eas­i­ly acces­si­ble with a free smart­phone app). It’s qui­et, clean, and has mag­a­zines for added entertainment.

© Mama­va

 

Security

Secu­ri­ty was/is the bane of my exis­tence. Work­ing my way through the zig-zag line with a giant stroller, my car­ry on, and a purse, all while keep­ing my daugh­ter enter­tained so as not to both­er the oth­er 3,000 peo­ple wait­ing can be stress­ful, to say the least.

Once I final­ly made my way to the front, I was told that the entire stroller had to be tak­en apart and put through the scan­ner piece by piece. That is not a joke. Do not pass go. Do not col­lect $200 until you dis­as­sem­ble a stroller that eas­i­ly took an hour to assem­ble in the first place.

Par­ent Trav­el­er Tip: Approach secu­ri­ty per­son­nel before enter­ing the line. Ask them what to expect and if there is a way to make the process go smoother. I was hap­pi­ly sur­prised to be escort­ed to a dif­fer­ent, more pri­vate line, on the trip home. I did­n’t have to dis­as­sem­ble any­thing and my kid did­n’t lose her mind. WIN-WIN

 

Boarding

Look at board­ing the plane with a baby much like the secu­ri­ty line. It’s much eas­i­er for you and oth­er pas­sen­gers that you and your baby get set­tled first. Let’s be hon­est, no one wants a sticky baby hand run­ning through their hair as you try to car­ry every­thing between those tiny seats.

 

Rely on Flight Attendants

Flight atten­dants can be your best friend. Be kind to them. They can make things hap­pen. For example:

  • Ask the flight atten­dant if you can board ear­ly and check your stroller at the desk. The stroller will be placed at the exit of the plane when you land.
  • Ask about seat assign­ments. Most of the time they will try to place you in a row with no oth­er pas­sen­gers, clos­er to the bath­room, or near the front.

Every flight I was on, the flight atten­dants let me board first, pro­vid­ed extra snacks, placed me in a row with­out any­one else (when pos­si­ble), and over­all, made the expe­ri­ence less stressful.

Par­ent Trav­el­er Tip: For longer flights try to plan it dur­ing nap time or in the evening. Break out the blan­ket, get cozy and put them to sleep.

 

Flight

This is the part that all par­ents dread. The part where your kid is an angel baby or a demon child and there is no escape.

Please let her sleep. Please let her sleep.

via GIPHY

Right before I board­ed a woman in line looked back at me sym­pa­thet­i­cal­ly as I strug­gled to re-pack the dia­per bag my kid just emp­tied while bal­anc­ing her on my hip and said, “If you get stressed out, remem­ber, half the peo­ple on the flight will empathize because they’ve been there. The oth­er half don’t matter.”

Our first flight to Ger­many was amaz­ing and I attribute it to 5 impor­tant components:

  1. A calm­ing aid — check with your pedi­a­tri­cian but a good home­o­path­ic option is chamomil­la (Hylands makes a good one).
  2. A sep­a­rate­ly pur­chased seat (details below)
  3. Snacks
  4. Moth­er Goose Clubhouse
  5. Snacks

Don’t want to be the par­ent that has to use a tablet? Now is not the time! Bring the tablet. Play their favorite shows. It’s a LONG, bor­ing flight. Take the help.

Par­ent Trav­el­er Tip: When pur­chas­ing a plane tick­et for a child under the age of two you have two options; a lap seat tick­et or a sep­a­rate seat. A lap seat tick­et is much cheap­er as it assumes your baby will be on your lap. Don’t do it. Even if your baby ends up on your lap hav­ing the extra space is always welcomed.

 

Would I Do It Again?

When I start my next vaca­tion, baby­less, will I envy flus­tered par­ents board­ing a flight with a lit­tle one in tow? No. But I don’t regret bit­ing the bul­let and tak­ing my kid on her first flight. New expe­ri­ences are scary for any­one, but it’s impor­tant that we embrace new, excit­ing chal­lenges so that we raise well-round­ed, cul­tur­al­ly knowl­edge­able kids. I will, no doubt, one day relive the expe­ri­ence with my daugh­ter, as we board anoth­er flight with an await­ing adventure.

Sarah is a writer and edi­tor based in Mor­gan­town, WV. Her pas­sion for trav­el has tak­en her all over Europe where she has over-indulged in cheese and enjoyed drink­ing end­less cap­puc­ci­nos. In an effort to encour­age oth­ers to explore the world, she cre­at­ed a trav­el blog, Oops!… I Trav­eled Again. Her love for writ­ing and trav­el is only matched by the true joy she gets from watch­ing her daugh­ter dis­cov­er some­thing new, tak­ing her dog for a long run, and suc­cess­ful­ly bak­ing amaz­ing desserts. 

I final­ly did it. This post con­tains my very first rec­om­men­da­tion that includes a link for you to buy the prod­uct that saved our lives when the boys were babies. I use Ama­zon to buy most every­thing because as a work­ing mom, I don’t have the time to go shop­ping out­side my com­put­er. So the Ama­zon link above will earn me a per­cent­age of the sale if you buy the prod­uct because I was nice enough to be your guinea pig. Don’t know how much yet but I doubt I’ll be going to Vegas (with the boys:) to spend my wads of commission.