We hit the two month mark with Arlo and I was already itching to have our first trip together as a family. Whether it be by plane, train, or automobile – I was ready to get out of town!
We had our sights set on Denver. We decided to brave a flight with Arlo rather than make a road trip out of it. I started my hunt for helpful tips and advice under a basic Google search “flying with an infant” and unfortunately not a lot of information popped up. My guess is because many people simply avoid traveling with babies and I quickly discovered why. Within of few minutes of my research, I came across several hurdles I had never even considered before when traveling ‘single’.
How do we get from point A to point B without a carseat? Where will my baby sleep in the hotel? – Notice that I no longer spell ‘hotel’ with an ‘s’ in the middle. Babies will do that to you 😉 How will I ever survive without my soothing rocking chair – will I end up with a cranky screaming baby the entire trip? What do I do with my stroller on a plane? What about my breastmilk going through security?
The initial fear is enough for anyone to put off their traveling plans indefinitely…but we opted for the whole ‘learn by doing’ approach and jumped right in!
Note: The following is a lot of information! But, if I happened to miss anything and you have a question that I didn’t cover, I would love for you to comment below so that I can add it to my list of tips 🙂
Tip #1 Check your stroller and car seat at the gate
Weeks before our trip, I still hadn’t figured out the best way to travel with Arlo’s stroller and carseat. Should I just rent a carseat at the rental car place? Or should I check my own in with the bags and hope for the best? I’m pretty sure that I lost a good amount of sleep as I envisioned some careless guy chucking my $400 stroller onto the loading belt only for it to bounce right off and land smack dab on the tarmac. I mean, those guys are notorious for abusing luggage. After some thorough research, I discovered that it is free to check in your stroller and carseat at the gate on all domestic US flights! Which was awesome news. As you board the plane, you just drop off your stroller and carseat at the plane entrance and away you go! Once you land, your gear will be waiting there for you at the door. It also made for maneuvering around the airport, with baby in tow, much easier! I still didn’t feel 100% on their safety, so I bought protective cases for them both. They worked out well. My stroller bag did already have a few tears, but it makes me wonder what my stroller would have looked like without the bag! So I would certainly advise taking the extra step of assurance and bagging your gear. Plus, I’ve never had them actually check the content inside these bags, so you could easily slip in blankets, diapers, and other bulky items that you might not have room for in your suitcase. I even snuck in his DockATot!
What I used:
This bag has straps for you to carry it like a backpack. It also offers enough room to fit a toddler’s seat with the high back. It is pretty well-padded and I couldn’t find any complaints.
This bag was okay. It did not fit my ginormous Graco Downton Stroller without me having to take off one of the stroller wheels. But, my stroller is abnormally large and their fitting guide suggests that most strollers will in fact fit. Also, just after two flights, it showed signs of wear. But again, imagine the condition my stroller would have been in without the protective case.
Tip #2 Feed your baby right before take off
A fed baby is a happy baby. To help reduce the stress of flying, I decided to nurse Arlo right before we boarded the plane. It worked out well and he slept the entire flight. Another helpful bit of information that I discovered, is that a lot of US airports [I am unsure about international ones] provide some sort of room for moms to pump and nurse at ease. At SFO, I used their nursing room right before take off. The room was small, but private. It had a changing table and a chair to nurse in, so I couldn’t complain much. You can also pack a bottle in case you run short on time and want something quick and easy to give your baby.
Tip #3 Exercise your rights and bring your breastmilk through security!
You do not have to worry about their strict liquid regulations when it comes to breastmilk. You are allowed to bring as much breastmilk as desired through airport security – with or without a child present. I carried about 20 ounces in a little cooler and had no issues with it. The inspection process might vary. One airport tested it for explosives [a noninvasive procedure], while another hardly even took a second glance for inspection. Another thing to note, whoever is carrying the baby through the security gate will get their hands tested for explosives. Why? I’m not sure. I’m kind of disturbed at the thought of how a baby and explosives can be associated with one another..
Tip #4 Noise cancellation headphones
Not only did Arlo look ridiculously cute in them, but they were also very helpful for certain situations during our travels. If Arlo was sleeping soundly and we wanted to keep him that way as we hustled and bustled through the airport security line, we slipped on the headphones. On the way back, our flight was delayed by 5 hours! Poor Arlo was so overwhelmed by all of the sights and sounds of the airport that he couldn’t fall asleep peacefully. The headphones provided the quiet environment that he longed for.
These headphones worked like a charm! Arlo appeared to be very comfortable in them and never fussed with them on. Although, not much bothers him…
Tip #5 Wear your baby
In some situations, wearing your baby is just easier! Then you are hands-free and not burdened with lugging a stroller around everywhere. Depending on your destination, especially if it is out of The States, you might want to solely opt for baby wearing because the conditions might not be very stroller friendly – i.e. cobblestone or dirt roads, loads of stairs with no ramps, or lots of congestion that makes maneuvering through streets difficult. But it also depends on each individual’s preferences! For us, it was nice to have the baby backpack when hanging out at the airport and especially when boarding the flight because you lose your stroller at the gate. Also, Arlo loves the snug comfort of the backpack and found it soothing in more stressful situations. We love our Ergobaby!
Tip #6 Do not trust the car seats in rental cars
The NHTSA recommends that you replace any car seat or booster that has been in a moderate to severe crash in order to ensure a continued high level of safety and protection. You don’t know the history of a rental car seat and it certainly isn’t worth taking a chance when it’s your baby’s life at stake. Also, can you imagine how many grimy, drooly hands have been all over those car seats? Yuck. Avoid the risk and bring your own car seat.
Tip #7 Check to make sure that your stay is child/baby friendly
Believe it or not, there are a ton of AirBnb stays that do not allow children under the age of 2 [and sometimes no children at all]. I didn’t even know that was a policy until I started getting into the nitty gritty details of renting out a place. So do your research ahead of time and make sure that your baby is welcome!
Tip #8 Reserve the seat with the bassinet
Oh the things you discover when flying with a baby! Some aircrafts offer seats that have a baby bassinet attached to the wall. How awesome is that? I have seen them more frequently on long international flights, but it is certainly worth a look to see if your next flight has one. Or maybe, lean towards booking flights and aircrafts that do offer bassinets. We have one reserved for our flight to Spain and I am excited to see how it all works out. I will keep you guys posted!
BTW – We had a blast in Denver! Get out there and explore the world with your baby! Don’t feel intimidated or discouraged. Trust us, it’s worth the extra effort for lifelong memories.
Check out my Pt.1 Traveling with Baby series and get loads of helpful information and tips on packing 🙂