Traveling has always been a huge part of my husband, Corey, and I’s relationship. We’ve been to over 20 countries together, lived abroad in Amsterdam for two years and generally just find any and every excuse to hop on a plane and go on an adventure. When we got pregnant with our daughter, Elodie, we spent a lot of time thinking about if and how this aspect of our lives would change once she arrived. While we have certainly slowed our traveling down since she was born, we’ve still made it a point to take a few trips and attempt to keep our wanderlust at bay. Elodie’s been on six flights to-date, and each time we fly we learn a little bit more about how to make our family travel adventures easier. I’ve rounded up some of my most helpful tips in case you’re looking to take your little one on a flight sometime soon. I hope they’re helpful! Please feel free to leave specific questions in the comments – I’ll make sure to leave an answer!
Fly during nap or bed time: Whenever we book travel, we do our best to book a flight that takes place during one of Elodie’s nap times – that way there’s more of a chance for a sleeping baby for at least part of the journey! So far it has worked out really great.
Don’t carry a lot on the plane: Make sure you bring the essentials in a good diaper bag or backpack – bottle (even if you’re breastfeeding I’ve heard some babies don’t like nursing on planes, so having a bottle of pumped milk as a backup is a must!), change of clothes, pacifier if your baby uses one, diapers, wipes, a couple small toys and hand sanitizer (we love the Honest hand sanitizer and also bring WetOnes to wipe down our entire seating area!). Do not over pack or haul things around “just in case”. The first time we flew with Elodie I truly thought I was packing light, yet somehow we still found ourselves lugging around way too many bags. I don’t even bring a purse anymore, I just throw my wallet in the diaper bag and pack everything else in a checked bag.
Wear your baby: We are a huge baby wearing family! Our Ergo360 is a dream for when we travel. If you’re wearing your baby in a carrier you don’t need to take them out at security, so it makes things super easy. Otherwise you have to struggle with collapsing your stroller while trying to handle your babe – no fun!
Feed at takeoff and landing: Whether it’s breast, bottle, eating a snack or just using a paci, make sure your baby is sucking or chewing on something at takeoff and landing. This helps their ears upon ascent and descent. If your little one is sleeping, don’t stress, just let them sleep!
Try to get an extra seat: Corey and I try to get tricky and book the aisle and the window when we’re flying with Elodie, in hopes the middle seat stays open. Truth be told it doesn’t work out that often, but when it does it is amazing. Make sure when you’re checking in to your flight you ask the agent if there are any extra seats on the plane and if it’d be possible to get a row of seats together so you can bring the car seat on with you.
Board last (at least when you have a mobile baby): I think this may be more of a personal preference thing as I’ve sometimes heard the advice to take advantage of the family pre-boarding and get situated early. For us, especially now that Elodie is very mobile, I always send Corey onto the plane first to get settled and secure our overhead space while I stay out in the boarding area and let Elodie climb around and stretch her limbs for as long as possible.
Diaper change right before boarding: I wait until the last possible moment before boarding to give Elodie a diaper change. Most airplanes (at least in our experience) do not have changing tables on board, and even when they do they are SUPER tiny. Honestly, airplane diaper changes are one of my most hated parts of traveling with a baby. They are so inconvenient. So basically, unless you have to. Don’t.
Set your expectations low: I’m sort of a perfectionist (okay, I’m a total Type-A perfectionist!!!) and the first time we flew with Elodie I think I just put way too much pressure on myself and the situation. Looking back, Elodie did amazing, but I was so stressed the entire time because I didn’t want her to make a peep, need her diaper changed, stay awake the whole time, etc etc. If you have a baby, you know by now that children have minds of their own. Traveling with little ones is not easy and it’s never going to go perfectly. Just set your expectations really, really low and remember that there’s something fun for you on the other side (at least I really hope there is!!).
For a more extensive post on traveling with a baby – this is my favorite ever. She has such great, detailed advice!