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In this post we explore lessons learned having taken ten flights with our baby before she turned one years old.
Note that we the reflections listed below are based upon travel as a couple that sat in economy with a lap-seat ticket for our infant.
[USA] Consider enrolling in TSA Pre✓ & Global Entry programs.
TSA Pre✓ and Global Entry are wonderful tools to use if you plan to travel more than twice in a year. This reduces the need to struggle in organizing yourself to get through security lines and attempt to juggle baby, luggage and shoe removal.
A few benefits of TSA Pre✓:
- Expedited airport security screening process
- Comfort of not having to remove shoes, belts or light jackets
- Ability to leave laptops and TSA-approved liquids and gels in your carry on luggage
A few benefits of Global Entry:
- No processing lines upon arrival
- No paperwork to fill out in-flight
- Reduced wait times
- TSA Pre✓ eligibility
The process to get a TSA Pre✓ and Global Entry can be tedious but we believe it is well-worth the time invested upfront.
Bring your own carseat.
Yes, it is a hassle check in an oversized carseat carry bag. But the bigger hassle is not being able to enjoy your trip because you are worrying about transit options.
Without bringing your own seat, you become dependent on pricey hotel transport, availability of ride share app drivers who keep one in their car, and having to plan around walking, public transport and other options. In our experience, all of the Uber and Lyfts did not offer car seat availability and few of the hotels had the right car seat (either backward or forward-facing, size restrictions) for rental.
Not having a seat may severely hinder your ability to effectively move around a place and could put a damper on your travel plans.
Select your carry-on luggage wisely.
As you move through the airport and load bags in/out of cars and planes, having the right gear is important. We’ve discussed the benefits of one-bag travel, but understand that traveling with a little one can include additional items like strollers, breast pumps and the rest.
For that reason, we recommend selecting pieces that are flexible and give you the space to throw items in. We recommend a canvas bag with a zip top that can become a catch-all for the do-dads, baby carriers and other items that you might use during the waiting time in the airport, and also be accessible under your feet once in-flight.
- Don’t pick pieces that require perfect, modular packing. If your bag requires you place every item into a packing cube in order to fit into your bag, this is an approach that will be unsuccessful. Babies somehow attract stuff – and a last minute diaper change, acquisition of a new toy or bottle of water should not create packing issues.
- Select something that you can grab items with a single hand if baby falls asleep on you. How do your
- Don’t pack everything to capacity – leave 20% space to throw in items that you pick up along the way.
Know how your luggage travels and adjust accordingly.
Know how to wear your purse, backpack or stack your bags in the stroller.
Tips & considerations:
- Select something that you can grab items with a single hand if baby falls asleep on you. How do your zippers function with a single hand? Can you open your bag if it is on your shoulder, or does it require you to put it down? Does your bag tip over if not full?
- Can your bag be washed? If your baby soils an outfit, or a banana finds its way to the bottom of your bag, how do you plan on cleaning it?
- How does your bag wear after 10-minutes? 20? 1 hour?
Delegate responsibilities before travel.
Think through and assign someone to handle:
- IDs and boarding passes
- Stroller fold (and gate-check, if required)
- Diaper changes in-airport and in-flight
- Water bottle refill
- Who carries baby in/out of the plane
- Who puts bags overhead
- Who has baby on their lap for take off and landing
Baby wear through the airport.
Baby wearing in the airport is fantastic to get through security lines.
We placed our items in the stroller and carried baby around the airport for extra cuddles ahead of the flight.
Change baby’s diaper right before boarding.
Change baby’s diaper right before the flight. Airplane bathrooms are generally not clean. If absolutely necessary, have sanitizing wipes at your fingertips and a large garbage bag to place over the toilet area to keep baby from touching an unsanitary bathroom.
Prepare snacks, water & in-flight activities.
Prepare in-flight activities, snack and outfits. Do not leave it to chance that the flight will have what you need nutritionally or sanitary items.
Lightweight blanket for baby is all you need. Bulky blankets are a hassle to carry around.
- Read more — Travel Tip: Packing In-Flight Snacks