By: Brady Evans
Benjamin (3.5 months) and I just returned from our first solo trip traveling cross-country by air. Although it is intimidating to think about carrying luggage, parking in long term parking, and going through security solo, we did it! Here are some tips from our trip.
- Plan flights during normal nap times. I choose a morning flight that coincided with his morning nap for our flight out west. On our trip back east we took the red-eye and he slept the entire way. Not a single person could complain about the infant on the plane because no one knew he was there! Benjamin was also able to sleep during layovers (albeit in unconventional positions). I preferred the cross-country journey in two flights versus one because it was well worth it to be able to change diapers during layovers rather than in the cramped airplane bathroom.
- Nurse or bottle-feed baby on take off and landing. This forces baby to swallow which helps clear their ears. No discomfort due to pressure changes!
- If possible, have a car seat shipped to your destination. This way, the car seat was installed prior to our arrival and I didn’t have to deal with checking it. I did, however, check it on our return flight home. Car seats do not count as “checked luggage” and travel without a fee! I purchased a $38 convertible car seat (Cosco Scenara) from Wal-Mart and had it shipped to our destination (friends we were visiting). I highly recommend this car seat as a dedicated travel car seat. It is cheap, so if it gets damaged in transit you aren’t out too much of a loss. It works from 5 pounds to 35 pounds, rear facing and forward facing so it will last a long time. Remember, all car seats must comply with government safety standards, so it is just as safe as the $300 car seat sitting in my car in my driveway! Also, your baby’s diaper bag does not count against your “1 personal item” carry on rule.
- Ship diapers to your destination. We use cloth diapers at home but I wasn’t going to burden my friends with washing diapers while we were visiting. So along with the car seat, I shipped a package of diapers. This was a great idea, but not without complications. We had never used the brand I decided to ship and baby Ben had a slight reaction to the scent or dye. Be sure you do a test drive with your diaper of choice if possible.
- Wear your baby! I already wrote about how helpful I find baby wearing, and it was essential for the airport when it came down to eating, standing in lines, and keeping the baby happy. I was able to wear Benjamin through security and in Atlanta they put me through an expedited security line because I had the baby. That was great! While traveling solo I found it convenient to be able to wear Benjamin on my back when I was pulling luggage off the baggage carousel, so I traveled with my buckle carrier and a woven wrap in my carry on. I saw moms pushing strollers throughout the airport and it seemed bulky and cumbersome (pushing the stroller and dragging a wheeled carry on). Plus, you’ll have to gate check your stroller and I imagine some of them get damaged in transit.
We had a great trip and flying with a non-mobile infant was totally easy. Good luck on your travels should you choose to travel with your baby as well.