BB is about to take her 15th flight in 20 months (and we are going on a cruise next week). At the prompting of my blog friend Marcia, , I thought I would share what has (and often has not) worked for us.
Our first flight was when BB was 3 months old. It was just the two of us and I stressed out so much that I did not sleep at all the night before. The stress was definitely wasted. It is MUCH easier to fly with a little baby. Once they get mobile?! Forget about it!
Things I've learned:
1. You do not need nearly as much stuff as you think you will. Keep it to a minimum. The less you have to carry on the plane, the better. (blanket, drinks, pacifier, snacks, diapers, wipes, tissue, change of clothes)
2. Toys on a plane are a waste of time. Well, unless you enjoy crawling under the seats to pick them up every five minutes. The scenery alone will keep younger children occupied better than any toy.
3. Offer a pacifier/bottle/sippy cup going up and coming down. Have it ready in case they are sleeping. The only time BB has ever cried is when she was sleeping as we started to land. Part of me wants to wake her before then. But I haven't done that yet. Oh, and put a strap on the pacifiers and cups and attach to you/baby/seatbelt. See #2.
2. I have never used a stroller in the airport. I have had her in my Beco carrier every time. It can be a challenge to go to the restroom with a baby attached to your chest. But it CAN be done. When we first started flying, I could leave her in the carrier when we went through security. Now they make me take her out. Presents a bigger challenge, especially when they can't stand up. Of course, when they can stand they will run off! You will wish for 12 arms but I promise you will make do with the two you have. I will put her on my back next time.
3. DO NOT BE AFRAID TO ASK FOR HELP OR ACCEPT HELP FROM THOSE AROUND YOU. I have been amazed at how helpful total strangers have been. Especially men. Take help if offered. Ask for it if you need it.
4. Get thee an iPad. The end.
5. Seriously, the iPhone/iPad has saved my sanity on our flights. She is so entertained by it and it keeps her still for more than 5 seconds at a time.
6. Just understand that you will feel like you are wrangling an alligator when you fly with a toddler. It is exhausting. There is a reason they make you buy a seat for children over 2 years old. Just expect it and try to roll with it.
7. If possible, have an 11 year old boy travel with you. They are great at running after and entertaining toddlers. Seriously, AB has been such an amazing help!
8. Get help with your luggage. We have no less than 2 suitcases and a car seat every time we fly. If there is no one around to help you, find them. Seriously. A $5-$10 tip is worth every penny!!
9. Take snacks but don't go crazy. You are allowed to take bottles of water onto the plane. You can also take milk, juice. They will allow a cooler bag with an ice pack for these items. I have had a few people question me but for the most part, it's been fine. They allow more liquid when your child is a little baby. Be prepared to open every container with liquid in it for inspection.
10. Probably the most important piece of advice: Arrive early and allow your self plenty of time.
11. Well, another important piece of advice in my opinion? Plan your flights around your baby's schedule. I will not take an early morning flight. 6-7 am? No way. Done that and it sucked and I won't do it again. I will pay the extra $20+ for a later flight. Flying with a cranky, tired toddler is absolutely not fun. They are cranky enough without adding sleepiness to the equation.
I hope that helps! Please feel free to ask any questions.