Last weekend I had the honor of attending a Leadership Summit for Carry the Future in Washington, DC. Since my 5 month old doesn’t take a bottle well, he was my travel buddy for the trip. It was my first time flying (commercial) with one of my children, so there was definitely a learning curve. Here are my top tips:
Bring a carseat and gate check it. I knew that I would be traveling in a few cars with my son, so I had to have his carseat. I brought his infant carrier which was easy to put into a car and secure with the seatbelt. It was also invaluable for times when he was tired of being held and just wanted to be put down while we were waiting at the gate. Additionally putting him in his seat was the only way I was able to go to the bathroom when I was alone in the airport, and that is all I will say about that.
Use a wrap or baby carrier that you are comfortable with. I used my Maya ring sling and wore my son through the airport. I was required to take him out of the wrap and carry him when I went through security, but it was so much easier for me to wear him and carry everything else, than to carry him in his infant car seat.
Take advantage of the TSA precheck program. I can’t begin to tell you how nice it is to not have to take off my shoes or dig my laptop out of my suitcase when I travel. Not having to do these things while carrying an infant: priceless.
If at all possible, check your suitcase. I didn’t want to pay the $25 fee to check my bag, so I had to roll it through the airport. I was wearing August, carrying his infant carrier in one hand, had my diaper bag over the same arm, and was pulling my suitcase with the other hand. It was a lot to maneuver at once, especially when I had to take a train to another terminal. I made it work, but honestly it would have been worth it to pay the fee.
Be prepared, but only bring the essentials. I used my diaper bag as my personal carry on and filled it with the following: diapers, wipes, 3 *small* favorite toys, an extra set of clothes for August, my wallet, my phone, a small quilt, August’s birth certificate, and a hat for August. I took a book on my first flight, but I quickly realized it was pretty much impossible to hold a sleeping baby and my book at the same time.
Don’t be a hero-accept help. I had a few people offer to help-flight attendants put my suitcase in the overhead bin, and a woman picked up my diaper bag when it fell off of my suitcase. Normally I say something like, “It’s ok. I’ve got it,” but I am slowly learning to just accept the help and be thankful for the kind gesture.
I have no plans to travel alone with any of my kids in the future, but if for some reason I had to, the ideal situation would look like this: I would fly on an airline that allows me to pull up my boarding pass on my phone, so that I wouldn’t have to keep track of any paper tickets. I would check my large suitcase upon arrival and would only carry a diaper bag onto the plane. Most importantly I would still take an infant carrier, but I would click it into a stroller to make it easier to get through the airport. Then I would gate check the stroller and carseat.
What do you think? Have you traveled alone with your children? What is your best advice? Share in the comments below.