Traveling with a baby. Just the very thought of this strikes fear into the hearts of the most seasoned parents. But, it doesn’t have to be terrible! Come prepared and you just might even enjoy that flight with your little one! I’ve done some posts about flying with children since we’ve done quite a bit in my daughter’s almost-two-years of life, but today I wanted to focus on just getting through the airport with a little one. Those two hours of checking in and waiting before you board your plane can set the tone for your flight, so it’s important to start off on the right foot. Here are some simple things I do that help me get through the airport with ease — they’re all fresh in our mind since we’ll be boarding a flight to Disneyland this week!
1. Have an umbrella stroller
God bless umbrella strollers. There are so many fantastic ones out there, but I highly recommend one with a good storage basket underneath (and cup holders!). They are wonderful for getting from point A to point B while keeping you unburdened with holding a baby AND carry-on items. You can keep your stroller with you until you board and check it at the gate.
2. Separate Items into Groups
Airplanes are not exactly known for being spacious, so keep things easy to find before and during your flight by compartmentalizing. I separate items into various pouches (one for diapering supplies, one for snacks, one for toys, one for important documents, etc.). Keeps everything where I can easily find it.
3. Don't overpack
This was my carry-on bag for one of my first flights with my daughter and there is a lesson I have learned since then: don’t overpack! If you bring too many things you’ll just get bogged down and won’t be able to find what you need when you need it. Keep everything to a minimum and you’ll be glad you did.
4. Check it
You can check your car seat along with our luggage for no additional fee, so unless your little one will have their own seat and be using a car seat in flight, you can just check it ahead of time and save yourself the hassle of carrying it for gate check.
5. Empty your cups
Not once, but twice I have made the mistake of forgetting to empty my liquid beverages before going through security. Save yourself the headache of balancing and emptying cups and do it ahead of time.
Keep travel outfits sweet and simple for both you and your little one. Comfy, cotton pieces and layers are key. Avoid jewelry for yourself so you don’t have to worry about removing it for the metal detector and opt for slip-on shoes. A cute flat will be much easier to remove with a baby in tow than those lace up boots.
7. Don't pull out distractions early
Pulling out the airplane activities too early is the cardinal sin of traveling with a little one. Waiting two hours to board your flight may seem like it requires distractions, but take advantage of what you have around at the airport before exhausting your other resources. If your little one is bored with them before the flight even begins it would be a pretty big disappointment. Learn from my mistakes.
8. Stop for a snack
Pack snacks or stop for a bite at one of your airport’s many food spots. It will break up the time before your flight and will ensure that no one boards the flight cranky from being too hungry.
9. Board last
I realize that this may seem counterintuitive, but do it. Unless you have a ton of carry-on items to stow and situate, wait to board until the end. They typically let families board early to get settled, which is nice if you have a really tiny baby who will sleep on the go, but if you’ve got a toddler, the last thing you want is an extra half hour of sitting and waiting. Trust me on this one.
10. Stay mobile
If you have a little one who is crawling or walking, let them stay mobile until the very moment that you board your flight. Running off those extra wiggles will make you and your fellow passengers much happier flight companions.