Arlo is only 4 1/2 months old, but we've been traveling twice already!
I knew that since he was/is so young, and especially since we're cloth diapering, that traveling by plane could be quite the adventure. My whole life, I've traveled about the country to see family members or friends, so I feel like I've got the process down to a science.
If you're traveling with a little one, or just by yourself, these tips will help make the process stress-free (or as close as you can get).
1. Plan Ahead
I've always been a list maker. Whenever I have to leave my house for a day or more (or even a few hours :P), I make a list of items I might need. This list is usually full of things that I think I need. I will also make a separate list for my carry on bag.
After I write the initial list, I go through it a few more times, eliminating items that aren't crucial, or that are more convenient to purchase once I get to my destination. For me, lately, these items are things like the boppy, snuggle toys, extra blankets, and the baby bullet. This is important since you only have so much room to work with when traveling, whether it be by plane or car.
Try to make the list for the carry on bag as small as possible! You don't want to lug around more than necessary, especially if you've got a little one in tow.
My carry on list usually looks a bit like this:
*bag for storing diaper changes. includes appropriate # of inserts for the trip, plastic liners, and diaper covers, in case of a real mess. (Any old bag will do for this, but I like to use a small, zip up bag to keep things organized)
*wet bag! this is probably the most important thing of all. In fact, if you're packing and reading this, put the wet bag in your carry on RIGHT NOW! you don't want to have to use a makeshift bag and end up smelling like old diapers...
*pack of wipes (if you have one that has been opened and is smaller, it'll work best to save you some room)
*change of clothes. You never ever know if the pressure change will cause baby's inner pressure to change, if you know what i mean :S
*something for baby to suck on. If you use a pacifier, this will work perfectly. If you don't use one, make sure to bring a bottle (if you use one), or prepare to nurse on the way up and down. Usually, I nurse Arlo when we're going through pressure changes, and he does just fine. A pinky finger will also work, but see below
*Natural hand sanitizer! Airports are disgusting. Germs can be a good thing sometimes, but never ever in an airport. It'll also be good if/when you need to have baby suck on your finger during the pressure change in the plane. If you don't know where to get hand sanitizer/don't have enough time to look or order it online, just google it and you can find simple homemade recipes.
*baby's favorite toy. Airplanes can be scary, especially if your little one isn't a social butterfly. keeping a favorite cuddly toy close by can help with comforting baby.
*last but not least, something for you!!!! just in case baby goes to sleep (you never can tell), you want to have a book or something to keep you busy. I forgot this one last time, and I was bored through a 3 1/2 hour flight :(
As you're packing, ask yourself "Do i REALLY need this?" Chances are, the answer is no. Usually, the little one will need more room in the bag than you will. If I packed whatever I thought I needed, my bag would be bursting at the seams. If you think "minimize, minimize, minimize!", you won't have to worry about fitting things in the bag, OR weight limits!
If you don't use something regularly- don't bring it.
Make sure to bring clothing that you wear a lot. If you have something that you've never worn before, leave it (unless it's for a special occasion). When traveling, it is best to stick to the usuals.
So check, double check, and triple check:
"Do I REALLY need this?"
3. Opt For Comfort
At one point in time, going place to place by plane was an occasion that called for one's Sunday best. In this day and age, things are quite different. I've seen a wide array of colored sweatpants, flip flops, etc. I've also seen people in pantsuits traveling. Both sides of the spectrum had one thing in common: they looked comfortable.
Of course you want to look as good as possible whenever possible, but when traveling, it's best to cut stress down to a minimum. Wear your most comfortable jeans, or a knee length skirt when heading out by plane. Make sure to wear simple, easy to remove shoes. If you can't handle walking long distances in your shoes, pack them away! You never know how long it'll take you to get to your gate (Once I was heading back home to Kansas City, and had to walk over a mile to get to my gate :S).
If you're planning on wearing a sling (especially one with metal rings), prepare to have to take it off when going through security. It may not be necessary, but make sure you can carry your little one through the security gates, just in case.
4. Take a Step Back and Breathe
When people travel, their bad sides seem to pop out and say hello. If your flight is cancelled/delayed, your gate has changed twice, your baby is cranky, your feet hurt, you're hungry, and you just can't seem to walk fast enough... take a step back and breathe. Think about this: even though right NOW you're angry and stressed, when you get to where you're going you'll feel a whole lot better. If you just take a moment to breathe and remember that this situation is temporary, the trip will only get better!
hope this is useful!
chelsea and arlo