Thursday, June 23, 2011

A Few Tips

Last time I traveled alone that is what I had to carry.  And this was in addition to needing my tickets and license out and ready. Needless to say it was quite a challenge just getting from the car into the airport!   It normally takes around 10 hours from start to finish to get from point A to point B when we fly somewhere.  The first time flying alone with a baby seriously ranks as one of the most stressful days I have had as an adult.   I was exhausted by the time I made it to LA and seriously could have cried with relief when I saw Ryan waiting for us. 
I had someone ask me recently if I had ever flown with James before and if so did I have any advice.  The poor girl probably got more than she bargained for after I got on a roll!  I’m almost embarrassed of how many times I have toted this child along with me on flights.  However when you live as far away from home as we do you just figure out a way to make it work.  Our first time flying with JT was when he was less than two months old (pediatricians want them to have had their second series of shots before being on a plane) and since then we have traveled a lot.  Considering that it takes us at least 2, mostly 3 flights to get somewhere and you have a lot of experience in what to do and what not to do. I have put together some of my top tips for flying alone with a child under one year.  Now these do not include what to do if you are a nursing mom- call me if you are in that situation because that’s a whole other situation! :)  Thankfully we have not had one of my most dreaded nightmares yet: being stuck overnight at the airport.  However we have endured several other small issues: diaper blow outs on both mom and baby, JT throwing up on the aisle where every single person on the flight has to walk on, JT tossing a cell phone that belong to another passenger down the airplane,  JT sneezing a huge amount of nastiness on the passenger sitting beside us, delays, and the list goes on and on.  So I decided to compile a list of my top tips for traveling alone with a child one and under in case anyone else is in this situation and to remind myself for the future! 

What to wear is a very important decision for both you and baby.  Invest in some of these sleepers with the zippers.  First of all you want their feet to be covered because yes the TSA will make you take their shoes off.  The zipper is a must have because when you have a diaper blowout at 30,000 feet and you are changing a crying baby on your lap in that tiny bathroom you are not going to want to fiddle with snaps.  Some planes claim that they have changing tables but I have yet to see one! 

Bring at least one change of clothes for baby per flight leg.  So when I fly to NC I bring 3 changes of clothes for James.  I learned the hard way that one extra set was not sufficient when James had destroyed all his clothes and we were only in Texas with 2 more flights to go! 

 Wear closed toe shoes with no laces.  No laces because trust me you will need your hands free going through security.  Laces are just one more hassle.  Closed toe because it is really difficult to collapse a stroller with flip flops, etc. 

Shirts with patterns are good for disguising throw up, spit up, diaper accidents, etc.

Use a backpack.  Yes I know a diaper bag is more attractive, but trust me when I say you need your hands as free as possible
These little rings are great for toys.  I only bring toys that can be attached to them and then you can attach it to your tray table so it’s harder to lose.  Also only bring toys that can be easily cleaned- airports are gross. 

Food- bring lots of it.  Don’t worry if you overfeed your child.  When it doubt or in panic mode just feed them

However beware of eating and drinking yourself.  Do you know what its like to hold an infant while trying to go to the bathroom in one of those tiny airplane bathrooms?  To add to this Ryan gave me a great tip that first time: wear pants with no buttons or zippers.  How can you do them when you have the baby in your arms?  I know, too much information but you need to think about these things if you are in this situation! :)
Get a window seat.  There is more leg room and you can lean against the window to try to keep your child from grabbing the passenger beside you.  Beware the very front seat.  Yes it has extra room but you can’t keep your bag with you!

Sometimes people will take pity on you.  People have helped me with the stroller, a pilot has gotten off the plane to help me up the stairs, and a sweet man held JT so I could drink my complimentary diet coke.  That man was an angel!  All this being said it’s amazing how many people will NOT help you, who close the door on you, won’t let you through the crowd when they call for people traveling with small children, etc.  It’s best to not expect any help and then it’s a pleasant surprise if you do. 

Without a doubt the two most stressful times during flight travel is getting through security and then getting on/off the plane.   You cannot keep a baby in any kind of carrier, stroller, etc.  I have also noticed that this is the time no one will help you and all the people are super intense and stressed. Always collapse the stroller (make sure you practice doing it with one hand)  first before you take your shoes off!!!  Don’t ever wear a jacket- another thing to take off.  It’s a juggling act to collapse the stroller, get your shoes off, put the backpack and stroller on the security belt, and hold your infant all at the same time.  Oh yeah, and you also have to have your ticket and license in your hand at the same time!  Have your liquids at the top of your book bag.  Bring a copy of the TSA policy on liquids for children.  You can bring more but sometimes the people are so clueless you have to get them straight.

Worth the $

Forget about the expense and get these ready- made bottles.  All you have to do is attach a nipple, shake it, and give it.  If you are alone holding your child how are you going to get the powder and shake it into the bottle?  Trust me, these are the way to go and then you can just chunk it in the trash! 
Remind yourself frequently that you don’t know these people and will never see them again.  On the four hour flight from St Thomas to our connection my child cried almost the entire time.  The people beside me didn’t even speak English but I just kept apologizing to everyone around me.  Yes they were miserable, James was miserable, and you better believe I was. 

And finally my number 1 tip for traveling alone with a baby is………don’t do it!  Bring a husband, friend, mother, etc.  Having another person makes SUCH a huge difference.  
Overall traveling has gotten less stressful.  Easier? Not so much.  However knowing what to expect and how to prepare goes a long way.  I look forward to the day where James can watch a movie on the portable dvd player for the plane ride! :) As I write this I am gearing up for another round of flights in the near future.   Look out Delta fliers, here we come!  

Can you see JT's wings?  He earned them on our last flight adventure!

1 comment:

  1. You've gone through a lot as a traveling mama!! Even though I don't have kids yet, this all sounds like really practical advice.