My first time traveling with a child was when my husband and I traveled internationally when our son was five weeks old. Call us crazy, but we did it and we totally survived. Quite possibly, our naivety is what helped us through the whole thing. Through all of my experiences, that was probably the easiest one by far.
Tiny sleeping baby on an airplane = the greatest day of your life.
I took a few things away from my international travel experience that I found wishing I would have done or did do.
Formula Under no circumstances should you go into an international flight thinking you will solely breast feed, especially if it’s relatively new to you like it was to me. Even if you don’t plan on ever giving your child formula. Even if you think formula is the Hitler of the baby food world, please consider it. It’s not Crack for crying out loud. Nobody is getting addicted to the formula, nobody is going to have withdrawals once the formula is taken off the table, and your baby will be just as smart after your international travels as he was before. Perhaps smarter. You can not control the schedule of your travels in this situation. You can not control when you are pulled through customs, lines are long, and TSA agents don’t particularly like women hiding things under their shirts. You don’t have to use it, but you should be prepared. They even make these really cute pre-mixed formula bottles. They make the baby puke smell way different than formula that you mix, but seriously…it’s easy and to be real, the baby smells weird to everyone else anyway.
Baby Carrier Buy yourself an easy to apply baby carrier. Remember to make it easy for you. I wanted to be all cute mommy with that mile long stretch wrap thing that you can tuck your baby so tightly in. Well, I was that cute mommy until I had to take the damn thing off.
Seriously, the idea of taking a mile long piece of stretchy fabric and trying to put it back on your body in an airplane is something nobody should ever have to go through! Talk about looking like a rookie! Don’t do it! I have the regular Baby Bjorn now. It goes on easy and fast, and fits in the bag pretty nicely. Lisa, one of the HMMs just discovered the Boba Air. I would venture to say that might be even better for traveling at least. I’ve tried a whole host of baby carriers though and the Baby Bjorn is the winner for me up through a year old.
Bulk Head You’ve seen those lucky people in the front row of the airplane right? Well, the front row after the lucky people in First Class. That my friends, is called the bulk head. This would probably be the only time I’d recommend this, but for international travel I think it’s a fantastic way to go. They typically don’t let you request it until you’re at the airport, but give the airline a call before your trip just to be sure. With the bulk head you have more space. The trade off is that all of your bags have to go up top, but I’d consider that a very minimal concern compared to the cramped style of the other rows. One thing about the bulk head that’s amazing is that you can reserve a baby bassinet. Now, my kid hated being put down in any circumstance ever so i didn’t actually use it to put the baby in, but it held all of our bags, random crap that I had pulled out of the bag, and my miles of stretchy baby carrier. You get the idea.
It hangs on the wall so you and dad can be hands free to eat or just not hold a child for hours at a time. The trade off with the bulk head, at least on our airline, is that the seats are smaller because they have to fit the tv screens and tray tables between the seats instead of in front of you. Because of that, if you have a big butt…this might be a no go. Sorry! I had just had a baby and my husband had been sympathy eating for the past 10 months so…our butts were not the smallest ever. It got a little uncomfortable after 8 hours of flying. If you think you might be one of these people, just ask about the size of the seats.
I hope this travel series has helped ease your worries about traveling with small children or maybe given you some pointers to make future trips much more manageable.
Have you traveled internationally with little kids? What tips and tricks helped you through the experience?