Last month we went on a 5-day trip with The Boy that included two plane rides, a shuttle and a hotel. Each way. You know that my darling Boy never sits still has energy to spare, is quite vocal, and doesn’t love to sleep. Not a great combination for plane rides. I was sick to my stomach the whole day we were to leave, worrying about how he would do in such a confined space and fretting over the people seated around us. Would they be nice? Would they get disgruntled? Maybe they’d hate babies.
Clearly, motherhood is helping me manage my expectations and imagination.
My sweetieheart Boy did amazingly wonderfully well. He slept through most of the first plane ride after nursing on takeoff, scooted around the second airport during the layover, and we let him have all the snacks he wanted during the second flight. He was fascinated with the shuttle ride (The Boy’s thoughts: no car seat?! I can just look out the window while ON mom?! woohoo! My thoughts: nocarseatimfreakingoutsitstillomwomwomw), and the hotel was what it was. He cries a lot during the night, and that happened. But for the most part it was fine. I prayed a lot for the people in neighboring rooms =) The trip home went even better – he was awake and happily bouncy through the first flight, and people were so gracious. He slept during the second flight, then was loathe to get in his car seat but thrilled to be home and reunited with The Dog.
In case you are traveling this holiday weekend, I’d like to pass on the little things we learned from traveling with our Boy. Nothing earth-shattering, but if it helps one nervous mama it’s worth posting =)
I repeated to myself, ‘If he screams the whole time or eats eight million puffs, it’s two hours of our lives, his life, and the passengers lives.’ I actually started telling myself that a few weeks before the trip, and it really helped my heart. I have a problem with ridiculous expectations, and get disappointed when the picture in my head doesn’t line up with the picture in reality. This line really helped me manage that. Also, stay hydrated, wear comfortable clothes that you feel good in, and pray a lot. Honestly.
Pack a LOT of snacks
Pouches. These things are genius. My Boy can suck one down in 20 seconds, but hey, for those 20 seconds he is one happy camper. Plus he likes to hang onto the empty pouch, like a lovey. Whatever works. Bonus: I know he’s getting a couple servings of organic fruits, veggies and grains. It’s the same food I was making for him, but already pureed and easy for him to eat. We let him have a couple of these at a time on the planes and I had zero guilt.
And puffs. These things are genius too. My sister calls them baby crack =) They keep my Boy happy for a loooong time, dissolve in his mouth, and don’t have much in them besides organic rice flour, apple juice, and veggies. Plus when he eats the green ones, he’s getting some actual nutrients from kale, spinach and collard greens. Again, we brought a very full container of these and let him eat all he wanted. BTW, the picture above is of the only brand of puffs we buy.
Pack new and favorite toys
We only brought a couple small, new toys and his very favorites. Things like rattles, teethers, board books and lovies. When the Boy got tired of one, we quickly swapped it out for a different one. We didn’t need a ton of different things, just needed to keep rotating them.
Pack all you need
Traveling with baby does NOT = traveling light. We wove our way through the airport with 4 pieces of luggage, the stroller (which we hardly used for The Boy. We used it mostly for carrying luggage!), The Boy in a carrier on me, an extra bag of extra odds & ends, the diaper bag, annnnd I think that’s it. We had some VFM stuff that we checked, so that’s why all the suitcases. Our diaper bag included the following: 6-8 toys and books, 5 diapers (we went disposable for the trip), wipes, a sippy cup of water, change of clothes for him, 2 pouches, puffs, a banana, our water bottles, changing pad, nursing cover. We also packed enough clothes for The Boy to have two clean outfits per day, sleepers, wearable blanket, shoes, socks, a jacket and hat, and swim trunks. Also, we brought a crib sheet for the hotel pack-n-play, a blanket, the sleep sheep, and baby monitor. We actually used everything that we brought! BUT it was hard to wrangle all.the.things together. on travel days. Don’t be ashamed (or too cheap) to check any excess baggage, and don’t hold back on packing. It may be cheaper to check a bag w/extra gear than to buy new.
– Get there early!! It’s easy to entertain baby at the airport, and you know the lines get long quickly.
– A stroller and carseat can be checked for free. Yeah!
– You may bring baby food/formula/breastmilk in larger amounts than 3oz through security, as long as they’re a) in their own quart size baggie, and b) you put them in a bin while going through security.
– Be ok letting your baby crawl around the airport! The Boy needed to burn off some major steam, so we found an empty gate and let him scoot and wander. He was adorable and charming and no one minded him a bit. It was just what he needed. Hands can always be washed, clothes can be changed, and it’s only once.
– You can wear your baby right through security! You’ll get your hands swabbed (for what, I don’t know), but it’s SO much easier than unwrapping him when he was happy.
– If your stroller doesn’t fit through the x-ray machine, it’s ok. They’ll just open it up and swab it. Both swabby tests can get lengthy if they find something, but if not, it’s quick and easy.
Finally: stay relaxed. Pray a lot. Treat yourself gently. Let go of what others are thinking. Buy a coffee treat. Breathe. You got this.