In military life, we spouses do many things sans our service member. Traveling with our children is one of those things. Whether we are going home for the holidays, just trying to break up a deployment with some trips, or even PCSing on our own it is almost guaranteed that we will make at least one trip without that extra set of hands. And when your travel buddy is a baby, the flying can seem daunting. Here are 12 tips on flying alone with a baby, how to prepare, and how to survive on the other side.
Flying Alone With A Baby: How to Survive
Travel During their Sleep Schedule
But only if you’re able. Nighttime travel makes it so much easier for your baby to sleep through the long-haul. We don’t recommend sleep-deprived mommas hitting the road alone after dark!
Feeding Time- Bottle or Breast?
It may be easier for you to be prepared with pumped milk and bottle-feed while traveling. This guarantees that there are no latching issues which may add to the stress of traveling and allows you to be prepared with more supply than needed for the duration of the trip. Either way, letting your baby nurse or drink a bottle on take-off and landing will help with their little ears from popping due to pressure changes.
Add 30 Minutes to Every 2 Hours of Travel Time
Be patient. Even if your kiddo is a car sleeper- chances are you’ll be making frequent stops for a dropped pacifier, dirty diaper, or a hangry baby. Take your time. What’s most important is that you arrive safely, not on time.
Be Picky with Your Pit Stops
If you can, save those bathroom breaks for state welcome centers, well-lit rest areas, or high traffic gas stations. You’ll appreciate the cleanliness and security when bringing the baby in with you.
Mirrors & High Contrast Toys
Distractions are life-savers. Since solid foods aren’t an option yet, introduce a new high contrast toy or a mirror right before your trip so that your infant is occupied for hours.
Make a Playlist
For your baby. Blaring N*Sync and Shania Twain really help pass the time, but your kiddo may be more into Baby Einstein music or Christmas music.
Mastering Flying Alone with a Baby
Checking into Baby’s First Flight
Most airlines now require you show documentation with the baby’s name and date of birth. Take a photo on your phone and a paper copy of your child’s birth certificate with you to the airport. Though you probably didn’t purchase a ticket for your child, you’ll need to check in with an attendant (not a self-service kiosk) so that your child is added to the flight manifest.
Take A Photo of Where You Parked
The last thing you want to do when you arrive back home is spending 30 minutes running around the parking garage hitting your car alarm on your key fob while the baby cries. A photo saves time & stress trying to remember where you parked.
It is near impossible to push a stroller and two roller bags. Pack one suitcase for you and your baby. You’ll most likely need to do laundry while you’re away anyways.
To Check or Not to Check?
Airlines allow you to check strollers, car seats and pack n plays at no additional expense to your allotted bags. While no price tag makes it more tempting to check these bulky items, they may not be a necessity. Taking all items, even if they are checked at the counter makes it near impossible to carry at the baggage claim.
Stroller – How old is your infant? If they are under six months, do you really need the stroller, or will you be wearing baby more frequently? Consider how much use you’ll get out of it before packing the car.
Car seat – There are a lot of pros and cons here but we reccommend you tap into your momma instincts. If you are renting a vehicle, do you want to rent a car seat? If you don’t trust the rental company’s equipment would you prefer your car seat, weigh the pros and cons of gate checking vs checking curbside.
Pack N Play – This seems like a necessity, but all hotels do provide cribs. Just be sure to pack a fitted crib sheet if you decide to forgo your own sleeper.
Amazon Delivery is Your Best Friend
If you are traveling for an extended time, order bulky items in advance and have them delivered to your hotel. You can save on storage space by having Amazon deliver diapers, wipes, even a Rock n’ Play.
What to Wear
Make sure you wear pants or shorts that have pockets. This is key to snagging your ID or credit card easy peasy when you need a snack or are checking in.
Shoes that can slip on or off easily. If you don’t have TSA Pre-Check, this is a game changer.
I found that a nursing tank paired with an oversized cardigan allowed easy access for the babe and privacy coverage while nursing.
Ask for Assistance
Flight attendants are a God-send. They are willing to help solo-traveling mommas however they can, so don’t be afraid to ask. When boarding, be sure to ask which restroom has the changing table as some older aircraft only have one.
- Gallon Ziplock bags- for the ever so pleasant mid-air blowout
- A spare outfit for baby and momma
- Pacifier or bottle to help with the pressure change at takeoff and landing
- A pacifier chain that doubles as a teether
- Gas relief drops or gripe water in case of an emergency fussy fit
- A fluffy blanket to layout on the airport floor for your kiddo to stretch out and play before or between flights
Breathe momma, you got this! Traveling with an infant won’t be as stressful as you imagine. We hope these tips make your trip a safe and smooth one so you can enjoy quality family time at your destination.
Check out this article on Packing for Extended Stays!