We recently flew from Amazing Arizona to Awesome Anaheim with our 8-month-old and 3-year-old. Both flights were actually quite positive.
Our 3-year-old was enamored by the concept of getting free drinks on a tray and she busied herself with her My Airport Kit (more on that later...).
Our 8-month-old was a bit more wiggly, but she managed to woo the passengers with her gorgeous smile and true blue eyes. I was able to distract her with bits of Saltines and games of Peek-A-Boo for almost the entire duration of the flight.
At the end of both flights, however, both my husband and I breathed a sigh of relief.
Here are 3 tips that made our trips easier:
BRING A STROLLER.
We flew to Washington State this past October and didn't bring a stroller. Mistake. The baby was content perched in her carrier as we navigated our way through the Seattle airport, but our 3-year-old's little legs grew weary as we wove our way through the busy halls.
This time, we brought a stroller along and it made all of the difference. We strolled her 'round the airport and through Disneyland with ease. Well, we mostly strolled. We were actually running through the LAX airport trying to make our flight home. But that's another story entirely.
If you're looking for a high-quality umbrella stroller that offers more than just your cheap-o variety, check out the Wrangler Unlimited g-edition Stroller by Jeep ($139.99). Not only does it have the "cool factor" of the Jeep name, it also is totally good-looking in lime green. You know how some products LOOK cool, but are actually poorly designed? This isn't one of them. The handles are soft, ergonomic, and "taller" than the norm so you don't have to hunch over to push your babe. There's a cup holder, a generously-sized bottom shelf, and two attachable side pockets as well so storage is optimal - especially for such a lightweight and compact stroller. Overall, it's easy-to-push, easy-to-assemble, and ingeniusly designed. Oh, and it comes with a handy dandy bag to store it in. I highly recommend it.
WEAR YOUR BABY...EVERYWHERE.
Several people have asked me if you can walk through security checkpoints while wearing your baby. The answer is "yes" - for stateside travels. I've been through four airports and have never been asked to take my baby out. The security ladies did give me a quick pat-down, but it was nothing to shake a stick at it. My baby was happy as a clam (Are clams happy? I've never understood that expression...) and I had my hands-free to help put our luggage on the conveyor belt.
A carrier to consider for your toddler: the BOBA Organic Baby Carrier, a new soft-structured carrier designed for 1-4 year olds. Available in six nature-inspired colors, the carrier retails for $99. I've been wearing it all over the place the past few weeks and it is ultra-comfy AND easy to put on. You can definitely get it on without help, a huge plus for everyday use. Plus, my baby seems very satisfied seated inside. With waist and shoulder support, you won't have to worry about getting an achy back.
I should point out that I've been wearing my almost-9-month-old in the BOBA with much success so it really is probably A-Okay to use before age one. My only "critiques" are that I wish the carrier had a sleep/sun hood and the waist clip has a child safety feature that makes it kind of hard to unbuckle one-handed. Other than that, however, I would say that it's a great carrier.
If you'd like to buy one for yourself, you can use code "metropolitan" for 10% off your order.
TRY TO PACK LIGHT.
Try, try, try to pack everything in carry-ons. Aside from JetBlue and Southwest, most major airlines now charge fees for checked baggage - anywhere from $15-30/bag. Bringing carryons will save you money, but it also will save you time because you won't have to wait around the baggage claim carousel with antsy little ones. Not to mention the fact that wheeling or backpacking a smaller carry-on is much easier than lugging around a big suitcase, while trying to push a stroller or carry a baby.
If your carry-on is on the larger side, you can always "check" it right as you board, which is much more convenient (and free) then officially checking your bag.
We used an American Tourister D'Lite XL 21" Upright carry-on (on sale for $109.99) on our recent trip and it was fantastic - lightweight, easy to maneuver through the airport, spacious, and sturdy. I have a feeling that it's going to travel with us to many wonderful destinations in the upcoming years.
YOUR TURN: What products do you use that make traveling easier?
LOOKING FOR MORE TIPS? Check out my previous article: 11 tips for flying with babies + toddlers.
* I received product samples for review purposes.
If you are checking bags a backpack or similar small carry-on is a must. You can stash away all your important baby items and a new change of clothes. You never know when the airline may "misplace" your bags and you will be very happy to have the backpack for the neccesities.
Are you familiar with Huga Monkey? It's an uber affordable baby sling based out of Utah.
Great advice. Always bring a baby carrier along with your stroller. You won't regret it!
No connecting flights! We also swear by downloading some episodes of Super Why for the 4 y.o. and I wrap small toys in wrapping paper--makes it more exciting that way!
Oh, I should also add. When we travel it's usually to visit family, correction, it's always to visit family. We've needed check bags so we try to get just about everything in to the checked bag and carry only essentials on board so we have less to juggle with the kids. My carry on bag is usually just full of snacks, toys, diapers and a change of clothes for kids and shirt for me.
I definitely agree with baby wearing and stroller. We've also done both and it makes everything so much easier. We've traveled to warmer destinations from colder home base and it was nice to have the stroller to stick our coats in once in the airport (or for that matter just going from cold to cold who wants to have a coat/jacket to carry around). My big tip is always snacks, lots of snacks, snacks that you might not always have at home too. On one trip we a friend loaned us her portable dvd which was a great distraction when we were stuck for a couple hours having missed a connecting flight.
Bring a few magazines. It will save you some money when you are at the airport and bored, and when you are finished with them, leave them in the airplane for someone else to enjoy!
How do you like the Boba compared to the Ergo? I've been shopping for a new carrier option and I'm really having a hard time deciding!
Because we are usually flying standby and don't know for certain whether we'll be on a flight, I always try to pack lightly and have everything in a carryon bag only. If I am traveling alone with my kiddos, I place their lighter items in their own backpacks along with their plane entertainment items and then place all the rest of our luggage in my huge, comfy backpack. That way I still have two free hands for wrangling my four squirmy children and getting them safely through the airport.
I have never been allowed to travel with my son in a carrier through the Atlanta airport security, not the ergo, bjorn or moby. I think it depends on person/airport. And definitely not overseas, we have traveled through Europe quite a bit and have never been allowed through security using a carrier anywhere there either.
The best thing to do is ask wherever you are!
It's amazing how many great carriers there are these days....when my big girl was born, there were so many few options. Maybe I will get the chance to use some of them....maybe! ;)
I'm so amazed at how much strollers cost these days. Even when my boys were in one I got by with a 50 dollar deal that was pretty good. For the airport, I always wanted one of those little wheeled car seat/airplane seat things for the kids. But, we never did it -- I always found myself carrying both the boys with luggage hanging all over me looking like a pack mule. I wish I had had the money then to have some products like these :-)
The GoGo Babyz Travelmate is really amazing- it's a wheeled board that hooks onto your toddler's carseat and turns it into a de facto stroller that you can push or pull around like your wheeled suitcase. Not only do you not have to lug a carseat around, but you can also keep your kid strapped in securely! I am a big fan.
husband and i use backpacks - need to keep the hands free when traveling with little ones!
and now that our son is older, we use the baby backpack all the time!