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.