Traveling on a Plane With Littles!

Monday, March 9, 2020

As soon as I found out I was pregnant last winter, I started fantasizing about the vacations we'd take as a family of three. I couldn't wait to start planning a trip, and I was committed to squeezing one in while I was on maternity leave. But, after having Neda, I was overwhelmed, and the thought of jumping on a plane with a squishy (& colicky) baby felt impossible and unnecessary. But that's when Brian (who refused to fantasize with me when I was pregnant — "one thing at a time," he says) was like "LET'S DO THIS." So, we did! We took three-month-old Neda moosh to Huntington Beach for a few days, and it was a few days I'll cherish forever and ever. It was nothing like our old vacations (I don't think I had a sip of wine!), but it was so fun. Experiencing life through her eyes is truly fascinating, and I know it's only going to get better :)

Before we left for California, I asked my Instagram followers whether we should go (a resounding yes!) and for any advice. The tips below helped us so much! Sharing in case you're looking to travel with littles, too. And, of course, some photos from our trip to Huntington Beach!

 — When booking your trip, try to find a flight that works well with your kids’ schedules. For example, if you can find a flight during your child’s usual nap time, SCORE! A lot of friends said they love red eye flights because their kids sleep through them no matter what (and a sleeping baby on a plane is well worth your own neck ache or zombie walk the following day). We didn't have that luxury on this trip (Neda's naps were all over the place!), but now that her sleep is very routine, we'll be taking note for the future.

— If you’re traveling with a stroller, check it at the gate so you can use it throughout the airport (don’t check it with your bags). If you don't have a stroller bag (we do, and it serves as insurance for the stroller), bring a few extra large heavy duty black garbage bags to wrap it in at the door of the plane (after you walk down the ramp) to protect it from getting hurt or dirty when stored under the plane. Make sure to get your tags to attach to your stroller or garbage bags before leaving it at the door of the plane.

— We used the car seat as the stroller seat, so we also brought this to the gate (and had this bag ready to go for checking it in). Even if she wasn't using that as the seat, I'd still bring it to the gate anyway. Because...

— Once you get the gate, be sure to go up and check in straight away. They will give you tags for your stroller and/or car seat if you have both/either and also help you board the plane first, which is helpful so you can get situated before all hell breaks loose (just kidding). Also, ask if the flight is full at this time! If it isn't, they'll likely let you bring on your car seat and give the baby its own (free) seat. This really helped on the way to LAX, Neda was so cozy in her car seat the whole time.

— If you’re traveling with a baby, nurse or bottle feed or give them a pacifier during take-off and landing. That constant sucking and swallowing motion can help with the plane changing pressure considerably. For toddlers, give them something to eat during this time so they are also chewing.

— Pack a carry on full of new surprises! Neda was obviously too young to care on this trip, but the diaper bag will be stuffed with things on upcoming trips — a new book, toys or stuffed animals.

— Bring something that's comforting from home. At only six-months-old, Neda won't sleep anywhere without her beloved stuffed octopus (but will sleep anywhere with him.. or her... TBD). We have a few trips planned for later this year, and the thought of landing without the octopus keeps me up at night!

— When the seat belt sign is turned off and it’s okay to move around, take a walk up and down the aisles. It’s hard enough for me as an adult to sit still for an hour or two, so I can’t imagine forcing a child to.

— Be communicative with the people around you, if you can. Sometimes it’s nice to say hello when you sit down and apologize up front for any crying or spilling or chaos that may break loose at some point during the flight, and let them know you will do your best to keep it to a minimum.

Lastly, stay flexible with your itinerary, pace yourself and have fun! It'll be crazy, but it'll be worth it. Bon voyage!

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