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Wednesday, February 22, 2006

I need help

I posted this on my blog too, but I thought I'd also post here. I need all the advice I can get!

In a few weeks, I am planning to fly across the country with my little family to visit some relatives. This is our first plane trip with A, and I have no idea what to expect. So for those of you who have done this before, I need to pick your brains. What kind of toys will entertain her on the flight? What's the easiest way to lug her and our stuff around in the airport? What are the essentials I should have with me? Lay it out for me!


  • At 4:30 PM, Blogger Anne-Marie said…

    Sam (9 1/2 mths) and I recently returned from a trip back East which required 2 planes and a 2 hour layover. The trip over was easiest, mostly due to 2 empty seats beside us but coming back was hard since he was on my lap the whole time. What helped most:

    * a small stroller for the airport
    * a large zyploc bag with new & favorite toys. Sam loved to take all the toys out and put them back in
    * lots of snacks of all kinds - I didn't worry about trying to get him to eat veggies that day. Just his favorites - fruits and crackers all day long...
    * have to admit to doping him up with Tylenol once I realized he was in dire need of a nap about 30 minutes into our plane trip. Worked like a charm and he was out in my arms for about an hour.
    * I brought a sling too which helped calm him down when he got cranky.

    Mostly, just make sure you're organized. Nothing worse than trying to find a soother and having to take apart the carry on luggage to track it down... Oh yeah, and if you can get away with it - don't try to change them in the teeny washrooms - do it at the airport right before getting on the plane.

    Have a great trip!

  • At 9:21 AM, Blogger Tallis Ford said…

    Henry has been on 7 airplane trips in his 10 months and things now are quite different than they were before. I think as Anne-Marie said, the key is to be organized and to really pare down and plan what to bring so that you have the least amount of stuff to deal with. I believe you are in the states so i'll give you the run-down on what to expect at security-- sometimes the toughest part to deal with. Oh, tell me if you're traveling alone or not. I'll assume you are but if the Mister is going to be with you i'll give a few more suggestions for how it's easier in tandem.

    I agree with Anne-Marie that you most definitely need to have a light-weight stroller. If you have an umbrella one, or even if you buy one for the trip i think it will pay off.

    1) Checked Baggage:
    Emerge from car, taxi, or public transport at the airport. Get stroller set-up, take A out of car-seat and strap in the stroller. If you have someone with you this is where they could be basically in charge of all the stuff you're planning to check. Try to get as much non-essential stuff into your checked bags (but weigh them at home, you can only check 2 50lb bags per paying passenger.) If you are by yourself limit what you're checking to what you can fit in one wheeled suitcase so that you can drag it behind you while you head for the check-in. Once inside the terminal i would actually pull over and put any coats or outside layers that you won't need in the airport into the bags you're going to check. You'll just have to take them off when you go through the security so any extraneous layers are just things you have to deal with later.

    2) Carseat
    If you are bringing a carseat (you might consider requesting one if you're renting a car or seeing if you're folks are willing to buy a cheap one for your trip-- the carseat is the bulkiest thing to deal with when traveling), the best thing is to get a bag and check the carseat. The bags are in a wide pie shape and you can fill the space where A would sit with clothes and other packed things (just make sure whatever you put in there is contained in seperate plastic bags because you'll be exiting the car, putting the carseat in the bag, and then stuffing the clothes and stuff into the empty space while you're standing on the curb at the airport-- reverse when you reach your destination.) If you can't get a bag in time or don't want to or bought a seat for A and are going to use the carseat in the airplane, then i would recommend buying these straps that turn the carseat into something that can be worn like a backback. If the Mister is with you-- bully, if not it's going to be awkward with the carseat on your back, pushing the stroller, and pulling the suitcase, but you only have to make it to check-in.

    3) Checking-in/Seating
    You'll need to let them know you're traveling with a lap child, and you may have to actually show them A, some agents have been particular some haven't. If you aren't buying a seat for A and the Mister is coming, either try to book seats in an area of the plane where there are only 2 seats in a row, or book an aisle and window and hope no one books the middle. If they do, the person is likely to be willing to trade seats so you're together. If you're breastfeeding i recommend the window seat so you have some privacy, if not i would take the aisle so it's easier to get up if you need to.

    4) Security
    Once you've checked your baggage (hopefully including your carseat), you're ready to brave security. Unless you know your flight has been delayed for 2 hours or more, i would go ahead and get through security and then figure out bathrooms, food, etc once you're in your correct terminal near your gate. At this point if you haven't packed your coats already do so. Also, put all non-essential toys or baby things into your carry-on. When you get to the security line, you will need to show them your boarding pass and id. You can put your id away, but depending on the airport you will need to show your boarding pass once you walk through security. If you can wear a shirt with a breast-pocket, that will give you a place to hold the boarding pass (and something for A to chew on).

    As you're getting closer to the bins, put your shoes and the essential baby items you didn't stash in the carry-on in the stroller in the bins (they generally make you put any loveys, toys, blankets or anything other than the child and her clothes in a bin on the belt). It's not required, but wear slip-on shoes and take your shoes off too. This just makes it easier so you don't beep and have to get extra-screening. Make sure to have your pockets empty from the get-go and don't wear any heavy jewlery or belts. Once you get to the actual metal detector you need to take A out of the stroller. If there's two of you one can walk through with just A and the other can deal with all the stuff. If it's just you, take A out of the stroller, collapse the stroller with one hand and put it on the belt first (this is where a light stroller really comes in handy). Then put on any other carry-on bags you may have (hopefully just one if you're traveling alone). On the other side, get the stroller off first, set it up and strap A in. Then you can somewhat calmly get the rest of your stuff off the belt as it comes hurtling out towards you and people are breathing down your neck.

    5) Restrooms
    Make sure to change A before you get on the flight. If you can avoid changing in-flight do so at all costs. Consider using the next size diaper for the flight so you can go longer without a change. I can't tell you what to do if you have to change in-flight because i've never braved it. All i know is most planes (unless they're the big ones) don't even have changing tables in the bathrooms.

    6) Boarding
    If there are two of you (and especially if you're using the carseat on the flight) have the Mister board early, stow the bags and get the carseat set-up. You and A board at the last possible moment so the baby isn't confined for any longer than necessary.

    7) In-flight
    I think having a mix of old and new toys is a good idea. I would avoid things like balls that could roll all over the place or loud toys that will drive others crazy (although the aiplane engines drone out a lot). Don't overdue it though because you don't want to be drowning in toys. Ziplocks are great for everything and i would definitely bring all the easy snacks you can that A will eat. Stuff on the plane can keep them occupied too-- barf bags, trays, the magazines, all good stuff for exploring. Since you'll be on a long flight i would definitely get up and walk with A when you can. I wouldn't pack much in the carry-on for you. If A will sleep in your arms you might be able to read a magazine for a little bit but other than that, you'll just be baby wrangling. Oh yeah, don't even think of buying a coffee and taking it on the plane-- especially if you're alone.

    8) Sleep
    This was the hardest part for us as H got older. Henry becomes a basket-case quickly when he doesn't get his required huge naps in. And, he's a fussy sleeper. He no longer will fall asleep in my arms (even when exhausted and i'm breast-feeding him.) I actually think the tylenol is a great suggestion from Anne-Marie and i would try that next time, especially on a long flight. Right now we just try to time flights so that we can leave the house after his afternoon nap and get to where we're going in time for a late bedtime. I know that's not really possible traveling cross-country, but perhaps A is an easier sleeper. One thing i could recommend is to have a decent amount of blankets (even just the thin receiving blankets you use when they're tiny.) Our flight was delayed once for hours and we made a little tent under some empty seats in the terminal and had H take a nap there. It took him awhile to settle but was the best we could improvise.

    Okay, i realize that for someone like me this is really helpful because it's detailed and specific. Hopefully you take it that way and don't just feel freaked out and overwhelmed. I'm sure there are a million other ways to travel happily with babies that would require much less page-space, but what can i say, i was raised by a military man...

  • At 1:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    If you do not want to give your baby medication, we have found that using Bach's Rescue Remedy Flower essence works very well during take off and landing. You can also use the homeopathic teething tablets in combination with the Rescue Remedy. If your baby is prone to ear aches, then a ear ache homeopathic (in place of the teething ones) is best.

    Nursing on take off and landing helps with the ears popping. If you are not nursing, then a bottle or pacifier will work. As long as your little one is in sucking mode, then it helps with the ears.

    Good luck.

  • At 5:26 PM, Blogger Joanne said…

    I am getting ready to travel with my almost 9 month old next week and someone recommended to me that I carry the baby in the Bjorn through the airport and put the car seat in the stroller and carry them both in to gate check them. They also recommended using the basket underneath for the diapers and attendant crap that I'd need for the airport. We only have one really expensive car seat and I don't want to check it because I don't want anything to mess it up, I'm loathe to buy another one. I've asked a lot of people for advice, though, and everyone has said that for them it's gone really well, so that was heartening to me and I hope it will be to you too.

  • At 5:53 PM, Blogger Melissa said…

    Huge thanks to all of you. These are great tips! Thanks especially to Tamra for writing such detailed instructions--I find it very helpful, not overwhelming at all.

    I guess I should have mentioned, my husband will be with me and we did buy a seat for A. My fabulous friend Meredith is lending me a carseat, lightweight stroller, and straps to wear the carseat as a backpack, so it sounds like I'm all set up in terms of gear.

  • At 9:11 PM, Blogger Joie de Vivre said…

    Survival Guide to Parenting recommends that when/if your child acts up on the plane to speak REALLY LOUDLY to him/her rather than whisper "hush, don't do that, stop, there there". In that way, all the other passengers at least can hear you *trying* :) I think the book meant it as a joke, but it makes good sense to me. Kids are kids and no one expects a child (or his parents) to be able to entertain or pacify for a 5hour flight. Heck, I get cranky after 4hrs and start kicking the seat in front of me!

    Good luck. Have faith in your child.

  • At 4:02 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I am with you.. I get nerveous about flying myself so with a baby things get more tense for me.... I posted recently about a product I found the other day called BabyBair(.com). It's a sort of a lifejacket that you put on the baby and that you then attach to your safety belt.... that way, if you feel sleepy too you cant take a nap without fearing that she might fall of your lap or fear any sudden turbulence...

    Feeding on take of and landing is essential... and pretty much everyting esle has been covered here for you.

    Good luck!


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