Living in California while our families live in Texas and the East Coast means we travel…a ton. Maggie is 20 months old and has flown to NYC, Florida, Texas and Aruba totaling 10 flights since she was 5 months old. I have spent many stressful hours packing our bags, mentally preparing for the trips and buying snacks and toys for the plane rides.
I have learned quite a bit about myself, and about traveling with a child under 2. I’ve learned when to cancel a flight, when to power through, and when to look to my husband, my mom or my sister for some motivation. Some flights can be nightmarish while others are a walk in the park. I have learned there is never a perfect time to travel, only the right time to see family or go on vacation. And because there is no way to know which child you will be traveling with…the quiet little angel or the misunderstood screamer, I’ve decided to pass along some of my wisdom.
The easiest time to travel is before the baby is walking. So take advantage! Once they can walk, they are on the move and don’t understand being confined.
With a young baby make sure you feed them during take off and during landing. Hopefully they will fall asleep once you are in the air, the plane is a big white noise machine which more often than not lulls a baby to sleep. If you are on a long flight and your baby wakes up, be prepared to feed them in flight. If you are breastfeeding, be ready to whip out the boob. If you are bottle feeding, have the bottle ready to prep and feed. If it is solid food for a meal or snack, have it with you. Don’t rely on the airlines for anything! They might not be able to help you at that time or have any food you can give your child.
For mobile or active babies…prepare for the worst and hope for the best. If traveling by yourself see if your partner or family can get a gate pass. It’ll make a huge difference having help while waiting for your flight. Pack a carryon bag with a variety of toys with very little pieces and lots of entertainment value. I wish there was a perfect list but, this really depends on your child’s developmental skills, temperament and willingness to sit still. Have tons of snacks. Snacks are a life saver. If you don’t let your child watch TV, now might be the time to splurge. Put a few shows or movies on a tablet, ie the iPad. Have it as a last resort or have it as your main distraction. Either way you will be happy you splurged. If you are worried about what other people are thinking…stop worrying. If someone comments (rudely), just have a witty comeback ready… Such as “thank you for your concern about my parenting, because my doctor said it was okay for my child to watch TV within reason. I’m glad we are being honest with each other because your breathe is stinky and I can smell it from here. Did your doctor say it was hallitosis?” Alright that was a long comeback, but if you are quick enough, it’ll work, but only use it if they were judgmental. You can also vary the comeback depending on your personality.
Lastly, you might find that no one is willing to help you or everyone is. Either way, you will be fine. Yes… Occasionally, the flight might suck but hopefully the baby will sleep. To put things into perspective, on my last flight back from TX, I was flying back by myself with a fussy toddler. As soon as the gentlemen sharing the row with me began to sit down, I told him I’d do my best to keep her happy and hopefully she won’t cry too much, but for some reason she is really cranky. Before he sat down he looked around to everyone around us and said, “If a crying baby is the worst thing that happens to us on this flight, then we are all blessed.”. This one statement calmed me, calmed Maggie and everyone around me was very helpful the entire flight.
So take a deep breathe, prepare for the worst and hope for the best.
Also, remember those other passengers that glare at you for having a baby….they are assholes. I mean seriously, think of how miserable they must be to be angry at a parent and their baby. Okay that sounded harsh and I really don’t want you to tell someone they have bad breathe. If you have any other snarky and funny comments for those rude situations, I’d love to hear them.