Sunday, January 4, 2009

Flying with a year old baby

I was afraid of the four flights that made up our holiday itinerary. As I thought, it wasn’t easy, but neither was it horrible. Here are some ideas I collected and tips I learned.

1. If at all possible, travel with someone else. Having Mark there made it very manageable, if at times challenging. Doing it alone would have been exhausting.

2. Pack a lot of diapers, drinks (milk) and snacks. Those are things you don’t want to run out of. If using cloth diapers, airport travel might be a good time to make a disposable exception, unless you have extra room for soiled diapers in your carry on.

3. If you are doing elimination communication, offer baby a chance to take a pee in the toilet.

4. Taking a carseat is a pain that is best avoided. However, if you must take one, as we needed to, it has a few benefits. One, if you can get an open seat on the plane, it’s easier to strap baby into a carseat with hopes that he’ll stay there than it is to strap her into an airline seat. You might get more hands-free time on the plane. Two, the Go-go kids travel device is really as cool as I’d heard. It converts a carseat into a rolling piece of luggage, basically like a stroller. It’s lightweight and easy to roll through the airport and River was quite content being pulled in it. When you have to board shuttle buses and the like, you don’t have to disassemble a stroller, but instead just push down the handle, pick up the child in the carseat and carry it on board. It’s expensive, so it would be a better deal used, but it’s a very helpful travel tool, especially after baby has outgrown the bucket seat and stroller frame option.

5. Waiting areas offer great entertainment. The space and the interesting people around were enough to captivate River for a long time, with little need for extra toys. Another benefit of traveling with another adult is that one adult can sit with the luggage while the second follows the child’s wanderings. We had one woman approach us and thank us for making the two-hour flight delay enjoyable for her and her children. She said they entertained themselves by watching River run around and play with Mark.

6. This is just a money saver I recently learned about – long-term parking lots outside of the airport area. has a good listing of options at various airports. It’s child friendly in the sense that the shuttle buses will take you right to and from the gates – and it’s cheaper than other options.

7. As I’ve written before, do whatever you need to do to get that open seat available on the flight for baby. Two adults plus baby plus stranger in a row of three narrow seats = hell. Avoid it however possible. Also keep in mind that carseats generally are only allowed to be put in window seats.

8. To increase the odds of getting an extra seat, head for the back. If traveling with another, book a window and an aisle in a row of three and leave the middle open. Someone stuck in the middle is generally willing to trade. If you feel annoyed by the extra time or hassle it takes to head back and to get off last, remember that the survival rates in crashes are highest in back.

9. Try to board when they offer boarding to people who need special assistance if you feel you need it. If you don’t, board last and let baby run around as long as possible before having to be constrained.

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