Traveling with a baby is an art form. If you are a new parent and you need to fly with your baby, you need to plan ahead.
What you need to bring
Excess luggage can slow you down and make your travel arrangements more difficult. When flying with a baby, you should only pack what’s essential. Review what you need on a daily basis and reduce it to the minimum. For example, if you are used to four pacifiers, bring two. Count the number of diapers you use on a daily basis and the number you need to complete your flight. Order the diapers you need for the actual trip and have them delivered to your destination. If you can reserve a car seat with your rental car, leave your car seat at home.
How you pack
Check your luggage and only take a carry-on bag on board a plane. This lightens your load (literally!) and frees you from the worry of having to drag excess baggage through security or an airport and finding space for a larger piece of luggage containing items not essential for your flight. Your carry-on is a small bag (backpack or a messenger bag works best) that holds everything you need while you are in your seat: snacks, a few diapers and wipes, a pacifier, and things you may need while on a flight. You also want to think about how you are carrying your baby. If you use a chest or back carrier, don’t bring a stroller. If you bring a stroller, be sure to check it at the gate.
How to pull it off
If this is your first time flying with your baby, practice before you leave. Pack your carry-on and put your baby in your carrier of choice. Practice what it’s like going through security – take off your shoes, pull out your liquids, etc. Make security screening easier: wear shoes that are easy to remove, don’t wear jewelry or metal items, keep your liquids at the top of your carry-on bag (or pack them in your checked bag). A practice run at home will quickly expose any issues with your packing and planning.
When you get to the airport – stay calm. Get there with plenty of time and be sure to have all of your travel documentation. Check your bags. If you have a car seat, bring a plastic bag to put it in before you check it. When you go through security, get everything ready before you get to the conveyor belt. Take a deep breath and go through the process. When you get to the terminal, ask for tags to gate-check your stroller and leave it at the end of the jet way – this is the best way to deal with bulky baby items that don’t need to go onto the plane.
Once you get on the plane, focus on keeping your baby happy. During takeoff and landing, either nurse your baby or give it a bottle to alleviate the effects of the pressure change. Don’t even think about reading a magazine or watching a movie unless your baby is sleeping. Enjoy the focused time with your baby and the flight will be over faster than you think. When you land, don’t forget any items that you gate-checked.
Do you have any tried-and-true methods for traveling with an infant?