Updated: Mar 2
At 7 months I was finally ready to take a solo plane trip with the baby. My other half was in Colorado for work, so we decided to visit him for a long weekend. Luckily, the flight from Seattle to Denver is only a couple hours but as any new experience with the baby, it was a logistical challenge I was a little anxious to tackle.
The trip actually started one week earlier when creating my plan of attack. First, how was I going to get to the airport? I decided to take an uber since I could put my carseat on the stroller. Next, how was I going to get all the crap I needed to bring through the airport with only two hands?
Here’s some unsolicited advice: Amazon is amazing. Not only can you have large things delivered to your destination, but you can get anything you need on the other side if you forgot.
My next challenge: I couldn’t figure out how I was going to get the baby, car seat, stroller, suitcase, and pack n’ play to the gate check from the uber.
Answer: I ordered a $40 pack n’ play on Amazon and had it delivered to the BnB.
Finally, how was I going to manage cloth diapering while traveling? (Yep, I took on that challenge too.) You can’t leave cloth diapers for 5 days rotting in your house. It would terrible. So, I tried to maximize for space and limited disposables. Here’s what I did. I washed the diapers at the latest possible time in the evening before the trip. I used one disposable at night and brought only one dirty diaper with me in the wet bag from the morning. My husband likes to say,
“yeah, we bring poop across state lines.”
I was already maxed for space in the luggage (babies need so much stuff!) and I knew that the diaper bag wasn’t going to fit in the carry-ons when it was full, but one diaper I could squeeze in - and I just needed to make it to the plane.
We made it to the airport. Our uber driver was so sweet and patient with me fumbling to get the car seat in and out with the seatbelt. He also introduced us to an Eritrean reggae singer who had my baby dancing the whole ride. As advised by our in-house expert, Julietta, I put the baby in a carrier and loaded all the stuff into the stroller. One hand pushed the stroller and the other, the checked bag.
I was feeling confident at this point, but as every parent knows, one minute you got it, and the next, you don’t. Unbeknownst to me, the TSA precheck wasn’t on my ticket so I was blindsided by the regular security line. All of sudden, I had to take out my laptop, take off my shoes, remove my liquids (and yes, they were definitely in an extra-large ziplock thinking I didn’t have to parade them around in front of security). The stroller didn’t fit through the security screen and I was definitely holding up the line. The sweat was building on my brow. Eek! I’m that parent holding up all the travelers and TSA is about to throw away all my liquids.
Luckily, the TSA agents decided to cut me some slack that day. It was good because my lid was ready to be flipped and it definitely was going to rain down on them. They were so helpful and nice to this mom traveling alone with her baby.
My first stop was the airport info booth to ask about the family restrooms. The lady volunteering at the booth had NO IDEA where they were. What?! How does the airport info booth not know where the family restrooms are? I decided to get myself some coffee and food before going on the hunt.
When I feel taken care of, everything else seems to be easier.
The baby was ready for nap. As he dozed off I turned a corner in the airport and BAM! There was a DJ blasting music in front of the MAC store. Of course, the baby woke up crying. Who the hell decided it was a good idea to have a DJ blasting loud music at the airport at 10 am? Also, when did I become someone who complains about this?
After getting coffee and some lunch for later, I finally found the family restroom. Baby just fell asleep again when the toilet flushing woke him up. Akk! I was starting to think I need to play music and maybe a recording of trampling elephants while he sleeps to prepare him for future travels.
Another pro tip: Sit in the back of the plane.
I had a seat in the last row which put me right next to the flight attendants and the bathroom. The attendant was very helpful, holding the baby while I used the bathroom and giving me plastic cups for him to chew on and play with. It’s amazing how plastic cups or recycling are usually far more entertaining than all those toys I lug around.
It was quite an experience. I made it through unscathed, without any permanent scars (physical or emotional). In fact, it was definitely a turning point in motherhood where I can now walk confidently into new situations with an, “I’ve got this” attitude.
Other travel tips for older infants (not walking):
Breastfeed/bottle or pacifier on takeoff and landing to help relieve pressure in the ears.
Bring snacks, especially those puffs and teethers that can keep them entertained for awhile.
Talk to your neighbors. I was always afraid of inconveniencing my seatmates until I realized there’s usually at least one grandparent or parent sitting nearby.
Get up and walk. Having a babe in the arms is a great excuse to walk up and down the aisle (when the seatbelt sign is off). Plus who doesn’t love a baby smile to break up the monotony of the plane ride?
Bring some toys you can attach to those plastic links. Then, you hold one end while your baby plays with the toy on the other.
Buy your seatmate(s) a drink.
Alanna Beebeis a certified Positive Discipline Educator and the founder of Sproutable. She has 10+ yrs experience in public health & early learning communications, and equity & social justice policy development. She is a former board member for WACAP (now HoltInternational.org), an international and domestic adoption and foster placement agency. She is also a parent and former nanny. You can find other blogs from Alannain theNew Mama Blogs.