Last week, we took our first family vacation - a week spent on Sanibel Island. It was hot, sunny and a perfect getaway for us to relax with family. My mom and stepdad joined us, so it was great to have a few extra pairs of hands for baby duty! Such a luxury for a stay-at-home mom.
During the weeks prior, I was nervous about our trip. I wasn't sure about the best ways to navigate the airport, our luggage, the stroller and carseat, and of course I was concerned how Baby Markers would do on the 3-hour flight. Mrs. Cake recently wrote about traveling essentials with a baby (in two parts) and her posts were very helpful during the planning and packing process. Since we were traveling with a very small baby, I thought I'd share my experience about what worked for us.
1. Check your luggage. I had two suitcases (one for clothes and one for baby essentials like diapers, wipes, pump, etc.) so there was no way I could carry them and the baby through the airport. Luckily we flew "priority" because of miles earned, so it wasn't an additional cost. Even if we had to pay, I think checking baggage is the way to go. Because I planned to wear her in the Ergo, I also checked our stroller and car seat in luggage bags. We considered gate-checking them both, but figured it was easiest to just babywear and check everything curbside. It worked out wonderfully!
2. Babywear. It was awesome to be hands-free while navigating security and walking through the airport. They allowed me to keep her on while I went through the metal detector, but I did get pulled aside for a hand swipe. I think this was much easier than trying to navigate with the stroller/carseat combo.
3. Try to get a seat in the bulkhead. Out of nowhere, we got bumped to first class for our flight to Florida, which was amazing. The extra room made the flight so much more comfortable for us and the baby. On the way back, we were in the bulkhead, so we still had a bit of extra room. Since I was holding her the entire time, it was nice to have some space to stretch my legs and still have room for the massive (overstuffed) diaper bag.
4. Use the diaper bag as your carry-on and your purse. I fit all of the baby's and my essentials in the diaper bag - including my laptop! It was no small feat, but it worked out great. While I was baby-wearing, I kept my phone and ID in the zippered pocket on the Ergo, which made it easy to access them when needed.
4. Feed the baby during take-off. To ensure Baby Markers ears didn't bother her, I let her nurse on the way up until she fell asleep. When she woke up, I was ready with a pacifier to keep her comfortable. She was actually asleep during both landings on each flight, so I didn't need to feed her on the way down. We never had any issues, thankfully!
5. Have all your baby's favorite things within arm's reach. Baby Markers loves her paci, her giraffe lovey and Aden & Anais blankets to hold onto. I made sure these things were on top of the diaper bag during the flight so she felt as comfortable as possible.
6. If someone offers to help, let them! On our flight home, it was just me and my mom with the baby. We had a LOT of stuff to carry from baggage claim out to the passenger pick-up area, and we were visibly struggling. A nice guy offered to carry a bag for me, and while I protested at first, it was a huge help! So if someone offers a hand and looks trustworthy, take them up on it.
I'm still amazed at how easy the trip was after being so nervous beforehand. I should have kept in mind that Baby M is pretty chill to begin with, so it's no surprise she just went with the flow. And trust me, I'm grateful! I have another post coming up that covers how we managed a pool/beach vacation with the baby - including what to bring and sun safety essentials.
What are your best traveling tips?