Part 2: The Airport
Buying your Tickets: Plan for the time change
On our way to Oahu we had two flights. Our first flight on Tuesday took us to Las Vegas (4 hour flight from Cleveland), then we woke up the following morning 5am to catch our flight to Honolulu. Now, from Ohio to Hawaii there is a 6 hour time difference; yes, SIX hours. I was absolutely dreading how our little one was going to do with the time difference more than anything. After all, she had just started to sleep really well in her crib, and I knew this was going to throw a HUGE wrench in our schedule. All in all, I think having the pit stop in Vegas really helped with the time change adjustment for all of us.
On Tuesday when we landed in Vegas, it would have been about 11pm eastern time, but it was only 8pm in Vegas. This worked out great because instead of our babe having to be thrown into a whole 6 hour adjustment, she was able to adjust in 3 hour increments. So the first night in Las Vegas we didn’t put her to bed till we got to the hotel, which was 11:30pm eastern, or 8:30pm mountain time, and then when we woke up for the flight in the morning it was 5:30am which would have been 8:30am back home. So all in all, it wasn’t TOO bad that first round.
So when you’re traveling somewhere where you and your family will have to endure large time differences, do your due diligence and try to see if there is a way to break it up so you can adjust to the time gradually. This will not always work or be practical, but if you CAN swing it, I would opt to do so.
Ditch the Mess
We brought our stroller and car seat with us for this trip, and my recommendation to you is as soon as you can ditch it at the airport do so. For us, even though we were “gate checking” both the stroller and the car seat, some airlines will let you “gate check” it when you check in at the ticket counter; then your stroller and/or car seat will come out with your regular checked bags. Trust me, it’s just easier not to have to mess with the car seat, car seat base (if you need one), and stroller while your going through security and busy airports. Also, try to opt for baby carrying when and if you can. Most likely your little one will enjoy being carried by you anyhow and it will make navigating through the airport easier. Consider buying gate check stroller and car seat bags as well. These make it easier on the airline (we were told multiple times by airport staff) and they help protect your little one’s things from the oil, grease, and gunk that they will get from being tossed around the airplanes hull and on conveyor belts.Yuck… It’s worth the 20 bucks. Trust me. I’ll put the link below!
Another great option a girlfriend of mine told me about is the website www.babysaway.com.
This website is really brilliant! It’s a webpage where you can RENT baby equipment for while your gone. Simply look under the locations and see if the state you are traveling to is listed, and go from there! You can rent everything from cribs, to Bumbo seats, and strollers. This really makes traveling a breeze, and will allow you to not have to go without, or pay to check a million different things. The only down side is that they are limited in their locations and I believe they are only state side (they are in Hawaii). However, it is definitely worth looking into before traveling!
So this one seems obvious, but I’m still going to throw it out there, just in case. Please don’t be THAT parent with the baby that forgot to go through their diaper bag and take out excess liquids. Make sure PRIOR to traveling, you have gone through your diaper bag and either put liquids and/or creams in travel containers, or just plan to go without during the flight and pack them in your checked bag. This will help speed the process up for you and everyone around you while going through security. If you formula feed, consider buying the travel powder packs, at least for the flight and airport. If you don’t decide to do that I would call and check with your airline and ask what their guidelines are for bringing that through the checkpoints and aboard. Now don’t forget, whatever liquids you do bring in your diaper bag, be sure to place them in a large plastic bag or zipped bag so they can be easily scanned.
Quick tip: remember you’re allowed one personal bag, and if you are a woman you are also allowed a purse in addition. I emptied out my normal diaper bag and grabbed one of my Victoria Secret travel bags that are huge (you know the promo bags) and I used that as my “diaper bag”. This allowed me to bring more with us for vacation without having to check another bag. Don’t forget your hubby get’s a bag too; have him bring a backpack!
Tip #2: A boppy is not going to count as a personal item. We had our carry-on bags and the boppy in our hands while checking in. No one is going to say anything to you as long as it’s item(s) for the baby. This is a HUGE help on the flight. If you have one, bring it…If you don’t, consider buying or borrowing one for your trip. You’ll thank me later.
Awaiting the Flight
Now is the time to take advantage of leg and arm room! Make sure you and your hubby eat now, because most of the flight will be both of you entertaining your little one. Be sure to change diapers as often as you can, and have “nighttime diapers” in your bag. Do one last diaper change as close to boarding as you can, and use sturdier diapers for your baby like your “night time” diapers for this change. The goal here is to try to avoid diaper changing on board if possible. Now this will also depend on how long your flight is as well, of course international flights will most likely need a few diaper changes. As always, plan to give yourself ample time for all of this before boarding. Inevitably, something will always go wrong; think “poop explosion” right before boarding. You want to have time to handle any mess that might happen. Also, buy your snacks now, and for my breastfeeding mamas; don’t forget to buy some water bottles!
Tip: Pack or pick up a reusable water bottle for the trip. Pack it EMPTY in your carry on luggage, and fill it up once your through security at the water fountains or airport restaurants. Something I thought about doing after the fact, and wish I would have.
The Return Trip
My husband always makes fun of me, because I always think of all the one off situations that can happen. This can sometimes be a pain on our wallet, but it always helps me be completely ready for MOST situations. However, on our way back from Oahu something happened that I was NOT mentally prepared for. Our overnight flight from Honolulu was delayed. Now this flight was set to leave at 10:45pm and fly through the night to Vegas. I had done my due diligence and packed plenty of diapers, extra clothes, her Merlin’s Magic suit; all of our usual suspects. The airplane however, was not so well prepared… technical malfunction.
Hour after hour, they continued to delay. Our frazzled parental brains, and little angel were slowly becoming crypt keepers with a tiny gremlin. Around 2am we realized we would all be sleeping on the cold airport floor… if sleeping at all.
On a side note: All the seats in the waiting area were taken, and do you think anyone was kind enough to give up their seat at 2am to the breastfeeding mother with the 6 month old baby? NO…No one even flinched. We literally had to play, sit, and sleep on the airport FLOOR. Yuck.
Believe me, when you think it won’t happen to you, it will… Come ready. Now, I will most likely be writing a whole post on how to “Cloth Diaper and Travel,” but for now, my tip is this… However many you think you need, pack three more…
Something I had purchased for this trip that I had intended for the pool or beach, ended up being a huge life saver for us during this event at the airport; The Kidco Pea Pod. I had bought this “tent” because the first two nights when we arrived in Oahu we were going to be staying with our friends. They don’t have kids, so they didn’t have any type of crib or pack-n-play that we could use, and I honestly didn’t feel like lugging anything else through the airport. So this little tent pops up and sets itself up; no assembly required. You can take it out of it’s carrying bag and literally fling it, and it will open (which is not only awesome but fun). Not to mention, it folds up tiny, and hardly weighs anything, so it was the perfect travel sleeping tent. This tent has been updated to the latest safety standards, and has mesh that lines around the bottom half of the tent, and the extra pad for comfort button to the bottom of the tent so it’s not a suffocation hazard. I wanted to mention that, because apparently their older model had some serious problems. Since then though, they have reworked and updated them, and this tent is a MUST (it would make a great baby shower gift). This tent comes in handy for the beach and pool because the top half is an SPF rated sun shelter and the mesh will help keep the bugs away.
Well, it worked for the beach, pool, and our friend’s house just as we planned. The first two nights she slept peacefully in it, then played in it at the beach and pool the rest of the trip. She didn’t get burned and had shade from the sun and bugs while we were out and about. Now, for those reasons ALONE I would buy this tent again and again. However, on the return flight I knew we were going to have a couple of hours of layover in Vegas through the night. I wanted her to be able to stretch her legs or take a nap comfortably, so I thankfully decided to pack the Pea Pod in our carry-ons. This decision ended up being crucial. While my husband and I slept on the cold airport floor during our hellish nightmare of a delay, our little one slept comfortably the whole time in her pop-up tent.
My tip to you is this: be sure to keep this packed in your carry-on bags; you really never know when or if this could happen to you.
Let me tell you, watching the other parents, whose little ones could not get comfortable, were tired, and agitated made me feel so thankful I had this. Plan for the worst, and hope for the best. The best part is, even if you don’t have to use it like we had to (I really hope that never happens to you), you still have a portable crib, play mat, and changing table. I really can’t speak highly enough of this product.
Now, another toy you might want to consider bringing that helped us a ton, it a play mat. The one I bought fits comfortably inside her tent and she will play for hours under that thing. It’s portable, light, and packs into a suitcase great without taking up a ton of room. This will be great on the bathroom floor while you get ready, or in your little ones tent while you’re trying to get your tan on. Just make sure the one you buy is tiny and light, I recommend this one. CLICK HERE!
Another product that will make your life so much easier are carabiners. There is actually a product on Amazon called “The Mommy Hook” that you can buy, I found mine at Walmart for 5 bucks. It’s basically a GIANT carabiner, and I mean GIANT. I LOVE having this one, and I always have it hooked on the stroller bar . They are SO worth it. Now, I can go into story after story about why this is so great, but instead I’ll keep it short and sweet. This was amazing in the airport. I had baby strapped to me, one large carry-on inside the car seat, and another large carry-on hanging off the carabiner. You can hook your purse, shopping bag, diaper bag, anything! Basically, if it has straps it can hang from these. This immediately will make your life easier while you travel or go anywhere. You’ll thank me later.
So you’re getting ready to board, the baby is changed, and everyone’s got snacks and water; you’re good to go. My guess is, right about now, the baby is getting fussy and hungry. Whatever you do, DO NOT feed the baby yet. Or if you HAVE to, just give them a little snack. Your goal here is to wait to feed your baby until right before take off. Trust me, it’s easier to deal with a slightly cranky baby in the airport, than a screaming baby during the flight.
Most babies cry during take off and landing because their ears are not accustomed to the pressure changes. My guess is, if you are not an avid flyer, you are not used to the pressure change either. It SUCKS, and it will be even worse on your little one. The sucking motion will help clear their ears and help them adjust on the way up and down while flying. Not to mention, babies find feeding comforting and it will help them relax to the new sights and sounds they will be experiencing. Don’t forget flights board a half hour early, so when you finally get on and are getting settled, still try to hold off a bit on feeding.When you board, go ahead and stow the carrier on the floor in front of you, put the diaper bag in front of your hubby’s feet, and put everything else (except the Boppy) in the overhead. Put the Boppy around your waist and do your best to occupy your baby till the plane pulls out and starts heading to the runway. When the plane starts heading down the runway and is gaining speed, go ahead and start feeding your baby. Tip: If your breastfeeding and had to give a “snack” prior to departure to stave off a melt down, just make sure to only offer one breast. Save the other for take off. Nurse through take-off and landing. Once you’re through that, the rest of the flight should be a breeze. Our little one did great! Bring some toys to occupy them, and make sure to have all your babies medicines packed into your carry-on. You never know when a teething fit will attack. I took the carabiner off of our stroller then hooked all her play mat toys through it! This was a clever trick because then they were always right at my finger tips during the flight, and we didn’t have to rummage through the diaper bag to find anything. Also, you can dangle it over babies head and it will mimic a play mat for them on the flight.
Make sure that during your flight you have the carrier handy too. When your little one drifts to sleep for a nap, slide this on, and take advantage of being able to read a magazine or better yet, get some sleep while you can.
Quick Tip: try to get an aisle seat on the flight. Most likely you will be changing diapers at some point during your flight and you won’t want to have to keep asking those around you to get up. This also gives you quicker access to the overhead bins and extra arm room into the aisle for your Boppy while nursing.
Now as to the in-flight cribs that some airlines offer, just don’t bother. They’re not worth the hassle, they take up too much extra room, and they’re really not safe. As I always say, the safest place for you little one is always in your arms.
Now most flights are going to be very cold once at their cruising altitude. So we dressed our little babe in a onesie with footie jammies over it. This made life so easy because she was warm on the flight, but then once we landed in Hawaii were it was hot, all I had to do was take her top layer off and she was ready to go!
So now you’ve conquered the airport and the flight like a pro, and you’re going to be heading to your destination!
YAY! You did it!
A few quick tips for getting there and getting settled more easily. First off, right when you land be sure to check the weather and see what the temperature and weather is like (most pilots will announce this while taxing in). When you get into the airport, make sure to dress your little one accordingly BEFORE leaving the airport. You never know how long it will take to be picked up or get your rental car etc.
Also, go ahead and take this opportunity to stretch a bit and feed your little one, especially if you have traveled to a place that is unfamiliar. For example, we were not quite ready for how busy the traffic would be in Hawaii. Then, after driving around for about 30 minutes, which realistically should have landed us at our resort, we were still sitting in traffic. So by this time, our little one got hungry and that made for a miserable last 20 minutes of our drive.
Getting where you’re going
So you’re there, you’ve made it. You’re at your destination and you’ve walked through the door. Congratulations mama! That wasn’t so bad, was it? Aren’t you happy you were well prepared to handle anything life threw at you? Now, take this opportunity to get your pack-and-play that the hotel/resort you’re staying at should have for you set up. Put your little ones play mat inside, and give your babe a chance to stretch his or her little legs. Ask your husband or wife to keep an eye on them, and go run yourself a bath. You’ve earned it. So kick back, relax, and enjoy your vacation! Don’t forget to comment below, or write to me and let me know your own tips and tricks that helped you through!
Cheers to you,
Your Trusty Mama
If you’re new here or haven’t already, be sure to check out Airports and Airplanes: How to Travel with your Baby Part 1