After a difficult period with Hurricane Sandy and power outages we have the holidays to look forward to! For those Mommies planning to travel with little ones, I’ve got a few tips that might be helpful. So far we have travelled with Sasha three times – two flights (domestic and international) and one car trip. I am a light packer so the hardest part of travelling is getting used to the extra baggage you will need. Car trips are definitely more flexible and you can take whatever extra stuff you need. Here are a few tips for air travel this season.
If you are driving to the airport I recommend Avistar they are pretty reasonable (for NY) and a shuttle takes you to your airline carrier. They will help with bags etc. There is no shortcut going through the security line but if you are comfortable with a baby carrier it is easier than taking a baby seat. I have done this both ways and remember even if you check your bags you have to get through the security line with everything you are travelling with – bags, baby and husband.
For the first trip we brought our stroller and car seat with us, and this was convenient when we got to our destination but American Airlines baggage carriers damaged the stroller on our return flight. Speaking of American Airlines – they have a new system where they don’t allow pre-boarding for people travelling with infants and children. These flights are called family flights and the process is group boarding, which means you have to wait until your number is called before you can board and if you are “lucky” to be the last group called (like us) you are waiting for endless passengers and their strollers and bags. I know pre-boarding with babies is available on other airlines – I flew West Jet and they were fabulous! The flight attendant held Sasha and gave her a tour of the back cabin while I took a bathroom break.
To avoid the extra luggage on the second flight I borrowed a stroller and car seat from family and friends at my destination. This was so much easier – next time I’ll ask for a high chair too!
My advice regarding packing is pack light for you - and ship dirty clothes home. You know you’re a Mommy now and that means you aren’t going to have much fun on a trip unless you have a trusted babysitter at your destination. You are just going somewhere else where you have to do all the same impossible things in a foreign environment. Pack a lot of baby clothes (they are small) so you don’t have to worry about doing laundry.
The first time I travelled I was breastfeeding exclusively so I shipped my milk. If you aren’t producing much breast milk this really helps because you can relax knowing your baby has food and you can possibly get a short break. I put my breast pump in my carry-on bag and shipped my milk using ice packs. It is expensive, but I was away for only a week and wanted to go out. I used the UPS in Congers (the owner was really nice) and he even gave me the shipping box for free. You do have to buy a Styrofoam box to transport the milk. Dry ice is also an option, but for me it was too much money.
Try to have some. There are pros and cons to staying in a private home vs. paid accommodation. There are more tricky situations for baby in a home that isn’t child-proofed, but you may have extra help. In a hotel room everyone can be messy and if you have a big enough room or a suite you have the option of doing you own thing while baby sleeps.