we have flown with jude before, but it was a much shorter flight and he was only two months old. he just slept the whole time. and we've driven long distances with him (to kansas city and back), but we could always just pull over and feed him when he needed it, or get out and walk around if he needed a break from the car. that doesn't fly on an airplane (no pun intended).
i've got a few tips of my own, and i'd love to share. you can read them all after the jump! (click below)
1. pack a few diapers in you carry-on to get you through the flight, but order diapers from amazon.com, or diapers.com ahead of time, and have them shipped to your destination. you don't want to have to pack forty diapers in your luggage. if you don't want to pay for shipping, plan on buying diapers once you arrive.
2. kids under two are "lap children" meaning they fly for free, because they won't take up an extra seat. but when you make your reservation, be sure to tell the airline you'll be traveling with a baby. if the flight isn't oversold, sometimes they'll put you by an empty seat, to give you a little more space.
3. if possible, make arrangements to borrow a car seat and stroller from a friend at your destination. we've flown with a car seat and it is a pain in the neck to lug that thing around an airport. you can check it, but you've seen the way baggage handlers handle baggage, right? strollers can be a convenient way to cart your baby to the gate, but consider a sling or baby carrier instead. you'll be grateful when you see the other couple trying to hurriedly rip their sleeping baby from its cozy stroller, and frantically jam the stroller into a folding position, while the gate agent is irritably saying "last call for johnson, party of three!"
4.carry on only the essentials. these days you have to pay if you want to check a bag, but it's better than trying to juggle three overstuffed carry-ons and a baby (yes, i'm speaking from experience). consider packing one large suitcase for most of your things, and carrying on one medium bag for in-flight essentials (diapers, books, toys, wipes, snacks, wallet, phone). also, make sure you know how much the checked-bag fee is before you get to the airport. for some airlines it's $15, for some it's $50.
5. give yourself more time than you normally would. you want to get to the airport an hour before your departure time, no matter what. with a baby, try to get there an hour and a half ahead of time. you never know what could happen in that frantic hour before you board the plane, and even if everything does go smoothly, you'll have extra time to let him stretch his legs, feed, get in one last diaper change, or wear himself out before the flight. (p.s. if you're bringing pre-made formula or breast milk, security has to test it to make sure it's harmless. it only takes a few minutes, but consider that when you're thinking about time).
DURING THE FLIGHT
6. if your baby still nurses or bottle-feeds, do it during take-off and landing. babies can't pop their ears on their own, and feeding helps them adjust to the pressure change (it'll also keep him distracted, and calm).
7. if you're traveling with your partner or spouse, take turns. i've heard that sitting apart on the plane helps. that way you can switch off every hour, and you can get some time to read, nap, and relax baby-free. plus your baby will get excited to see mom after an hour of being with dad, and vice-versa. (steve and i are sitting together, so this won't work for us).
8. if it's a long flight, bust out the toys one at a time. if you give him all the tricks in your bag at once, he'll get bored and restless faster. when he starts getting antsy, read him one book, until he gets tired of it. then put it away, and bring out a toy. when he's tired of that, give him a snack. you get the idea. also, consider getting a new toy, or a new book for the plane. it won't keep him occupied forever, but it could buy you a decent chunk of time.
9. if you have a laptop or ipad, bring it. jude loves yo gabba gabba and a few animated movies (toy story, wall-e), and it would be great if he could watch them during the flight. unfortunately our laptop has a ten minute battery life, and we don't own an ipad.
that's all i got. and it all sounds good in theory, but will it go as smoothly in real life as in writing? probably not. so, i want -- no, NEED -- to know...have you traveled with your little one(s)? if so, was it better or worse than expected? was everyone annoyed with you for daring to bring a baby on board? and most importantly, any advice you can give a pair of nervous parents?
image above via lowfares.com