Leaving the house with a baby is inevitable, however, most excursions won't require more than your trusty diaper bag in tow. Unfortunately for us, with an 8 week old and no notice, we had to fly across Canada to mourn the loss of a near and dear friend. Both money and time were tight and I did not relish the thought of a plane ride with my son. Whether you have family to visit, a wedding to attend, or a vacation ahead, travel may be in your future sooner than you might like.
Packing for any longer trip requires forethought and pre-planning and it can seem that much more stressful with junior along. There are basics, additional things that you'll need for the circumstances, and those essentials that you can't live without. Traveling with baby is no different. So why does flying with baby seem so undesirable? Largely due to the stigma! Be calm, be prepared and your visit can be more pleasant that you would have thought.
Before you go:
Take a deep breath and think about what you are going to be doing while you are there. How many outfits do you and baby really need? Will you have access to laundry? Would it be a big deal if baby is in a white onesie rather than that frilly tutu? Minimizing any additional weight is key, for your wallet and your muscles, so take that in to consideration. We made a point of packing the smallest amount of diapers and formula we felt comfortable to travel with, knowing we could purchase more at our destination. You might consider checking with your airline about quantities of baby extras (strollers, etc), "babe in lap" age restrictions, and liquid exemptions. We had no trouble with security in regards to the volume we had packed.
Take care of the basics; make sure that both you and baby are fed and comfortable. A pee break and a diaper change are a must before you are cramped up in the cabin for an extended period. Having had to change a messy diaper in a pinch on one of those horrendous excuses for an in-flight diaper stations, I assure you any alternative is preferable.
I also kept it light in the airport with my baby carrier and a small bag as much as possible. I took time to walk around and stretch my legs. This would be a good time to keep an older little one engaged with the sights available and activities you have packed. The ideal situation, once in motion, is a sleeping little traveller. Infants might need a small feeding or a pacifier to deal with cabin pressure changes. My son coped admirably, but best to be ready.
Stuff happens - and it might throw a major wrench in your plans. Our airline didn't put our car seat and stroller on the same flight we were on, so trust me: I know stress. This is where forethought is key. Have a change of clothes for both yourself and your little one in your carry on in case of missing luggage. Have a family member available for contact, if not picking you up directly. Perhaps contact the hotel ahead of time to see if rental strollers are available. The airport also has these items available for use.
Don't worry if you have the crying baby, the restless toddler, or the barfing youth. The airport and flight attendants have seen it all and fellow travellers will feel worse for you than upset. Also keep in mind, the reason for your visit might not be fun, as was the case with our family, but assuming it will be miserable from the outset will only ensure that it is. Make the most of every adventure and you will come home with lots of memories-and probably great stories-to share for years to come!