So we just got back from our first trip flying with both girls for a summer vacation to Colorado. And was it an adventure! I miss the days of traveling when I was solo, packing and going through the airport by myself or my husband with only my bag to worry about packing. I saw a few of those single girls about my age walking through the airport terminals with a purse and a magazine in hand. Sigh.... But hey, it was an adventure and I am already looking back and laughing at some of our pitfalls we went through:
-Car seat was lost by the airlines when we arrived in Denver
-Baby refusing to drink any liquids, even the boob, at take-off because.....Of an ear infection baby
-High Altitude caused baby NOT TO SLEEP at all during trip (lack of oxygen causes red blood cells to be produced by your body which will create more oxygen and to do that, it requires your body to be awake- a little TMI science lesson)
-And on our return take off, baby refused liquids, plane had extreme turbulence causing it to drop 100 feet at different occasions, baby screaming, entire flight screaming, me screaming and holding on for dear life, but then, phew, it was all calm again (mountain air can be crazy turbulent)
So after those minor detours, I learned some great tips for air traveling with small children to make you a more sane mommy:
-Our airline charged for each checked bag and carry-on, so between the 4 of us, we checked 3 bags (one for each adult and one for both children), and brought on 1 carry-on.
Checked bags: we brought clothes for warm and cool weather, and essentials like toiletries but here are a few things not to forget:
-I can't tell you exactly what clothes to pack as you might be going to the beach, etc. But try REALLY hard, to pick each outfit out and not bring all those 'but I might need this shirt if...'
-First aid kit (pain meds, thermometer, bandaids, teething pills/gel, liquid ibuprofen, nail trimmer, benadryl and neosporin)
-Bags of snacks for the return trip
-Empty zip lock bags for dirty clothes
-Don't forget a camera (keep memory card in carry on), and charge cords for phones, etc.
Car Seats: This is a hard one. We checked both of ours and one was lost, but eventually found and brought to us. You can reserve at a car rental company too, but what if you get up there and they are out or it's poor quality? We did not bring ours on board with us (we had a lap baby and a 3 year old), but I know it's a personal preference. It's safer if you have them on board and if your child sleeps really well in one, then bring it on the plane. Mine don't sleep well in them, and they would have been more uncomfortable in it on the plane. They also make special travel bags for car seats, but we did it ghetto style and wrapped in a trash bag, with an address tag attached to the car seat.
Strollers: We brought a cheap umbrella stroller and used it going through the terminal and checked at the gate. Much easier that way. Be prepared that they may damage it, so don't bring the best one you own. Some cities have rental strollers too if you need a double one once you arrive.
Carry-On: I brought my Petunia Weekender with a zipper and LOVE the new shoulder strap it comes with:
-iPad/Tablet. Yes, we all want our kids to be reading books, but in desperate times, this is a must
-Bring new toys your child has not seen yet, so when you pull them out, they will entertain them longer, and don't forget to save some for the return trip in your suitcase
-Crayons and markers (put in zip lock bags to keep together)
-Coloring books/drawing paper pads
-Blank spiral for free coloring and the pages won't get lost
-Go to the dollar bins and cheap toy sections to purchase mini etch-a-sketches and those fun light up toys to bring out for the baby when they start screaming
-Snacks (bring new snacks so they will be more entertained by them, and ones you can guarantee they will eat). We brought a PBJ sandwich, zip locked bags of bunnies, graham crackers, raisins, cheese crackers and those squeeze packs
-First aide kit
-Diapers and wipes
-Change of clothes for each child and a shirt for you in case food is spilled on you (good chance it will)
-Mommy stuff: Cell phone, pen, wallet, gum
-A busy bag toy (like those mini pringle cans with a slit in it and they can drop coins in or pipe cleaners
-Sippy cups in zip lock bags
-Book for mommy to read on the plane (ha!) Kidding, because of course you will have a bunch of time to read on the airplane
What to do once you get to the airport:
-Check in, make sure you weigh your suitcases before you get there, so you aren't charged extra for weight
-Security: Kids don't have to take their shoes off, but pull out all liquids and put in bins. They will check your bag and do a test of all liquids in sippy cups and those packets, so prepare for extra time
-Pre-board, it's a pain to wait for people to get on the plane once seated, but you need that extra time to get all of your food and supplies out :)
-Keep your baby in the stroller until you get up to the airplane, that way you don't have to deal with as many melt-downs and they will take it for you right there (make sure it has a tag on it for gate check)
On the plane: Good luck!
-Give your baby liquids at take off to help with ear pressure, nurse/bottle, or sippy cups
-If your baby is sick, give pain relievers while waiting in terminal, once on plane, give ear drops to help with pain, or teething gel if teething
-Do 'baby trade off' by passing the baby back and forth on the plane, use the window to entertain them and the aisle seat to look around. Good luck keeping your baby from kicking and pulling on the seat in front of you :)
-Grab that stroller once you land, so you can at least have your hands free
-Baggage claim: If they do end up losing a car seat, they are obligated to give you a spare to use, until yours can be found
-Grab one of those luggage carts because pushing a stroller, an extra child and luggage is too much for two people.
Enjoy your trip! It's definitely a change traveling with children, much more planning for the packing, the security check points, checking in, and on the plane, but it was an adventure I will happily never forget :)