Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Have Baby, Will Travel

We did it.

Survived the first plane trip with the Girl.

I know a lot of people do this sooner, or with more frequency, but it is an accomplishment none the less.

It really wasn't too bad. The Huz gave the trip down a 7.5 on a scale of 10, which I will say is optimistic. The trip home was much better (primarily due to less crying and no rental car seat).

Some tips/thoughts, in no particular order ....

- I typed up a list before I went of what needed to be packed. A) because I'm a list-maker, and 2) because packing a baby is a last-minute ordeal and I couldn't be racing around the house checking things for the third time.

- For the 3 of us, we packed two carry-ons and two checked bags. I am a notorious over-packer and it hard for me to balance all the baby contingencies without packing her whole room. Also, gotta love Southwest for no checked bag fee!

- One carry-on was solely for baby flight essentials: blanket, burp cloths, bottles, pacifiers, book, toy, diapers, wipes. Our other carry on was for items that could go overhead, but we couldn't risk losing in lost luggage (meds, BREAST PUMP, etc.)

- I gave her a half-dose of Tylenol a little before take-off. Not so much for a sleepy effect, but just in case her ears hurt.

- Pack one more bottle than you think you will need, just in case of delays. If you are breastfeeding you have a back-up, but I'm not really a public nurser and Girly is so distractible that the airport was like Disneyland.

- We didn't have any issues with airport security and bottles. I just told them I had milk and it went right through the x-ray - no questions. On that note; beware when you open your bottles in the plane. Your bag gets jostled so much that milk can spill into the cap of your bottles, and/or the milk can expand due to the pressurized cabin. Either way - we had major spillage on landing which resulted in a wet, crying mess. (Me and her).

- Use a bottle / pacifier / boob on take-off and landing to help with the ears. I'm not sure that it makes a difference which one - just sucking is good. Huz thought a bottle would be better because Girly would have a motivation to suck (FOOD), but she generally takes her pacifier, too. Our rookie mistake was giving her the bottle as we taxied out to the runway. It was half a bottle and she usually doesn't eat that fast, but she sucked it down and then we just SAT THERE. Don't give them the bottle until you are going.

- Also, warming the bottle can be a bit of an issue. Breastmilk, at least, needs to be packed in a cooler bag. Girly won't take a cold bottle, but lukewarm is OK. The first flight attendant was nasty and told us they didn't have any way to warm a bottle, so Huz stood in the airplane lav trying to warm it in the sink until the second nice flight attendant offered to get him some hot water from the instant hot tap in the back. Thanks. On the way home, Huz stopped at an airport restaurant and got hot water to-go in a styrofoam coffee cup with a lid. That worked great (be sure to pour half out before you get on). Plus, then we already had the cup to warm the other half-bottle on the plane.

- Car seat debacle! We debated what to do about the car seat ... we didn't buy Girly a seat on the plane and knew there would be almost no chance of an open seat on a Southwest flight. We had a rental car waiting for us on the other end and needed a car seat. We thought it would be a nightmare to deal with checking the car seat and picking it up on the other end and getting it installed in the rental car, so we elected to rent a car seat and Bjorn/carry her through the airports. The carrying worked fine, but the rental seat? Not so much. The manager at the car rental place was nice and helped to install the seat, but it took FOREVER and they really are not experts at car seat installation (and neither are we). It was an older model seat and we just could not get it as tight as I thought it should be. We had no choice but to go with it, but I won't do it again. For an older child with a forward-facing seat it might be ok, but I won't do it with an infant.

- The better solution would have been to buy a car seat bag and to have checked the car seat right away at the curb or airline desk (not gate check). You aren't charged to check a car seat and if you bring your own fabric bag, you can stuff a bunch of other things in there, as well.

- My last tip is to travel to a place where there are babies, because that cuts down on what you need to bring!


HaveBabyWillTravel said...

In future you don't have to worry about purchasing a special bag to check your car seat. Airlines will provide you with a large clear plastic one, or in a pinch don't use one. Ours has survived several flights - bagged or not - and it's a relief to install a seat you're familiar with.

Happy travels!

Caroline said...

Just in time! Thanks for the tips, can't wait to see you and Girly!