Monday, October 19, 2009

Schooled: Air Travel

I thought I knew a lot about travel. I, the world traveler, was schooled in baby land! I came to the States 3 years before the world of air travel changed drastically. I traveled extensively abroad before another drastic change: we now get charged for checking in luggage. My husband and I bragged about backpacking through Europe and now we travel exclusively with our precious Little Prince. Here’s what I learned:
1. Don’t freak out – Don’t worry about a thing after you’ve done all you can. Learn to be flexible and have a great attitude during your trip. Every time I worried about how the Little Prince was going to react to the noise of the plane, how he was going to behave in the flight or anything else, he just showed me that he wasn’t freaking out, he was just enjoying the experience. I decided to do the same.
2. Be a student of your family – I used to pride myself in being frugal and traveling light. During this trip I found out it’s worth paying the $25 fee to send a big luggage with all I need under the plane so we can be comfortable with our baby in the plane. Juggling 4 carry-on bags and a baby is no easy job, paying the airline to do most of the work for us so we can be comfortable just works for our family.
3. Invest in good luggage – I insisted in traveling with luggage that was cute and worked until this trip. My husband kept telling me we needed to get something big, better and with wheels and now I believe him. Families traveling with great, practical luggage looked pretty comfortable cruising through the airport. We looked like we were working out.
4. Give yourself extra time – We treated this flight as an international flight, we arrived way before take off time. Little did I know the extra time was precious because we had to take a shuttle from the long time parking lot to the main area of the airport. Once we got there we had to get through security (pretty smooth if you follow the rules), change gates 3 times and work on fitting all our luggage on a crowed flight. Extra time is precious! We also had time for a diaper change.
5. Bring alternative ways to carry your baby – You just don’t know what you’ll need til you’re out there. I was glad we brought a front carrier and a sling. The sling was great to take baby to the restroom for a diaper change. My husband took his front carrier for longer walks and sightseeing. A stroller would be used as well. I saw many moms with all types of carriers in the restaurants.
A few more travel tips:
* Airlines ship baby carriers and car seats for free. Airports are huge so the answer is always YES, please take your stroller. I didn’t take mine because I was afraid it would be too big until I saw a couple with their biggle BOB cruising through the airport and looking fly. Lesson learned!
* I saw a first time mom who brought their boppy pillow so she could hold her baby in the airplane. The two of them looked way more comfortable than I was. She got a window seat next to her husband and fell asleep along with her baby for a good bit. My baby fell asleep for a while and was just lovely. I missed my boppy.
* Some hotels offer cribs. In our case, by ‘crib’ they meant a pack and play. The linen was dirty so thank God and thanks to a great friend’s advice I brought my own fitted sheet. Baby was fine and comfortable. My friend was right, babies do well with familiar smells and in my case, mom does well with clean sheets. I saw a family traveling with their pack and play and I was very happy that we didn’t need ours. Those things are heavy!
* I thank God for a husband like Zeke. He makes life more fun, more adventurous and oh, so much sweeter in every single way. I would follow him to the moon.

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