Clarissa and I flew to Connecticut without Tim in July. She was eleven months old. Flying alone with a young child wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. Either God was just really gracious to me, or people do genuinely go out of their way to help you if you are flying alone with an infant (when does she become classified as a toddler?)
Anyway, these are my tips for a good trip.
1. Only pack what you need.
In our case, we were going for a five day trip to visit family. My goal was to just do carry on luggage so I would not have to pay the baggage fees.
I didn’t even want to try cloth diapers on this trip. First of all, it would take up a lot of room. Secondly, I wasn’t sure how someone else would feel about washing my diapers in their washing machine. So, I just packed a few disposables for the plane ride. I knew I could buy diapers when I landed.
According to tsa rules, you can bring milk and jarred baby food in your carry on luggage. For most people, it might be easier to buy baby food with your diapers. But in my house, we have food allergies. It is harder than you think to buy gluten-free baby food with meat that also has no onion. So I packed Clarissa’s gluten-free puffs, two bottles of pumped milk, and a jar of pureed chicken for each night of the trip. I knew I would be able to supplement with fruits and vegetables at my aunt’s house.
I packed one outfit and pajamas per day for Clarissa with one additional outfit. I also brought her bathing suit, a swim diaper, four bibs, and two wash cloths. I packed a pair of socks for each day too, but we only used the socks on the plane. For myself, I wore jeans on the plane, packed a pair of jean shorts, a skirt, a shirt for each day, a sleep shirt, sleep shorts, pants for lounging around the house, socks, and underwear.
I also brought Clarissa three books, a teddy bear, and a pacifier. Everything fit into a small duffel bag and a bookbag, which made my life easier.
2. Logistics of travel with a baby
Most airlines will let you check a car seat for free. You can either send it with the normal luggage or check it at the gate. My family had a car seat available for me to use, so I didn’t worry about this.
However, my stroller made life so much easier. I read that you could check umbrella strollers at the gate, so that is what I brought. It worked well because I could push Clarissa, hang the duffel over the handles in the back, and wear the bookbag.
I did see other moms with normal strollers. If I had to do it over, I think I would have used my normal stroller to gate check. It is easier to maneuver than my umbrella stroller. I could have also put the duffel in the bottom rack. I was at a slightly awkward angle while pushing the umbrella stroller with the duffel hanging over the back.
If your child is under two years old, they can fly for free. They do need a ticket though. They are called a lap infant.
The airline will tell you that the safest thing is to pay full price and buckle your child into a car seat in their own seat. However, I am of the opinion that if the plane crashes we are all in trouble. The likelihood of that happening is very small. So Clarissa was definitely a lap infant.
No one asked to see her birth certificate. They just wanted her ticket. Also, it may have been coincidence, but I was unable to do online check in. My theory is that it was because Clarissa needed a special ticket.
4. Keeping baby happy
Clarissa is a very social baby so she was content to people watch a good portion of our trip.
I made sure to change her diaper before getting on the plane, once we landed in Philadelphia, before boarding in Philadelphia, and once we arrived in New Haven.
We read some books while we were waiting. I also let her crawl and climb a bit. She had a bottle and some puffs in the airport in Philadelphia.
I was concerned about her ears on the flight. But I gave her a pacifier during take off and landing. She did not have any problems. She even took a nap on the second flight.