Travel Tips for Parents
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Today was another first to add to the family books – baby girl's first flight. We headed over to Denver for FinCon 12 this week.
When we attended FinCon last year our little one also accompanied us, but we did a road trip to Chicago. She slept most of the way up and was really easy during the vacation. This time we're flying and she's at the age where walking/crawl/moving in some fashion is her default mode.
Here are some tips that really helped us on our trip. Some of them we picked up when reviewing when the Car Negotiation Coach shared his advice on flying with a baby.
Pack Right and Pack Light
Yep, I can't believe I'm saying this, but over-packing ( even more tempting now that I'm a parent) can really backfire, especially as you make your way through the airport.
I'm not saying go bare bones with your bags, but really focus on versatile options when packing. My little girl has a few bottoms and plenty of tops to change in and out of depending on weather and food. While I realy wanted to pack every cute outfit she has I had to sit back and ask myself if it was something I could layer.
After getting her taken care of, it actually was easier for me to pack. Many of my outfits can do double duty and for the evening meetups, I got a couple of cute dresses. (Gotta look good, right?)
Of course, grabbing enough diapers for the trip was a big ‘yes' for me. We've recently been going back and forth between cloth and disposable diapers, but for the trip we're using disposables.
Before you leave the house go over your checklist to make sure you don't miss anything important.
Airport and Babies
Packing right definitely made the airport less of a hassle. Moving through the airport was much easier this afternoon as we had a few bags to carry. In addition to grabbing our bags for the trip we also had to bring our baby girl's stroller and car seat along.
Some airlines, like Southwest, offer child fares for your infants and toddlers. Southwest doesn't offer discounted infant fares on their online site, but you can call them at least contact a Customer Representative at 1 (800) 435-9792 to reserve a ticket. You can then bring your FAA-approved car seat or AmSafe Aviation CARES on the plane.
If you're flying with a little under 2 and they are sitting in your lap, you don't need to buy a ticket. However, you do need to bring their birth certificate for proof of age.
Southwest – Affordable Family
We chose to fly with Southwest for the trip because:
1) they had a direct flight and 2) their prices were very reasonable. This was our first time with the airlines and I have to say I was very happy with the experience.
First off let's talk about price. When I was looking around for flights, I knew I wanted to get a direct one if possible.
Traveling with a little one can already be a bit of work even if they're good kids. Dealing with layovers and changing planes can add stress to the situation.
When searching on the travel deal sites I found that there weren't a lot of direct flights. The ones I did see were pricey. I thought I should try Southwest's site to what they had to offer.
I found different options including a direct flight to Denver that was about $10 more than a flight on another airline with a layover.
The next big thing I liked about Southwest was their checked baggage policies. When you fly with them you get up to 2 bags at no additional charge. That's not counting your carry-ons. Depending on how you pack, that can be a fantastic deal.
Keeping the Little One (and Yourself ) Sane on the Flight
The fun part was the flight itself. Happily, it went well with the small window of time when we were getting ready to land and her ears were giving her a hard time. Once that was over she was back to her happy self.
Here's what really helped us:
Timing the flight. Due to the excitement of getting ready for the trip, our baby girl was exhausted and slept for about half of the flight. We were hoping that would happen when we made the reservations. Now that she's a year old we have a better idea of her sleeping routine and we wanted to grab a flight that would be around when she'd be tired (but not cranky).
Bringing a couple favorite quiet toys. Keeping our little girl occupied is important to us and so is keeping everyone on the plane sane. Noisy toys were left at home and her favorite toys were packed with the carry ons. Less stress for everyone on board.
Bring a change or two of clothes. Sippy cups can leak and toddlers can be messy. Having an extra set of clothes gave us some peace of mind to enjoy the trip and let our little one nibble on her snacks.
Take the stroller. You can use that all the way up to the gate (except through the security check), so take advantage of it!
Use a backpack. We have a regular diaper bag, but for trips having the backpack-style diaper bag was a dream. Plenty of storage and easy to carry.
I hope our tips help you on your next trip with your little one(s).
Thoughts on Traveling with a Little One
I'd love to hear from parents that have traveled with the kids. What tips do you have for making the trip easier on everyone?
Sounds like your travels went smoothly, Elle! Look forward to seeing you in Denver 🙂
Thanks; it was a pleasure to meet you Jessica!
I recently heard a story of a couple that had twin boys (really really young like a couple months) going on their first flight. They handed out baggies to everyone on the flight with a note, candy and ear plugs saying it was their first flight and sorry for any noise or inconvenience. I thought that was pretty cool.
That is really sweet of them to do. We did our best to tire out our baby girl before the flights. Walking her around helped a bit – she took a nap both on both flights.
That is an awesome idea! Hmmm… too bad I only have a couple of hours to put something like that together.
Timing was the big key the first time we took my daughter on the plane. We flew down early in the morning, so she slept and flew back at bedtime, so she slept back as well. It worked out nicely.
Have fun at FinCon.
Thanks John! We just got in tonight. All of us had a great time at the conference, especially our daughter. We had a friend watch her while we did the conference, so I think she saw more of Denver than we did!
We took an afternoon flight coming in and a lunch flight leaving Denver. I think that a morning or late afternoon flight would be best for our little one as those times seem to be her sleepy periods. Happy to report she did a great job on the flights 🙂
I was happy to read about your experience because I plan to take my daughter to Florida when she’s a year or two old. I was nervous about how flying would go, but after hearing your experience, I think it will be okay.