Hello! Thank you for visiting my blog. I am getting started on this blog by writing about parenting experiences I have encountered so far since having my son. One experience that we are lucky to have encountered many times in the last couple years is travel.
Now I will admit when I first had my son I told everyone they could come see him in Alaska, I was staying home. But one thing led to another and when Kent was 3 months old we packed up everything we own (only a slight exaggeration) and went on our first flight to Washington so that Kent could meet my dad and grandma for the first time. We were nervous but then Kent slept the entire flight and it was a piece of cake! We then wondered if we were onto something and went ahead and booked some more trips. In the last twenty months we have taken Kent on 18 flights and not only did everyone survive but we learned some good lessons and really enjoyed ourselves. What I have done to make this easy to read is to par our lessons learned down into 4 categories.
Airplanes – Most of our travel is via airplane since we live in Alaska
Luckily, travel by airplane has been fairly easy for us so far. Kent is great about sleeping most of the flight and my husband had a unique year where he traveled a bit so we were upgraded to first class on several flights. A couple things we do are pretty basic but I will share anyways. First when we book the flight we choose the window and aisle seat. We did this before Kent just because open middle seats are the last to fill so we have a better chance of having a row to ourselves and if the seat does get filled the person in the middle seat is always happy to switch seats with us so we can be next to each other. However one of the best things we have found is to just talk to the gate agent before you get on the flight. We fly Alaska Air and they are awesome about keeping the seat next to a lap infant open if possible, but it helps to ask them. If you tell them you have a lap infant they can tell you if the flight is full or they can keep the seat open for you. We just use the empty seat for the extra space and comfort but the other option is to bring your car seat on and have your kidddo strapped in during the flight. Since we haven’t gotten into this yet I don’t know much about which car seats are good to bring on the flight. We will get into this world when we have to buy Kent his own seat.
Other plane tips we have learned is to gate check our stroller and car seat. The first flight we took we were mostly carrying Kent so my husband wore him and I carried the backpack. This all sounded good except it meant I had a heavy backpack when I was going through some postpartum back pain. Also when our stroller came out at the end of the trip one of the connector pieces was broken so we were not able to connect it to the car seat. The good news is that Alaska Air replaced the stroller but what we learned is that we need to gate check the car seat and stroller so we can A. use the stroller to carry our stuff through the airport and B. it gives it less chance of getting broken. We also learned for our Britax stroller we need to take off the connectors to the car seat just to ensure nothing gets lots.
Everything we do on the plane is typical kid stuff, bring lots of snacks, some new and exciting toys that are not easily thrown (we have a thrower). Bring a bag of pacifiers if your kid likes them, don’t worry if one rolls under the seat, leave it behind. Let your child make sweet eyes at the people around you as they board so hopefully they will be accepting if you have a yeller later in the flight.
Road Trips – Our road trip advice is from only one trip, but it was three weeks, so we learned a few tips. The first thing is to keep things as comfortable and familiar as possible. One way for us to do that is to bring our mirror that fits on the seat back and gives us a glimpse into what our son is feeling. This works well for us especially because Kent uses sign language to communicate and the mirror helps us to see what is going on and help him stay happy! We also make sure to have lots of drinks and snacks in a cooler within reach to ensure nobody gets hangry.
The road trip we took last summer was in the Florida heat with our one year old so the schedule that works well for us was to get up in the morning and play and then drive during nap time and the heat of the day. We then arrived at our destination in the afternoon and could hang out and play in the water. The only time this became problematic was when we tried to stop for lunch in the heat of the day and learned that we couldn’t have a picnic with our kiddo in over 100 degree heat.
The hotel stays were a big learning curve, and again I know this is all pretty basic but its good stuff to think about before you take a trip. Our biggest lesson was that we needed a separate space for our kiddo to go to sleep. There are several options for this, we have put his pack and play in the bathroom, closet and in our favorite scenario the separate bedroom. Our favorite option was to have a separate bedroom and living space so that Kent could sleep in the room while we hung out in the common area then when we were ready for bed we would move his pack and play into the living room and go to bed in the bedroom. Kids sleep heavy so we were able to move his bed while he was sleeping in it no problem. These suites also allowed us to have some normal eating patterns and cook our own food which we really appreciate when we were trying to keep some routines with a toddler. When we weren’t able to get a suite the next best option was a balcony. We would put Kent to bed in the main room and then sit outside with some drinks and a card game and enjoy some alone time while Kent falls asleep. Our last option that worked for us at the hotel is to have a room close to the common outdoor space. We had a great time in the Florida Keys when we realized our video baby monitor would reach the pool/bar/outdoor games area. We were able to put Kent to bed and walk outside and have a little date all while watching him snooze on the monitor!
I asked my husband what he learned about traveling with Kent and his response was to wear pants that don’t button or zip. I stared at him for a moment before he explained he was talking about having to go to the bathroom with a baby in your arms. I love that man 🙂
My other advice is to keep a light heart with your partner if you are traveling together. There are going to be crazy moments and you just have to be in it together and laugh about whatever you are going through. You don’t have to do big crazy things, you just need to enjoy spending time together.
“At the end of the day people won’t remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel.”
― Maya Angelou