Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Frying, er, FLYING with Infants

Plenty of yummy mummies on the interbutts have offered valuable pieces of mind on this subject, and I've been the benefactor of many a useful tip. Feeding during take-off and landing to ease munchkin ears of cabin pressure changes (I swear by this), offering ear plugs and/or sweets to fellow travelers as peace offerings (I've NOT done this but know many DIY-savvy mas who have), and taking full advantage of iPads, Kindles and the like ("baby-crack") while in flight (you'd be crazy not to)... all excellent suggestions.

Yes, well, here are a couple more to add to the mix. These tips may not work for your little one but they've certainly worked for mine.

1) Fly red-eye. If lucky, your monster just might sleep through most of the flight. Additional pluses? Should your child cry, you'll find that most other patrons will be too tired to give you the stink-eye. And if they do muster up the energy to dart their eyes your way, you'll find that YOU'll be to tired to notice. And ooh, let your peanut board in his/her jammies. Comfy is key.

2) Pack a familiar blanket/throw and plush toy. Babies are like dogs (I've got one of each, so I so know what I'm talking about), and the smell of stuff from home is soothing while on the road. Embrace the odors.

3) Your monster's under the age of two? Pack a carrier. I live and die by the Ergo. My baby is 18 months old, and roughly 25lbs. When traveling abroad, the stroller can sometimes be a hindrance. I'm not saying you shouldn't pack one (See tip number 4). I'm just saying a baby carrier can be a lifesaver in many situations. While in Iceland, I was able to climb a massive volcano, hike a glacier, and stroll a rocky black sand beach because I had the Ergo. While in Taipei, I was able to take her into super densely populated shopping districts. Some terrain just isn't suited for wheels. A carrier keeps your footprint small. 

4) Pack a stroller. I travel with a light umbrella stroller that has no bells and whistles. When the weather's humid or warm, you and your baby are going to hate your carrier. Having the option of wheeling your kid (and a cup o' caffeine) around is very nice.*

5) Splurge as much as you can on your hotel room/rental. In my twenties, I loved exploring new places on foot. Rain or shine, I'd wander aimlessly until it'd get dark, so decent, let alone fancy, accommodations never mattered much. Fast forward to today, I've got a baby as a sidekick. I relish in knowing I have a clean and comfy home base where we can recuperate.  I'm not saying you've got to stay at the Four Seasons or the Ritz. I'm just saying that a view and/or room service will help make your trip feel like an actual vacation. 

6) Overpack your carry-on bag. If your monster decides not to sleep on the flight, he/she is going to require lots of entertainment to survive the flight. Aside from the bare-necessities (diapers, sippy cups, wet-naps, extra-change of clothes for the baby and you), some entertainment must-haves? An iPad with downloaded episodes of your kid's fave shows. (Olive digs Curious George, Sesame Street and Dora.) A coloring book with stickers that he/she's never seen prior to your date of travel. A brand-new small Thomas the Steam Engine. In its original packaging, no less. (The packaging serves as an additional toy.) Small figurines paired with your sound effects. A favorite plush toy. A small blanket. Goldfish. Pocky. Freeze-dried fruit. (Individually-packed snacks are best, because part of the fun is in opening them.) Fresh fruit (just be sure to finish off your berries before landing in foreign territories to avoid customs issues). Ziplock bags for anything dirty or wet (diapers, tissues, bottles, regurgitated food... it happens). Chapstick (I don't know, Olive likes mine).

I'm no expert on this subject, but I have survived 22 flights with Olive to date. We're headed for Paris and London later this month... and then Maine the next. Should I uncover more "secrets," I will surely share.

* Confession. While I love having a stroller handy, our stroller usage stats suggest I shouldn't bring one when traveling with our monster. Kennebunkport, Maine. Olive at 8 months. It rained a bunch. Stroller usage: 0. Portland, Oregon. Olive at 10 months. It was cold. Stroller usage: 1. New York, New York. Olive at 13 months. It was super duper cold. Stroller usage: 0. Taipei, Taiwan. Olive at 14 months.  Lack of sidewalks and too many stairs. Stroller usage minimal. Iceland. Olive at 17 months), we were mostly on the road. Olive used the stroller once. All this said, I should probably retract this tip. If your baby is a small one, leave your stroller at home. If your baby is massive like mine, consider the terrain. You just might want to leave the wheeels at home. I'm considering RENTING a stroller while in Paris from this lovely service: baby'tems.

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