Sunday, August 28, 2011

Traveling With Baby...

We recently made a trip to Florida to see my parents so I thought I would share some of the things I learned while preparing and while flying with the girls and all of their gear.  Most of these tips are regarding air travel.  Check with your airline and also check with TSA's website for tips regarding travel with children also.

Baby Food - during travel
1.  You can bring pre-mixed formula bottles through security but you can not bring water alone through security (at least from what I read).  I always fed the girls a few hours before our take-off and then made a hot bottle of formula to put in the diaper bag.  It cooled enough to feed them at take off.  Security / TSA never had issues with the bottles, baby food, juice or formula (although they did some extra testing on the formula that they had us observe).

2.  Feed your child at takeoff and descent to avoid earaches or pain.  You can also use a binkie, teething rings and toys they like to gnaw on if you have bad timing.  I brought juice as a "bribe" for my girls to drink if I needed them to.  We fed them at take off but didn't seem to have issues with landing although I had diluted juice at the ready if needed.

3.  TSA security allows for baby food, formula, breast milk and juice for your child in reasonable quantities.  Their site advises on travel with children.  There is not specific measurements only "reasonable quantities" for your need of travel.  I brought a small 8 oz canister of formula, two small 4 oz juices, two 4 oz containers with my homemade baby food inside and some baby cereal with no issues whatsoever.  I also had two 8 oz bottles of premixed formula and 6 extra bottles for feedings.  I found TSA agents to be extremely helpful with our travel.

4.  Be organized and prepared for TSA security check.  Make sure your liquids (including baby food) are pulled out of diaper bags or carry-on luggage.  I packed a separate thermos type bag just to simplify things for myself with the baby food items.  Use your quart size bags and know where you place these in bags for quick pull out and inspection.

5.  Need to make bottles...think Starbucks (or at least we did).  We simply got a small hot water and a larger cold water and mixed them together.  The hot water was scalding though so be careful in the water temp before feeding your child.  Also many other restaurant and eatery style places were happy to provide water if needed but we liked the control over the temperature with Starbucks (plus you can find one in every airport and frequently too).

Baby Food and Needs - at your destination
1.  If you have someone you are visiting it is to your advantage to have them pick up things ahead of time if needed (diapers, formula, food) so that you can save trips and pain when you arrive.  If you don't have someone it is still easier to purchase these items upon arrival (especially as you realize you run out of pack space and weight limit quickly).

2.  I packed ice cube trays and travel containers.  We purchased a few of their favorite foods and made enough to last a week using my parents blender.  You can also purchase take-n-toss type styles that are cheaper.  I brought take-n-toss sippies to the airport just due to concern that security might not allow for the amount of extra bottles and containers that I was bringing (they did with no problem).

3.  I have heard of people using little bags to keep outfits together in their diaper bags to reduce the need to dig for items.  I didn't do this but just packed coordinating clothes for any accidents.  I also changed the girls immediately prior to take off and during layovers while in the airport to avoid changing them on the plane.  For longer flights you would obviously want to change them on the plane and in the facilities on the plane.

4.  Purchase new toys that your children haven't seen or played with.  Also take away their favorite toys for a week prior to travel so that they seem new and exciting again (or at least they are sure to appreciate them).  I chose toys that were quiet and not annoying to show courtesy to our fellow passengers.  I also chose toys that could be used with links or strapped on with binkie tethers so that if my girls tossed the toy or dropped it I wasn't on my hands and knees looking for it.

Other Tips:
- If you are traveling with multiples or more than one child and planning to use "Infant in Arms" (where a child can fly for free on your lap until the age of 2) then I would strongly suggest calling a reservation assistant and also locking in your seats if possible.  I arranged our seats online far ahead of time and everything was fine until we showed up to check in and all of the sudden our seats were not compatible with the air mask capacity of where we were assigned.  My belief is that an agent moved our seats next to each other without checking our special needs (ie Infant in Arms).  We had to hassle the gate agent to arrange our seats closer together as all of our packing was based on sharing a diaper bag and being within arms reach of each other for this purpose.  We also had trouble with this on the flight home when our first flight was cancelled and our new flight was not arranged with Infant in Arms in mind.  Check your seats and check with your gate agent to confirm your seats prior to boarding.

-Bag your car seats or rent them.  If you are renting a car at your destination I have heard you can also rent car seats.  We didn't rent a car or seats but I like the idea and if we travel again I would consider this (depending on the fee).  You can check car seats for free with most airlines.  Also you are allowed to gate check them and if there is a free seat in your row you can also be permitted to use the car seat if it is approved (this does come with the hassle of car seats through security and the airport for a small chance of using them).  I recommend just checking them if you did not purchase a seat for your child(ren).  We double bagged ours in large black trash bags and then used duct tape over the top to wrap around the handle and sun visor of the seat.  Worked like a charm.  Pack extra bags and throw your duct tape in your checked bag for the return flight and you're set.

**some of this is really simple and some of it won't apply to your situation.  I probably missed some things. But how I wish someone would have layed out the basics for me so I didn't have to hunt down the best strategies...therefore here I am laying it out the way I found most helpful**


michelle said...

This is awesome advice. Thank you. I have this whacky idea that we'll take our twins to the Philippines while at an age that they'll qualify for Infant in Arms to save money but that will be a long way to go if they indeed have to be in our arms the whole time. We'll see!

Michelle D said...

Thanks :) I don't think it's that whacky of an idea. Our girls did really well and I've heard that a lot of kids sleep on the planes from the noise. I would probably recommend it before they are crawling or super mobile (just think it would be harder for them to not get down and wiggle). But we saw a few kids of various age on our flights and they all seemed to do well.