Guest Post: Hannah of akhmatova

We’ve asked a few friends and fellow-bloggers to drop-in and share while we take some time to get to know this amazing little person, Hudson, whom we’ve just welcomed to the world. We’ll no doubt be dropping in here and on from time to time, but we’re so grateful for these wonderful guest posts and hope you enjoy them as well. 

Hannah writes the lovely site akhmatova, and I found immediate affinity with the fellow Californian in her ongoing search for the perfect summer sandals (among other things) after stumbling upon her Boarding Pass interview. Since then, Hannah and her husband have had a baby girl and their travels continue to inspire. I’m so glad she has offered to share some of her top tips for flying with a baby…

As a fellow travel-lover, I admire how Ashley and Aron travel. When I first discovered Hither & Thither I read every one of their detailed, photo-filled travelogues. I knew when they asked for a guest post that what I would write something travel related. As they’ve just welcomed their little bundle of sweetness into the world, it seemed only fitting to write about traveling with a baby.
When we got pregnant last year with our baby, Stella, I had grand travel aspirations for us. I imagined trotting the globe with our babe on our hips, showing our wee one amazing adventures in far-flung locales, and introducing her to new food and new faces at an early age. At seven months, our Stella has already traveled quite a bit, to New York (twice), North Carolina, Florida, Southern California (twice), and Baja, Mexico.
The idea of traveling with an infant is often more glamorous than the reality.  The reality is: babies are messy (puke, pee, poop), they need to travel with stuff (diapers/wipes, clothes and changes of clothes, stroller/carrier, a few toys, blankets, etc.), and they exist on baby time (they need to nurse/eat often and they need naps). 

{Here we are in New York at The Standard.  It was hot and I was sweaty and late to meet my sister. I had accidentally transferred to the wrong train and was a little tired after lugging 16-pound Stella and the stroller and the diaper bag up and down the subway stairs.}
I was pretty apprehensive about traveling with Stella at the beginning and was nervous about the first plane ride. Would she scream the whole way? Would she puke on me…and our neighbors? Would her cries irritate everyone on the plane? On that first trip she nursed too much on the ascent and did puke on me (and my mom who was sitting next to us). We spent the next 4.5 hours covered in milky baby vomit.
I queried a few friends who’d done their fair share of flying with babies and am happy to share a few tips I learned along the way.
  • Decide if it’s worth it to bring the car seat: It’s one more thing to carry. But, it will be nicer than the car seats provided by the rental car companies. In New York we travel by cab (we just hold her) or subway so bringing the car seat doesn’t seem necessary. If you decide to bring the car seat, but don’t want to hassle with the base, here’s a video I found useful about securing a rear-facing car-seat by seat belt without the base.
  • To red-eye or not to red-eye: While some parents swear by it, I prefer not taking a baby on a red-eye. Even if your little one sleeps the whole way, chances are you won’t which means you’ll show up at your destination very, very tired. I made the mistake of taking a red-eye from the west coast to New York. Stella slept most of the way, but I was too uncomfortable holding her to get any sleep. We arrived at 5am and I was so tired and bleary-eyed I could barely function the rest of the day. She was slightly more rested, but still cranky from traveling.
  • Bring a sling/wrap/baby-carrier: If you’re flying solo (with your baby), having your baby attached to you will allow you to fold up your travel stroller at the gate easily and go to the bathroom on the plane without worrying about how to zip up your pants and not drop your sweet one on the disgusting bathroom floor.
  • Invest in a travel/umbrella stroller: We made the mistake of taking our nice, but heavy, stroller on our first few trips. It was just too big and all the air travel started to damage the frame. After reading lots of reviews, I purchased the UPPAbaby G-Lite
     for our trips to Baja and New York. The basket is big enough to store a diaper bag and some additional packages, plus it’s super light, easy to fold down, AND it has a shoulder strap so it’s convenient to lug around.
  • Take extra diapers: Pack more than you think you’ll need to cover plane delays, possible flight cancellations (and overnight stays at random hotels without your luggage), and mid-air “poo-splosians.” Mid-air “poo-slosians” really do happen. It’s something to do with the air pressure. Our breast-fed Stella can go days without filling her drawers. In fact, when we were in Mexico she went a stunning 6 days without pooping (which can be normal for babies who are breast-fed). We had a feeling that as soon as we were air-born she would go, and she sure did. Twice. Which leads to the next bullet point…
  • Take 2 extra outfits for baby (and an extra top for you): When your spare baby outfit gets puked on or peed through, you’ll be glad you have an extra.
  • Pack yourself a healthy snack: If you’re breastfeeding, you’ll get hungry on the plane.
  • Nurse/feed on the way up: It helps little ears adjust to the change in air pressure and soothes them through rough turbulence.
  • Changing a diaper on a plane: Some airplanes don’t have changing tables. Bring a changing mat because you might have to change a diaper on the toilet seat lid (gross, I know), on the ground, or on your seat.
  • Bring a few, small, easy-to-carry-on toys
  • Try to relax: It can be stressful worrying about the other passengers and what they think if your baby is fussing or squirmy. But try to relax. I smile at all of my neighbors at the beginning of a flight and introduce them to Stella so that they realize she’s a little person with a name. I think I do it in a way to reassure myself that if she starts crying they’ll at least think of her as Stella and not “that annoying baby.”
Congratulations to Ashley and Aron, and safe travels!

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