I like to think of myself as a little bit of a travel pro. I mean not trying to toot my own horn, but I have been flying solo with twins for 4 years now. Then I added a dog. And then for some insane reason I thought adding a baby would make my traveling easier!! Kidding.. babies (well at least one baby) is easier than toddlers are. It may seem like a daunting task, but I am here to give you tips to traveling with kids, newborns, and dogs!
This is an interesting age….. lol. Moms of toddlers, I’m sure you can relate. You never know what mood you’re going to get when they wake up in the morning so planning a flight can be scary! This leads me to first tip..
Fly EARLY- I like taking the 6 am flights because that means I am usually waking my kids up at 3:30 am to get ready and head to the airport. They are typically excited to wake up & travel so they usually stay awake the whole drive there and our whole time in the airport. This means that once we are on the plane, they are exhausted. Most of the time they will fall asleep before take off, if not then they at least fall asleep and nap on the plane. Since my kids don’t nap, I don’t book flights based on nap time but I do know people who do that.
Bring the essentials- Most important, snacks. Also We always bring blankets because who can sleep without a blanket?! It encourages them to sleep. I also bring iPads with Netflix movies downloaded, headphones because they’re fun, and melatonin juuuuuuust in case 😉 Kidding… EXTRA UNDERWEAR!!!
Don’t overpack- Yes, bring the essentials. But just the essentials. Don’t try and bring tylenol INCASE they get a fever. Overpacking will cause you more stress because it will fill your bags with unneccasry items and add to your stress of security/carrying a bag/ and finding what you need. Think of it like this- its a 5 hour time span roughly- you don’t TRULY need that much stuff!
Tennis shoes are key- Sounds silly.. but sandals are horrible in an airport Maybe my kids are just clumsy and always trip in their sandals.. but I have spent countless flights searching for sandals that have fallen off their feet. Kids under 12 can keep their shoes on when going through security so it is nice!
Dress Warm- We live in arizona, so it is freaking hot. But I always have the kids in pants and usually long sleeves when traveling because airplanes tend to be freezing. I want them to be comfortable!
One surprise- Keeping my packing to a minimum, I do pack one little surprise for the kids in their backpacks (or my bag..which ever) I like to do a little thing of playdoh because it is a good item to consume time. Other times I pack a tiny little toy that they haven’t seen in awhile.
Honestly a newborn is the easy stage. They typically will sleep. Infants 2 and under fly for FREE on your lap. As they get bigger, it does get harder to have a child on your lap but the free price is worth it. Here are a few tips for baby travel.
Ask if flight is full- The first thing I do when I get to my gate is ask a worker if it a full flight. If it isn’t full, then they will usually allow you to bring your carseat on the plane so that you don’t have to have the infant on your lap.
Gate Check your stroller- The last thing you want to do is carry a carseat OR baby in your arms through the airport. You can check a stroller (and carseat) for FREE at the gate right before you board! This applies to toddlers as well! This is perfect because then if it isn’t full, you already have your carseat with you to ask if you can bring it on the plane for baby to sit in (most of the time if it is an empty flight they will allow you to do this!). We use the Doona stroller for traveling and it honestly is the best thing EVER. Yes it is pricey, especially if you already have a stroller. But if you have 5 trips planned in the baby’s first year, I definitely think it is worth the price. Basically $100 a trip to make your whole travel experience SO much easier.
Board in family section- Most airline allow family boarding to give parents a chance to get situated. Definitely do this!
Bottles- You can bring liquids (water for bottles or breastmilk) through security, but it will have to go through extra screening. Because of this, I leave my bottles empty and then fill them with water after security. It saves us time. Make sure you check with your airline about colors for breastmilk! Most of them allow a small cooler but double check.
Ears- Babies don’t understand how to swallow/pop their ears while flying due to pressure (like how adults chew gum). It is highly recommended that your baby drinks a bottle/nurses or uses a binky during take off and landing be cause the sucking/swallowing motion allows the ears to pop.
Seats- I think it is better to sit towards the front the plane, or the very back. That is where it is the loudest so cries won’t be as bothersome to other passengers. I also like sitting in the front because if the baby is crying loudly, it is being projected forward and not effecting all the people behind you. Babies/kids are not allowed to sit in the exit row!
Diaper Changes- Literally the last thing you want to do is change a baby on the flight. It is the SMALLEST (and sketchiest) changing table you’ll ever see!! Change your baby right before you board so you can avoid doing this. Honestly, I am that person who just changes their babies diaper right there on the floor before boarding because i’m usually chasing my other kids. No Shame. Leading me to my next tip…
No shame- There is no guarantee your kids of any ages are going to behave on a flight. I’ve experienced it all- projectile vomits (on to strangers), screaming kids, sleeping kids, kicking the seats… You just have to relax and ignore everyone judging you. They have most likely ALL had kids before… they may have forgotten what it’s like to travel with kids. Kids will be kids, and that’s really all you can say. Ignore any negative people.
Yes, we are those people with an “emotional support animal (ESA)” so that we can travel with her. ESA fly for free with a valid doctors note. This means she rides on the plane with us, she is not in a crate and does not go underneath the plane. She sits right by our feet (smaller dogs are allowed to sit on your lap).
RESEARCH- Do your research!! Each airline is different in what type of documentation you need for your ESA. Some airline don’t allow them on your lap. We fly southwest every time and all we need is our doctor note and she sits by my feet.
Arrive early- You may run into issues when showing your note so be prepared to have extra time. You always will want to be at the gate early because typically you can board FIRST for passengers with disabilities. This is HUGE because then hopefully you can get first row!
Drugs- Yes. Give your dog drugs to calm them down. Flying is a scary process for animals, especially since they’re sitting on the floor and its loud and they have no idea what is going on. We give lady benedryl before heading to the airport. I know there other people who ask their vets for medicine so maybe look into that.
Bathrooms- I don’t have much help on this because Lady has never once used the bathroom while traveling. not even in the animal relief areas! She just holds it the entire time THANK GOD. Some airports do have animal relief areas, some do not. I know of people who have had their animals poop in the airport. You just have to clean it up and move along. Nothing you can do about it!
These are my tips! Let me know if you guys have any other tips/tricks!