I love traveling with my daughter. She’s at an age where she understands that the pain of the drive, the airport, and the lines is more than worth the adventure at the other end. That said, I remember preparing for infant trips with a pit in my stomach.
She took her first flight when she was a few days shy of six months old. My husband’s dear aunt was supposed to come visit us, but instead of flying she was doing another round of chemo. Her cancer was back, but I desperately wanted her to meet her grand-niece. “No problem,” I said, “We’ll come to you.” Brave words, but the idea of flying with an infant was terrifying. On the plane there is so much stuff to bring and so little control over her. Who hasn’t wanted to rip their ears off because of an infant screaming during an entire plane ride? Did I want to be that mom with that kid? While I knew most problems could be solved by baring my breast and feeding her I was not confident nursing in public, so I came up with a backup plan.
My brother-in-law was traveling with us. Rather than sit with our family, I asked if he would sit in the row in front of us. Then I made my request. “If she starts screaming, will you please stand up and start berating me? Loudly?” He looked at me with surprise and I justified, “See, I can’t handle some stranger going off on me, but if you preempt it and just start telling me to ‘shut your damn kid up’ and that I’m ‘a terrible mother’ you might circumvent others yelling at me.”
All of my in-laws think I’m crazy, and I did nothing to change my brother-in-law’s mind that day, but he agreed. I boarded the plane confident that the worst I would have to endure was a baby crying and my brother-in-law acting like a maniac. I could handle that. I was armed with bottles, pacifier, diapers, changes of clothes, toys, and digital devices to keep her happy, but if those didn’t work I was also armed with a plan to keep the meanies away. As usual, when you’ve planned every contingency, the flight was easy. My daughter fell asleep drinking her bottle as we took off and woke up as we were landing.
When traveling with an infant, figure out what scares you the most, and make a plan to deal with that. Puke? Pack two changes of clothes. Poop? Do the same. Germs? Bring a bag full of 3 oz bottles of hand sanitizer. Mean people? Bring your own meaner person. Travel with an infant is a total wildcard, so do what you can to address your own fears. If you are calm, you’ll be able to better deal with whatever surprises come your way.
The first in a series of Kiddo Travel Hacks where I share my best advice for not just surviving, but enjoying travels with kids.