I was anxious before leaving on our holiday to Australia. In general, I don’t like to make this trip on my own. It’s a long time by myself and I’m not super chatty with other travellers, so I spend a lot of time just not talking… which is kind of weird. This time heading home to Australia from Montana, I was not traveling alone per se, as my almost 9 month old was along for the ride. When I booked the flights, Coen was about 3 months old and just a blob. I couldn’t imagine that he would be very mobile and very curious about everything. The unknown of how he was going to respond was giving me anxiety. We had flown before, a quick trip to the midwest, at around 6 months. He did great! But, the flight was at least 4 times shorter than the one we were about to take and he was barely mobile. Looking back I had nothing to be worried about. I did, however, utilize some tips and tricks that I’m certain helped make the trip a piece of cake. These are what I want to share with you today!
- Have a game plan with your luggage. Checking your bags all the way through to your destination is not always an option with international travel, That means you have to pick them up and recheck them at some point. With only one set of hands, it can be hard to manage while toting a baby around. Ideally you will be able to get someone to help, but knowing how you are going to get them from the bag carousel to recheck them will keep you moving towards your destination.
- Know exactly where you packed everything. Because you only have one set of hands, you probably won’t have the usual diaper bag/handbag combo that you are used to. This may throw off your rhythm come diaper changing time or when you’re checking in. Use a bag that can keep everything in one place, so you don’t need multiple bags to carry on.
- Have a change of clothes for yourself. Obviously, you’ll have multiple changes for your little but you just never know when a poop explosion is going to seep on to your clothes. If you have 20+ hours ahead of you, it’s nice not to have to do it in poopy clothes or clothes covered in spit-up.
- Take your breastfeeding pillow on the plane. When your little one falls asleep, it’ll make it more comfortable for him as well as for you. You’ll be able to have both hands free and his head will be resting comfortably, instead of being smooshed on the arm rest. It is one more thing to carry with you, but it is literally one of your greatest assets!
- Request a bassinet seat ahead of time (if you can). This will have you seated at the bulkhead of the plane, giving you a little more room to maneuver when she is sleeping and awake. On the return visit from Australia, I couldn’t use the bassinet because it would of blocked my fellow aisle mates from getting out of their seats. But, it did give me a little more room to put Coen on the seat and I could kneel in front of him to keep him occupied while he was awake.
- Speaking of the bulkhead seat, use your wheelie carry on bag as a footrest. This made a huge difference for me going down to Australia. Qantas had an amazing bassinet for Coen (which he slept beautifully in), so I was able to get some good sleep, baby free. By using my carry on bag as a footrest, it was almost like being able to lie down… almost, but not.
- Gate check your stroller AND have an option to baby wear. By having both of these with me while I was traversing the airport, I was able to utilize what was best for getting us from A to B depending on the circumstances. Putting him in the stroller the majority of the time, kept him contained with both of my hands free. I was able to wear him through security which kept both of my hands free, to get all the things through the x-ray machine. When we landed in L.A and had to make our connections, I had to collect all my luggage and change terminals. I was able to utilize the stroller as a way to carry some of the luggage, wear Coen and pull the big suitcase. This point obviously goes hand in hand with number 1… have a game plan.
- Limit the number of toys you take with you. I don’t know about you, but my little loves to play with everything but his actual toys. Instead of taking a ton of different things to keep him occupied, I made do with random objects we found along the way.
- Board the plane as close to last as possible. I know they always ask for parents traveling with kids to board first for extra time, but when you’re the first one on it means that you have to hold your kid in the seat for the longest period of time. By boarding last, they can continue playing and spend as little time as possible cooped up in your seat.
I hope this helps ease some of your anxiety when traveling solo with your little. While the trip was still hard… it was 28 hours of travel!… it was pretty much smooth sailing the whole way. While I can’t guarantee that if you follow these steps it’ll be easy for you (or for me the next time we go!), hopefully they will ease some stress that goes with traveling with a little one. If you have done anything else to ease the burden of travel with your little one, I’d love to know what you did. Drop it below in the comments!