Traveling has been our passion for a very long time. Prior to having children, we have visited many parts of the world and back then we made a promise, that once we have kids, we will continue exploring the globe. So when Leo was born, we put our promise to a test...
When Leo was 10 weeks old, we took him on his first airplane ride to Pennsylvania. We were both very nervous about it but to our surprise, Leo did excellent (he pretty much slept the whole time) and the "flying with an infant experience" was quite enjoyable. Over the coming years, he has been in over 100 flights, visiting big chunk of Europe and USA. Here are our tips and observation on how to make traveling with kids positive and fun experience:
1. It is easier to fly with an infant than with a toddler, so do not be discourage to fly with a baby. Most babies sleep a lot during the first months of their life. Yes, they also cry, which can be very stressful, but as long as they are changed, fed, and being held, they will be fine.
2. When flying with a baby, try to chose an aisle seat. You will have more room for your legs plus, if the baby starts to fuss, you can easily stand up and walk up and down the airplane. With a toddler, it is easier to have a window seat. They love to look outside and you have more control as a parent.
3. When Mila was flying for the first time, I was still nursing. I had my cover up ready and as soon as we took off, i started to feed her and she felt asleep shortly after. If the baby takes a bottle or a pacifier, keep it handy, especially during takeoffs and landings, since the air pressure may cause a pain in their ears (sucking on something helps with it). For a toddler, make sure they have their drink handy as well.
4. If possible, try to chose an overnight flight. We took many red eyes and the kids slept almost the whole time.
5. As a parent, always be prepared: have enough food, snacks and drinks for your kids. Many children are picky and won't eat food served by the airline crew. Pack enough diapers and wipes, always have change of clothes for your children. Also, make sure that you take your child's favorite toys (I am not talking about taking the whole train set, just little things and that like to play with).
6. Electronics, yes I said it. As much as we try to keep our children away from computers, iPhones, iPads, Leapfrogs, those gadgets will keep them quite and entertained during flights. If you can, pack dvd player and their favorite cartoons. We also take a coloring book and some crayons.
7. And remember, do not panic if your child is acting up. Stay calm and in control, kids feed off our emotions and energy and there is nothing worse than a screaming baby/toddler and an angry parent. Keep it calm and have some wine :)
Prior to leaving, do some research about the airport: many airports have mini kids areas, where they have playgrounds, so familiarize yourself with them. Especially, if you have a long layover. Your kids can play on the airport playground while you enjoy a nice cup of coffee.
Lastly, but no least, utilize baby/toddler carriers. If you are using a stroller at the airport, we recommend getting a stroller bag. We learnt the hard way on our first trip when we went to collect our stroller (it was super dirty plus, few parts were missing). Ergo Baby is a fantastic accessory to have while traveling with a baby. It's light, easy to put on and comfortable, for both, the parent and the child. Currently, we are in love with Osprey Poco Plus carrier. It is a backpack style child carrier and for us, it has been one of the best traveling accessories. We use it while flying, going for walks, hikes, hanging out at the beach. We highly recommend it. Pictures below.