So You're Gonna Take Your Baby on a Plane BY YOURSELF! TIPS
First, I want to tell you that you are brave and you are strong and that I hope your nails are already wrecked because they're about to get worked.
I wrote about taking your baby on a plane a few months ago, and I wanted to add a few more things I've learned since doing it completely solo. I tend to dream big and I wanted to take a few days to visit my mom in California once the weather got dreary in Seattle. It seemed like a totally reasonable plan as I was hatching it. If you follow me on Instagram, you know how the whole thing went. Net: Pretty well, but there are a few things I will probably do differently next time, and a few things I think I did right. Herewith, some tips specific to my experience traveling with a six-month-old alone on an airplane:
- Realllllllllly consider if you're going to need a stroller where you're going and, if you will, how likely it is that you can have one already waiting for you at your final destination. Strollers are a lot to carry, even if they're small. I really like the travel guy we got (it allows you to strap in the car seat AND fits in an overhead), but as far as having hands to do things, it takes up some expensive real estate. In my case, it was nice to have, but probably not completely necessary
- Make sure you are comfortable with the carrier you bring and that it's easy to fold and store. I love the Happy Baby carrier I got and we practiced with it before we left so we'd both be super comfortable. Babies can tell if you're stressed about getting them situated, which makes them stressed, too. Travel alone is anxiety-ridden—anything you can do to alleviate a little potential unease will make both of your lives easier and the whole situation flow a lot better. The great thing about this carrier is it's essentially two clips and you're done. It's linen, breathable, and folds (or smushes, if you're me and just trying to get everything shoved into a Hudson News bag so you don't hold up the line) nicely so you don't have to worry about how you're going to carry the carrier around as well
- Don't be afraid to ask for help if you need it, and you will need it. I'm not a huge plane chatter, but with a baby who inevitably becomes a conversation starter, especially when people see us on our own, I'm forced to make friends :). On both legs of our trip, we were seated next to very nice older guys who were more than happy to talk and carry things for me, like that aforementioned stroller
- Take your time. People can help you, they can go around, etc. Your baby is the most important person here (aside from you), and you also don't want to forget the armloads of STUFF you're hauling, so just be present and patient with yourself. Easier said than done, I know
- If people are rude to you, tell them where to shove it. You are a warrior and they clearly cannot empathize with your situation. Forgive them for what they don't understand, look them in the eye, and tell them they could be a little more patient (angry TSA lady) or that they need to move (oblivious middle-aged lady) or that you were in line before they were (oblivious middle-aged man). Point your baby toward them, especially if you're wearing said baby. Then move on with your life
- Get creative with toys. Oliver is currently OB-sessed with water bottles and anything that crinkles. I let him play with plastic snack wrappers, my water cup, etc. Kept him entertained longer than many of his toys do. Novelty works. Use it to your advantage
- Keep their head warm. You can take or leave this one, but I make sure to always have beanies for our guy. Not only does he look SO CUTE in them, but the air on planes is weird and sometimes hot and sometimes cold and we lose most of our heat through our heads, so I just always have a beanie as an option. Layers are good for us—they're good for babies, too
- Get over yourself when it comes to taking out the boob in public. No one's really looking and, honestly, the boob will be the least of your worries. I don't use a cover—they're annoying and more obvious—I just wear a few loose layers and a bra that's easy to get the boobs out of and do what I need to do. Trust: If your baby is fussing and you want to avoid being *that* mom as much as possible, you. will. not. care. And, for what it's worth, I was *that* mom. People get it. They're also so into whatever they're doing and thinking, they're probably not worried much about you—I try to keep it all in perspective
- Ask if you there is an extra seat for you to bring the car seat on with you. I had to bug the gate agents about this one because I could see on my Alaska app that there was an open seat next to me. They kept saying I'd have to wait until the last second to see if it got taken, but I think my persistence and hot-mess-ness helped me. I got to bring on the dude's car seat on our way home and I thought he'd fall asleep in it and we'd have a lazy ol' time, me with my book and he with his nap, but all he wanted was to nap on me and occasionally kick my tray, BUT I pretty much guaranteed myself one fewer seat mate and that is ALWAYS a win in my book
- Don't make excuses for yourself and your baby. I have to admit I failed at this. As people were boarding or sitting down around us, I kept telling them, "He's a great little flyer!", "I promise he won't be too bad!" and I realize that's my own insecurity coming out. It's going to be what it's going to be and no matter what happens, you'll have a good story to tell. You're doing the best you can. We have nothing to apologize for, even if they cry and get upset. If people are assholes, that's on them
- Have fun! Bounce your baby, get them smiling at other passengers, sing, play, whatever your vibe is. People love babies, and I'm sure they'll love yours, too
Questions? What did I miss? What tips do you have?