Traveling is undoubtedly an exciting way to explore new places, experience different cultures, and create lasting memories. However, as enjoyable as it can be, there’s no denying that travel can also be incredibly stressful, especially if you’re flying with a baby as a new parent.
When polled, nearly one-third of individuals said they would rather deal with the stress of going to the DMV than travel on a plane. Add traveling with children or infants, and people can quickly feel overwhelmed.
By utilizing the below tips and tricks, especially while flying with a baby and breastfeeding, your travel will be more manageable.
Related Read: Best Tips for Traveling Internationally with Kids
How to Pack
Babies require a lot of gear, and knowing what to pack or prepare for your baby can be difficult. When traveling, learn to make do with less.
Plan ahead and think about where you are staying and what you will have access to. If you can use a washer and dryer on your trip, this allows you to do laundry while away from home.
In preparation for your trip, assess the everyday essentials that you use – not the disposable items, but the items that make life easier.
Whatever your mode of transportation for your child, remember that even baby carriers must be removed and run through the X-ray machine, as well as strollers.
Unless you are traveling with an infant under 3 months old, many find a stroller is easier for traveling. A stroller allows you to store your personal carry-on, while at the same time freeing up your person to be more adaptable to different situations.
Remember, you can take your stroller to the end of the jet bridge, where it will be checked and be waiting for you again when you deboard.
If you are a new lactating parent and unsure of what to pack, consult with a lactation consultant, also known as an IBCLC, who can provide you with personalized advice.
How to Feed Baby
Whether you are breastfeeding or bottle-feeding your baby, most airlines support mothers and work to make their environment inviting and accommodating. When going through TSA, the typical liquid rule of more than 3.4 ounces does not apply to mothers carrying breast milk, whether or not they are traveling with their infant. This is also true for formula, toddler drinks, and baby food.
If you are traveling with a breast pump, it is considered a medical device. As such, it does not take the place of your personal items or carry-on, and you should be able to transport it without any additional fees. If you
‘re unsure of what to expect, consider consulting with an IBCLC who can provide you with tips and tricks for breastfeeding while traveling. Additionally, an IBCLC can help you navigate any TSA regulations regarding breast milk and breast pumps.
Some airlines offer comfortable, more private spaces to meet the needs of parents traveling with infants to both breastfeed and pump.
Of course, these more private spaces are not always readily available, and if you need to feed or pump for your child en route, feel free to do so.
Sometimes breastfeeding on a plane can be intimidating due to the close proximity of others. Fortunately, flight attendants are typically very accommodating, and can provide ice for freshly pumped milk or warm water for bottles.
The occasional perturbed traveler may be uncomfortable with the natural process of feeding your child. If they express discomfort, most personnel have been trained to relocate those individuals. If flight attendants are unaware of any issues, remember to use your voice and ask for help or assistance.
How to Make Your Travel Day Better
Try to relax and take things as they come; a positive attitude can go a long way in making the journey feel smoother.
Additionally, enrolling in the TSA Precheck program can be a game-changer. This program involves a risk assessment before you travel, which can expedite the screening process at TSA on the day of your flight. By signing up for TSA Precheck, you can save time and avoid some of the hassles that come with airport security checks.
Apart from pre-check, prepare whatever supplies you need to help keep your baby happy. When your baby is happy, others will be happy as well.
Another thing to note is that the change in altitude and air pressure can be difficult for a young child. During take-off and landing, consider breastfeeding, bottle-feeding, or supplying a pacifier for your infant. The sucking movement can help to alleviate the pressure on your child’s ears, helping to keep them more calm.
Final Destination Preparation
Most places will have a store where you can purchase items from. This could include diapers, wipes, baby food, and other essentials while you are away from home. You should only pack enough of these disposable items for your day of travel and then plan on a grocery order pick-up at your final destination.
This allows you to travel with less, but also ensures that your baby essentials are well-stocked, helping alleviate some of the stress and bulk from your travel.
Lastly, consider utilizing rental services like car seats. Many locations will have the necessary gear that your baby will need. If you are staying with friends, family, or at a hotel, most will have a pack ‘n play or a way of borrowing one.
Although traveling can be stressful, especially when you travel with children, know that many individuals understand your situation. By consulting with an IBCLC (in-person or through telehealth consultations) and following these four travel tips, you can help make your journey smoother and more enjoyable.
Although you can’t prepare for all situations, you can cover most of your bases by applying these four tips to your travel preparations.