Mia and I have made it half way across the world in one piece. All by ourselves. Well…with the help of some incredible good-samaritans and flight attendants! Last week, we took a 14 hour plane ride from DC to Naples, Italy and it wasn’t the worst thing I have ever done. Shockingly. Maybe because I have been mentally and physically preparing for this flight with my little one for several months now. Or maybe because I have an angel 9-month old, but I can honestly say I will do it again. Here are my tips for travel with a little one that I hope helps in the future!
1. Know your babe.
I knew Mia would sleep if she was either laying on me or in a bassinet. (Yes, she still sleeps in the Uppababy Bassinet and stand next to our bed. Doctors say they should stay there for the first year and I am soaking up every second of that precious babe!) So I called and reserved a bassinet, for free!
2. Research your airlines.
Some airlines are more baby friendly than others. Lufthansa was much more baby aware than United. My actual flight was purchased through United and operated through Lufthansa. You can call either airlines to reserve things like a bassinet and other necessities, like baby food. (Here are the baby rules) United will charge you a $35 fee. Lufthansa will give it to you for free. They were also so great when we were checking in to both flights. On our second flight, they even called us up to the desk and gave us an entire row to ourselves because they realized we were flying with a little one and had a row available.
3. Plead with and spoil your new best friends: airline crew and flight attendants!
I always bring chocolates for the captain and crew on long flights. It has scored me some pretty awesome swag and upgrades in the past. This time, my only goal was to have a sweet lady hold Mia for 3 minutes so I could pee in peace.
4. Get the right gear.
I have been researching travel strollers for months. There were so many on my radar, but I finally settled on the Uppababy Minu, and here are the reasons why.
– I bought the adapters where I could also use my Maxi Cosi infant car seat while Mia was still using it. Which came in very helpful during our trip to Arizona.
– I have the Uppababy Vista and love every feature. It is bigger than the minu, so is the perfect counterpart for those days I just want to run out quickly.
– It can fold down and go in the overhead compartment on flights. This is important for those long layovers. I pushed Mia in her stroller for about an hour and she slept for the additional 90 minutes we had in the airport.
– It has a huge basket underneath for a travel stroller and several of the normal Uppababy bells and whistles.
-It only weighs about 14lbs. I can carry the stroller, a backpack and Mia all at once!
5. Pick the right time to fly
For our long leg of the trip, I picked a red eye. We boarded at 10pm and left at 1030. Mia was asleep at 11:30 and stayed asleep for 6 hours! She ate breakfast and then took another nap right before we landed. Our flight back to the states leaves at 1pm for our short flight. And then 7pm for our long flight. She normally goes to bed at 7:30 (even in Italy), so I am sure she will sleep that flight as well!
6. Prepare for baby jetlag
The first night we arrived, Mia slept for 10 hours!!! We landed at 5:30pm and we kept her up until 10pm. I put her down like I normally do for bed and she stayed that way until 8am. We were in shock. We then used Vitamin D to our advantage and kept her active outside all day. She then went to bed at 7:30pm the following night (her normal bedtime at home), and she was officially on Italian time!! I read on www.takingcarababies.com that using the sunlight for your advantage so the babies know when it is day time will help get them accustomed to their new surroundings. I can’t say it will work for every babe, but it sure worked for ours!
7. Have special baby snacks for only certain times on the plane ride
Don’t just have the food you plan to feed them. You need to have your babe’s favorite snacks for takeoff and descent. Most people say to “just nurse or give a bottle.” No guarantee your sweet baby will want that food during those very important 30 minutes of ear popping time. Mia ate blueberries and her favorite teethers .
8. Have a baby sling on hand.
I was traveling solo with our sweet girl and knew there would be some key moments where I absolutely needed two hands. For instance, when you land in Naples, Italy, you don’t get to walk down a “gang-way” to the airport. You take steps outside of the plane and then get on a bus that takes you to the airport. I needed to do all of this and carry Mia, our fabulous stroller and the backpack that held our entire life! At last minute, I purchased this carrier off Amazon and it was a life saver. I am not a fan of the 100% linen slings since they feel so stiff. The added bamboo made this sling soft and easy to also use as a baby blanket.
9. Check your carseat (with extra goodies in the bag!).
I did not pack a car seat for our trip to Italy, but I did for our trip the previous week to Arizona. I used this bag for our carseat and I was very pleased with it! It had back straps if we had to carry it too far. It held her infant cat, and definitely had enough room for when we upgrade to the next size. We were also over 3lbs in our large suitcase and the carseat bag had enough room to now house our toiletry bags. When Jake went to get the car, I was able to push the stroller, two rolling luggage and put the carseat on my back.
10. Give yourself time, patience and a celebratory nap!
I arrived to the airport before our flight to Italy 3 hours ahead of time. I know that may be a little too much, even for a long trip by myself with a baby, but I had to be prepared. And I am glad we did because it took me 35 minutes to officially check in at the front. That is 32 minutes more than my normal time when travelling with alone or with my husband. It also took me an extra 20 minutes to get around since I had to look for and use the elevators. And change diapers twice and clothes once. And keep the little babe awake before the flight to ensure maximum sleep time. When we landed in Italy, I handed the babe to Jake and WENT TO BED!! Seriously. I knew she could have some issues sleeping and I needed to get as much sleep as possible to get through mine and her jet lag.