Last week we took a trip across the country, by car and airplane. This was sweet pea's first flight. We went for a family reunion and had a fabulous time seeing everyone and showing off our baby. Everything went wonderfully, until the flight home when she cried for about an hour straight. Luckily the plane was filled with families so hopefully most people didn't hate us and had some sympathy instead. I don't know if it was the pressure change, or too much time on laps in one place, or the dry yucky air, but she was not happy. She did finally fall asleep, and then also slept for most of the 2+ hour drive home from the airport, luckily! The time change seems to be totally fine, coming west. Now we have our first cross-country trip under our belts and I feel much more confident.
Flying with a baby was really quite easy (except for the crying part). The airlines will check a car seat for no charge, even when they charge for everything else. They even give you a plastic bag to put the car seat in so it doesn't get damaged. Also, you can wheel your baby in a folding stroller right up to your gate, and they will stow the stroller for you and then bring it right back out when you arrive at your destination. I faintly recall seeing things like this before, but didn't pay much attention because it didn't apply to me. On this trip, we saw lots and lots of babies in the airports. This was very comforting for me to see because I felt like the other people would know how to handle things and I could just follow along and learn the ropes of airline travel with an infant. One of the coolest things we saw for traveling with children (toddlers and kids up to 100 pounds) were Trunkis, these wheeled carry-on suitcases that kids can ride on! Fun and practical!
Although checking bags costs money now, we discovered it is still worth it if you have a layover anywhere. One more bag to carry around can get pretty annoying when you also have a baby and a diaper bag. We only checked one bag between us on the flight over, but checked two on the flight back. In terms of necessities for the day of traveling, I went with enough diapers for a change every 2 hours, plus one extra for unexpected spills, a dirty/wet bag, two extra outfits, one sweater, a light blanket, two toys, three burp cloths, and three washcloths. (These were the things in the diaper bag, excluding the backpack we brought with clothes, etc. for the week.) This served us fine. Although I had the birth certificate on my list of things to pack (I saw it recommended on other people's web sites), I couldn't find it the night before, so didn't bring it, and no one ever asked us a thing about who sweet pea was. Also on my list but not in my bag was a changing pad. I did miss that a little, for obvious reasons, but we made do with an extra diaper or cloth, or paper towels, or a lap. I didn't bring a nursing cover and it was fine. I nursed in public in airports, on airplanes, in restaurants, and at tourist sites and never got a comment or felt a rude look. The last item on my list that I didn't bring and didn't miss was the breast pump and bottles. Sweet pea was with me almost the entire time and I always just nursed her as needed. So, overall a successful packing experience! The only things I forgot or discarded last minute turned out to be things we didn't need after all. My aunt kept remarking that it was amazing how little we brought with us, and how little it seemed that we needed. With an attached, breastfed baby, you don't really need much - no pacifiers, bottles, special seats, or play pens for this baby-on-the-go. Although I do see how all of those things are useful at times, for a trip like this with lots of welcoming arms to hold the baby, we didn't find we really missed any of the baby accoutrement we left at home.
Yippee! Where shall we go next?