Monday, March 3, 2008

Travelling with An Infant/Toddler

Since Ella was born, we’ve travelled with her to and from Seattle about 11 times – that’s counting our current trip to the Emerald City. In every trip, there was always a lesson to be learned about how to make the subsequent trip a lot easier. Here are our tips for travelling with a child under 2 years old.

1. Purchase your child’s own seat/ticket on the plane. With most airlines, children under 2 years of age can travel for free as long as they don’t occupy a seat, i.e., they stay on your lap. But let’s face it, most of us can’t afford (or would rather not have to pay for) it.

2. Related tip: We only ride Southwest or Alaska Airlines to Seattle. The airfares are comparable but there are differences that make me choose Southwest over Alaska.

  • Alaska: PROS: does not require child’s birth certificate, you can pre-select your seats when you purchase your tickets, they allow pre-boarding; CONS: the flights are usually delayed.
  • Southwest: PROS: flights are usually on time, and if the flight isn’t full, there’s a good chance no one will want to sit next to you because you have a baby; CONS: seats cannot be pre-selected.

3. Bring a light/travel stroller that you can stick through the x-ray machine. It’s especially helpful when you’re at the airport 2 hours before departure.

4. Schedule your flight so that it coincides with your child’s naptime. Self-explanatory.

5. Feed your child (or give her/him something to drink) during take off and landing. It'll help with potential ear pressure.

6. Pack a light carry-on. Try to limit it to the necessities: a) food that you can't otherwise get at the airport, b) a few toys that you know will keep her attention for extended periods of time, c) a change of clothes, and d) the # of diapers you know your child will go through during the time span you’re at the airport and in flight.

7. Check-in online. It’s one less step to do at the airport.

8. Wear shoes that are easy to take off and put back on. Security usually asks parents to take their children’s shoes off as well – and yes, including infants.

9. Sit on an aisle seat towards the back of the plane so that the engines’ noise can drown out your child’s cries, you have easy access to the restrooms.

10. Here are a couple of other tips from a fellow (TCPG) mom, Amanda, that I found pretty helpful

  • Dress your child in a cute outfit. No one can resist a cute child.
  • If you’re afraid that your child may bother the persons sitting around you, you may want to offer to buy them a drink.

For more reliable online resources, check out these links:

  1. Transportation Security Administration (TSA)
  2. Flying with Kids

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