The truth is this: Luca was on 28 flights by the time he was 5 months old. 24/28 flights were taken without my husband. I tell people this and they look at me like I am absolutely crazy, which I very well may be. My thoughts are this: I have a husband who I support endlessly, and what he does for a living takes him to different states every weekend, and it is important to me to be there to support him, and it is also important to me that our children grow up knowing that NFL life is a family thing. Having said that– I do not intend to drive across the country to watch a 4 hour game, so I am left with the only other option– to fly. Apart from the NFL, I have a sister who lives in Los Angeles, CA, and family who is spread from Indiana, to Chicago, to Florida, and it is also important to me that I see them, and that they are involved in my children growing up.
Luca’s first flight was taken when he was not even three weeks old. This wasn’t planned, and it was terrifying, but life happened and we needed to be somewhere, so, we went. I didn’t think too much about it, because I have found that my mind is my worst enemy in a lot of scenarios, and this specific one was no different– air plane germs, pressure in his little ears, a recovering birth body lugging luggage and baby things through an airport.. you get the drift.
I am going to tell you this– you can do it. I have found that I am a happier wife and mother when I do my very best to make it a point to still do things that mattered to me prior to becoming a mom– travel is one of these things. I will also tell you this, your child will adapt. Some flights will go so smoothly that you’ll consider living on an airplane (dramatic, yes), and others will potentially get you stares and glares and rude remarks, but, pray for those people because they are the ones that have never experienced the joy of being a parent (or grandparent). You will find that far more people are helpful than they are rude, and you will come to appreciate a helping hand and a smile more than you ever imagined.
Below I am going to share a few of my tips for when it comes to traveling with kids! As always, if you have any questions or comments, please leave them in the area below! I love hearing from other mamas about their tips and tricks, because the truth is that I learn something new every time I travel with Luca… 48 flights later, I am here to tell you that we are alive, we have seen some beautiful places, and I have the trial and error knowledge enough to write this post.
Check As Many Bags As Possible
Having free hands during traveling is absolutely crucial. I have found that before having a baby I was known to try to pack as much as I could into a carry on to save money and time, but now that I have a little one, paying the $25 and knowing that my bag is one less thing to be responsible for is SO worth the money.
Check Your Carseat At Check-In
Fun fact, carseats travel free! I bought this really great travel bag from Southwest at the airport the first time I flew with Luca that cost about $15, it is reusable and MASSIVE. Mom hack that I have found, they don’t typically weigh the carseat bag–so, what that means is no more oversize baggage fees–aka, if your bag is nearing that 50lb mark, go ahead and remove some of the items that you don’t really care about too much and toss them into the carseat travel bag. Some airports will require you to drop your carseat bag at the oversized baggage check in, and others will take it right at the counter. The same goes for claiming your bag, some airports it will arrive at baggage claim on the belt with your other bags, and other airports will send it to the oversized baggage claim. I will never forget the first time Luca and I flew to Los Angeles… I stood at the baggage belt for an hour after all of the luggage of the other passengers arrived because I was convinced that they lost my carseat…truth be told, (and bless that airport employees heart)… our carseat bag had been sitting at oversize baggage claim for an hour waiting for me.
Nurse/Give Bottle During Takeoff & Landing
I have found that nursing Luca during both takeoff and landing has helped to keep his ears from popping. I have also learned that when he is sleeping during either of these times that I am better off just leaving him alone. So, that “never wake a sleeping baby” saying, I have found that it applies over the advice of always be sure to feed during takeoff and landing.. again, people, trial and error.
I cannot say this enough– a fed Luca, is a happy Luca. I literally pack the pantry when we travel because I never know when he will all the sudden refuse his favorite snack, and heaven forbid that happen at 30,000 ft. Make sure to bring along their favorites, as well as some new options to keep them entertained. I’ve also found that an empty cup with a lid can serve as the greatest distraction– and the beauty is that you can request this from your flight attendant. Put crackers in it and shake it up–make shift maraca, anybody? Take the lid on and off ten thousand times because it’s fascinating? You name it, i’ve tried it!
Baby Carrier & Plane Side Stroller Check
Okay, so this one totally depends upon your babes age, and temperament! I have the ErgoBaby 360 carrier and I personally LOVE it, but, Luca was over it by 5 months old. In the early days, I would be sure to put him in the carrier when we were waiting to board our plane, fold up the stroller and drop it to the plane side check in, then I would then nurse him and bounce him to sleep, all prior to getting on board. Once he was over it, the game kind of changed as far as the baby carrier went and I started pushing the stroller all the way down, setting Luca down on a blanket, folding the stroller up, picking him up, and then boarding and nursing prior to and during takeoff.
This is totally preference based, but for me, the less time I have to spend confined to less than 12 inches of space, the better. I know that a lot of airlines attempt to make life easier for people traveling with infants by allowing them to board first, but I have found that the later I board, the better. Sure, boarding last means that you get to enjoy the look of terror on an entire plane full of passenger’s faces as you find your seat with your baby in your arms (Disinfecting), but it does make it easier to be able to move around at the gate, versus sit and wait in a small airplane seat.
Wet Ones/Disinfecting Wipes
Upon arriving to your seat, do yourself the favor and wipe down all surfaces that yourself or your baby will touch…aka, everything. Thinking about the number of germs on an airplane absolutely stresses me out, so the truth is that I try my hardest not to think about it, and I also do my best to kill whatever I can by wiping down all surfaces. I have found that Wet Ones claim to kill 99.9% of germs, which I cannot lie, helps to make me feel just a little bit better about the fact that my child is bound to put his hands in his mouth, lick the window, chew on the tray table..you name it, it’s happened.
Listen, I don’t know about you, but before R and I were parents we swore that we “would never be those parents that put a screen in front of their kid”…oh, until we flew across the country 48 times within the first 16 months of Luca’s life. Look, it doesn’t make me proud, and a little part of me cringes every single time I hear Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, but truth be told, sometimes it’s just necessary. Worried about wifi on the plane? Do yourself a favor and download the app called Video Saver– it’s kind of sketchy, but it allows you to download and save videos to your phone or iPad from Youtube and other websites, the super great part is that once downloaded, you will be able to access them without internet connection/WIFI/going over your data plan forever!
I don’t know about you, but parenthood has been the most humbling experience of my life. It’s one of those things where the minute I start to feel like i’ve got it figured out, it switches up on me. Truth be told, this is part of what I love the most about this journey that I am currently in– it keeps me learning, keeps me humble, keeps me on my toes, and it keeps me searching for new ways to get better every single day. None of us have it figured out, that’s the cold hard truth about this thing called Motherhood. Another truth is that there are so many of us out there thinking and feeling like we have to “keep it all together” and “have it all figured out” in order to be “good moms.” Listen, we are all “good moms”, we are all “different moms”, nonetheless, but that is what makes learning from one another so beautiful– no two of us are exactly the same, no two of us know all of the things that the other knows. I pledge to be a “real mama” in this space, and I promise to always keep it 100 with you. Airport travel will always be a little unnerving, I will always wonder what kind of flight we are going to have in the moments prior to boarding, but I vow to show my children the world..and the only way to do that, is to fly.
Spread your wings, mama. xo, Grace