flying alone baby

Photo credit: Christian Haugen

I had booked the tickets two months beforehand. Then the week arrives and I start to really doubt my decision to travel with a 5 month old – alone. Why on earth was I putting myself (and baby) through this? Was I insane to think I’d be able to pull this off? Sure, my amazing cousin had just done a solo trip with her baby but that was her – I’m not her. That pesky mom doubt was lurking again.

Though I’d read all the articles about air travel with a baby but they said the same things about car seats, timing your flights around security line ups and naps  (phhht – good luck!), nursing or soothers for take off and landing but none of them were answering my other questions so I had to ‘wing’ it – see what I did there 😉

I’d love to hear from those veteran mom travellers out there. I saw one of you while we were waiting for our first flight. You had one child in a carrier and another toddling along beside your stroller with his own suitcase. I just want you to know that my exact thought was “You are amazing. I want to be you! Teach me your ways!” For now, these were the lessons I learned and I hope some new moms will find them helpful.

1. Stroller – Yea or Nay?

Unless you’re planning on doing a lot of walking, have significant layovers, or are travelling with someone other than your baby I recommend leaving your stroller at home. I hummed and hawed about this point up until the day I left. I’d asked on some mom forums for opinions and decided that it just wasn’t going to be worth the hassle. How would I wrangle an infant car seat, stroller, diaper bag and baby? Where would baby be during set up of the seat and the stroller? Would I run into issues with gate check? Layovers were short so would I be spending all my time wrangling gear? Solution: check the car seat, leave the stroller at home, use my K’tan carrier instead. Sure, I have an great stroller and in fact, we specifically bought it for its compact style and easy folding abilities for big trips this summer but for this one, I decided against taking it.  (Now since purchasing the stroller, I’ve found that it’s actually a few centimeters larger than the ‘allowed’ size… I’ll keep you posted on how it goes at the gate come our next travel adventure.)

travel alone baby

2. Lost Luggage DOES Happen

My big fear of air pressure hurting baby ears didn’t materialized (thank goodness!), but then neither did my luggage upon arrival! *facepalm* Enter the carefully packed, repacked, perhaps over packed diaper bag to the rescue! We all know we should pack a change of clothes for ourselves but do we actually do it? This time I’m glad I did take that advice and though I cursed lugging around the extra bulk, this insurance was actually a good investment. The airline provided a toiletries care package and delivered the luggage the next morning but when you’re doing this solo the extra headache is the last thing you want.

3. Fighting Germs

Disinfectant wipes may not do a heck of a lot but they gave this mom a little peace of mind. Baby hands go everywhere so I did a quick wipe of the hard surfaces that he and I may both touch and waited a bit in hopes that the wipes had time to do their job. I started with the seat belt buckle, then did the arm rests and the table tray and latch. If your seat is vinyl, a quick wipe down of your seat back isn’t a bad idea either since this is where baby will face. The other germ fighting tool in my bag: lubricating nasal gel to keep sinus passages from drying out in the airplane air. Cracked noses are an easy place for germs to breed so keeping some moisture in there is a good thing. I ended up using this every night before bed and first thing in morning too. I don’t know if any of these things contributed to our staying healthy but we didn’t get sick in spite of all the visiting and airplane travel.

4. Packing Clothes

Zipper bags are your friend! Packing full outfits in bags so that inevitable “what should baby wear today?” not eat into your valuable vacation time. Simply pull a bag from the suitcase in the morning away you go. We travelled in the winter months so inside I packed one short sleeved and two long sleeved diaper shirts, socks and pants. Given the cold weather, I found it best to wear both a long and short-sleeved shirt at once. By having two long sleeved shirts on hand, a shirt change (should a mess happen) eliminates totally undressing in the cold.

travel alone baby

5. Travel Toys & Books

Tether all the things! Since we were visiting households that didn’t have babies, some baby appropriate toys were necessary. I also wanted something that could be easy to use in a plane. I picked up a few new age appropriate toys that were compact but high interest to baby. Everything had a row of ring links attached so the “throw it on the ground” game was more like boomerang.

6. Be Classically Canadian!

Apologize in advance! I’m sure you’ve seen them on Pinterest, the little notes that parents can give out to those sitting around you on a plane that have ear plugs and a candy – the ones that say “Hi, my name is Baby CutiePie and this is my first flight…” and I figured why not give it a shot? I made up little sandwich size zipper bags containing a note, two Werther’s Originals, and a set of ear plugs. The response was overwhelmingly positive from not only our fellow travellers, but also from the flight attendants. One said she was going to tell her sister to copy the idea.  Truth be told, it was a little bit of a hassle to carry them all but they were easy enough to distribute and collect and more importantly, they made me feel better should there be any melt downs.

As stated earlier, I am by no means and expert mom traveller, simply an aspiring one. What is your best travel tip?