In late June, my husband, Rob, and I were courageous enough to take our 11-month old, Gavin, on vacation with us to Miami. We spent weeks planning activities, brainstorming ways to survive the flights there and back to Chicago, and how to get the most out of trip while accommodating naps. Today I’m sharing our tips and tricks, as well as lessons learned, while flying and traveling with a baby.
Luggage & packing: We purchased a diaper bag backpack to serve as my/Gavin’s carry-on for the flight and it also worked well as a beach bag–the zippers helped to minimize the amount of sand that we took home with us. This bag also had little insulated pockets inside and out which was great for keeping pouches of food cool for the baby, and it also had velcro straps to connect to the stroller. Rob and I each packed an additional carry-on to avoid the extra fees for checking bags on American Airlines.
The Airport: We arrived at the airport 2.5 hours early, anticipating a lengthy process of making it through security with baby, bags, and accessories. First, we checked the car seat, which was free since we were traveling with an infant. We kept our stroller with us to make walking around the airport easier once we made it through security.
We did have to spend some time at the American Airlines counter, because Gavin’s information wasn’t listed on my ticket–when an infant doesn’t have their own ticket, it must be listed on one of the parent’s tickets. Luckily, TSA allowed everyone to keep their shoes on and didn’t request liquids to be removed from bags and we were able to breeze through security; I helped toss our bags on to the counter and then walked through the metal detector with the baby, while Rob pushed the bags onto the conveyor belt. The total process took only about 20 minutes, including waiting in line. We had about an hour to relax and walk around before boarding began.
The Flights: We were able to gate check our luggage and stroller, so we walked on to the flight with just our backpacks and baby. Most airlines call for families to board first since it can take extra time; I highly recommend waiting as long as possible to board to limit the amount of time that the baby has to sit still on the plane! We gave Gavin a small dose of infant Benadryl to help him sleep during the flight and it worked pretty well for the first flight. It also helped that the flight was during his normal morning nap time. We brought my nursing cover for easy feeding and comfort, and also the Baby K’Tan to help hold him in place if he fell asleep. Our iPad was loaded up with kids movies, and we had Gavin’s favorite toys and lots of Cheerios to keep him occupied.
On the trip home, we traveled in the evening when Gavin is typically awake and the Benadryl had zero effect–he screamed for the majority of the flight and didn’t want anything to do with either of us. A nice couple had an extra seat in their row and offered to trade seats with us so that Gavin had more space to move around, but that return flight was pretty miserable for everyone. We will definitely look for flights during naptime in the future!
Accommodations: For this trip, we booked an AirBnB for the first time and were pleasantly surprised by how smoothly everything went! Our rental was a large studio apartment connected to a home near 26th St., with a kitchenette, bathroom, and separate entrance that was accessible by a path on the side of the house.
This was a perfect set-up with a baby–we couldn’t hear noisy neighbors and when the baby cried he wasn’t bothering anyone but us. There was also convenient street parking for our rental car which made it easy to stop in quickly during the day and continue on our way. The rental did not have a crib or separate space for the baby to sleep, so the three of us shared a queen-size bed; picking up an inexpensive pack-n-play (or checking one on the flight) would have made sleeping during the trip easier, but we survived without one .
Where have you traveled with kids/babies?
What tips & tricks do you have for traveling with kids?
Where is your favorite place to visit in Miami?