babytravelsIf you think taking care of a baby is challenging in the comfort and confines of your own home, just wait until the first time you attempt to transfer her from Point A to Point B. Keep these traveling with baby tips handy should you ever decide to be so bold:

Flying with infants and babies can come with a unique set of challenges, especially if it is your first time doing so. Luckily having just a few helpful tips on hand can truly make a difference in how successful your flight is.

However many diapers you think you might need for your trip, triple it

Carry no fewer than two in your pocket, four in your purse, seven in your snack bag, twenty-two in your carry-on and another three or four hundred in your biggest suitcase. Stick a Ziploc bag filled with at least a dozen wet wipes in alongside every stash. You may accidentally grab the wrong bag when you head into the rest stop/fast food bathroom/airplane lavatory, and once you’ve removed the old stinky nappy, you’re basically screwed. On the way home from one trip I discovered—to my horror, after I’d already disposed of the soiled diaper—that my purse stash was completely depleted. I yelled out to Joe to grab me one from the car, but that supply was gone, too. We were miles away from civilization, so we sat on a bench with our bare-bottomed babe until another mom strolled up, at which point we casually asked if she would sell us a diaper. (She generously handed one over, free of charge. Thanks lady, whoever you are!) But really, it’s not wise to count on the kindness of strangers. You could get stuck at a nasty rest area for days.

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There’s a reason they offer pre-boarding to families with small children

Take them up on this. Until you travel with a baby, you surely cannot imagine how difficult it is to maneuver her squirming body, her FAA-approved car seat, your purse, her shoes (that they made you remove at the security check-point—not because she looks particularly menacing but because they’ll be damned if they’re going to be accused of profiling—and which she refuses to let you put back on) and all of her in-flight necessities down that ridiculously narrow aisle between the seats. It is not fun or pretty, and I secretly believe that if terrorists knew how easy it is to scalp passengers with the jagged corner of an unwieldy car seat, the apparatuses would be banned from the skies forever.

When traveling by air, buy the kid her own seat

Yes it’s expensive. And sure, she’d prefer to sit in your lap. But plenty of studies have shown that she’s safest strapped into her own seat. Plus having the extra space allows you the flexibility of moving her once she’s driven the businessman in the seat in front of her to the brink of homicide with her relentless kicking/wailing/pretzel tossing. This luxury cannot be overstated.

Bring your “I’m So Sorry” Face

When traveling by any method of public transport, practice your, “I’m so sorry” face for several weeks in a mirror until you achieve the perfect balance between conscientious and contrite. You might even consider having small business cards printed with this phrase that you can pass out to other passengers in advance. You might be shocked by the number and frequency of dirty looks you will get when your kid throws a fit (unless you’re traveling in Portugal, where they seem to adore crying babies; the surlier the better). A belligerent “I hear her louder than you do, pal,” might be accurate, but does little to endear you to your temporary neighbors.

Take a train whenever you can

If there’s no train going where you’re going, go somewhere else! Trains are fun! Trains have dining cars! There are fun things to look at out the windows! The bathroom is bigger than a breadbox—and you can use it whenever you like! You can nurse a baby right in your seat! Pass her back and forth* between yourself and your partner (and occasionally, another bored and kindly traveler)! Many trains even serve adult beverages! Need I say more?

Do you have any helpful traveling with baby tips for other parents? Leave your experiences and suggestions in the comments!

Jenna McCarthy (www.jennamccarthy.com) is an internationally published writer, former radio personality and the author of four parenting books: The Parent Trip: From High Heels and Parties to Highchairs and Potties, Cheers to the New Mom/Dad, Big Rigs for Moms and Tea Parties for Dads. Her work has appeared in more than fifty magazines, on dozens of web sites and in several anthologies including the popular Chicken Soup series. In her spare time, she wonders what she used to do with all of her spare time.