I was an international flight attendant before I had children, so I thought I had all the knowledge I needed to travel with children. Knowing and doing are two different things. I made many mistakes along the way, and it has been a long time since I’ve traveled with children. Here are my five tips to help young mothers on the journey.
1. Traveling with pre-made infant formula or breast milk is allowed through TSA. Inform them in advance that you have liquids for your baby so that you will be processed accordingly. Not every TSA station, even at the same airport, treats everyone the same or seems to have the same policies at times. Using clear containers for your baby’s feeding is recommended, and having just enough feedings for travel time plush a small extra is usually enough.
2. Airplanes are always equipped with babies and children in mind. Some even have special-size life jackets or supplies and activities designed for children in mind. What is common, however, is a bathroom equipped with a drop-down changing table for babies. Use it and not the seat. It’s unhygienic and inconsiderate to your fellow passengers. Also, don’t hand the dirty diaper to your flight attendant. Use those airsick bags provided and dispose of them in the restroom.
3. Children have different preferences for their feedings. If your child prefers warm bottles, make it hot before you leave, wrap it in aluminum foil and towels, and place it between diapers. It will not stay warm forever, but it should last a shorter, distanced flight. Towels can serve as double duty for cleanup, and you can never run out of diapers.
4. Try to arrive at the airport with time to get through security without the stress of possibly missing your flight. Give yourself time for the realities of traveling with children and the extra security you may encounter.
5. Traveling with infants allows you a few privileges such as early boarding and gate-checking your stroller. Use the stroller to get through the airport and to your gate. Once there, you should check your stroller, so it is not another piece of luggage you need to worry about. You will not need it in flight, and in most cases, it can be delivered to you when you get off the plane.
Traveling with children is indeed a stressful experience. However, there are so many ways to make it less so and a pleasant experience. Have you traveled with children? Do you have any suggestions? I’d like to hear.