Air Travel with Babies Tips
Read these 8 Air Travel with Babies Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Baby Travel tips and hundreds of other topics.
Can I help relive my baby’s ear pressure during take-off and landing?
Have you ever been on a flight and while the plane is taking
descending, you hear the blood-curdling scream of an infant two rows
behind you? It may have been due to air pressure in the ears, which
affects infant ears much more than it does adults. According to Yahoo
pediatric expert Dr. Green, the landing is always harder on infant ears
than take-off. This is because during take-off the ears tend to adjust
spontaneously, while during landing, the rising pressure can cause pain
and the adjustment doesn't occur spontaneously, but requires the
motions of yawning, swallowing, or crying. Rather than letting your infant
work out the air pressure changes alone, you can alleviate the
- If you're nursing your infant, do so during take-off. The swallowing action naturally helps remove the pressure in baby's ears and with any luck your child might fall asleep. If your infant can wait, don't nurse during taxiing, which might take several minutes. Instead, see if you can nurse when the plane is almost ready to lift off the ground.
- If you're bottle-feeding, do so during take-off. Pacifiers can also work as well. For toddlers, chewing on munchies and drinking out of a sippy cup will help. Though most toddlers are well past the stage of painful ear pressure due to plane travel.
What can I do to make a flight with an infant go more smoothly?
We know flying an airplane with infants in tow can be a daunting task. However if you're prepared, you'll get through the whole process without a sweat. Let us give you the inside knowledge you need for a smooth flight:
- Find out whether identification is needed to board the plane and whether they provide any disposable diapers or bibs. Check the airline's Website for more information or speak to an agent.
- If you have the opportunity, choose your seats wisely when booking. The bulkhead seats are a popular choice with many parents. You get more legroom and airline bassinets can be hooked up to the bulkhead area of the plane. The drawback is that you won't have any under-seating storage in front of you. If you anticipate needing easy access to the plane's bathroom for diaper changes and clean-ups, or the need for some stretching and pacing, the rear of the plane is ideal for both.
- Book your trip around baby's naptime. Consider whether the flight is a longer or shorter one, and whether your baby will do better napping on the plane or not; then plan accordingly.
- Book a non-stop flight. It's a long enough journey between getting through security checkpoints, possible flight delays, and disembarking without worrying about layovers. Plus, if you miss a connecting flight due to a plane delay, you're in for a long, frustrating haul at the airport – with your baby.
- Bring along a toy or two for the trip. Something new and fascinating for baby as well as an old tried and true favorite will help alleviate at least some of the boredom your infant might experience.
- Pack enough supplies for feeding, cleanup, and diaper changes – plus extra. You don't want to be stuck on an 8-hour flight and have used up your last diaper 2 hours into the flight. Don't forget an extra change of clothes for baby and an extra shirt for you in case of baby spit-ups. Pack more if you're going on a long international flight.
- When you book your child's ticket, reserve the kid's meal or infant food if the airline has it. If you have a toddler, you'll be glad to know the kid's meals get served in advance of regular meals. If you have an infant, certain major airline carriers do provide baby food, but you have to ask when you book.
- For older infants, many parents swear by the DVD player. It's considered by some moms and dads to be a necessary evil, but if your child is toddler aged, DVD players with age appropriate movies and shows will keep them entertained for up to half an hour. We also like the laptop with DVD player idea. In addition to showing movies, you can play photo slideshows as well.
Is it better to get through the airport with a baby carrier or stroller?
You have two main accessories for getting baby through the airport - a baby carrier or the stroller. Which one is better? Well, that depends.
Baby carriers do offer advantages. You can dodge crowds much easier, your hands will be free, you won't have a bulky piece of equipment to lug around, and it's calming for infants and young toddlers to be held close to you. However, you'll also have to bear the weight of carrying your child through the airport (which might be minimal if you choose the right carrier) and you won't have the benefit of having your stroller at your destination. Baby Bjorn is a popular front carrier for many parents. If this is your pick, we recommend you get the model with the lumbar support for your comfort. But there are many more options. Ring slings make it easier for nursing moms. Ergo makes a comfortable soft carrier, excellent for back carries and toddlers. For info on the baby carrier choices you have, try The Baby Wearer Website at www.thebabywearer.com
Strollers make it a little more difficult to navigate, but you won't have to worry about handling the extra weight – at least until your infant or toddler wants to be picked up. You'll also have something to wheel your little one around in when you get to your destination. If you decide to go the stroller route, one way to keep things to a minimum is with a lightweight stroller or umbrella stroller. If the stroller is mainly for airport use, the less weight you have to lug around the better. You can check your stroller in as your board the plane and pick it up on the way out.
For parents who really like to be prepared, you can bring both. Many baby carriers are compact enough for easy stow away in your luggage. It's also a great option if you have more than one child and don't want to lug a double stroller.
How can I get through the airport faster with an infant?
Air travel isn't what it used to be. Thanks to the Federal Aviation Administration's ever-changing restrictions on what is allowed on an airplane, coupled with getting through a security checkpoints, are enough to fray the most seasoned traveler. Now consider the luggage, the security, and the scanning with infants. By using these tried and true methods, you'll find getting through the airport and onto the plane might turn out to be a quick and painless process:
- Have your boarding passes ready and on hand before you get to the airport. Thanks to the wonders of the World Wide Web, you can book online, print out your boarding passes 24 hours before your flight, and go straight to the security clearance checkpoint. If you book your travel plans online, find a site that includes infants (children under age 2) in its reservation process. Expedia and Orbitz both have the option to book for your infant.
- Give yourself ample time to get to the airport, but always double check your flight's status before you leave the house so you can plan accordingly. Simply go to the Website of the airline you're flying, have your flight number, and departure and arrival airports on hand.
- Time is not always on our side, especially with infants. If you want to speed your way through the security checkpoint line, find out what the wait time is at each location by checking out the Transportation Security Administration's Website (www.tsa.dhs.gov).
- Even if the airline doesn't have a standard pre-boarding for parents with kids, it never hurts to ask. But ask nicely. Most airport personnel will let you on the plane in the first tier of boarding passengers.
How do I go about getting an infant passport?
If you already have a U.S. passport for you and baby, good for you! You're ready to travel. If not, have no worries. We'll explain the process for you. First off, whether the passport is for you or for your child, you do have to appear in a person to apply. However, the process can be easier if you start preparing your materials before you visit a passport agency. You also should apply for a passport several months before you travel. It typically takes six weeks after processing the application for you to get your passport. Here's a step-by-step process for getting a passport for you or baby.
- First, get a passport application. An easy way to do this is download it off the Bureau of Consular Affairs Website at www.travel.state.gov. You can also find passport applications at certain post offices as well.
- Fill out the application and make an appointment to go to an approved passport acceptance facility. They have thousands of locations, so you don't have to worry about finding one within reasonable distance to you. The Consular Affairs Website maintains a list so you'll know where to go.
- Gather all the necessary supporting documents. You need to provide one proof of U.S. citizenship and one proof of identity. Proof of citizenship can be an older passport or birth certificate. Proof of identity can also include an older passport or naturalization certificate or driver's license. For your little one, parent identification would be required and parent consent may be requested as well.
- You also need to provide 2- 2”x2” photos. If you take your own, they must be taken with a frontal facial view. The image from the bottom your chin to the top of your head should measure 1 to 1-3/8”. Have a white or off-white background behind you, dress in plain clothes, and don't wear any hats or dark glasses. Prescription glasses are fine. You can also get passport photos at a number of photo processing locations.
- When you go in, have your application, supporting documents, and photos on hand. Be prepared to pay the fee with a credit card, debit card, or check.
Helpful Hint: If you absolutely must get your passport sooner, you can expedite the process by paying an additional fee to get your passport in two weeks instead of six.
How can I save money on airfare?
There's no doubt that travel can be pricey. When you're traveling as a family, you have to account for airfare and accommodations for everyone. The good news is that there are ways to make plane travel less expensive. Here are a few ways to help you save on travel.
- Be flexible. We realize this option isn't for everyone, but if you can move your departure date by a day or catch a later flight rather than an earlier one, you can find better deals. Use a travel search engine or a travel agent to help you find these deals.
- Book your flight mid-week. Specifically, flights tend to be less expensive on a Tuesday or Wednesday. The next least expensive flights tend to be on a Monday or Thursday. Invariably, weekend flights departing Friday through Sunday are usually the most expensive.
- If you can, book your flight during the off-season when less people will be traveling. For many locations, this may mean avoiding travel during the summer months – June, July, and August. A good way to double-check what time of the year is less expensive is by consulting a travel guide or travel agent for your destination.
- Sign up with an online travel newsletter. That way you'll know when good deals come around. Online travel newsletters like Travelzoo.com, and many of the travel sites like Expedia and Travelocity, will notify you of low airfares, last minute specials, package deals, accommodations and more. Family-Friendly Vacations (www.family-friendlyvacations.com) has a travel newsletter full of current deals geared just for family travel. Major search engines like Orbitz.com also has gives subscriber information on family travel specials.
Helpful Hint: There's an added bonus to booking your flight mid-week or off-season. If the flight is empty enough, you can have the whole plane row to yourself – more room for everyone, baby, and all your stuff!
What items should I pack at minimum for a plane trip?
Consider this familiar situation: you're hauling an oversized diaper bag on your shoulder that weighs more than your infant child. You've got a 30 pound stroller you're pushing and you're also carrying your baby over your shoulder. All this just to go to the mall or the playground for an afternoon.
Parents have enough stuff to schlep around on a daily routine. Plane travel can compound the situation. The secret? Pack efficiently only using the bare minimum essentials. Here are some plane travel packing tips to help lighten your load:
- If you can manage it, don't check in your luggage. Just bring the requisite carry-ons to your flight. If it's a family trip, between you and your spouse, you should be able to survive a five-day trip with minimal luggage. Since you're usually limited to one carry-on and one personal item (check with your airline as rules are always changing), pack clothing and your personal essentials into your luggage.
- Your diaper bag, which should qualify as your personal item, should include feeding gear appropriate for your child's age:
- Bottle or sippy cup
- Formula or breast milk
- Baby food or snacks
- Utensils if you need them
- Disposable bibs and pre-packed hand wipes
- Diaper wipes
- Diaper cream
- Large Zip-lock bags for soiled items
- One change of clothes for baby
- Requisite travel documents
- Small toy or teething ring
Helpful Hint: Our rule of thumb – pack as much as you need to get to your destination and then add some extra. You want to walk the fine line between being prepared and packing the bare essentials. Remember, unless you're going to a remote location, you can always buy more of what you need at your destination.
If I’m traveling outside of the U.S., will I need passports for the whole family?
Paperwork, though perhaps one of the least desirable parts of travel planning, is a necessary part of your travel plans. The requirements for traveling abroad are changing. If you're planning on travel outside of the United States, you should be aware of the documents you need to take with you.
If you're planning any travel outside of the United States, you should get a passport for each member of the family. This includes baby, parents, and other children. As of January 23, 2007, you now need a passport if you're planning on flying from the U.S. to Canada, Mexico, Central America, South America, the Caribbean, and Bermuda.
Starting January 1, 2008, passport requirements may also include car travel and cruise travel outside of the U.S. to places like Mexico, Canada, and the Caribbean.
If you're a parent traveling on your own, keep in mind you'll need to have additional documentation on hand when traveling abroad – regardless of whether you're married, separated, or divorced. For any travel outside of the U.S., many countries require a notarized Permission to Travel letter. In some instances, proof of custody is a requirement as well.
Helpful Hint: You don't have to create your own Permission to Travel Letter. The Family Travel Forum Website has a Permission to Travel Letter all ready to go that you can just download. Go to their Website at www.familytravelforum.com