Shortly after resigning from residency, I jumped right into full-time mommyhood with no regrets! One of the additional perks of my new “job” is that there’s more flexibility, meaning I would be able to travel to my cousin’s wedding in the Bahamas, which I previously would not have been able to attend. Of course, my husband and I were SUPER excited! After all, it was our first plane ride with our little one! We were clearly newbies. As soon as our tickets were booked, I started planning what we would need for the little guy with a mental checklist (Check out my thoughts on packing when traveling with an infant below). After planning and packing for about a week (again, clearly, we were newbies), we were ready! I had Micah’s airport outfit picked out from the night before, the house was cleaned, and we were in bed with enough time to give us 4 hours of sleep before our 5 AM flight.
Given that it was an international flight, and it was our first time traveling with an infant, we planned to get to the airport at 3 AM, 2 hours before our flight was scheduled to leave. We live about 40 minutes away from the airport, so between giving ourselves enough time to get ready and get over there, we had to wake up at about 1:30 AM. We got dressed, woke Micah up out of his sweet sleep, and were ready by the front door, waiting for our dear friend to take us to the airport by 2:15 AM. Fifteen minutes later, our ride still hadn’t shown up and wasn’t answering his phone, so we decided to drive to the airport ourselves. On our way there, he called us and said he overslept (which was certainly understandable given the hour we asked him to wake up) and that he would meet us on the way at our church’s parking lot, switch our things over to his car, and take us the rest of the way. So, we did just that. We were a little late to the airport, but without ill-effect. We checked in, checked our luggage (including the car seat base, which was a HUGE mistake as we later learned), went through security, and got on the plane without a hitch. YAY! After sitting on the runway for almost an hour, waiting to take off, the announcement came overhead: “The plane was out in the cold overnight and this likely contributed to an oil leak, so we’ll have to deplane and reroute all passengers to their final destination. We apologize for any inconvenience.” And so began our 24-hour traveling nightmare.
After talking with the gate agent, we were told the next available flight to Miami, where we were scheduled for a connection to the Bahamas, wasn’t until 3:00 PM. At that point, it was about 6:30 in the morning. There was no way we were going to spend the whole day sitting in the airport with a 3-month-old, so we decided to rebook our flight for the next day instead. We left the secured part of the terminal and went downstairs to get our bags, only to find out that everything had already been sent on a mysterious earlier flight to Miami. So there we were: stuck in Chicago without any of our stuff. We could’ve made due without our things for one night, but we had no car seat base to take Micah home safely. Therefore, we had no choice. We had to fly to Miami that day whether we liked it or not. We spoke with another agent, who was kind enough to find a way to rebook us on another flight that would leave for Miami at 11 AM instead. While waiting the 3-4 hours for that flight, I began mastering the skills of breastfeeding in public and changing a wiggly, active 3-month-old on an airport bench—two skills which, unbeknownst to me at the time, I would be getting lots of practice in over the next 16 hours.
We eventually got on our 11 AM flight and ended up taking off closer to 12 PM. Why, you ask? Who knows, I say. Needless to say, we missed our connecting flight in Miami (by 2 minutes I might add). So off to customer service we went, to be rebooked yet again. After being sent back and forth between terminals, and being wrongly misled by a gate agent, we were eventually put on a 7 PM BahamasAir flight, that ended up taking off closer to 10 PM. Why, you ask? Who knows, I say. We arrived in Nassau around midnight, and after checking into our hotel room at the Atlantis, we noticed mold and hair in the shower and brown stains on the towels (YUCK!). After reporting this to the front desk, we were moved to another room in a different tower, a 7-minute walk away. As we headed to our new room, with Micah sound asleep in his stroller, I turned my phone on to look at the time. 1:30 AM. I looked at my husband and said, “We’ve been traveling for 24 hours.” At this point, all we could do was laugh. Finally, our 24-hour traveling nightmare was over.
The rest of our time in the Bahamas was awesome. We spent time with family, witnessed a beautiful wedding, and enjoyed some sunshine with Micah. We took him to the beach for the first time where he cried bloody murder because the water was cold (So you can imagine that it actually took us longer to get ready and head down to the beach than the time we actually spent there). DJ enjoyed the Atlantis water slides, and I caught up on some much-needed R & R (rest & relaxation). All-in-all, it was a great trip once we were there. I’ll spare you the gory details of the trip back, but our flight was delayed yet again, causing us to miss our connection. By God’s grace we were able to get on another flight on standby shortly after landing in Miami. Overall, this trip was certainly a learning experience, so checkout what I learned about traveling with an infant below.
Things to Pack When Traveling with an Infant
The number one thing I learned from our 5-hour-turned-24-hour ordeal (thanks American Airlines!) is to be prepared because you never know how the trip might turn out. So, bring a few extras of everything. That being said, here’s what I’d recommend:
- 2-3 outfit changes (including bibs) for each day you plan to be away. Same goes for the number of outfits in your diaper bag that you’ll be traveling with (Micah ended up wearing makeshift pants from a onesie after he had a blowout on his last clean outfit).
- Formula, bottles, and a bottle brush if your little one is formula fed (or if you plan to pump).
- Your breast pump if you really think you’re going to pump while on vacation. I brought mine the first time and never did again for any trip thereafter.
- Burp cloths
- A nursing scarf if you plan to breastfeed
- A Moby wrap (I would HIGHLY recommend this item!) The Moby wrap, I realized, when traveling on a later trip, allows you ultimate convenience. You don’t have to take the baby out of it when going through security, making the security line a breeze, AND you can literally breastfeed while walking down the airport terminal! It’s what dreams are made of!
- Diapers, wipes, diaper ointment/cream
- Gallon sized zip lock bags for dirty diapers and soiled clothing
- Towels and washcloths
- Comb and brush
- Nail clippper
- Travel bassinet. I can’t say enough about how essential this item is. It not only provides a place for baby to sleep safely, but also gives you a convenient location to lay your little one when you are busy getting ready. Moreover, although hotels often provide cribs free of charge, if you’re anything like me, there’s a pretty high chance you may not feel comfortable laying your precious baby in it (In my experience, they haven’t always been the cleanest). Here’s an awesome post from ThinkBaby.org on the Top 5 Travel Bassinets & Infant Beds if you’re in the market for one.
- Sleep sack/swaddle
- Passport (if needed. Domestic flights will usually let you fly with a birth certificate or immunization record, but be sure to check with your airline ahead of time). See below for tips on getting a passport for your little one
- Car seat
- Car seat base
- Carrier (like Baby Bjorn)
- Moby Wrap
- Portable sound machine for the car seat. This is super helpful in drowning out background noise to help keep baby asleep.
Just a note: as we learned from our first trip, never check the car seat base separately from the car seat, particularly on flights with connections. If you can gate check everything, please do. That way, if your luggage is lost, or if you end up spending the night somewhere other than your intended destination due to a missed or canceled flight, you at least have a way to get around safely with your baby.
Also, always ask if the flight is full once you’re at the gate. The gate agent may just be kind enough to give you an extra seat for the car seat, allowing you the option to put baby down and maybe even catch a nap!
Things to Keep Baby Calm/Entertained
- A favorite toy or book
Getting a Passport for an Infant
Check Out the following link for detailed information on obtaining a passport for Children under the age of 16: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/passports/apply-renew-passport/under-16.html
Here’s a quick Summary:
- Fill out form DS-11 (available at the link above)
- Provide proof of your child’s U.S. Citizenship. A birth certificate will suffice.
- Provide a photocopy of the proof of citizenship from step 2.
- Provide proof of parental relationship (the birth certificate from step 2 will suffice)
- Present parental ID such as a driver’s license or passport to the acceptance agent.
- Provide a front and back photocopy of ID from step 5.
- Parental Consent: Both parents must be present to authorize issuance of the child’s passport. If this is not possible, you must submit a notarized statement of consent form (available at the above link).
- Provide a photo meeting the specified photo requirements of your child against a white background (Reference above link).
- Submit required payment. A passport book is $80 and execution fee is $25.
Submit your completed application in person to a passport acceptance facility. Check out this link to find one near you: https://iafdb.travel.state.gov/
Stay tuned for part 2 of “Big Belly, Big House”! Missed part 1? Check it out here.
Do you have any tips for traveling with an infant? How about a travel horror story? Comment below, I’d love to hear about it!