Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Travel Tips {Plane Travel}

Another series on the blog -- this time travel related.  We plan to do our fair share of traveling while living in Spain, so my hope is to use this series to show you some tips and tricks we learn along the way! First up, plane travel:

I've had a few questions from friends about flying on the longer flights with Serafina.  And since we hope our friends (and family) with kids come visit -- this is for you!  There are plenty of flying with a baby/toddler/kid posts out there -- my personal favorites are Stephanie's posts about flying with an infant (I read and reread these the first time I flew with Serafina by myself).  I am no expert as we have only done one long haul flight with Serafina, but we have flown many times with her and most of those flights were 4-5 hours.  All these tips and tricks have worked for us on our flights and in the airports, keeping Serafina entertained and keeping her parents sane -- so here you go:

[And these tips are mostly for kids aged one to two years old -- once they hit that moving stage, you have to be a little more creative on entertainment.  Once they hit three, the tablet is your best friend!]

Gear -- Stroller + Carrier
We have a ring sling (which cannot go through security because of the metal ring, so I recommend packing this one) and the ergo 360 which is what we use when traveling.  Even if we have a stroller with us, we still wear Serafina through security and walking through the airport.  We use the stroller to hold our bags.  We received this stroller from our cousins who were no longer using it.  This stroller is perfect for travel -- it is large enough to hold our bags and its a great stroller to use when you arrive at your destination but also small enough that is folds up well and can easily be gate checked (which is what we do and what I recommend).  While expensive, we would have never bought this for ourselves but we are so thankful we have it -- it has become our "umbrella stroller" but still allows me to walk the cobble stones with ease!
[note: in the states, I can always wear Serafina through security no questions asked, they just require you to get your hands swabbed.  In Spain, I had to take her out of the carrier which was a pain and not something I expected.  I have been told that European airports are pretty hit or miss with babywearing -- so be warned that you may have to take baby out.]

Books: We packed a ton of books because Serafina loves reading and could seriously sit and listen to her favorite books for hours.  We knew it would calm her down while also entertain her.  We purposely picked books that were her favorites, but also ones that we could read over and over again without going crazy.  Our current favorites are Little Owl Lost and Barnyard Dance as well as any lift the flap books.

Toys: We also packed a few toys that were on the smaller side, that we knew could entertain Serafina while also not annoy us and the passengers around us (so we went for toys with minimal or no noise). Fred has been a favorite from our very first plane ride with Serafina when she was three months old -- and he has been on every trip since!  We also brought these wooden blocks emptied into a small make up bag (that I got at Target for like $2).  While Serafina didn't play with this on the plane, it was amazing to have during our long layovers in the airports.  She spent a lot of time sitting on the floor putting the blocks in and out of the bag.  It allowed for Trevor and I to rest and Serafina to be entertained -- I call that a win!

Blue Tape: this one deserves its own category!  I cannot claim this idea as my own but oh man was it a HUGE lifesaver on the awful flight to Madrid.  We would give Serafina pieces of the tape and she would stick it on and off the seat back -- it calmed her down, kept her quiet and finally stopped the crying.  A roll of blue tape will now always be in our carry on bags!

TV Shows: so while we do not let Serafina watch TV at home, we knew that we might have to up our ante at some point during our long day(s) of travel.  And on that third flight after her nap when she was so over being on a plane, we busted out some downloaded episodes of Daniel Tiger and it worked!  We picked a show that was somewhat educational and also that wouldn't annoy us.

We packed quite a few snacks.  We choose items that we knew were Serafina's favorites like sunbutter on a bagel, various Happy Family products like pouches/puffs and Cheerios.  I am so happy we had food on the plane because the food we were served on our long haul flight was just awful and  we all ended up eating what I had packed for Serafina!
[Note: you can bring pouches that are greater than 3oz through security but make sure you take them out of your bag and put in a bin -- we were never questioned when I did this.]

Other Tips
I think it goes without saying to pack enough diapers and wipes for the day (we go with one diaper per hour as well as a brand new package of wipes) and a travel changing pad.  All airplanes should have a bathroom with a changing table that folds down but be warned -- it is tiny!  Using the travel changing pad helps me keep things organized without having things fall on the floor.

Also pack the usual items that you'd have in your diaper bag -- I know that is different for everyone.  We also make sure we have enough: pacifiers, extra clothes, blankets, her lovey, and also any possible medicine we may need for her (Epi-Pens, Benadryl, Tylenol, etc.).  Pack an extra pair of clothes (including underwear) for you and anyone else you're traveling with -- this is for two reasons -- 1) if you get to your destination without your checked luggage, you at least have some clean clothes and 2) if your little one has a blow out or any other major issue, you all have extra clothes!

I always nurse Serafina on take off and landing, unless she is asleep.  This helps with the pressure on her ears and also calms her down if needed.

A note on having a lap infant on international flights (at least flights to or within Europe):  In the states, kids can sit on your lap until they are two years old.  The same goes for international flights, but you are required to use an infant seat belt.  This weird contraption attaches to your seat belt and goes around baby.  It adjusts pretty wide, so that is what we did so Serafina didn't feel like she was being buckled in and could move around fairly easily.  (We did have a seat for Serafina but chose to hold her because it was what she was used to and what seemed to make her more comfortable, rather than sitting her in the car seat in her own seat).

And of course, be flexible.  Flights get delayed, you have long layovers in airports that aren't kid friendly.... flying can be stressful but be prepared and flexible and it won't be so bad!

Have any other tips or tricks to add -- leave them in the comments!

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