I am not sure which was stronger: my dreams about traveling with our growing family… or my inability to stay put for very long. Either way, when our newest addition was 10 weeks old, Ben and I decided it was time for us to start showing our little love the world.
Buying the Tickets
The first things we had to consider: which flight and lap vs. carseat.
The flight was actually easy to pick. 1st flight of the day, direct flight, less than 3 hours. We also wanted a destination we knew intimately, so we chose the beach where we got married in Florida.
Lap or carseat? That was a harder choice. We chose carseat. There were lots of considerations, but the deciding one was safety. We also thought it would be a more familiar and less stimulating environment, encouraging him to sleep on the flight.
What I learned: if you get your Little One a ticket, make sure to put the carseat at the window. It is safest for everyone in the event of an evacuation!
Check-in & TSA Security
It seems my carry-on only, mobile boarding pass days are over for now. Babies require SO MUCH STUFF! So now we need to get to the airport an hour earlier. But what really surprised me is that United did not require any ID for our son. (That is actually a little scary, right?)
Big perk though? We still got to use our CLEAR and TSA Pre, so getting through security was a breeze.
Note: For ID and Global Entry, international travel is obviously different.
Breastmilk and Security
I was a bit nervous, but breastmilk is actually a breeze to get through security. I did politely ask the TSA officer to change into clean gloves. I brought a soft-sided watertight cooler and declared it with the transportation security officer as soon as I got to screening. The security officer took one bottle and ran it through a machine and I was off. That easy! For the official guidelines, check out this link.
Note: Your cooler counts as a carryon. However, your pump is medical device so it does not count as a carryon! But be ready to show this link to explain it to confused TSA or gate agents.
Finally boarding the plane is the part of travel where I get giddy & the journey seems to start. With an infant, you are allowed to pre-board. However, a sweet restless little one may not actually like sitting still while everyone else gets on the plane. When traveling with two people, you can ask the gate agent if one can pre-board with all the bags and stuff (So. Much. Stuff.) while the other stays with the baby until after everyone else has boarded. They do not have to say yes and may have good reasons for not allowing you to do this, but if it gives you one less battle to fight it is worth a try!
“As soon as I saw you, I knew a grand adventure was about to happen.”
You Are Not Alone!
As a new parent, doing all these things that were once routine are suddenly new and intimidating again. And you never wanted to be the parent with the crying child in seat 8A, right? Probably the biggest thing I learned: you are now part of a tribe of traveling families. For the first time, we used the family room in the United Club and we met other families and were able to trade tips, what worked/didn’t work, celebrate victories (yay for blowouts after security instead of 5 minutes earlier!) and lament what didn’t go as planned. And when you are getting the stink eye from non-parents, you can glance around and realize there are way more looks of compassion.