When my son Hunter was 4 months old we decided to travel from Maryland to Arizona to visit part of my wife’s family. There was a lot concern right from the start of this plan. How will he handle the plane? How will we handle him? Can we pack everything he needs? But we wanted to ensure Hunter got to meet his aging great grandparents and waiting until he was older may not have been the best bet.
The first thing we did was look into what baby items could be acquired by the family members in Arizona. They were able to borrow things like a pack-n-play and stroller from friends. This greatly cut down on the bulk items we needed to pack for the trip. They also purchased diapers, wipes, and baby shampoo which further reduced how much we needed.
So I joined my wife and her mother on a cross country flight with our little baby. We opted for direct flights to keep the whole trip as short as possible. We also carried hand sanitizer to keep the travel germs to a minimum.
Not needing a stroller allowed me to wear Hunter in a front-facing, backpack style carrier through the airport and shuttle busses. I researched details about how baby supplies were handled at the security screenings. That advanced information, coupled with being redirected to an express lane because of the baby, allowed for a quick and easy pass through security.
For the plane, we prepared a bottle for take off and landing. The hope was the bottle at takeoff would help him sleep through a good part of the flight. The second bottle we hoped would help pop his ears as we descended in Phoenix. We packed the toys that held is attention the longest and I loaded up my iPad with a few baby cartoons. This kept him entertained when he wasn’t sleeping.
Now, the entertaining part. My wife and mother-in-law are very nervous flyers to begin with. On the way to Arizona we hit a lengthy patch of turbulence. The fasten seatbelt sign was on for most of an hour and even the flight attendants were buckled into their seats. It was in the midst of all this that Hunter decided to fill his diaper with a very smelly load. We attempted to wait out the turbulence but realized that the smell was so bad it could make people sick who were already on edge by the turbulence.
My wife and mother-in-law were already white knuckled and stressed by the flight conditions so I took Hunter and the diaper bag carefully to the back of the plane. The flight attendant seated next to the lavatory saw my predicament, unbuckled and opened the door for me. She apologized for not being able to help me any further and wished me luck. As the plane continued to bounce and jiggle, I proceeded to strap Hunter to the changing table and change a very messy diaper.
My wife and mother-in-law were certain we would return to our seats both covered in poop. Not only did I manage to keep us clean but I also relieved myself while in the lavatory. It was my first true superhero dad moment and a story all three of us continue to tell.
The SAHD truth is that traveling can be stressful even without babies. But, with a lot of planning, it can be a successful adventure.
Please feel free to add your travel considerations in comments below!