Aloha from Hawaii! To my blog readers who live on these beautiful islands, please know that I am insanely jealous of you.
We have just taken our ninth flight with Oliver, and I think we’ve finally gotten the hang of how to manage the baby and all of his requisite gear. On our Christmas vacation, I felt like we had a ridiculous amount of stuff (okay, we did), and it was all very poorly packed. On a subsequent trip to Toronto, we did much better, but there was still a lot of baggage for me to handle when I had to return to Vancouver on my own, without J.
When travelling with an infant, most airlines will allow, free of charge, one checked bag per fare-paying passenger and two pieces of baby gear for the lap-held infant. Some airlines allow an additional checked bag for the infant when flying internationally, but if not, it generally costs only $20 to check an extra bag. Passengers are also entitled to one piece of carry-on luggage plus one “personal item” (purse, laptop bag, briefcase, etc.) each.
With that, here is how we packed for a two-week trip:
1. Large suitcase — all of my belongings, J’s toiletries, extra space for bringing stuff (e.g. macadamia nuts :)) back home.
2. Duffel bag — Oliver’s portable crib & bedding, play blanket, cloth diapers/liners/wipes/bags/detergent (yes, we travelled with cloth again!), clothing, toiletries, baby monitor, white noise machine.
3. Stroller bag — stroller, portable high chair, bib, placemat.
1. Infant car seat — we prefer to gate check the seat because it maximizes the odds that it actually makes it on to the flight and safely to our destination. We pack ours into this handy reusable travel bag to keep it clean and reduce the waste associated with plastic airline bags. If you pay for an infant/child airfare it is best to bring the seat onboard the aircraft. Not only does that give your baby a comfortable and familiar seat, it is actually the safest way for him or her to fly.
1. Diaper bag — diapers, wipes, wet bags, change pad (we always bring some disposable ones in addition to the reusable one, for use in gross washrooms), hand sanitizer, two changes of clothes, flannel cloths (for burps, nose wipes, etc.), two lightweight blankets.
2. Backpack (35 litre) — laptop/iPad, books, headphones, baby toys, Ergo carrier, sweaters.
4. Small suitcase — J’s belongings, minus his toiletries.
Note: Some people prefer to gate check the stroller so they can use it to transport baby and carry-on luggage through the airport, but we find that it’s less hassle to get rid of it before passing through security, and to just use the Ergo carrier to carry Oliver. Also, beware that many airlines have a size/weight limit on gate-checked items, and will only take umbrella style strollers at the gate.
After checking the big bags and the stroller, we were left with the baby, four bags and a car seat to carry through the airport. This was not nearly as bad as it sounds, though I personally voted for paying the $20 to check J’s carry-on suitcase (he declined). I carried Oliver in the Ergo and carried my purse over one shoulder and the (empty) car seat in my hand. J pulled his suitcase and carried the diaper bag on a shoulder and the backpack on his back. All in all, it was quite efficient and manageable, and will probably become our default set-up.
Have you done any air travel with a baby? What tips do you have for packing and managing all of the baby’s belongings?