I was incredibly nervous in the weeks leading up to my trip to Arkansas with Evie. I was excited for the trip itself, but up-at-night-worried about the flights and travel. Like so many things in life, I was more worried than I needed to be and everything was fine. It was hard no question, but fine. I know other first time flying with baby moms probably want some expectation of how it could go so fair warning, I’m providing all the gross, hairy details.
The hardest part was getting checked in and through security. We were at the tail end of cold and had some projectile vomiting in her stroller while waiting to check in. It was pretty well contained though and I’d brought extra outfits of course (she went through all of them by the time we arrived in Arkansas). Getting through Security was a pain. There was no family line and so I had to break down the stroller, car seat, take off my shoes, & jacket, and load everything into the x-ray machine while balancing a baby with regular travelers behind us. And there is no long table on the other side to get unloaded so I was balancing a baby, dragging a stroller and kicking my car seat across the floor. It was a mess and several people pushed by until one nice guy offered to help. Yes, I realize it’s my choice to fly alone, to have a baby in the first place etc etc, but what happened to common courtesy?
Tip #1: If you’re traveling with a stroller frame and car seat, put those through the machine first — you’ll have time to open them up while waiting for your bags to come through.
We caught a break on the way out and the flights weren’t full so I was able to bring the car seat on board. It meant two under seat areas to store my backpack and the diaper bag and Evie slept the whole time (minus a brief cry when I jostled her getting her car seat buckled in). The flight was terrifying, cloudy with a side of lightning, but E slept through it while I white knuckled the arm rests.
In a cool twist, the woman in front of Evie was named Louise (E’s middle name) and was on her first flight ever at 80 years old. They gave her a bottle of champagne. I joked around asking where Evie’s was for her first flight. No bubbly for babies, but she does have a pair of Southwest wings!
She did great during our St Louis layover and predictably filled her diaper while boarding. Luckily she was in her car seat so any leaks could wait the 60 min flight into Little Rock. She slept until descent when she woke up, a little surprised and tugging her ear a bit, but otherwise fine.
I was nervous again for the flight back knowing it was unlikely it would be empty enough for a car seat and that we had basically no layover.
Tip #2: If you have little to no layover then gate check your stroller/car seat through to your end destination. You pick it up at the gate without having to collect and recheck halfway through.
This came in handy as I needed all the minutes I had to deal with a leaky explosive diaper that occurred at the end of the first leg of our journey home. Luckily I had a blanket with me I could wrap around her until we got to the bathroom containing the mess and sparing fellow passengers the visual.
Tip # 3: Bring extra clothes for baby and you and an extra blanket!
Other than that the first leg was great. A gentleman realized I was traveling alone and brought my stroller frame to the gate for me and put my backpack overhead for me. In fact on all my flights someone offered to get or store my bag for me. Thank you, it was beyond appreciated. Arkansas TSA it must be also noted were so nice and helpful (it helped that the airport was very empty so I didn’t feel rushed). Anyway, Evie was awake the entire flight and was over the moon. She spent the entire flight singing to herself, plastered to the window.
Evie may not be able to remember these trips, but I will remember the fun we had and her reaction to new sights and experiences and that makes the hassle and stress so worth it.
I was extremely tired on our last leg from St Louis to Chicago. As was Evie, she fussed a little before falling asleep in my arms wrapped in her quilt. I was sitting next to a…precocious…8 year old. A little glimpse into what I have to look forward to. She meant well though and her mom was very good about explaining to her that you can’t touch babies faces and you have to let them sleep. Can I take this time to mention the genius of owning a car? I was so happy that T was waiting at the airport so we could just get in the car and go. Brilliant!
As soon as we got off the plane and Evie was situated in her car seat she started smiling and giggling uncontrollably.
Somehow she just knew we were home. And she was thrilled to see Daddy waiting for us at baggage claim.
Tip #4: If someone is meeting you text them a photo of your bags and your flight info so they can grab your luggage for you. Chances are that by the time you make it to baggage claim after collecting the stroller, changing the baby etc, your bags will be on the carousel.
We had an amazing trip, and as smooth a traveling experience as I could have hoped for. I’m grateful to the people that helped us out and commented on her good behavior and made me feel like I was doing my best and succeeding.
Tip #5: Just do your best and try to relax. If you’re having fun so will baby. Buy a postcard in each new state/country and jot a note about why you were there. Bring a new toy to make it special. It will all happen like it happens so be as prepared as you can and then just go with the flow! Everything will be fine.