Audrey is just shy of 13 months and I am prepping to take our 8th flight with her tomorrow. This list changes slightly with every flight because her interests change daily, but for the most part these are my MUST HAVES to stock my carry-on with .
1. Fawn Design Diaper Bag- My husband’s travel motto is, “if you can’t carry it, don’t bring it”. That ridiculous motto means I learned very early in our relationship that packing light is essential for travel with him. That has carried over to me packing for trips with Audrey. The Fawn Design backpack is my preferred diaper bag allowing me to be hands free. It’s incredibly roomy and deep allowing for me to stuff it with all things necessary for a flight and has plenty of pockets (10 to be exact). It fits comfortably under the seat for easy access and serves as a great make shift foot rest. I organize using packing cubes or zipped pouches, keeping toys, snacks, and diapers all separate. Organization is key when traveling with a little one, especially when traveling solo.
2. Slip On Diapers- We are no where near the potty training stage of life but slip on diapers are a life saver when trying to change a diaper in an airplane bathroom. Trying to change Audrey’s diaper in the comfort of my living room is an acrobatic exercise that normally involves tears, sweating, and feeling like I’ve added ‘crocodile wrestler’ to my resume. Attempting to do that in an airplane bathroom that is filthy and may not have a changing table is damn near impossible. That’s where pull on diapers come in. I can sit on the toilet, slip diaper off and then back on without the dramatic rolling around, screaming, and cry sesh. I tend to purchase overnight diapers for flights because they are more absorbent. I also have a no change rule while in flight unless it is a poo diaper. Ain’t nobody got time for changing 15 pee diapers in a dirty airplane bathroom closet.
**Mom Tip: Only pack enough diapers for travel day. Diapers can be purchased when you arrive at destination.
**Make diaper changing kits ahead of time. Easy to grab and you have a sealed bag for the dirty diaper. 1 gallon sized ziplock + 5-6 wipes in a sandwich sized ziplock + 1 diaper = Diaper Kit.
3. Toys- This list changes every time we fly as her interests change. I try to pack as minimal as possible and use a packing cube to organize my stash for easy access. Considering the length of the flight is important; I calculate 1 toy per hour in-flight and insist that the toys are quiet toys. Nothing is worse than the screaming baby with the singing toy for six hours. The night before our flight I think about what she played with the day prior and pack accordingly . ‘Toys’ may not necessarily be a toy, currently post-its and velcro entertain her so we count that in our toy bag.
For this flight we will include:
Books (touch and feel and Indestructible are her favs’)
Velcro Strips with felt
*Mom Tip: If you wrap the toys in tissue paper or an envelope it adds an additional element of surprise. When all else fails use what is in your 16 inches of space while contained on the flight; the window shade, cups, the safety card, and in-flight entertainment.
4. Snacks- When in doubt, feed them! I pack an arsenal of food when I go out to Target, you better believe that it doubles in size when we are anticipating a long day of travel. If their mouths are full, they aren’t crying. So keep it varied and full of options. I use a Bentgo Kids Box and stock it with fruit, turkey, cheese, and a PB&J sandwich. Other snacks we pack; yogurt pouch, Bamba, and Veggie Straws. Per TSA Guidelines you are permitted to carry more than the 3.4 oz liquid rule when traveling with a baby/toddler. I fill a vaccuum sealed water bottle with her milk to keep it cold and always have her water bottle full.
*Mom Tip: Drinking a bottle/sucking paci help relieve ear pressure. Begin feeding when you are on the runway and hear the engines revving up.
5. iPad- Let’s not have the no-screen debate. I am a semi-crunchy mom but airplane travel = survival mode. I stock my iPad with Audrey approved movies and shows. You can download directly to your device on Netflix if you have a subscription (who doesn’t?) or purchase using iTunes. I purchased kid-safe headphones for her and a headphone splitter so we can both listen. Because I don’t use the iPad at home for entertainment she hasn’t figured out games yet, but I have pre-loaded a few if I get desperate.
6. Antibacterial Wipes and Sanitizer- No explanation is needed. Airports are dirty, public bathrooms are dirty, and planes are dirtier. I wipe down every inch of my seat and surrounding areas before I get comfy. I could care less at the other passengers staring at me with confusion and find offering them a wipe to do the same breaks the ice.
7. Starbucks Gift Cards and Chocolate- Picture it…you finally get to your seat, you are watching other passengers boarding, and you see it…the Mom bun walking down the aisle with a baby strapped to her in a carrier already crying. She makes eye contact with you and smiles, indicating she is in your row. UGH! Yeah, I do it too…and I have a baby. So, I lighten the blow and pass out $5 Starbucks gift cards to surrounding passengers with a note, “Enjoy a coffee on the screaming baby when we land.” It breaks the ice and says, “I know this is going to suck, I am sorry” in not so many words. The chocolate goes to the flight attendants. Their job is HARD. Pick up a bag of chocolate from TJ or buy a Toblerone in the airport; hand it to them when you sit and say thank you. You’d be surprised how happy they get and you might even get a free glass of vino.
8. Medicine/Oils- I keep a small bag with infant Tylenol, infant Motrin, Benedryl, and lavender oil in my diaper bag at all times.
*Mom Tip: Put a dab of lavender oil on your wrists and chest. It will calm you and helps calm baby as you are in air.
9. Swaddle Blanket- We are wayyy past swaddle days, but thin muslin blankets are so helpful. It’s familiar to baby so your chances of sleep are better. You can hang it on the seat in front of you to create a mini-tent, you can wear it as a scarf for nursing, make-shift bib, a hammock to collect toys from hitting the floor, and if all else fails you can play a mean game of peek-a-boo.
*Mom Tip: Bring your child’s fav blanket/lovie. Travel can be overwhelming to a little one so familiarity is key to a smoother travel day.
10. Baby Carrier- When you have exhausted every other option and baby is still fussing/screaming, whip out the carrier, stand in the back of the plane, and do the Mom bounce. I navigate the airport with her in the carrier and my backpack on my back. I can weave in and out of people easily, my hands are free to hold my latte, and everyone is comfortable. I use the Lillebaby carrier which has fantastic back support and comfy straps.
Leave a comment with your travel must haves.