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Seeking Travel Tips

Hi friends, we will be attending my sister’s wedding in Seattle in the fall, and I’m seeking travel tips for travelling with a 4 month old (Mochi) and a 10 month old (Dumplin’). We plan on staying for about 2 weeks. 

Specifically, I’m needing advice on:

– airplane travel for a flight that’s about 5 hours long (best time of day to fly, dealing with naps, meltdowns, feeding, checking baggage, bringing strollers, bringing car seats, carriers etc.)

– transportation to/from destinations (rent a minivan? Renting car seats/convertibles?)

– making sleeping easier on the babies (3 hour time zone difference, buy or rent cribs/pack and plays, are they able to bedshare if they’re used to sleeping alone?)

– toys (what is absolutely necessary? Rent or bring?)

– tips on crossing the border from Canada to the USA via vehicle

– cheap airlines for travel between Buffalo to Seattle (to compare with flying from Toronto to Vancouver)
Thanks a bunch!

18 thoughts on “Seeking Travel Tips

  1. Thatcher was three months on his first plane ride and he slept the entire time. We kept a pacifier with us and a bottle ready to offset the pressure in the cabin during take off/landing. He slept in a small travel basinet but if I did it again, I’d likely bring a rock-and-play. Sleep/Stroller shouldn’t count towards your allotted bags but check for your airline. (And if you can rent, I would. Just bring your own sheets if you prefer.)

    Ten months is a wee harder. We made a small bag with things they’d never had before for the plane: pipe cleaners, stickers, play dough, etc. He played with it for maybe half the flight. He slept the other half. Planes make my kids sleepy.

    We didn’t get to pick flight times but in our experience, day is better. The night time tends to throw ours off their sleep pattern significantly since they sleep on the flight but then wake up during the travel from airport to final destination.

    We fly JetBlue. They’ve gone out of their way to assign seats for our kids even if we don’t buy them a ticket. Only once have we actually had to hold an infant on our lap as a lap infant. We bring the car seats with us and if they are unable to use a seat, they check it at the gate. We’ve had them do this on United as well. I imagine this is a general airline policy, so if you’re not buying a ticket for Dumplin’ (or Mochi) ask as soon as you get to the gate if they have any extra seats and they are usually happy to give you one for free. 🙂

    We’ve only taken them on flights within the US but I think you need passports to travel to and from. Those can take a bit to get so if you do need them, I’d work on that first.

  2. 1. If you are bringing your own car seats check them at the gate. That way they are basically guaranteed not to get lost. If you check them earlier they may not make the plane. Check your airline, most let you bring 2 of 3 items free without charge per child (the 3 times being car seat, stroller or pack and play). It may work to pack a large bag with the pack and play in it with baby clothing, that way you don’t have to bother renting. (Renting makes me nervous because I’m never sure how clean they will be). As for feeding, feed during take of and landing if at all possible – this will help their ears with the pressure changes. Also, pay for the plus seats – the extra 4 inches of room is worth every single penny. And if you plan to use a carrier/wrap, they wont let the child be in the carrier during take off and landing (I think this is the dumbest rule in the world but they claim it’s so if something happens to parent they can get to baby, my thought process is that if something happens to mommy she’d drop the baby and baby would then be injured so carrier makes more sense, anyways, I’m yet to win that argument). Also, I found with our most recent trip a few weeks ago that the wrap made it impossible for me to move as there was no space between the seats and it was too squishy, hence the need for the plus seats.
    2. A rental car is going to be really helpful. You will be able to go anywhere you want, when you want. And most importantly if you forget something you can get to a store without too much hassle. I have no proof of it, but I am told car seats rentals suck, so we have always brought our own car seat.
    3. On our most recent trip we just didn’t do the time change, but we were only gone for a long weekend. So, we decided it would be easier on his little body just to keep the same schedule. Of course, depending on how long you will be there you might want to.
    4. Toys we brought a few and just kept it simple. And we didn’t bring any real books but put a few on our tablet. I hate the idea of screen time, but I also hated the idea of lots of books to pack.
    5. I am told that driving back into Canada they will require Canadian approved car seats, . I’m told going to the USA they don’t care.
    If you have any other questions let me know! I can tell yuo everything we’ve learned so far in our 5 flights with Baby MPB.

  3. No firsthand experience, but I know that almost all airlines allow one stroller and one carseat at gate check per ticketed passenger. So, you can use the stroller(s) through the airport and check it at the gate for free.

    Also, I’ve had two friends SWEAR by the dock-a-tot for their babies on trips. Apparently they just set them on the table, bed, or floor, and the babies snooze away. Not sure the age range, but 4 months would fit, for sure.

    No tips on in-flight entertainment, but I’ll be watching other comments for ideas!

  4. We have flown quite a bit with out little ones (2.5 and 1) my thoughts include;

    1.Rent a car. Makes life so much easier.
    2.Bring your own car seats. We checked them at the gate the first flight, then realized it was way too much work and I wasn’t that concerned about them not showing up. All other flights we checked at the curb and no issues with them showing up. Check everything you can at the curb. The less you have to bring through security, the easier. Gate check the stroller.
    3. Fly during the day, and just expect naps to be screwed up. No way to avoid it. The first night our kids were ready for bed extra early, then back on track with sleeping and naps.
    4. We bed shared with kids that typically sleep alone. No issues, specifically for the 4 month old.
    5. Don’t bring toys. Maybe a few small toys for the plane (Sofie, chew toys, most likely they will both sleep.) Plus, once you are there they will find other things to play with (spoons, boxes, etc.)
    6. We ferried from Washington to Vancouver Island with no issue. I don’t know car seats laws but getting across with a rental car was easy.

    I’ll chime back in if I can think of anything else.

    • Thanks for the tips! I’m glad your babes would bed share despite usually sleeping alone. We have such a strict bedtime routine for Dumplin’ that I don’t know if he’d go to bed in a shared bed. I also don’t want to have to go to bed at 7pm lol.

  5. We are getting ready to travel in July for the first time with 2 18 month olds and a 7 month old. The ONLY thing that we are sure about is taking a stroller, and everything else we are renting. Carseats, pack and play (if the hotel doesn’t have a crib available for Austin) and toys. You can just do a google search for your location and get everything you need there. I would just bring a handful of things on the plane but otherwise, get everything rented. A quick google search gave me this http://new.happylittletraveler.com/products.html

      • This is true! Some airlines charge up to $100 for an additional suitcase, so it really depends on how much you are taking…with 4 kids, 1 being an infant and 2 toddlers, it just amkes more sense for us to rent (well, for my parents to rent! LOL!)

  6. We flew when Gus was about 7 months and 10 months. 7 months was fine, 10 months we took a red eye one way and not the other and the red eye was easier. It was a 3 hr time change and he had no trouble. I’d rent a car. I refuse to travel with carseats so always ship one to my destination. I’m not sure if you know this but we learned that most airlines won’t put two lap babies in the same row. There is only one extra oxygen mask per row so you two might have to sit across the aisle from each other.

  7. We are just back from a 5.5h trip with a nine month old. Way there we flew red eye way back we flew daytime. he definitely slept more during the red eye flight, but we were lucky and there wasn’t much turbulence so he could stay in the bassinet. On previous flights (this was his 9th flight), we haven’t been so lucky and he’s had to sleep on me since when the seat belt signs go on the little ones have to come out of the bassinet. HOWEVER… and this was a big one for us, the red eye left at midnight, which meant his whole night of sleep was disrupted since we had to wake him up part way through the night to drive to the airport, clear security and board the flight. We did put him down for a nap in the stroller in between security and boarding, but I still felt bad about the disjointed night of sleep. He did fine however, and ended up grabbing cat naps as we explored the city once we arrived. On the way back, he did nap twice, but both were short naps, so we did a lot of walking up and down the aisles to entertain him. I echo what other people said: you can gate check a stroller and car seat per kid at the gate. If your car seat is airline approved and there are empty seats they will let you bring it on board on mount it in the spare seat. Favourite toys on this flight were straws, plastic cups, water bottles and moist towelettes still in plastic. Plus books, for reading when the seatbelt sign is on and we needed to keep him entertained and a crib mirror. Our little narcissist loved looking at himself and at us making faces.. Also, our guy is thin but long, and this is likely the last flight where he can fit lengthwise in a bassinet… each airline is different, but something to check. As for timechange, ours for this trip was 2h, but I would say it was no big deal– he went to bed a bit later on the first night, and we adjusted 30min a night after that. One our first flights with him he was 4m old, and getting ‘home’ was a 3h flight followed by an 11h flight. The 11h flight was overnight and he slept for about 9h, waking up only to feed. Was definitely easier than managing a 9m old… we are already dreading the 15h trip home in July with an 11m old.

  8. I agree with the person who said check as much as possible at the curb or the counter. We’ve never had anything lost and having hands free of gear is important. JetBlue was awesome to us as well. Generally people have been really kind when flying with a baby. I think a carrier/wrap is invaluable. And we always bring our own car seat – bring some kind of bag to put it in – some airlines sell them and some have nothing so be prepared. And most of all just remember you’re never going to see those people again – so if something happens just take a deep breath and do your best! (Oh and bring an extra shirt for you on the plane because sometimes babies aren’t the only ones that need a wardrobe change…)

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