The First Time Taking a Plane Trip out of the Country with a Baby

March 22, 2015

in Jamaica, traveling with kids

I’ve written on the blog before that I am a nervous traveler. Despite having taken my first flight as  a baby, traveling a lot for previous jobs, taking multiple long-haul flights between Australia and the US and journeying to far-flung, exotic places like China, I’m still a nervous traveler. Add an infant to the mix, and the wiry nerves explode.

At the time we booked the trip to Jamaica for a college friend’s wedding, the idea of taking a 7-month-old on a four-hour flight made sense. We’d already taken Finn traveling, including a road trip to the Finger Lakes, but never on a plane. In the days leading up to our departure the Saturday after Thanksgiving, I thought, What kind of very public torture have I signed up for? 

The plane ride

So, the scariest part first.

Our flight was at 9:30 a.m.–plenty of time to get Finn up and ready to go for an international flight. We got up around 5:30 and Finn slept for most of the car ride to the airport. We took the advice of others and fed him close to takeoff and made sure he had a clean diaper to minimize any triggers for fussiness. We also gave him a pacifier to help with the change in air pressure.

Baby in plane seat with dad

Our boy was really good! He naturally fussed a little bit at points but never had a full-on meltdown. And one thing I totally forgot to consider–he wasn’t the only little one on the plane. The collective cries of all the kids meant no one baby was the singular subject of glares and stares. There were two tough parts: having to have the baby strapped and facing you for takeoff and the small size of the changing tables in the bathroom. Other than that, it was a pretty uneventful four-hour flight–and the ride home was very much the same.

The clunky stuff

It’s often said once you have a kid you can never easily go anywhere again. Even just going out to get a bite to eat in your neighborhood requires packing a bag full of diapers, an extra outfit, cloths and bibs, food…not to mention the stroller and/or the baby carrier. We made the call to keep the stroller at home for the trip and take our baby carrier instead, but we definitely needed a car seat. Thankfully, we have a brand of car seat that you can use without its clunky base, so we were able to simply check the seat at the gate and then buckle it into the cars that took us to and from the airport. As for sleeping arrangements, the room we rented came with a crib so no need to tote a Pack ‘n Play. However, because Finn was a bit unwell from teething and the change in weather/temperature, he mostly slept in bed with me for the week.

Getting summer clothes in winter 

Most grown people can simply pull out their summer clothes for a trip to a warmer climate. Not so for a baby. Finn had long since outgrown most of his summer clothes by our trip so I had to buy him new shorts, new swimming trunks and a new rasher for our trip to Jamaica. Finding clothes out of season proved to be more difficult than I’d thought, but I hit the jackpot with Kohl’s. Though I packed extra outfits for Finn, he wound up spitting up quite a bit in Jamaica. Thankfully, we were at an all-inclusive resort with laundry service!

Baby teething on ring Baby on beach chair

Stuff for the beach

Our resort was full of beach chairs with umbrellas, so while we packed plenty of sunscreen and hats for Finn, we were able to keep him out of the sun. He had just learned to crawl the week before we left, but due to also popping his first two teeth (so many milestones!), he was a little less active than normal. He was happy to just be held by people while sitting on the beach chairs and play with some small toys spread out on a blanket.

Beach in Jamaica

Overall, we had a great, not-so-scary first major trip with our baby. What made it even better was that our mostly childless friends were more than happy to hold and play with Finn, and the resort staff was very engaging with all the small children there. Finn has since been on a plane ride to Phoenix alone with me (more on that trip later) and will take his next trip in May when we fly to New Orleans for Jazz Fest to celebrate Brendan’s 40th birthday and back to Phoenix to meet our new nephew who is due any day.

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