Something that I can clearly recall when I was pregnant with Te Kanawa is, when people would find out that I was pregnant, the first thing that would fly out of their mouth was, “Say goodbye to traveling.” These words instantly instilled fear into my heart about one of my great loves, I love to travel and experience new places and cultures. I grew up traveling with my family, in fact some of my most precious memories are of our family home in Baja, Mexico. I instantly started to regret not traveling more before having a baby. I had a long list of places that I wanted to experience and the ease at just picking up and going would be missed. According to people, I would now have to worry about everything needed to travel with a baby and more importantly, a crying baby and annoying other travelers along the way. I could just picture myself on a flight with a crying baby in my arms and trying frantically to soothe him while getting stern stares from nearby passengers.
It just so happened that the opportunity to go to Kauai with my Grandma fell right into our laps this past July. The plan was that I would fly with my son Te Kanawa and Grandma, and then my husband Ara would meet up with us the following week for five days. It was very last minute and we had just about a week to prepare ourselves, I even considered cancelling several times. Why? Because I was so terrified of flying with Te Kanawa. I already struggled a lot with flying when it came to turbulence (let’s just say that I’m a master prayer when I fly), but adding a fussy baby threw my anxiety through the roof! The only thing that kept me on board was the thought of his first ocean experience being in that turquoise water that I love. I searched online like a maniac for tips and suggestions for flying with a young infant, Te Kanawa was only two and a half months at the time. I had questions that needed to be answered. Do I bring my boppy pillow? Should I use a carrier? Do I need my breast pump? Can I use my breast pump on the plane? Do they have a changing table on board? The questions went on and on. Of course, I found information and tips about why you should do such and such, and then I would find more information about why you SHOULDN’T do such and such. To say that I was confused and overwhelmed was an understatement. I eventually put my mommy pants on and made some decisions on my own. I WOULD bring my Boppy pillow on board, I would be using my stroller, and I wouldn’t be bringing my breast pump to use during the flight. I decided that the comfort of my baby and myself was the most important thing. If I annoyed a few travelers along the way, so be it, at least my sweet son would be (or at least I hoped) happy. When we arrived at the LAX airport, we dropped off our big luggage and then headed for the security check. My anxiety started to build up when it was my turn to greet the security officer and meet my embarrassing fate of taking forever to get through the metal detector with my stroller, car seat, baby bag, and boppy pillow all while holding my sleepy bubba. I was pleasantly surprised to find out just how helpful surrounding strangers were. I loaded up my poor Grandma with the packed baby bag as I prepared to send my stuff through the detector, this was when a nice man helped me take apart my stroller and car seat while a woman held my boppy pillow to allow me to hold my son as I took my sandals and cardigan off. Eventually we made it through security without experiencing any frustration from fellow travelers and I could joyfully mark that off my checklist.
Next on the list was the flight itself! We dropped off the stroller and car seat right outside of the plane with the help of another stranger who took it all apart for us. As we boarded, we had no idea if we would be in middle seats surrounded by others or on the side in our own little world. We ended up being the middle section but had an aisle seat which I took. I got comfortable with the boppy pillow and laid my son down on it. Everything I had read said to feed your baby on the way up or at least have them sucking on a pacifier to help with their ears. By some kind of beautiful miracle, I was able to time out his feeding perfectly for the take off (I feed on demand, he’s not on a set schedule yet). I used my comfy Milk Snob cover and breastfed the entire way up without even a hint of a cry! When he was finished feeding, he gave a good loud burp and drifted off to sleep. We had almost six hours to account for in which he could cause havoc at his will, but thus far everything was going good. After about three hours of sleep, he woke up ready for another meal and I did the same. I covered up with my cover and breastfed him again…until he let it rip. I winced at the impressive sound and knew that he for sure had blown out his diaper. It was time to face the next challenge…changing a diaper on a moving plane. I went to the one bathroom that had a changing table and went to work, though the bathroom was very small, I was able to get him changed clothes and all. (I forgot to mention how helpful the flight attendants were, they checked in on us every so often and made sure we had everything we needed and that we were comfortable.) Once again I got comfortable with my boppy and played with bubba for a while. He was all smiles and full of curiosity as he looked around. Eventually he fell asleep again (with no cries, woohoo!!) and we made it through the rest of the flight. I let him sleep on the descent into Kauai as he sucked on his pacifier. When we landed, I thought to myself, why in the heck was I so scared? Everyone around us was so helpful and adored my son, we even received compliments on how well of a traveler he was and at such a young age.
The rest of the trip was a dream, even with some fussy moments. I actually waited until Ara joined us to let Te Kanawa touch the ocean for the first time, it was such a beautiful moment, especially because he liked it. We went on sightseeing drives, hikes, and had many wonderful beach days with our son. The following week I felt comfortable enough to fly with my son to Utah for a short two-day trip alone. Again, we received plenty of help from kind strangers, and Te Kanawa did great! I learned that traveling with a baby is 100% possible, and dare I say, easy! You go with the flow and accept the kindness of others who offer their help. That really made the difference, seeing how eager others were to help a new mom instead of showing annoyance or rudeness like I was told to expect. Don’t let such a wonderful journey like motherhood be hindered by the words of someone else. Take encouraging words and let the rest go. Now when people mention to me that traveling will be almost impossible, I let them know that we’ve already started our fun traveling adventures and plan on continuing them. You are in charge of how your motherhood journey goes and most importantly, your attitude towards it. You can still travel and enjoy new places. From my own experience, I find it even more rewarding because you get to experience it with your sweet baby! Have fun with it, thrive together as a family and make beautiful memories!
Some Tips For The Flight:
- RELAX and take a breath, it will be okay.
- Wear shoes that can slip on and off without needing help to get through security. (I wore sandals)
- If you plan on breastfeeding, bring whatever makes you feel comfortable on the flight.
- If you love your Boppy pillow, bring it!! (We were SO comfortable)
- Don’t be afraid to ask the flight attendants for help! (Like if you need a bottle warmed)
- Feeding your baby on the ascent and descent definitely helps them. (Or a pacifier)
- Don’t worry about fellow travelers, focus on the wellbeing of your baby and yourself.
“If happiness is the goal- and it should be, then adventures should be a priority.”-Richard Branson
P.S. Please share any tips or tricks you have for traveling with an infant!