Monday, April 27, 2009

Infant Travel Issues

In early June (less than six weeks away!) we will be traveling cross-country for our college reunion. (Yes, S and I met in college. We actually met and became friends the very first week of freshman year. He asked me out early sophomore year, but I said no. Several months later, he asked again, and I caved in and said yes. Since we were friends for all of college, even before we were dating each other, we each know all of the other's college ex-boy/girlfriends. It's useful to have seen each other's dating history in person, because we both know that each other's past doesn't hold anyone at all interesting. For instance, S is totally confident that he's better than the guy I dated who's now an Ivy League law professor, since he remembers how that guy was kind of a jerk in college.)

Anyway, we'll be flying cross-country in a few weeks. The last time we traveled with LL was back in December, when he was roughly half as old as he is now. At that time, LL wasn't on much of a schedule yet, he was 100% breast fed, and he could sleep anywhere if we just popped him into a sling. We were staying with family, and we rarely left the house except to visit other family members, or for very short outings, by car, in between naps.

This trip is going to be very, very different. LL is older now, he's used to a set schedule of naps in his crib, and he's 100% bottle fed. While we do have a few friends in the area, we don't have any family members. We're going to be "out in the world" for much of the trip. The whole thing seems a lot more complicated.

We do have a few things working in our favor. One of my high school friends lives very close to my old campus, so we're staying with her, rather than in a hotel. And since she didn't go to college with us, and therefore won't be attending our reunion, she has agreed to babysit on a few of the evenings, so that S and I can go out with our college friends without needing to be home by LL's bedtime. She has also agreed to help us to round up some baby items (eg, a pack'n'play for LL to sleep in) so that we don't have to lug absolutely everything with us on the airplane. Still, there are several travel issues that I don't know to handle. Keep in mind that we're flying to a crowded major metro area, staying in a neighborhood that is a short commute away from the university, and spending our days mainly on a fairly urban (but wonderfully walkable) campus.
  • Last time we flew, LL nursed on take-off and landing, and slept the entire rest of the airplane ride. This time, none of that is likely to happen. We can make multiple bottles on the plane, but LL isn't really into the multiple-small-meals anymore, so I don't think that we'll be able to get him to eat during every pressure change. Does a pacifier work to relieve ear pressure, too? He also doesn't sleep as much anymore, and he gets antsy sitting on our laps for long stretches. How do you keep an 8-month-old from screaming on an airplane?

  • How do you handle infant carseats and taxis? In my experience, lots of taxis don't have seat belts, and I've never looked for LATCH attachments.... How do you get a carseat secured in a taxi?

  • If LL is in his infant car seat, then when we get where we're going, we can just put the carrier onto his stroller. But LL might have outgrown his infant seat by then. (He's getting really long.) But if he's in a convertible carseat instead, what do we do with it when we get out of the taxi? Lug it around the city all day?

  • One possible carseat solution is to just leave the carseat behind and take public transportation everywhere, since this particular city has an excellent public transit system. But the city where we live right now has horrible public transit, so I've never navigated public transit with an infant, and I'm not sure what the protocol is. Am I correct in assuming that we can just hold LL on our laps on buses and subways? Any problem with lugging a stroller on public transit?

  • LL is currently eating six bottles/day. We're hoping that he'll have dropped one of these by the time we go, but still... how many bottles do we pack? They're kind of bulky to put in a suitcase, no? But if we only bring a few, then we'll have to find somewhere to wash bottle parts during the day, when we're out of the house, and that seems awkward, too.

  • Since LL started napping in his crib, we've never been "out" for an entire day. LL takes three naps/day, which keeps him happy and mellow. He's starting to occasionally skip his third nap, so he might have outgrown that one by the time we go, but we'll still want to make sure that he gets at least his two naps every day. What do we do to keep him on schedule? Stay home until both naps are done? Run out and back again between naps? Skip a nap and hope that he doesn't melt down too much? Cross our fingers that we'll get him to nap in his stroller, even though he's usually unwilling to nap if there's new stuff to see?

  • We're facing a three-hour time change. LL is very very very used to his nap times and bedtimes. What do we do? I've seen a few suggestions, but I'm not sure if any of them work. Start transitioning him to the new time zone a few days before we leave? (Seems like it would be very tough.) Keep him up a lot that first day and try to transition him all at once? (Again, seems tough, because of the direction we're flying, and because of how very crabby he's likely to get.) Keep him on our home time zone, even though it will mean that he's waking and sleeping at odd times? This last one seems easiest, especially since we'll only be gone for four days, but I don't know if it works.
S and I are really looking forward to this trip, since it's been a very long time since we've been back to our old college town together, and there are a lot of college friends that we haven't seen in ages. But the thought of being far away from home while LL is cranky and out-of-sorts the entire time, from lack of sleep and total disruption of his routine and nowhere to quietly play, makes me want to curl up in a corner.

If anyone out there has experience with any of the above, I'd love to hear suggestions.


  1. I have no experience in this. But I will be thinking of you and hoping things work out in your favor.

    *Paci's do work for take off/landing. Any type of sucking works

  2. I have some thoughts on a few of these issues and will email you rather than leaving a super long comment.


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