It’s no secret that we fly, a lot! Oakley went on 55 flights while I was pregnant and before her six month birthday she will be on nearly 30 different planes. All of which Josh and I have traveled together for, until this last trip where I went to visit my best friend in Indiana while Josh was traveling for our outdoor company. A lot of things went wrong on this trip so believe me, if I could handle this trip- you can handle yours flying solo with your baby!

Traveling with a Baby

Oakley is 5.5 months old, sits on her own, but obviously is not mobile YET, even though she is getting very close. We also started flying with her at 8 weeks old so she is no stranger to plane rides. Josh and I have been trying to find the best balance of layovers, which stroller to bring, etc and our last trip to Nashville we ironed everything out to fly flawlessly with her. Obviously flying with two parents = two sets of hands, someone can hold the baby while the other goes to the bathroom on the flight, someone can hold the baby while someone else makes the bottle, etc. Flying solo is a completely different beast to tackle.

We have all of our current tips and tricks when it comes to travel on a separate blog, here

My Plan

I am a planner by nature. As we have flown many times with her before, I had a rough idea on what I would need to prep ahead of time knowing I wouldn’t have an extra set of hands on this trip. I did not want to bring a stroller as I didn’t think I would be able to hold her and fold the stroller up to be gate checked on my own. I also didn’t want to have to wait at the bottom of the jet bridge for it in the dead of winter (if we were both traveling, one parent waits for the stroller and the other takes the baby to the airport where it’s heated). I decided that wrapping her would be the best option so I would at least have two hands and one less item to mess with.

Typically when we fly, I ask for hot water when it’s about 20 minutes before she will need another bottle. Mixing a bottle on board and needing to get into the diaper bag for the formula and carefully mixing hot water in a bottle can be done on your own but it’s a very stressful situation when you don’t have someone to pass the baby too. Easy if she sleeping, not so easy if she is squirming around. Because of this, I had luke warm water in my bottles ready to go. Ideal? Not really but better than nothing if two bottles were needed. I also had one bottle at all times ready to go with 8oz for her.

This may seem overboard but to me, completely normal. I usually am the person on the flight that has to us the bathroom at least once because of all the liquids I drink. When you are solo traveling, there isn’t anywhere to place your baby in an airplane bathroom if you have to go. So I paced my liquids to ensure I wouldn’t need to pee on board the flight. Obviously in any airport, companion or family restrooms are a parent’s dream. But on board, very, very difficult!

Another item I brought that I will be bringing in the future was a large cardigan to lay on the ground for tummy time / play time while we waited for the flight. With airports being extremely vacant, there’s always a gate either next to your gate or across the way that is empty so I took her to an empty gate to play so she could stretch her legs and get a little tired before we boarded. I also would like to note that if you are used to traveling with two people and you do a solo trip, allot for extra time for things like checking in, checking bags, etc.

What Actually Happened

I am very thankful for this trip and the hellish adventure that it was because no other solo trip will ever be this difficult for me, EVER. I try to plan flights around naps and bedtime so our original plan was to leave Des Moines around 5pm, land in Dallas at 7pm, and she would sleep the flight to Indy and the entire car ride to my friends and go right to bed once we got to her house around midnight (time change, driving, etc). This DID not happen. Not even close.

I broke one of two zippers on our car seat travel bag before I even got into the airport. Luckily it held together while traveling but stressful to say the least with a baby hanging off your chest. I don’t think I have ever sweat more in my life.

Our first flight out of Des Moines was delayed, therefore we missed our connecting flight through Dallas. We had to stay the night at the DFW airport hotel (without any of our bags because they were being transferred to our flight in the morning).

She hardly slept because she didn’t have any of her bedtime items. She blew through her original outfit the morning of our second flight, leaving me without a backup outfit. She also went through a lot more diapers than I assumed she would have, as I didn’t assume we were spending the night in Texas.

Our second flight out of Dallas had a medical emergency on board when we were near St Louis so we needed to land there. We were sitting for about an hour before we were cleared to leave again. Once we got to Indy, everything was smooth sailing. Two days later, Iowa gets a snow storm with 15 inches of snow. I decided to move my flight back 5 hours to ensure that we could land, no more delays, no sleeping in an airport hotel at O’Hare, and that we could actually drive home safely.

Lessons Learned

Pack extra diapers, way more than you think you would need. Pack their pajamas in the diaper bag just in case you have a night stay somewhere you weren’t expecting. Try to only carry a diaper bag and not a secondary purse- something I really wish I would have done!