FIRST TIME INFANT TRAVEL TIPS

SAN DIEGO 2018
As first time parents and avid travelers, we've always wondered what it's like traveling with a 3 month old infant. Then the perfect mini vacay opportunity came our way in the form of a wedding invitation to San Diego. We couldn't resist saying "Heck YES!"

But wait - What to bring? What to expect? How to prepare?

These were the questions that I had asked fellow mamas in the Instaworld. Many thanks to these amazing mamas: Ahline, Emlyn, Yi Xuan, Carmelita, Janie, Elaine, Sandy, Jade, Meg, Jensine.

With these mamas' personal experiences, coupled with our own, our 4 day mini vacay to San Diego from Austin turned out better than expected! Traveling with an infant isn't all that bad. In fact, many have said that there's no better time to travel than RIGHT NOW! It's so much easier to carry an infant everywhere (Everyone says a walking baby is an added travel challenge, especially a 1 year old with a short attention span!), an infant tends to sleep more at this stage, plus, it's free to fly for kids under 2 years old. Sure, you won't be able to zip through things as fast and you'll be taking more breaks than ever before. But you'll find that it's a different, slower kind of enjoyment.

Here's how we did it!
SAN DIEGO 2018
// WHAT TO PACK + BRING //
- 1 Medium-sized Luggage
- Packing Cubes
- Car Seat
- Car Seat Travel Bag
- Stroller (Optional: Carry-On friendly, Stroller Cover Bag)
- Pump (Mostly for Pumping and Dumping)
- 1 Baby Bottle
- Baby's Clothes in 1 Large Ziplock Bag
- Mama + Papa's Clothes / Basic Toiletries
- 2 Muslin Blankets
- Baby Changing Pad (Also stores 2 Diapers, Wipes and Extra Onesie)
- Baby Wipes
- 20-30 Diapers (Depends on how often you change infant per day)
- 1 or 2 Baby Covers (To avoid blow outs)
- Baby Wrap
- 2 Carry-Ons for HER (1 Small Backpack + 1 Large Shoulder Bag)
- 1 Carry-On for HIM (1 Backpack)
- A copy of Baby's Birth Certificate (A hard copy or a cellie photo)
- OPTIONAL: Laptop and DSLR (For V's work + My Travel Photography)

We are minimalist packers and only pack what we need. Mix 'N Match clothing and basic toiletries all went into the luggage, with extra room to spare for other baby things like diapers and wipes. This is our first time packing EVERYONE'S clothes in the same luggage and it totally made our life easier, as we also had to carry the Car Seat and Stroller AND Baby. Both the Car Seat Travel Bag and Stroller have shoulder straps to make carrying easy. I had 2 Carry-Ons: A backpack to carry my DSLR and Changing Pad, as well as a big purse for travel necessities (cellphone, wallet, chapstick, muslin blanket, baby socks). Vince's Microsoft Surface Book and Baby Pump went into his own backpack.

SIDE NOTE: We also brought along a baby bottle filled with milk for a "Just In Case" moment to the airport/airplane, but honestly, we could do without it. We didn't use it and ended up dumping it once the milk reached the 6-7 hour Room Temperature mark. Though we did fill the bottle with milk throughout the trip, for times when Vince took over feeding while I needed to nap in our hotel room.

WHAT OTHER MAMAS SAY: Hold off on packing diapers and just buy them at final destination! Also, most major airlines don't check weight on Strollers or Car Seat Bags, so fill them up with other items to avoid a heavy luggage. Speaking of Car Seat Bags and Stroller Bags - some come with wheels for added convenience.
SAN DIEGO 2018
// BEFORE AIRPORT //
Since our flight was at 8am, we had to get up extra early (~5am) to feed baby and beat morning traffic. I had the Baby Wrap tied over my comfortable travel clothes, ready to pop baby in and out at a moment's notice. Why the Baby Wrap? Out of all 4 Baby Carriers we had (Ergobaby Baby Wrap, Moby Ring Sling, Baby K'tan, Lillebaby Airflow Carrier), the Baby Wrap was the only one that me and Vince could both use. We both didn't like the Moby Ring Sling (I ultimately had to return it). The Baby K'tan only fits me as it is size specific (I got XS). And the Lillebaby Carrier is too bulky and inconvenient to store for travel. Once my friend came over to pick us up, all we had to do was load our bags in her car and strap in the Car Seat via seatbelt. Off to the Airport we go!

// AT AIRPORT //
We arrived at the airport with our Luggage, Car Seat, Stroller, My 2 Carry-Ons, Vince's Carry-On, AND Baby. We attached the Car Seat to the Stroller, plopped baby in it, and strolled over to the Southwest Check-In counter, where we checked in our luggage. We then headed over to Security with Car Seat, Stroller and Carry-Ons. TSA had me break down the Car Seat and Stroller combo for X-ray, so I had to take baby out and put baby in the Baby Wrap. While all our things slowly made their way down the X-ray conveyor belt, I had to go through the Metal Detector with baby and immediately had my hands swabbed for testing thereafter. TSA also took the bottle of milk and quickly tested it. And that was that. Easy Peasy.

We had about an hour til the flight, so we moseyed on over to the gate to wait. I went straight to breastfeeding. While I was feeding the baby, Vince wrapped up the Car Seat and Stroller in their respective travel bags. He then went to the gate counter to Gate Check the Car Seat. (You can also Gate Check the Stroller if your stroller is not Carry-On friendly.) When time came for Departure, we waited til Boarding Group A is all boarded before Family Boarding (That's us!) could get on. Before we actually entered the plane, we left our tagged Car Seat by the plane entrance. Gate Checking the Car Seat is recommended as the Car Seat will be handled with more care, therefore less likely to get damaged.

WHAT OTHER MAMAS SAY: Skip strolling baby - just Baby Wear throughout Airport and Security to have free hands. (Though some places will have you take off Baby Wear before going through Metal Detector.) Speaking of Strollers / Car Seats, they can be checked in for free with all major airlines. (But beware! They aren't often handled with care. Gate Check-In is a better option to ensure no damages.) As far as breast milk goes, make sure to print out the TSA info. Most airports will test your milk, but you have the right to refuse that process, and instead, a full body pat down will be conducted.
SAN DIEGO 2018
// ON AIRPLANE //
Once we chose our seats on the plane, we put the Stroller in the overhead bin and our Carry-Ons underneath the seats. Surprisingly (and thankfully!) our baby had no issues during Take Off or Landing! None! Wide awake, no crying, oblivious to the loud plane noises. Didn't even have to pop the boob to alleviate pressure. In fact, the baby wanted to play the entire 3 hour flight! There were a couple of instances where he got fussy and I had to breastfeed, but essentially, baby had no idea he was on a plane!

SIDE NOTE: Apparently, you can Baby Wear up until you sit down in the plane. I seatbelted myself, while happily Baby Wearing, minding my own business when the Flight Attendant came over to tell me that I had to put baby on my lap during Take Off.

WHAT OTHER MAMAS SAY: Ask Flight Attendant if there's extra seating on plane for a Car Seat. (Most mothers I've asked have never used a Car Seat on the plane.) Have baby suck on boob/pacifier during ascent and/or descent to help alleviate ear pressure. Though it seems most babies just spend all their time sleeping on planes!

// GETTING AROUND TOWN //
The second we got off the plane, our Car Seat was conveniently waiting for us by the plane entrance. We proceeded to the gate area, unfolded the Stroller, quickly attached the Car Seat, plopped baby in and wheeled baby straight to our Rental Car. Hence the need for a Car Seat.

We opted to stay at Residence Inn by Marriott because we needed a fridge to keep the milk cold. (It was also one of the cheaper options close to the wedding venue.) The free continental breakfast and complimentary coffee added a nice touch to the stay!

In general, we often had slow starts in the morning, making sure that baby got fed decently before exploring around San Diego. Once on the road, it was pretty much a breeze getting from Point A to Point B. Most of the time we'd plopped baby in the Baby Wrap or simply just carried him while walking around. A few times we actually busted out the Stroller. Sometimes we took just the Car Seat (with sleeping baby in it) into a restaurant. If baby got hungry, I'd try to find a secluded place or simply head back to the car to breastfeed. But overall, our 3 month old infant spent most of the day napping, making it even easier to get around.

SIDE NOTE: We didn't know that we had to take a shuttle to the Car Rental area from the airport. On top of that, we didn't know that we couldn't just wheel baby right into the shuttle. The driver had us breakdown the Car Seat and Stroller combo, and thus, I had to Baby Wear. If we had known all that, I would have just Baby Wear the second I got off the plane.

WHAT OTHER MAMAS SAY: If you decide to not bring a Car Seat, most Car Rentals offer one. (Though bringing your own is the same cost as renting one. Bringing your own Car Seat also ensures that you don't have to count on Car Rental to have a nice one.) Some cities you don't need to rent a car if public transportation is easily accessible. If going by Taxi/Uber, most likely they are new enough to have locking seatbelts for Car Seat. Depending on country, some mothers just put baby in Baby Carrier for a quick cab ride. But please do research before opting to do this. Baby Wearing on public transportation seems to be the easiest and popular consensus. As far as sightseeing, it's easy as long as you know the baby's feeding schedule. Lastly, most hotels and Airbnbs offer a crib.