Air travel with an infant: it's no big deal. Just go do it and stop worrying!
There are a few locations that infants (anyone under two years old) are extremely unwelcome according to societal standards. It's possible that none are as treacherous as airplanes. And I totally get it, because I've been that guy. The guy who is sitting on my flight with my Macbook open, in-flight cocktail in hand, muttering about the kid in the seat behind me and wishing they'd just control that kid already so my flight can be a peaceful one. (Translation: I was a non-empathetic jerk.) And it is that kind of sentiment that often make parents think twice before booking that plane ticket to jet off on an adventure with their little one. BUT... after traveling with Margot when she was only a few weeks old, and now when she's nearly two and can speak her mind... I'm here to preach the gospel on how to navigate the airspace with a youngin'. So... here are my top three tips:
1 - Stay calm.
Seriously... For the love... don't get stressed out. Vibes translate into vibes. What I mean by that is -- if you keep it cool and level headed, you project that to those around you and they'll typically follow suit. If you act frazzled and overwhelmed, the folks around you are going to inherently think, "oh crap... this parent is a hot mess and this flight is gonna be a struggle bus." The rule of first impressions has never been more true than how you carry yourself with that kiddo onto the plane. Not only that, there are numerous studies that reveal our kiddos often reflect the energy we project. So... want a calm kiddo? Want calm co-flyers? Be calm. Smile. Take a deep breath. It really will be okay!!
2 - Take full advantage of the free stuff.
Most airlines offer a handful of hook-ups when traveling with an infant. Examples include seat upgrades and often kid-gear can be used as checked baggage for free (like strollers or car seats). A quick phone call or search can verify the details on baggage, and the rest is usually done through a little sweet talking once at the ticketing counter. (For seat upgrades just point out you don't want to inconvenience other flyers by climbing over them to take your munchkin to the bathroom multiple times during the flight, and smile when you say it, and they'll most likely give you that isle seat! Also: two year old kids love to play with the window shades... so you can opt to sit at the window, but prepare for that mini-battle.)
3 - Pack smart, pack light.
There's a propensity to want to pack for every possible scenario... and old wisdom would tell you to do just that. I tend to somewhat disagree. When I pack, I try to pack light, because you'll have to carry all that crap AND your kiddo through the airport... so don't load yourself down! When packing smart, I think/pack in three stages: 1 - Checked luggage. This bag gets the stuff that I know we won't need till we arrive at our destination. 2 - Carry-on luggage. This is (obviously) your typical midsize bag packed full of anything we might need while waiting in the airport. 3 - Seat-stow luggage. Now this is where it counts! I have a small pouch (actually a Utility pouch from Treason) and in that pouch I pack a two diapers, a ziplock bag of wipes, a tide to-go pen, a notepad and pen, a snack, a mini-bottle of cologne, and a phone battery backup charger. As soon as I board, I pull out the utility pouch and put it in the seat before stowing my carry-on bag. This way if Margot needs a diaper change or anything else, I have the essentials right at my finger tips and I don't have to go digging around in my bag mid-flight.
Flying with a munchkin is honestly not nearly as scary as some would think it is. And the reality is, even if your little one is an absolute terror on that flight... who cares!? Seriously... as crass as this might sound: you'll never see any of those people again, and everyone arrived in one piece. They'll spend thirty seconds talking to their friend about how a kid was crying for most of the flight, then everyone will move on with their life.
So get out there. Enjoy life. Take that flight, and make those memories. It's worth the effort.
Cheers, dear ones.