This blog is all about travel, and I want to make sure that I aim to include topics that readers of different backgrounds can relate to. Since I am not a parent, the subject of traveling with a baby is one that I am not familiar with, so I enlisted the help of an experienced traveler who also happens to be a new mom to an adorable baby boy. I interviewed my cousin Betsy, a Southern California-based teacher, all about her experience flying with a baby.
1. PB (pre-baby), what was your travel background?
For work, I used to travel internationally about 6-7 times a year. In the last few years since being married, we have travelled about 1-2 times internationally for pleasure and usually a road trip (camping, skiing, beach etc) every other month. We love to explore new places - from busy urban cities to remote landscapes and national parks!
2. Where have you traveled to with Emerson?
Temecula Wine Country (When he was a month old), Michigan (when he was 2 months old), California Coast/Morro Bay/San Luis Obispo/Paso Robles (when he was 2.5 months old), Bay Area (when he was 3 months old), Michigan again (when he was 3.5 months old).
3. Have you taken any solo trips with him?
My first trip with him back to Michigan I traveled alone and flew with Emerson on my lap when he was just under 2 months old. It definitely was really intimidating at first, but it’s very doable. The younger they are, the easier. I was fortunate to fly Southwest and have very helpful neighbors who would hold in my son’s pacifier while I changed him on my lap.
4. What are some things you brought with you while traveling with a baby that have helped you?
Travel light, make sure everything you take is multi-use and very versatile. For example, instead of bringing heavy blankets for my son to lay out on if there was an empty seat for him next to me, I put down my sweatshirt or jacket. Instead of taking burp cloths, take napkins that you can throw away or a small blanket that can double up as a burp cloth. Bring a couple of the disposable pads (like the one the’s they put under you at the hospital or under the baby when they weigh him) and use those for diaper changes or mopping up any spills. Taking 2-3 pairs of clothes, plenty of diapers and wipes are a must but only enough to last you for a day of travel (buy some when you arrive to your destination). I checked the stroller until our final destination so I brought a baby carrier which allowed me to use the restroom on layovers and I always had a place for baby to sleep on the plane/while walking about.
5. What are some things you realized you didn’t need to bring with you when traveling with a baby?
A lot of clothes/shoes for our little one, bring a couple sets to last you a day, but then just do laundry…you have enough other stuff to bring with a little!
6. How much extra time do you allow yourself at airports now?
Maybe about 30 mins extra for pumping and a diaper change.
7. Now being a mom, have you noticed any ways airports help accommodate new parents?
YESSSSSS! Thank you to those thoughtful airports that have nursing rooms (inside security)! These are places where moms can go to nurse/pump and to change their little one’s diaper. Many have a nice seating area, tv, changing table, restroom, and sink! Some of the smaller airports have nursing rooms outside of security which is kinda annoying but better than none! Also, if you’re flying with small children you can as the airline for a gate pass so a family member/friend can help escort you to the gate even though they themselves are not flying. This was a huge help when I was traveling alone so I could have some down time before boarding!
8. Have you dealt with any rude passengers?
Not yet, flying Southwest is the best because people choose their own seats. Family boarding occurs towards the beginning and then the remaining passengers to board can choose to sit by a baby/child or not! So, people that like kids choose to sit next to you!
9. What are some suggestions you think airports and airlines can do to help parents traveling with a baby?
More family restrooms/nursing rooms for moms. A separate security line would be nice!
Based on true events
I can remember the time vividly. It was the 2000’s. We were a nation in mourning over the break-up of Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston. Tanning, extreme highlights, and lip gloss were fashion staples. To this day, I’ll never understand the appeal of the Jersey Shore look. But from the dark corners of the airline CEO offices, a new threat was emerging; One whose repercussions would go on to shape the future of airplane boarding decorum as we know it. That threat, my friends, is when airlines started charging for checked bags.
Yes, there was a time when major U.S. airlines did not charge for a checked bag. In fact, there was even a time when you could get a meal included on your flight to Cancun without having to be in First Class. That era was the 90s, and if only we could see that reboot actually happen...
You see, by charging passengers for every bag they want to check, it made more and more travelers opt out of checking bags altogether. The people fought back in the only way they could: by literally putting everything into a carry-on. Hell hath no fury like a budget traveler.
With more and more people accessing the overhead bin area for their carry-ons, we began to realize that there just aren’t enough spots for everyone, and thus began the never-ending battle for overhead bin space. Nowadays, if there’s not enough room, they will just check your bag for you to your final destination. But then, what if you don’t want that bag checked? You’ve got a 5-hour long layover in Houston, and you need access to your carry-on!
You are waiting in the terminal. You are Boarding Group 4. Oh, this could go either way. You look over at those stuck in Group 5 with pity, secretly grateful you aren’t there with them. They have no choice. But you? Well, you have to wait it out. You roll your eyes at the big wigs in First Class and Premiere Access. Oh, look at them all special getting to board the plane right away with plenty of overhead bin space and even a welcome cup of white wine after arriving on-board. You now see Group 2 and Group 3 start to board. Your nerves get the best of you as you see that literally everyone has a carry-on with wheels. Oy.
You begin to strike up a conversation with the middle-aged woman in front of you holding her Pomeranian. You express, extra loud so others will hear, your hope that more people will be kind enough to put their smaller bags and purses below the seat in front of them. But seriously though? Who are those jerks that put their small stuff in the overhead bin area? That’s important space that can be used! Where’s the consideration for your fellow passengers? You channel your inner George Costanza and declare this is Thunderdome.
It’s time! They just called Boarding Group 4. Being the neurotic traveler that you are, you are already toward the front of the line to make sure you have a better chance of getting your bag on that plane. You panic. The gate agent just started counting people to see how many spots they have left before people have to check their carry-ons. It looks like she kept counting past you. Good! You eagerly walk up to the gate agent, boarding pass ready. You’re through! Ok, to the plane now.
You are boarding behind people. They are tall. You can’t quite see ahead if there’s space. And then, as if in a slow-motion dream sequence, they begin to sit and you see it, an open spot! You hustle to it and throw your bag up there with strength you never knew you had since you mainly do cardio. But you made it! Your bag is up! You sit in 27A, relaxed, and ready to check out the same Hemispheres magazine you saw on your last flight. All is right with the world. Just then, you hear the sound of two 18-year-olds approach you, “Um, excuse me, would you mind changing seats so my boyfriend and I can sit together?”
Oh, come on!
Whether you’re traveling throughout the United States or taking an adventure around the world, there are many films that incorporate both the magic of travel and the beauty of the areas they highlight. Here are some that have inspired me over the years. If you have suggestions of films that excite your travel bug, definitely add your suggestions in the comments section.
Eat Pray Love
A film that is all about travel and self-discovery, Eat Pray Love has something for everyone and features gorgeous locations including Rome, India, and Bali. If you’re a foodie, there are numerous scenes where Julia Roberts is unabashedly enjoying delicious Italian pastas and pizza. Yum! Spiritual yoga and meditation are also core themes, but the main draw of this film is the very relatable story of finding happiness again. So, if your trip speaks to your desire for inspiration, definitely catch Eat Pray Love.
This romantic comedy stars Amy Adams as an American woman who hires a ridiculously attractive Irish innkeeper to help get her Dublin so she can propose to her boyfriend. However, as luck (pun intended) would have it, she falls for the Irishman instead. The film was shot in Ireland and features much of the beautiful, green countryside there.
National Lampoon’s Vegas Vacation
Obviously, there are plenty of films centered around a trip in Las Vegas, many of which involve high consumption of alcohol, but you can’t go wrong with a classic Griswold family outing. It’s a really fun comedy that gave us the infamous alias ‘Nick Papagiorgio’ and features classic Vegas staples, including Wayne Newton and the Hoover Dam.
La La Land
This love letter to Hollywood echoes the classic musicals of the entertainment capital’s golden age but also captures the modern-day vibe of the city and fun inside jokes for LA locals. If you are fan of classic Hollywood in particular, this movie is the one to see before visiting Los Angeles. It features beautiful locales around town, including the famous Griffith Observatory, my personal favorite spot in LA.
Sex and the City: The Movie
Ok, yes, technically you could watch the series Sex and the City to get excited for New York, but if you need something a bit more condensed, the movie is perfect prior to a trip to the Big Apple. The film, like the series, was shot around New York City. Just make sure to have a signature Cosmopolitan while you watch this one. Please completely disregard Sex and the City 2 however.
Midnight in Paris
The opening credits alone will have you excited to see this iconic city. Midnight in Paris stars Owen Wilson as a frustrated writer who magically goes back in time each night at Midnight and converses with famous artists who had resided in Paris during the 1920s. It’s combines both the romanticism and artistic history of 1920s Paris with epic shots of the city today.
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
Indiana Jones is famous for his escapades around the world, but with the addition of Sean Connery as Indy’s dad, this is easily the most fun entry in the film’s franchise. This is a great film to get inspired by if your trip will be focused on adventures and excursions. And I mean, Harrison Ford, come on! He’s the best.
This 1953 film starring Audrey Hepburn and Gregory was shot on location around Rome. With classic Hollywood film stars, a sweet love story, and exciting sites around the city like the Spanish steps, this is a great film to enjoy before visiting Rome. Audrey’s timeless style may also inspire some great clothing options for your trip.
Shakespeare in Love
This film pays homage to one of the city’s greatest contributions, the theater. It’s a story centered around a young William Shakespeare who falls in love with and is inspired by a woman named Viola, played by a pre-Goop spokesperson Gwyneth Paltrow. It also heavily features the Globe Theater, which if you do visit London, is a working theater and reconstruction of the original one associated with Shakespeare and his works.
Let's face it, sleeping on airplanes can be one of the hardest aspects of travel. We are tired as is, and for most of us, we don't have the budget for the fancy 1st class beds. So what's a person to do? Well, for me, a glass of white wine is a big help to feel relaxed enough to eventually dose off to sleep Heaven. Another tactic I learned in preparation for a 13-hour long flight to Australia was to stay up the night before, so that once I was on the plane the next day I was exhausted enough that I couldn't keep my eyes open any longer. Though these tips work for me, I don't have all the answers, so I reached out to fellow travelers to share their best tips for sleeping on an airplane.
"If it's an overnight flight, take the middle section of the seats and sit in the 2nd seat from the aisle. If you sit on the end people will wake you up to use the bathroom but if you take the 2nd seat, the person on your left will ask the other side to get up to use the bathroom. Don't sit too close to the bathroom because there is a constant coming and going of people who will talk, plus the flushing of the toilet." - Francesco, Italy
"I get jet lag flying to Europe west to east. For a night flight I go to bed a half hour earlier each night for a few days so I will fall asleep after dinner on the flight. I stay away from caffeine for a couple of days before leaving. I use a sleep mask to make it dark." - Jaclyn, California
"Put on your earmuffs, sleeping mask, and hoodie. Pull your arms in from your sleeves and tuck your knees up into your hoodie in a fetal position. Let your body roll and rest wherever it may fall, even on the stranger next to you. You’ll feel like you’re right back in the womb. Only works for short people, so if you’re tall, you’re not sleeping" - Steven, California
"To get a good night's rest on the plane, I would actually take a blanket and a pillow or two blankets. I would also take a set of ear plugs and/or earbuds. Then I would say that the day that you're getting ready to fly, you want to look at the time zone that you're flying to and then adjust the day of the flight so that you start preparing yourself for the new time zone. This might mean you need to get up earlier in the morning so that you allow yourself to quickly get onto a new time zone. Avoid alcohol and drink plenty of water." - Geri, California
About the author
Jill Zwarensteyn is a writer, comedian, and television producer who has been featured on Amazon, truTV, The New York Times, Matador Network, BUST Magazine, Tiplr, ARTRPRNR Magazine, YourTango, Thought Catalog, GoMad Nomad, Mashable, The Daily Mail UK, the Cannes Film Festival, LaughFest, Women's Lifestyle Magazine, and the Funny Women Festival LA. For more info visit: http://www.jillzwarensteyn.weebly.com