about me

    Emily Malone

    culinary arts grad. nutrition facts lover. vegetarian chef. marathon runner. country music maniac. failed dog trainer. barre fanatic. loving mama.

    Contact Emily

    EmilyBMalone@gmail.com

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    A Look Back.



Traveling With Two: Getting There.

When I was little, we road-tripped every summer up to New Jersey and then down to Hilton Head.  The Aerostar was packed to the gills with suitcases, coolers, beach towels, and anything else my mom could fit.  We’d drive for hours and hours, each of us with a small duffel at our feet filled with toys, books, and other entertainment (including small surprises my mom would always add at the last minute!).

I don’t think I even rode on an airplane until our big trip to Disneyworld at age eight.  And in the years that followed, I rarely went on another until I started flying by myself for things like spring breaks.  These days, living out on the west coast, we find ourselves in the friendly skies quite often!

One of the things we weighed heavily when we moved out to Seattle, was just how far we’d be away from family.  Of course there were the day-t0-day concerns of not being close, but also the logistics of not even being a car-ride away.  But the pros outweighed the cons, and travel is just a part of our life!  And we do it enough that it’s not even all that stressful anymore, although of course every new age brings new challenges and changes.  I have no idea how many flights Cullen has been on at this point, but Graham has done three in his first 9 months.

It’s worth noting, that we are also very, very blessed to be able to pay for almost all of our trips with air miles.  Casey travels for work enough that the miles he accumulates covers the cost of tickets for me and Cullen (Graham is still free).  Something I try to remind myself of when we are missing him when he travels! 

I get lots of comments and emails from terrified parents who are about to taking their children on first plane rides, looking for tips and advice.  And while I only know what works for my kids and our family, I am happy to share a bit of guidance for those traveling with young ones…

At the Airport

Even when we traveled with just Cullen, we always took both a carrier and a stroller to the airport.  The carrier is much easier with babies, because you can leave them strapped on through security, and it feels more secure in crowded spaces.  Some babies will even stay in the carrier snoozing during flights!

In the past, I’ve always taken my traditional Ergobaby carrier – which I LOVE for daily use.  But it’s a bit bulky when you are traveling, and it’s one more thing to lug around on the plane and through the airport when not in use. 

This time I tried the Ergobaby Stowaway carrier (which I’ve had for a while, but hadn’t used much!) and I absolutely loved it.  It is perfect for summer, as it is much more lightweight and a thin, nylon material.  The whole thing folds down into a tiny pouch that fits into a diaper bag – amazing!  (Also just noticed that for some reason the green color is half price on Amazon right now – a steal!) 

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We also took our Britax B-Ready stroller with the second seat attached (you can read more about the stroller in this post!).  In our day to day life at home, I prefer to use our BOB Duallie to stroll with both boys.  But it is super wide and I thought it would be obnoxious in the airport, not to mention I didn’t want to risk it being damaged during gate check. 

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Cullen is perfectly capable of walking through the airport, but actually prefers to be in the stroller in big crowds (which is fine with me!).  And even though we didn’t use the second seat at the airport, we needed it at our destination – so it served as handy storage for diaper bags and other carry-ons.  We have always checked our strollers at the gate, and have never had any issues (knock on wood).  Just don’t forget to grab it if you are connecting <— we actually did this once! 

On the Plane

Air travel is a constantly evolving process, depending on the ages (and number of!) your children.  So let’s start with the easy one.  I know there are parents who fill backpacks with stickers, books, crayons, toys, and more – and who tirelessly entertain their toddlers for hours upon hours in flight.  God bless these people, but I am not one of them.

From somewhere around age two and beyond, flying with our toddler became much, much easier.  Snacks + iPad + toddler headphones = not a peep for five hours. 

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We have a ton apps and games downloaded for him, as well as some episodes of Sesame Street, Super Why, and Daniel Tiger (the favorites!).  While he usually gets to watch one TV show a day while I put Graham down for the morning nap, he never gets to play on the iPad for several hours – so this is a fun treat! 

I always pack things like a sandwich, bunny crackers, sliced fruit, pouches, and an empty water bottle (the flight crew will fill it up for you!), so there is plenty to eat.  Depending on the length of the flight, sometimes we’ll buy a fruit and cheese plate too. 

With all that said, I DO always still pack Cullen’s backpack with a few fun things – one or two new small books, a Water WOW coloring book, some mini puzzles, and a few tiny cars or trucks.  He rarely plays with any of this on the plane, but it is there in case of a long delay or an iPad failure, and it doubles as something to play with when we get to our destination. 

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Traveling with a baby is a bit more complicated, and it’s something that so many parents fear.  I assure you, while not always a walk in the park, it is not THAT bad.  We flew with Cullen for the first time at 9 weeks, and Graham’s first flight was at 11 weeks.  From infant to about six months, it’s actually fairly easy.  I would always try to time takeoff with naptime (keeping him up a bit longer if necessary to avoid a short airport nap!) and a feeding, which usually results in a long airplane snooze (love that white noise!). 

If you are breastfeeding, it’s a simple as a boob and a blanket or cover (and a window seat if you can snag one!).  For bottle-fed babies, flight crews are always willing to warm up the milk or provide water for formula, so don’t be afraid to ask!  I also always travel with my Boppy pillow – even now at nine months old.  It is much softer and nicer for both mom and baby, and provides a cushy spot to take a snooze.  (Worth noting that they do make a travel Boppy, and I kind of wish I’d gotten one years ago!)

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When Graham is awake, he is generally very happy to chew on toys, bounce on our laps, and play with non-toy items like hats, airplane cups, and straws.  For that reason, the minute we sit down on an airplane I immediately wipe down all reachable surfaces with baby wipes – tray tables, arm rests, windows, seat belts, etc.  There is no way to avoid a curious baby (or toddler!) touching everything, so the best I can do is clean it and stop thinking about it. 

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Once babies reach the solid food age, things get slightly more complicated.  At home, Graham does a lot of self-feeding of soft foods in the high chair.  But that doesn’t work on an airplane!  He is not a big spoon fan, and likes to grab them and then throw food all over, so that wasn’t going to work either.

For this past trip (at nine months old), I packed a lot of fruit and veggie pouches, along with no-mess finger foods like puffs and freeze-dried fruits.  Over the course of a four and a half hour flight, he got really bored sitting on my lap.  So I did something kind of weird, but it totally worked…

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I strapped him into my seat, and I sat on the Boppy pillow in front of him on the floor!  This only worked because we had the bulkhead, which had extra floor space and no one in front of us, but man – it sure made a difference!  I sat like this for an hour or so, and honestly I think we were both more comfortable.  He ate his snacks happily, and my arms got a nice break. 

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I love this Oxo roll-up bib because it packs and cleans really well.  It also acts as a serving vessel!  Once Graham was tired of taking puffs one by one directly from me, I’d put a few in his bib and he’d have fun fishing them out.  Endless baby entertainment!

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The thing about traveling with kids is that, despite the urge to arm yourself with as much as possible, you want to travel as light as you can so that you are able to tend to your kids easily and not be weighed down.  Here are the basics that always go into my travel bag:

  • Full pack of wipes
  • Two times as many diapers as I actually need (in case of delays)
  • Outfit change for Graham (gambling on Cullen not needing one)
  • Several different snacks for each child
  • Snacks for mom and dad (usually Larabars)
  • Baby teethers and toys (note: nothing that makes noise! Sorry, Sophie)
  • Two Aden + Anais blankets (one for covering, one for snuggling)
  • Wallet, sunglasses, phone, etc.

And that is IT.  I try to really only take what I need for the flight itself, and I put all other non-essentials into my luggage to be unpacked when we get there.  Also worth noting that I don’t bother with things like books or magazines for myself.  The chance of actually reading something is so slim, and if it does come I can always just take a nap.  Cullen has all his things in his backpack (other than snacks), and Casey packs the iPad in his computer bag. 

A few other miscellaneous thoughts on air travel with kiddos:

We have this car seat travel bag, and we check our car seats with our luggage.  Having a bag with wheels makes a HUGE difference!  Also, there is a good amount of extra room in the bag (in the space where a child goes in the seat!), and I usually fill this with a small duffle of toys, packs of extra diapers, and bulky things like extra blankets or Cullen’s puddle jumper

Be kind and be respectful of the people around you.  Most people don’t want to sit next to a young child on an airplane (for many good reasons!). But remember that you and your kids also have every right to be there.  Babies have grandparents to visit, just like adults have business meetings.  You don’t need to apologize for being there.  You just need to do your best to keep things under control. 

I don’t think it is necessary to hand out chocolates or earplugs or buy drinks for all the people around me.  If your kids are acting out or being obnoxious, devote all your energy to making it stop quickly.  Get up, walk around, take a trip to the back of the plane – whatever works.  Air travel is not the time to practice hard discipline or new parenting strategies.

Have a little faith in your kids.  We’ve had a few bad flights, but we’ve had mostly good flights.  We’ve flown straight through nap times and we’ve all survived.  Kids are usually so excited for the big adventure ahead and all the fun that comes with planes, airports, pilots, and little wings – try to relax and have fun with them! 

This is much longer than I anticipated, so I’ll follow up with part two – feeding kids on vacation!  I feel like I’m forgetting something, so feel free to ask in the comments if you have specific questions.  I hope some of you parents find this helpful for your summer travels!

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119 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Jen     at 9:54 pm

I just have to tell you, I love your blog so much! I’ve got kids the same age as yours. Since I’m kinda new to daily garnish, I’ve been relishing all the older posts while up in the middle of the night with my 7 month old (we’re having some sleep issues over here). We live in LA and visit my family in DC regularly, love hearing other people’s tips and tricks for cross country flights! Next up, visiting my hubby’s family in Australia- the kids have yet to go! Dude, that’s gonna be one crazy flight, but so worth it. You know what I’m taking away from this post? Bulk head…We’ve never thought to do that :)

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Leah G. Reply:

They often charge extra for the Bulk Head (depending on the airline) but for a long flight with kids I would think it would be worth every penny!

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Emily Malone Reply:

Bulk head = amazing! And Australia – whew!! Will be worth it when you get there. :)

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Jeff W Reply:

Two good friends of ours are an Australian couple living in England with a 4 and 2 year old. I remember a few years ago when they were planning a big trip back to visit family they told me that there were certain seats that they could book because they were traveling with an infant. I believe it was bulkhead and had some extra parent friendly features. I’m sure it varies from airline to airline, but I would definitely research it as I’m sure it can make a world of difference on a flight that long.

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Jennifer Reply:

Thank you so much Jeff! I will definitely look into it :)

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Laura @ She Eats Well     at 10:50 pm

I just have to say – I swear you have the cutest kids.

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Emily Malone Reply:

:) thank you!!!

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Stacey @ Binge Free Me     at 12:01 am

This is seriously one of the most helpful posts I’ve read about travel! Thank you so much!

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Emily Malone Reply:

Happy to hear it — thanks!

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charlotte     at 1:23 am

Great post (as always)!

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jen     at 2:28 am

What a great post!! My daughter and I missed a trip to my husband’s family a couple of months ago (she was 8 months at the time) bc I was so afraid of flying and traveling w her…not sure how related this question is but when you travel, what do your kids sleep in and do they sleep well? That flimsy pad that comes with the pack n play seems so unsupportive and I’m nervous about how my daughter would adjust to that when her crib is so comfy! Thanks for all this helpful information!!

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Carlee Reply:

Our son has done 2 different week long vacations and several long weekends with sleeping in the pack n play. He hasn’t had any issues and has done so at many different ages. He just turned two on Monday and his last vacation was last week.

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Andrea Reply:

Similar for us as to Carlee. Our daughter does really well in the pack n play. Since we don’t use it often we would use it a few times before leaving on our trip to get her more comfortable with it. Also I often added a blanket under the sheet to make it a bit more cushy!

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Mylene Reply:

If you look on Amazon, you’ll find a few pack n play mattresses. They are probably the closest thing to a crib mattress so it probably won’t be such a big difference for your daughter. We travel often to visit family and after a few nightmare days (and nights!) with my oldest refusing to sleep in his pack n play, I was on a mission to find an alternative. This mattress saved my sanity!

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Emily Malone Reply:

I will definitely talk about sleep in the next post!! :) Do not skip the next trip – I promise it is no big deal. :)

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Christine {@CharminglyUncmp}     at 2:38 am

This is such a timely post! Question for you – at what age did you start/stop using a car seat on the plane for Cullen? My daughter will be two when we fly next month and the thought of lugging the car seat through the airport is killing me yet everything I’m finding says they should really be in one. Thoughts?

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Leah G. Reply:

I think Emily said they always check the car seats when they check their luggage. I don’t remember ever seeing Cullen in a seat in past travel posts–but maybe he was in one?

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Emily Malone Reply:

We never used a car seat on the plane — always held the babies, and then Cullen got his own seat at age two. You will find lots of people who say that they should be in them. For us, we feel that they are safe in our arms (and that if they weren’t, the seats would be required like they are in cars!). In all my flying I have honestly never, ever seen someone strap a car seat into an airplane seat (although I see online that people DO actually do this!). You just have to do whatever feels best to you guys as parents.

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Grace Reply:

*Raises hand* We’ve always used the car seat in the plane! I’m married to a safety nut (my husband’s a firefighter) and it is the safest way to fly, and when our daughter gets older we’ll use a CARES harness. If there was (god forbid) an accident, the force of the impact (mass x acceleration) means that no one, no matter how strong, would be strong enough to hold an infant in their lap and the baby would become airborne. It’s a minor risk, yes, but not worth if for us. Not to mention the fact that there’s some credible research that says that carseats are damaged to the point of being unusable after being checked or gate-checked, from the impact of it being tossed around by baggage handlers.

We have a lightweight carseat and a carrier bag for it that has a shoulder strap, so it’s not that bad carrying it through the airport, and it’s really not much extra work to strap it into the seat on the airplane. I like it also because my daughter sleeps really well in her carseat, she knows the “rules” about staying her carseat from car trips (so no fussing to run around the cabin) and she’s high enough in her seat to see out through the window. She’s 2.5 now and we’re still flying with her in the carseat. I highly recommend it!

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Blaire Reply:

We have always traveled with and put our car seat on the plane. You can get a rolly thing to strap the car seat into for travel in the airport. I haven’t found it to be too much of a hassle. We’ve been flying with our son about 5-6 times a year since he was born. The FAA recommends a car seat until 40 pounds. They have stated they don’t require it because air travel is safer than car travel and parents won’t pay for the extra seat. I started paying for a seat when he was about 18 months old. Prior to that I would just ask if there was extra room and if there was they’d let us have a seat for our son – also before age 2 many airlines will only charge 50% or less for a ticket. It makes me feel more comfortable as where we fly from there is often a lot of turbulence.

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Carrie     at 3:26 am

Ok, this is totally random but I wonder what jeans you are wearing in your picture – I am about your size and you look completely adorable in them!

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Emily Malone Reply:

You are funny. They are Kensie – from Stitchfix!

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Katie     at 4:15 am

Great post! I too, feel that the goody bags for other passengers are a tad ridiculous. The gentleman who snored in my ear and stole my armrest didn’t get me a goody bag…. ;)

As always, adorable kiddos!

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Emily Malone Reply:

Right? Where is my nose plug for that tuna sandwich? ;)

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Daria     at 4:45 am

Great advice! We have flown a decent amount with our son without too much trouble, number two is due in November so it will be a whole new ball game.
One thing I have read, which may or may not be true, is that the water from airplanes is of questionable quality. We fill up water bottles at a water fountain before we get on the plane.

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Caitie Reply:

I’m a flight attendant and really try to stay away from airplane water as well (coffee and tea are made with it). But the water we serve (except on transcons when there is a water service that is served with pitchers) is all bottled water and if someone asked me to fill their baby bottle I would definitely use bottled!

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Emily Malone Reply:

I have always seen them use bottled water to fill up his bottles too!

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Leah G. Reply:

Tap water is tested on a regular basis (and regulated). Bottled is not. I would do tap in the water bottles prior to boarding over bottled or the plane water.

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Betsy Reply:

In the U.S., tap water and bottled water are both regulated but by different government agencies. The EPA regulates tap water. The FDA regulates bottled water. For a variety of reasons, the EPA standards are more strict and better enforced. Like Leah, when traveling I prefer filling up my filtered water bottle from the tap at the airport after I go thru security. 2nd choice would be bottled water on the airplane or from the airport. 3rd choice would be tap water on the plane because the cleanliness of the tanks that hold the tap water on planes seems to vary greatly airline to airline.

Both tap water and bottled water are rather safe. I would say that tap water is safer overall and I generally choose tap water over bottled water for several reasons (social justice, environmental issues, cost, safety, etc.)

Emily, I rarely comment but have been enjoying your blog since 2009! Thank you for all the great content and inspiration you provide!

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Leah G. Reply:

Betsy, thank you for the helpful reply. I do appreciate that. I did not know about the FDA regulating bottled water. I agree, it is generally safe and is often bottled from municipal water sources. Check out the documentary ‘Tapped’ if you get the chance. You can watch it free online I believe and years ago it was on Netflix. It really opens your eyes to the whole bottled water industry. Thanks again for replying to my comment. Have a good weekend, Leah

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Betsy Reply:

Oh yeah, if you liked Tapped, there’s a good chance we are coming at this from a similar mindset! :)

What a complicated topic! I have all kinds of less than positive feelings about the privatization / commodification of water. It has its place in certain situations – bottled water comes in handy during relief efforts after natural disasters, special highly treated bottles of water are used by some people with compromised immune systems, it is just plain convenient sometimes (although, maybe we can question the ways in which we prioritize convenience!), etc. And I feel like it’s worth admitting that I definitely drank tons of Dasani when I lived in a town with totally gross metallic tasting but perfectly safe drinking water. A filter did not do the job and I just couldn’t go day in and day out hating the taste of water — a sad way to live! BUT the widespread use of big business bottled water undermines the importance of water as a public good and brings up issues of economic inequality. Everyone deserves quality water, not just those who can pay a premium. And then there’s all the plastic involved. And the fuel to haul it. And the myths and misconceptions about safety – too many people are buying bottled because they think it is safer when it is actually tested less regularly and held to standards that are less strict than tap. Plus, as you mentioned, bottled is often municipal tap water anyway.

There are so many different aspects to weigh! But I think it is super empowering to know the facts and make personal choices accordingly. That is definitely a big part of why this blog appeals to me. Emily seems very thoughtful and judicious about the choices she makes and I love when she shares that process with us. I always learn a lot from seeing how someone else weighs the pros and cons!

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Leah G. Reply:

Absolutely! I’ve recommended ‘Tapped’ to so many people! The more you know, right? :)

I agree–Emily is very thoughtful and generous to share her choices and processes with us as readers.

One thing I’m trying to change (gotta start small) is when my parents come to visit at our house in Maine (it has well water). They always show up with bottled water. They even use it when doing any type of fitness activity near home (rather than bottle up their own well water to take with). Their own well water is fantastic (it’s the water I grew up with). That shows that even folks with access to the best water have a bottled water buying habit out of convenience.

At least my gym started to offer recycling for people’s water bottles (just a few weeks ago)!

Small steps…

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Betsy Reply:

Oh wow, I actually grew up in Maine but don’t live there anymore. In our area, we had great tasting, very crisp, and high quality tap water from the Saco River but I knew a lot of people who only drank bottled, usually Poland Spring, even at home. I love the tap water there and honestly enjoy it a lot when I visit.

When your parents visit, maybe you could have some individual bottles of well water ready for them in reuseable bottles in the fridge. Doesn’t get any more convenient than that! Plus, the argument doesn’t even necessarily need to be about bottled vs. tap, depending on your strategy. It can be more like “Hey, do you want to take this water instead? It’s cold!” Kind of shows them that it’s not really any harder without them feeling like they are doing some “wrong”, you know? I always try to make it systematically very easy for those around me to make good decisions so that when left to their own devices, they stand more of a chance of seeing all of their options. However you choose to go about it, GOOD LUCK!

It’s good that your gym is recycling — I’m sure so many bottles go thru there! My area of Maine always had really good recycling infrastructure (and actually, as an intern years back, I had attended a statewide meeting as a lot of municipalities were switching over to single stream recycling to make it a lot more user-friendly.) I think the quality of recycling infrastructure and consequently, the extent to which it is part of the cultural habit, seems to really vary from one part of Maine to another. I was very lucky where I was. It was very rare for me growing up to see a trash can that didn’t have a recycling can next to it! I now know it’s not like that everywhere!

Caitlinhtp     at 5:18 am

Awesome tips :) my hat off to you!

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Emily Malone Reply:

Bring Henry to Seattle!! :)

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kath     at 5:20 am

Excellent post Emily! So many good tips.

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Emily Malone Reply:

:) Thanks!!

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Clare     at 5:23 am

You really do have it down!! My babes are much older now, but this is inspirational(:

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Beks     at 5:28 am

I don’t have children, but I do think of traveling with them one day (you never know!), and all of your tips are very grounded in reality. I’ll have to remember these, if I ever do have my own children. :-)

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Jen     at 5:36 am

Great tips, we do many of the same things. In the first year of our daughter’s life, we flew across from one coast to the other on 4 flights, and then 4 regional flights. It definitely got more involved as she got more mobile. One thing we did that I see you also did, was upgrading to the bulkhead seats. It made a world of difference to have that extra space for a squirmy baby!
I’ve also found that contrary to what I thought, the majority of people were actually excited to sit next to /near a baby on a flight. One older couple actually played peek a boo for HOURS on our most recent flight. :)
I can’t wait for our next trip where she should be old enough for headphones and a iPad!

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Emily Malone Reply:

I love the people who make faces and play peekaboo!! My kids never want anything to do with me, but they find strangers very entertaining and hilarious. :)

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Andrea     at 5:36 am

Thanks for all your tips! Our second is due in September and we know we will travel quite a bit with our kids as well. Curious if you have ever had issues with checking your carseats with your luggage? We’ve always been deterred from horror stories we’ve heard so we lug them through…which will be harder with two kids. Also what are your favorite apps for Cullen? Thanks!

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Emily Malone Reply:

I have heard the horror stories too, but have never experienced anything bad whatsoever. One time, Graham’s carseat bag got lost, and they quickly offered a (clean, nice) loaner and had his delivered the next day when it was located. Not the end of the world. Cullen’s favorite apps: Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, Elmo ABC’s, Super Why, Peekaboo Barn, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, some ridiculous garbage truck app, dinosaur puzzles, Richard Scarry’s Busytown…

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Kristen     at 5:46 am

Really great tips! I just flew alone with my six month old and I just wanted to add to this. If you can splurge for that extra leg room seat it is worth every single penny! That extra space really helped me with a very busy baby who wants to move around and touch everything(including the passengers next to me). Most of the airlines these days all have teeny, tiny seats that are just impossible with an infant on your lap(especially if you are trying to breastfeed). And if you can snag the bulkhead seat it’s a double win!

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Emily Malone Reply:

Absolutely!! We always get the “economy comfort” seats on Delta for that exact reason. A few inches makes a huge difference!! And yes, super awkward to BF in the back of the plane with a stranger crammed in next to you. You do what you have to do though, right?

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Lauren     at 5:55 am

As a childless adult who flies frequently, this is a great lesson in all that it takes to get children to and through the airport. My respect for parents has grown (as it always tends to do while reading your blog!), and I will definitely think differently the next time a child cries on the airplane. You’re right, you have every right to be there too! Great post (as usual)!

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Emily Malone Reply:

Thank you, Lauren!!

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Sara @ LovingOnTheRun     at 5:56 am

Love the tips I know I will definitely use these one day!

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Shel@PeachyPalate     at 5:59 am

Certainly is hard work! Good that Cullen is used to it now though! Super cute pic of him asleep!

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Christina     at 6:14 am

This post could not have come at a better time! We are gearing up for our first flight with our 2 1/2 year old (!) and I’m a little nervous. I definitely will buy a pair of headphones for the iPad and download some new apps and games!

One question I have is whether you just sit Cullen directly in the airplane seat and use the airplane seatbelt, or do you have one of those special harness things? My daughter’s carseat is incredibly bulky and I loathe the idea of bringing it on the airplane, but I also want her to be safe. Would love your thoughts!

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Emily Malone Reply:

Cullen just sits directly in the seat with the airplane seatbelt. I have seen those harness things too, but personally I feel okay with him just using the basic seatbelt. We have never taken a carseat on the plane, mostly because my kids have always loathed their carseats, and I can’t imagine dealing with that screaming.

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Emily     at 6:57 am

Great tips! We’ve done a ton of travel with our toddler and find that a light umbrella stroller is the easiest thing for us…I agree that the key with all of this is having as little stuff as possible! My thought with two kids is to get a double umbrella stroller, or two separate ones. I’ve never used a car seat or harness in the airplane seat — our son just sits in our lap, and once he’s older than 2 he will have his own seat. This is a great topic with all the summer travel! :)

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Emily Malone Reply:

I always try to choose which stoller we take based on what we’re doing on the other end of the flight. So for this case, I chose the big double because I knew I’d be doing a lot of walking in Cincinnati with the boys (didn’t have a car there!). And when we go to the beach next month, I’ll probably take the single BOB for Graham (better in sand!) and Cullen can just run around. But we definitely use the umbrella stroller too if it’s just really for to/from the airport. I am so tempted to get a double umbrella, but we already have a zillion strollers. :)

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Marcella     at 7:25 am

I’m an adult with no kids (yet!) and I found some of the tips helpful for myself!! I’m a terrible traveler (terrified of flying), but you make it seem pretty easy and seamless-though I’m sure there are times it is not. Hey, if your kids can take a flight with such ease, perhaps I should pack myself an iPad and puffs to ease my meltdowns. :)

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Michelle     at 7:32 am

Such a good post, and I love your perspective!

“Babies have grandparents to visit, just like adults have business meetings. You don’t need to apologize for being there. You just need to do your best to keep things under control. ”

Also, I had no idea that wheeled car seat bags even EXISTED! Awesome.

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Emily Malone Reply:

Wheels = game changer!

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Brooke Reply:

Agreed – that was the best sentence of the post (and it was a great post!). Children have just as much of a right to be there as anyone else. Fantastic piece – looking forward to part 2!! Ps. What has happened to instagram/tweeting? I always used to get my fixes there in between posts. Is that part of your scaling down?

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Emily Malone Reply:

Oh haha no, just a slow picture week I guess. I instagrammed a few beach pics last night!! :) Never do much tweeting these days but I am an instagram addict. :)

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Heather     at 7:36 am

Thanks for the tips and links to products! We’ve had both good and bad experiences and will be making our first big trip with 2 kiddos in December (when it is most likely going to be very busy with a higher potential for delays). Really love the advice, and I think we’ll splurge for the extra seat for our 1 year old just so we can all spread out.

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Emily Malone Reply:

Good luck!! We have been super lucky not hitting any major travel hiccups so far with the kids. Graham and I had a bad delay when he was super tiny, but since he was just breastfeeding it was really only rough on me. I fear the day we are delayed in an airport somewhere for hours on end!

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Mylene     at 7:39 am

I loved reading this post! So many great tips. We went to Ireland for my husband’s work when we were still just a family of 3 and I had to fly back early with my then 10 month old. I was terrified but it all went pretty well – he wasn’t really into crawling, mostly just scooting around on his bum so keeping him still for the 7+ hour flight wasn’t an issue.

With that said, I’m wondering if you have any tips for how to distract a baby that just wants to take off crawling everywhere? I remember seeing a video of Graham crawling, right? I’m asking because my youngest son is in full cruising mode – he can’t even sit still for 5 minutes in my arms before launching himself forward to be put down so he can move. I’m not sure how I would manage this on a flight! Thanks!

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Emily Malone Reply:

Yes, Graham is a super-active, moving maniac. :) He is crawling, climbing, and standing. Honestly, I just let him jump and bounce on me most of the time (other than when I was distracting him with food). It was a serious arm worked and I was exhausted! Casey worked for most of the flight but would give me 10 minute breaks here and there so I could rest my arms. I also let him stand down on the floor in front of me and I propped him up with my legs and held onto his hands — that worked for a while too!

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Lou     at 8:01 am

Thank goodness for the iPad. Sometimes I feel like the whole “screen time” thing is vilified, but seriously whatever works, especially on long trips! These are great tips.

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Emily Malone Reply:

Amen to that!

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Kyllan     at 8:06 am

This is so helpful–can’t wait for your second post. We are traveling with our 15-month old at the end of next week. We flew with her when she was still nursing and it was a breeze. But I’m nervous now that all she wants to do is move around. Thanks for sharing!

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whitney     at 8:28 am

Thank you for the tips. Well timed-we are flying from NC to Portland next month with our 13 month old. Two questions- we exclusively cloth diaper. I’m assuming you just do disposable on a cross country trip like this? We will be in Seattle for one day. What do you say is a must do or must eat?

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Emily Malone Reply:

Yes, we do disposable while we travel (Seventh Generation). And Seattle — welcome!! If you want to see “real” Seattle, head to Greenlake and walk a loop and let your little one splash in the water or play on the playground. And then go eat at Revel in Fremont! If you’d rather do more touristy stuff (and there is nothing wrong with that!), head to Pike Place and the Great Wheel (both downtown) and get pizza at Serious Pie! :)

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Rachel     at 8:32 am

Just flew to and from Aruba with my 17 month old. Overall, it wasn’t bad! I bought her those same headphones but she refuses to wear them. I just set the iPad on low volume and let it go. I also downloaded a couple of new apps for her that kept her occupied for hours. Her favorite snacks and extra bottles of milk were essential. I’m working on getting rid of the bottles, but this was survival mode! We had bulkhead seating and I did the same as you – sat in front of her…and the flight attendant yelled at me! She said the policy is that even without the seatbelt sign on, I had to be strapped into my seat. It was really annoying and kind of ridiculous because at least this way, my daughter was strapped in, rather than wiggling free and trying to walk around. Oh well, hopefully we will have more accomodating attendants on the next flight! Also – YES to stroller gate check, I bring the umbrella stroller and this bag:
http://www.amazon.com/Childress-Gate-Check-Umbrella-Strollers/dp/B000QWA9F8/ref=pd_sim_ba_2?ie=UTF8&refRID=0EV6EDMS521CX0GKDA72

Bag folds right up into a little pouch and I’ve found it’s kept a lot of grease and random dirt off of the stroller!

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Emily Malone Reply:

Oh man, see — I forgot all about the “ripping headphones off” age. Yep, Cullen did that too. And we did what you did. Super low volume. Screen was still enough to entertain him for a while. I actually worried that I would get yelled at for sitting on the floor too, but all the attendants on our flight thought it was funny and clever! Probably varies by airline. I want to go to Aruba!! :)

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Brady     at 8:56 am

This is super, super helpful. I especially like your reminder that kids have every right to be there, just like adults!

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Melissa     at 9:20 am

I’ve never flown, and with my husband’s fear of airplanes, we probably never will, but some of these tips are just as helpful for car rides too!

We are leaving next Friday for the beach (BEYOND excited, it falls on our anniversary, and we’re going with my mom aka free babysitter haha!), and I have a 5 year old. I have a question – I have a tablet, but it’s Google tablet (Nexus 7). Any apps to suggest to watch videos that do not require streaming?

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Melissa Reply:

and I adore that picture of Graham nursing – good job!!! :)

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Emily Malone Reply:

We usually just buy a few episodes of whatever show he likes on iTunes, because you can’t really stream on airplanes either! I think you can buy things by the episode on Google play?

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Melissa Reply:

I’ll be honest – I was hoping for free LOL. Thanks though.

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Shayla     at 9:31 am

I just love your blog so much and these tips are awesome!!! My in-laws live in NY (we live in CA), so the annual flight to NY always leaves me feeling anxious months and months in advanced. Our first flight with our son was last year when he was 3 months old and I couldn’t believe how easy it was! I seriously stressed for nothing. Now this year we’ll be going again in November and Julian will be 18 months old – I’m terrified of it since he is on the move 24/7 but with your tips I’m feeling pretty confident about it! Especially since we bought him his own seat. Thank you so much again for these awesome tips and I’ve bookmarked it for when we get closer to the big day :)

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Shayla Reply:

Oh and a question – how do you handle toddler sleep?! One thing I am nervous about for our NY trip this November (he’ll be 18 months) is his sleep. He’s so aware of his surroundings now I’m afraid he won’t want anything to do with sleeping in a pack n play and will scream bloody murder :/ Hopefully he’ll be tired enough to sleep in it at night but naps will be questionable lol.

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Emily Malone Reply:

Yes, I will definitely talk about sleep in the next post! That’s why I broke it up. Figured it was too much to all cover here. :)

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Emily Malone Reply:

I will be honest — I think 18 months is probably the toughest age to fly (to date…). But having his own seat will be a BIG help! And hopefully he is willing to zone out and watch some TV for a bit. :)

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Shayla Reply:

Oh no lol!! But thank you for being honest :) I too agree that it will help him having his own seat…even though he could fly free I just could not imagine him being happy sitting on our laps for 5 hours – he’s just too big and antsy! But I will definitely still be armed with the iPad, snacks, and lots of distractions ;) And so glad you’re covering sleep next! Thank you!

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Irene Reply:

Hate to say this but I jus flew with my 22 month old daughter and it was a nightmare. I didn’t want to pay for a seat but I paid extra for bulk head thank god. Our flight was almost 6 hours and she cried for about half and finally went to sleep for the other half. I packed EVERYTHING you can even imagine and that didn’t help. It all depends on the temperament of your little one too. My girl has always been high needs and cries very easily.

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Stephanie     at 10:09 am

I do not have any kiddos of my own (yet!) but I really enjoyed reading this and plan to bookmark it and use it as a reference when I need travel advice with children! Great tips and information!

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Emily Malone Reply:

Thanks, Stephanie! Glad to hear it!

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Jessica     at 11:14 am

Thanks for this post! We’re taking our baby to Hawaii at six months old for a family vacation and I’m starting to get overwhelmed thinking of all the planning. Also, any tips on time change for napping/feeding/sleeping schedules in the next post would be great.

I totally bought the green travel Ergo on Amazon last week — total steal!

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Emily Malone Reply:

You will love the Stowaway!! I will definitely mention the time change thing in the next post — thanks!

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Maria     at 11:29 am

Great post—we’re frequently travelers with two kids as well. I’ve been betting on my almost 3 year old with the outfit change too, and I came to regret that on our last flight. She spilled something all over it, so we arrived to grandma slightly wet and kind of messy. For now on, I will bring her a change of clothing as well. Anyway, I thought I’d pass on the warning!

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Emily Malone Reply:

My back up plan was that if there was a TRUE disaster, I could always buy an ugly, cheap shirt in an airport gift shop. I also asked him like every 30 minutes if he needed his diaper changed, haha. :)

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Bethany @ Accidental Intentions     at 11:30 am

I was born and raised in Michigan, but my dad’s from Seattle and his whole side of the family lives out there, so we traveled to Seattle somewhat regularly when I was a kid (about once every other year). My parents would always buy my siblings and I little travel toys to keep us entertained (like puzzle books or something similar), and man, that was a GENIUS idea. I so looked forward to that kind of treat and it gave me something to do on the plane (though, admittedly, flying in 1997 or whatever was a bit different than flying in 2014 — no iPads for me back then! Haha).

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Emily Malone Reply:

That’s what my mom did on road trips!! And I still do that for Cullen, but he usually just ends up playing with it all when we get wherever we’re going. I got all new chewy teether toys for Graham so they were new and exciting! :)

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Rachel H     at 11:31 am

I did not read all these comments so forgive me if I am doubling up. My baby would only take warmed bottles of formula which was a nightmare at the airport (obviously they won’t let you bring water through). I flew with mine from newborn to 1 year old 7 times, so I was there too! What I did was pack some empty bottles and some with formula powder (but no water mixed in). When you get through security, go to Starbucks (or another coffee joint) and ask for a cup of HOT water (used for hot tea) and get an ice cold water. You can then go to the bathroom, sit at a table, on the ground, etc. and mix the hot and cold until you reach a good temperature for the formula. I’d always make a second one (hotter than normal) so that I had it mid-way through the flight if I needed it (it will have cooled off when I needed it). Also, while it’s a PAIN IN THE BUTT – you can bring pre-mixed formula with you through security and they just pull out and test each one with a strip.

Anyway.. just my two cents on formula flying!

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Emily Malone Reply:

Great tips!! Thanks for adding! Smart thinking on the hot Starbucks tap.

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vicky     at 11:31 am

Amy advice for long car trips?

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Emily Malone Reply:

Not my area of expertise, but I know many friends who actually drive through the night with young kids (so that they sleep the whole time!). Sounds kind of crazy, but I have heard it works!

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Rachel H     at 11:35 am

Another thing is that people understand! I’ve never had one flight where someone was (viably at least) upset with my child. Some people will offer to help you (TAKE IT) and others will just smile and nod as in a “Hey, I’ve been there”, and others will ignore you and go about your business. The thing is that everyone has children, or grandchildren, or nieces and nephews or little brothers and sisters. While it’s never ideal to hear a baby screaming on a plane – if you’re doing your best to settle your baby down and people see that, they WILL be understanding. Also, flight attendants are your biggest ally. Use them!

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Emily Malone Reply:

I actually sat down on a flight once (pre-Graham, just Cullen), and the guy across the aisle started dropping F-bombs and loudly flagging down the stewardess to say he either needed “a new seat or a stiff drink.” But you are right — MOST people are wonderful, and often even helpful! I have heard so many stories and compliments from other parents and grandparents, and people are often very sweet at the end of flights (assuming the kids have done well!).

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Leah G.     at 11:37 am

Fantastic post, Emily!

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Emily Malone Reply:

Thanks Leah!

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Cassie     at 11:51 am

Hi!! Love your blog and enjoy reading about your life! I wanted to share this article about flying with kiddos and the safest way to do it! Just another perspective!

http://csftl.org/leaving-on-a-jet-plane-the-csftl-guide-to-safe-air-travel-with-children/

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Emily     at 1:27 pm

Great tips…I’m flying for the first time next week with my 11 week old. I wanted to take my boppy but wasn’t sure how to manage it, a carry on and baby. Yours is full size? Does it count as a personal item?

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Emily Malone Reply:

Yep, full sized! Highly recommend with a little one like that. Not sure how they count it at the counter, but no one has ever said a thing about mine. I usually have boppy, diaper bag, and Ergo all with me!

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Emily     at 1:36 pm

Great blog post! I totally agree – if you are calm, the kids are calm. The travel boppy – who knew?! I think I am going to get that!

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Emily Malone Reply:

Right? So great! No point in me getting it now, but I definitely would have two years ago!

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Sarah B     at 1:42 pm

So timely for me as I’m about to fly from New Zealand – UK with a 2yr old & 6 wk old. 30 hrs and three flights. Eek! I will heed your travel light suggestion. At least we have six weeks before we have to fly back home again!!

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Emily Malone Reply:

Whew!! International travel is something we have yet to do with the kiddos. Deep breaths and good luck! :)

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jen     at 6:45 pm

Thank you all for the info!!

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Natalie     at 10:31 pm

My 2 kids are about a month behind yours in age and we’re on a 3 hour flight in a week. If you have time, what iPad apps does Cullen like? And where did you get the toddler headphones. Both awesome ideas! Thanks!

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Caitlin     at 7:00 am

Hi emily, this is a very basic question. When wiping down surfaces like in the airplane you said you used baby wipes. Do you mean wipes for a diaper change or a special disinfectant wipe made for surfaces that is baby safe. What brand? I never know what is best for on the go cleaning and I usually just use soap and water. Thanks!

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Chantal     at 9:39 am

I have a question for you after this excellent (and entertaining) post. I have a friend who has an opportunity to visit family, but her husband can’t go, so she’d be flying with 2 children (3 yr old and baby) by herself, and it seems very overwhelming to her. Especially if she needs to go to the bathroom! Have you flown alone with your two? Would you?

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Ciarra     at 11:26 am

Thanks for the great post Emily! We’re actually flying in 2 weeks with our almost 5 month old and I was petrified to do this trip, but I feel a little more at ease now thanks to your post, so thank you! Quick question…what do you do for diaper changes? I’m so scared our little one is going to have a crazy poop explosion and I have no clue how one would do a diaper change on the plane. She’s exclusively BF and obviously still has those lovely liquidy poops ;-) The airplane bathroom is so small and so gross, so I don’t think that would work. So where/how do you do a diaper change on the plane? Thank you so much for your help or advice!

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Laurie     at 11:27 am

We raised our family in Asia and this just brought back so many memories of me traveling by myself (without my husband) on international flights from Hong Kong to the States with my 4 little children! Every summer I would take the kids to the US to see grandparents and family. My hubby usually couldn’t take more than 3 weeks off at a time so he would join us later. Flying with 4 little ones for 15 hours at a time is an experience that I have no words to describe other than to say it made me a strong woman to know that I can do hard things!! :) Now that my kids are all in their 20′s, they are amazing travelers and can easily manage traveling anywhere in the world.

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Lara     at 1:57 pm

Thanks for the links to the carseat bag and the headphones! Those are definitely going on my amazon list!

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Emily     at 6:15 pm

GREAT tips and all-in-one resource!

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Rebecca     at 7:35 pm

I have 4 boys and we’ve travelled all over with them. Starting around age 4 we make them carry everything themselves and it’s been great (backpack and little roller bags). We became vegetarians about 2 years ago and one of the hardest things is eating at airports. My kids aren’t big fans of sandwiches, we’ve eaten more than our share of yogurt parfaits, and you can only eat so many egg sandwiches on a long trip. Any tips on finding vegetarian friendly food for kids at airports (besides packing your own)?

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Jasmine     at 1:06 am

Random Q, do you remember the age graham was able to correctly fit into the ergo carrier without the infant insert? I have to same navy blue one you do but it feels so uncomfortable and my daughter (9 weeks) does not seem to have good support and her legs do not come out the sides yet. She grew out of the infant insert just a few weeks after birth so I’m not sure what to do. Any tips? Maybe I shouldn’t put her in it until she’s older? Thanks!

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Mitcha     at 5:52 am

This post couldn’t come at a better time. I have a baby boy just a few weeks older than Graham. In fact, his due date was October 11th. We’re gearing up for our first international flight in a couple of weeks and am a little nervous about such a long flight, and of course the inevitable jet lag. Looking forward to the rest of the series.
I’m also curious about your approach to feeding Graham. My son isn’t very interested in solids in any form (pureed or in pieces). Do you have any favorite recipes? Are you introducing new foods in a particular order, i.e waiting till he’s a certain age or a few days between new foods?

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Jen Lilley     at 6:49 am

Random question…

Does that stroller fold up with both seats on it? Or do you have to take the second seat off to fold it up?

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Jessica Fischer     at 7:12 am

I reallly really want to try the Olive & Chili Pepper Oil!! We really like incorporating heat in many of our dishes. I think this would be a perfect compliment to green beans and many other dishes. I really want to start making more thai and indian dishes as well so this one would work well with a plethora of meals!

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Ashley     at 8:17 am

It’s comforting to hear my little one isn’t the only one who loathes her car seat! She’s a few weeks younger than Graham and, unless napping, fusses even on short trips. Breaks my heart and makes me want to stay home all the time! Any tips for making running errands less of a battle?

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Beth     at 5:02 am

Great post! We always two the boppy too – makes things way more comfy! Now I really want that ergo carrier, but can’t justify spending money on another baby carrier! Looks great though!

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Sarah     at 9:44 am

Hi Emily! I loved this post and bookmarked it to reference as my husband and I are about to move to Belfast with our two toddlers…eeek! I have a question about your car seat bag. I’m assuming they check it at the ticketing counter. Do they ever give you trouble about having a bag of toys inside? I think that’s a great idea and would save us spending even more on baggage fees. Thanks!

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