Traveling with an 11 Week Old Baby | FIRST FLIGHT
We decided to head to Charleston, SC for a few days with my parents. We were actually supposed to go to Charleston in April 2018 for the High Water Festival but we had to cancel because of a work project that had come up for Kait. Instead we went to Bermuda in September 2018. I mention this because that trip to Bermuda was quite fruitful for us. The day we were leaving was a rainy day, in Philadelphia and Bermuda. The plane was overbooked, of course, and they started offering vouchers. When the offer hit $1,000 we jumped at the opportunity. We were each given a $1,000 American Airline voucher, good for a year.
Some of that voucher paid for these flights for us to Charleston. Some paid for flights to St Thomas in a few months, and we still have another $500 in vouchers that are now good for another year. If you can…take the offers!
We missed all of the rainy day in Bermuda and got there the following day, which was beautiful. We didn’t miss anything. Bermuda was a great experience, by the way. If you ever go, we highly recommend this Airbnb. They have a great yard with a private beach and the owners, Kim and Everett, are so extremely nice and generous. We rented the space the link takes you to, which we don’t think the pictures actually give it the justice it deserves, but they did tell us that we could rent the entire house if we ever came back with more people. If interested, just shoot them a message through Airbnb.
Back to Charleston. I am the trip planner, always. I usually do a ton of research on where to go, what to do, restaurants, bars, neighborhoods, whatever. I didn’t do that with this trip. We got a lot of recommendations, I did a little research, and made a very loose itinerary just so we knew when we were going to Savannah, Sullivan’s Island and a plantation tour. Otherwise, we would figure it out as we went. We would walk around see where things were and where we wanted to eat. No night life or bars with Weston, since I am the only one who would be drinking alcohol at the time of this trip.
When Kait and I travel we are explorers, walkers. We typically have long days and early nights, but this is especially true with Weston. He has his bed time and wakes up fairly early, so it was not actually much different for us. My parents are some of our favorite people to travel with because they too are game for anything and are explorers. They really let us (and Weston) call the shots and they went along with all of it. They like it because they basically get a trip planned for them, and a ton of time with Weston.
This was our first flight with Weston who was a little over 11 weeks at the time of the flight. Here’s what we decided to do….pack light! For this 4 day trip, we fit all three of our clothes into one carry-on suitcase. His sound machine, monitors (which we didn’t end up using), blanket, soap, toiletries all fit in there somewhere. I’m a chronic over-packer so this was more challenging for me, but I was able to do it and probably still could have left a pair of shorts and t-shirt out.
Prior to our trip, I did my research on flying American Airlines with a baby. Babies under 2 years old fly for free when they sit on the lap of a parent/guardian. You can purchase a seat if you choose to bring a carseat on the flight and want to strap that into the seat. Airlines have different regulations about that, but we didn’t even consider it so I didn’t look into it at all. We want to take advantage of him flying for free as long as we can! You can find American Airlines Traveling with Children info here.
As with almost every airline, it is free to check a stroller and carseat, which we did. We bought the travel bag that goes with our Joolz Hub stroller to protect it and for ease of checking. The stroller bag is super easy to use and protects the stroller from the damage of cargo travel, highly recommend getting a stroller bag if flying. We did not get a carseat and stroller that are compatible because we don’t drive often in Philly. So a concern of mine was having to check the bassinet of the stroller, but Weston had gained just enough control and grown to fit comfortably in the seat of the Joolz Hub. We tried him in it in the week leading up to our trip – he fit great and fell asleep the first walk we did, so it was a good sign!
Kait and I decided we would drive ourselves to the airport so we could easily get Weston there safely. An Uber each way would have cost us about the same amount we spent on parking. Any longer, parking would have cost us more, unless we did a cheaper lot further away. Not sure what we will do next time. If anyone has suggestions about ride sharing or traveling with a baby without a carseat or rental car, I’d love to learn more about it. We have been avoiding them because I don’t want some nasty carseat or one that he doesn’t fit in or to hold him on our lap with some random person driving.
We also brought his Guava travel crib, which fits in the overhead bin. The travel crib was my carry-on, along with a book bag. Kait took the suitcase and “diaper bag”. We spread out his cloth diapers and cloth wipes between the suitcase, book bag and diaper bag. We filled up these spray bottles with the cleaning solution we use when we clean Weston when changing his diaper. They are 2oz each so they can easily be carried on the plane and anywhere else without any issues.
Kait carried Weston in her Boba wrap from the car through to just prior to take-off. Carrying a baby like that seems like the easiest way to get them and bags quickly through bag check, security, bathroom, food/drinks, and boarding. Lately, Weston seems to like Kait’s wrap more than my carrier so she’s had to take all of that on. He slept the whole way from car until we boarded the plane.
The plane, whoa, smallest plane I’ve ever been on. Only one seat on the left and two on the right with 18 rows. I knew this going in, but I didn’t tell Kait or my Mom because they are both very anxious flyers. Weston couldn’t care less. This further confirms what I feel to be pretty obvious anyway, anxious and fearful flying is pretty much 100% conditioning. If you are an anxious and fearful flyer, and your kids are, then chances are, your kids learned that from you. Something to be mindful of, which Kait certainly was. I am not a fearful or anxious flyer, so that helps too.
Still, Kait was so anxious the day before our flight that she was struggling to produce milk. We took a walk, I tried to help with words of encouragement, but she really did it with self work. Kait has always been a bad flyer, since I’ve known her, but she’s improved so much. She knows that the experience we get from traveling is way more important, fun, and needed compared to the fear that is fleeting and conditioned. Being mindful of all of this helps her conquer her conditioned fears and do what she truly wants to do, travel.
Weston started eating a little before take off. He got a little loud when he wasn’t getting his milk, but Kait quickly resolved that. He was actually awake for a lot of the flight and did excellently. Sure, he had one or two moments of fussiness but nothing long lasting at all. As we read on some blogs in preparing the trip, Kait did her best to have him breast feeding during takeoff and descent. The swallowing/sucking is good to help them through the changes in pressure. He actually started eating a little too early for the take off, but he didn’t seem bothered by the changes at all.
When we landed the woman across the aisle from Kait commented on how good West was. She was a talker and got to it. She asked if we were visiting grandparents in Charleston (which isn’t the first time we got that question 🤷♂️). The convo continued, and Kait said when she is due to return to work and that she had to commute from Philly to NYC 2-3 times per week, and the women’s response was, “oh, that’s not bad! I did it for 2 years 5 days a week. I did it when my kids were young. Everyone, these days, wants to be home with the really young babies. But I don’t think it matters. I think it’s better to be home more when they are older and you want to be at their sport games, concerts, events and such. When they are this young, the people in the daycare places are going to do just as good of a job as we would.”
I listened and my thoughts then and now are — Um, no, ma’am. Definitely not true. These years are so crucial to the development of a human’s personality. This is where the conditioning of the collective mind starts and shapes who Weston will believe himself to be. These are the years that will profoundly effect who Weston becomes in this reality. Having the ability to constantly be surrounded by loving, caring, honest, positive energy, happy parents/guardians is absolutely unmatched. Sure, if the parent is a shitty human, then yeah, please allow them to be raised by someone better.
Then, the woman went on to talk about the work ethic of young people. The typical millennial slamming work ethic talk. Meanwhile, Kait and I are both millennials. But it’s actually not millennials anyway, it’s the younger generation, Gen Z, that is now coming out of college and in their mid 20’s. Besides the fact that the changes we are making, taking control over our lives and not allowing the corporate world to slowly destroy us, is a great thing. Anyway, the woman mentioned how a younger female employee said she had to leave work early to go to yoga. She was appalled by this, reminiscing on the days that leaving work at 6:30pm was looked down upon because it was too early.
Again, no ma’am. Taking care of ourselves should be a priority and is not indicative of work ethic. Actually, I would argue that self care is probably associated with good work ethic, smart work ethic. Happier, healthier people do better work, are better people, and contribute more to society — more than a financial figure that we think actually matters in life.
The woman was very nice and was trying to make conversation that she thought appealed to us, I just didn’t agree with what she was saying in that moment.
Ok, so back to the trip.
Charleston airport is nice. Wow, clean, lots of light. Just quite nice compared to other airports I have frequented as of late. Very tiny, which is also nice. The car rental was right next to the baggage claim. On the way, we stopped to use the bathrooms – again, super clean and nice – and grab some coffee at Caviar & Bananas. The worker there, not so nice, more miserable and fake nice. My Dad has some aphasia, so he has difficulty communicating his thoughts – actually saying the words he is thinking of. The worker does not know this, but she was clearly agitated by my Dad’s ordering style. Negativity was palpable and it was hard to be in her presence, actually. I don’t think my Dad was aware, which I appreciate in those moments. On the other hand, my Americano was quite good.
Continuing on, we had a quick walk to the baggage claim where our stroller, car seat, and my parents’ checked bag were circling the belt, awaiting our arrival. A few short steps away was the rental car counter. We mostly use Avis. I’m a preferred member through my credit card and the cars are always nice and clean. Gettin the car was rather quick and easy but unorganized. Typically, as a preferred member, you can just walk right up to the car and go. I get an email or my name is on a screen with the parking spot number and the keys in the car. A worker will check that everything matches before we exit the parking area. Charleston Airport doesn’t work that way, so I had to go up to the desk. Again though, she was not the most pleasant woman to deal with. Kind of cold. Regardless, the car pick-up was right outside of the door. No shuttles to the car rental area. No long walk across bridges and through parking lots. All just right there. Easy and nice.
The car we picked, however, was not available. We purposefully chose a Prius because it would be good on gas mileage for the drive to/from Savannah AND they have the hatch trunk so we could comfortably fit our luggage and the stroller. Instead, they gave us a Ford Focus Hybrid with a regular trunk. While waiting the 10 minutes or so for the car, Kait changed and fed Weston. My parents helped with the luggage as I went to get the car and bring it around to pack it up. Despite the limited trunk space, we managed to squeeze in, with Kait’s suitcase taking up her leg room in the back. We buckled Weston’s car seat in the middle, slid him in which he didn’t love at first but a a quick 17 minute ride later, we were at our Airbnb in the Cannonborough/Elliotborough section of Charleston.
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