We have always loved to travel. That did not change when we had children. Traveling with babies may seem daunting. However, with some extra planning and time it is possible to enjoy traveling and exploring with your little ones.
My daughter's first flight was when she was about 11 months old.
My son flew for the first time when he was 3 days old! (maybe that's why he wants to be a pilot!) They are only 15 1/2 months apart and I flew frequently with them by myself to visit my family. Call me crazy but I wanted to see my family as well as have them get to know my kids and vice versa. It would take 6 days to drive (I did that by myself with them too when they were older - that might have been crazier), so I flew because it only took a whole day.
So here are some of my experiences for flying:
The smaller they are, the easier it is to keep them entertained during the flight because they mostly will sleep or eat. However, as they got older, flying with them was actually quite enjoyable because they had my undivided attention ie I was not doing laundry or vacuuming so they were happier. A couple of board books and a favorite toy or two (and maybe a new one) in the carry on might be all you need. Playing pat-a-cake and similar activities don't require any extras in your carry on and believe me you'll have plenty of other stuff you'll need to take.
Baby strollers and car seats can be gate checked so you have them immediately upon deplaning at your destination. Our double stroller while perfect for walks and shopping at home was very bulky for traveling so we opted for 2 umbrella strollers. They were perfect for traveling. Alternately, you might prefer to wear your baby. There are so many options for wearing your baby - that is another blog post sometime! Car seats can also be checked in with the rest of the baggage at no additional charge. If you are renting a car, you might ask if the rental agency also has car seats available. That will save having to haul one to the airport in the first place. When traveling by yourself with 2 smalls, you will need to take a car seat on the plane as you can't have 2 in your lap. Check with the airline to see what their guidelines are. Apparently some international flights have bassinets but again, please check with the airline.
Most airlines let families with small children board first. The extra time can be helpful to get settled in but that also means more time sitting before take off so that will need to be taken into consideration. Unless I had a tight connection to make, I usually preferred to wait till last to get off the plane. That gave me extra time to gather my stuff - remember I said there would be plenty of it - and get off without feeling rushed by other impatient passengers.
The change in air pressure on take off and landing can be hard on the little one's ears. Offering the breast, a pacifier or bottle at those times can help to equalize the pressure in their ear canals. Check with TSA about getting through security with breastmilk or formula. The 3 ounce liquid restriction doesn't necessarily apply in that situation.
If you have multiple stops and lengthy layovers, it can be helpful to find a quiet place in the airport to rest. A kind flight attendant told me about the mezzanine in the Minneapolis airport that had soft couches and oversized chairs. We used it every time we flew through there and usually there was only 1 or 2 other people in there.
If you have experience flying with babies and small children, what other tips did you find helpful?