Bahama Mama & Papa: Traveling with a Three-Month-Old

--By Sheree Brown

Shortly after resigning from residency, I jumped right into full-time mommyhood with no regrets! One of the perks of this new “job” was the travel flexibility that it allowed me: I would be able to attend my cousin’s wedding in the Bahamas, which previously wouldn’t have been possible in residency.  Needless to say, my husband and I were SUPER excited because it would be our first plane ride with our little one! 
As soon as we booked our tickets, we started planning what we would need for our little guy, Micah, with a mental checklist (Check out our thoughts on packing when traveling with an infant below).
Dad and Son
Given that it was an international flight, and our first time traveling with an infant, we planned to get to the airport at 3 AM, 2 hours before takeoff. We live about 40 minutes away from the airport, so we allotted ourselves enough time to get ready and head over there, we woke up at about 1:30 AM. 

We were a little late to the airport, but without ill-effect. We checked in, checked our luggage (including the car seat base, which was a HUGE mistake as we later learned), went through security, and got on the plane without a hitch -- YAY! After sitting on the runway for almost an hour, waiting to take off, this dreaded announcement finally came overhead: “The plane was out in the cold overnight and this likely contributed to an oil leak, so we’ll have to deplane and reroute all passengers to their final destination. We apologize for any inconvenience.” And so began our 24-hour traveling nightmare.

So excited to get going on our trip. Boy, were we in for a surprise!
After speaking to the gate agent, we were told the next available flight to Miami, with a scheduled connection to the Bahamas, wasn’t until 3 PM. At that point, it was about 6:30 in the morning. There was no way we were going to spend the whole day sitting in the airport with a 3-month-old, so we decided to rebook our flight for the next day instead. We then went downstairs to get our bags, only to find out that everything had already been sent on a mysterious earlier flight to Miami.  So there we were, stuck in Chicago, without any of our things. We could’ve made due for one night, but we had no car seat base to take Micah home safely.  Therefore, we had to fly to Miami that day whether we liked it or not. 

We spoke with another agent, who kindly booked us on another flight that would leave for Miami at 11 AM instead. While waiting the 3-4 hours for that flight, I began mastering the skills of breastfeeding in public and changing a wiggly, active 3-month-old on an airport bench—two skills which, unbeknownst to me at the time, I would be getting lots of practice in over the next 16 hours.

We eventually got on our 11 AM flight and ended up taking off closer to 12 PM (Why you ask? Who knows, I say) and of course, we JUST missed our connecting flight in Miami (by 2 minutes, might I add). So off to customer service we went, to rebook yet again. And after being sent back and forth between terminals, and wrongly misled by a gate agent, we were finally put on a 7 PM BahamasAir flight that ended up taking off closer to 10 PM (Why, you ask? Who knows, I say).

Upon our arrival in Nassau around midnight, we checked into our hotel room at the Atlantis and noticed mold and hair in the shower and brown stains on the towels -- YUCK! After reporting this to the front desk, we were moved to another room in a different tower, a 7-minute walk away. As we headed to our room with Micah sound asleep in his stroller, I turned my phone on to look at the time. It was 1:30 AM.  I looked at my husband and said, “We’ve been traveling for 24 hours.” At this point, all we could do was laugh.  Finally, our 24-hour traveling nightmare was over. 

Ready for the beach!
The Bahamas was awesome. We spent time with family, witnessed a beautiful wedding, and enjoyed some sunshine with Micah. We took him to the beach for the first time where he cried bloody murder because the water was cold (you can imagine that it actually took us longer to get ready and head down to the beach than the time we actually spent there). My husband enjoyed the Atlantis watersides, and I caught up on some much-needed R&R. All-in-all it was a great trip once we were actually in the Bahamas and it was certainly a learning experience. Please check out our tips for traveling with an infant below.


Dapper Dan :-)


Things to Pack When Traveling with an Infant
The number one thing we learned from our 5-hour-turned-24-hour ordeal (thanks American Airlines) is to be prepared because you never know how the trip might turn out. So, bring a few extras of everything. That being said, here’s what we’d recommend:

Clothing
Two to three outfit changes (including bibs) for each day you plan to be away. Same goes for the number of outfits in your diaper bag that you’ll be traveling with (Micah ended up wearing makeshift pants from a onesie after he had a blowout on his last clean outfit).  

Feeding
1) Formula, bottles, and a bottle brush if your little one is formula fed (or if you plan to pump).
A nursing scarf if you plan to breastfeed.
OR
2) A Moby wrap (HIGHLY recommended!)  The Moby wrap, when traveling on a later trip, allows you ultimate convenience. You don’t have to take the baby out of it when going through security, making the security line a breeze, AND you can literally breastfeed while walking down the airport terminal! It’s what dreams are made of!
3) Your breast pump, if you really think you’re going to pump while on vacation.
4) Burp cloths

Diapering
1) Diapers, wipes, diaper ointment/cream
2) Gallon sized zip-lock bags for dirty diapers and soiled clothing

Bathing
Soap, lotion, towels, washcloths, comb, brush, nail clipper, thermometer.

Sleeping
Travel bassinet, sheets, sleep sack/swaddle

Travel by Air, Sea or Land
1) Passport, if needed. (Domestic flights will usually let you fly with a birth certificate or immunization record, but be sure to check with your airline ahead of time). See below for tips on getting a passport for your little one
2) Car seat
3) Car seat base
4) Stroller
5) Carrier (like Baby Bjorn)
6) Blanket(s)
7) Portable sound machine for the car seat. This is really helpful in drowning out background noise to help keep baby asleep.

Note 
Never check your car seat base separately from the car seat, particularly on flights with connections. Gate check everything if that's an option. Therefore, if your luggage is lost, or if you end up spending the night somewhere other than your intended destination due to a missed or canceled flight, you at least have a way to get around safely with your baby.  

Also, always ask if the flight is full once you’re at the gate. The gate agent may just be kind enough to give you an extra seat for the car seat, allowing you the option to put the baby down and maybe even catch a nap!

Things to Keep Baby Calm/Entertained
1) Pacifier
2) A favorite toy or book

Getting a Passport for an Infant
See the following link for detailed information on obtaining a passport for children under the age of 16: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/passports/apply-renew-passport/under-16.html

Quick Summary:
  1. Fill out form DS-11 (available at the link above)
  2. Provide proof of your child’s U.S. Citizenship.  A birth certificate will suffice.
  3. Provide a photocopy of the proof of citizenship from step 2.
  4. Provide proof of parental relationship (the birth certificate from step 2 will suffice)
  5. Present parental ID such as a driver’s license or passport to the acceptance agent.
  6. Provide a front and back photocopy of ID from step 5.
  7. Parental Consent: Both parents must be present to authorize issuance of the child’s passport. If this is not possible, you must submit a notarized statement of consent form (available at the above link).
  8. Provide a photo meeting the specified photo requirements of your child against a white background (Reference above link). 
  9. Submit required payment. A passport book is $80 and execution fee is $25.
Submit your completed application in person to a passport acceptance facility. Check out this link to find one near you: https://iafdb.travel.state.gov/





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