Surviving a Layover with a Baby Nomad
Layovers are one of those things that you either love or hate. Personally, when I am headed out on vacation, I love them. When I am headed back home, I am usually on a mission to make it back in record time, so I don’t appreciate them as much. Now that I have a baby in tow, I am so grateful that layovers exist. So. Grateful.
Flights can be compared to running a marathon; there are water stations for a reason. Grab a sip of water, mentally regroup, and possibly walk instead of run for 100 feet. It is essential for runners to have small ways to recharge and continue on. Layovers are my travel day water stations.
Typically when I am flying out of Florida I have a short 45-minute flight to Atlanta and then from Atlanta, I catch the flight to my destination. My layovers are usually 1-3 hours. I prefer a nice 2+hour layover over a short 1 hour layover because I have ample time to make the connection and no one has to witness me running with my baby bouncing all around and me profusely sweating/breathing hard. The extra time allows me to use the restroom, get a snack, nurse the baby, change her diaper, get to my gate and make the pre-board.
Check the App before you land:
Another way to make the layover a little easier is to know what gate you are arriving and departing from, before you land. Since we fly Delta most of the time, I have the Delta app on my phone. (I know American Airlines and other airlines have something similar) I can go on my phone mid-flight and see what gate we will be arriving at and which one my next flight is leaving from. This way I can mentally prepare for how far we may have to go. Most airlines allow you to access their app or website through the Go-Go In Flight Internet for free, so you won’t have to pay to use it.
Use the elevators vs. the escalators:
Yes, it’s possible to get up an escalator with a bag, a baby and a stroller. The question is: why would you do that to yourself if you could just as easily take an elevator? After traveling Europe and seeing how family friendly everything was, I started to take notice of elevators. The United States offers elevators anytime there are stairs or escalators. Use them. No need to be a hero because you may end up looking silly when your bag is tumbling down the escalator and you can’t catch it because you’re also holding a kid and stroller.
Playing on the floor:
If the layover is long enough to have time to do more than the tasks listed above, then we use the time to let the baby play. Play? In the airport? Yes. Trust me when I say that your child is probably going to get sick of you while you travel. Give them time (if available) to be free and not on your lap/restrained. Since our baby Nomad is under one, we normally have a backpack full of stuff to keep her busy. Some go-to items for us are: a blanket to sit on, a couple small hard books to read, a gallon sized zip-lock bag full of small baby toys, a sippy cup, at least one small stuffed animal, her lovey, a couple pouches of baby food, puffs, plus all of the normal diaper bag items. I let her play with everything in the bag if she wants. If the crunchy bag of wipes is more appealing to her than her actual toys, she can have it. I have found that the airport/airplane is not the time to enforce a ton of rules, so if crinkling a bag of wipes will prevent a melt down, then that’s cool with me! Since our babe has started crawling I let her explore and move around. My hope is that she burns out some energy and sleeps on our next leg. Finally, use the giant windows in the airport. Everyone loves to look outside and see all the planes/cars moving around, so bring the kids over. You could even play an intense game of I-Spy.
Using the bathroom when you’re alone with children:
If you are flying solo with your baby, then some tasks become increasingly and surprisingly difficult. The most surprising to me was going to the bathroom. Ummmm, how do I do it if no one can watch my stuff or hold my baby?!? Over time, I have become the master of solo bathroom visits with a baby. Here are a couple ways I manage:
1) I wear the baby, place the bag in the stroller and it all comes into a handicap stall with us. I keep her strapped to me as I do my business. (Especially if she is asleep in the carrier)
2) Usually the Sky Clubs (which I always recommend to all parents) have a changing table in a stall. THIS IS THE BEST. I can bring everything into the stall with us, lay the baby on the table, use the strap to hold her on there, and pee hands-free. It’s the little things in life that make a huge difference and this is one of those things.
3) If you brought your stroller, you can always place the baby in the stroller, hang the back pack/diaper bag up, drag the other bags into the stall, and pee. This is the most practical for older babies/toddlers.
It goes without saying that we prefer our baby to sleep on the plane rather than in the airport, but we don’t always get that lucky. There are several ways and places to get your baby to sleep in the airport and most of them aren’t any different than what you would do if you were out shopping. Here are three things we have done:
- Wear your baby in a soft carrier and walk around. The gentle bouncing often puts the baby to sleep.
- Rock the baby and hold her or you could transfer her to a laydown stroller or push two chairs together to make a “crib” **USE CAUTION AND NEVER LEAVE THE BABY UNATTENDEND**
- Push the baby around in the stroller until they’re asleep (this is the most rare for us)
Overall, babies and children tend to like new places. Airports can be very fun for young kids and the hustle and bustle just add to the intrigue. Don’t be afraid of layovers. Welcome them. Use the time to get yourself (and your kids) together. Spend some time physically apart before you’re trapped in a metal tube together for the next several hours. You’ll do great.
As always, we love your feedback, questions and additional tips! Please comment below or contact us!
Fly Brave. Travel Often. See everything.