Hey there! I'm so glad you're here! I'm Monica Brown, a wedding photographer from Indianapolis who loves to celebrate couples & photographers. I hope you enjoy browsing through recent work, advice for brides & photographers, and taking a peek into our personal life!
In March, I took my first solo travel with Nora to Florida (you can view a little recap from our trip on her 6 month update), which was also her first flights ever! In April our little family of three flew to Hilton Head to photograph Sam & Caitie’s wedding. In May we drove 10 hours (one way) to my family reunion in Georgia and in June we drove ~3,000 miles (took about 20 hours coming home- yikes!) to Maine for Drew’s family vacation. I asked several friends questions before every trip so I could mentally prepare/know what the expect and that relieved A TON of stress/anxiety for me!! Since then, I’ve been able to pass this along to a few other friends flying or going on long drives with their babies so I thought it might be helpful to pass along to you as well!
–Have fun with it! Even when it feels hard or tiring, try to soak up those sweet cuddles and extra play time!
–Have a cover. I LOVE this cover for nursing in public, covering Nora from sun in the car seat or while I’m wearing her, to help her sleep, or cover if she’s getting overstimulated. This was especially helpful on my solo flights with her so she didn’t get overstimulated by looking around at everything/everyone.
–Bring a portable sound machine. We love this one! This is great for when you’re on the go and want to help the baby to sleep and especially if you’re in the same room as baby while traveling to help everyone well.
–Have medicine on hand, just in case. We brought gas relief drops, saline spray, booger sucker, nail kit, Tylenol (this was a life saver the day Nora was teething really bad), etc.
–Bring lots of toys to keep baby occupied and happy. This allows you to rotate them in/our as well. I loved storing ours in these containers from the Target cheap section (pic on right below) because they’re durable, the perfect size & easy to clean. One of Nora’s go-to toys is attached to her car seat which is also super convenient!
–Keep baby hydrated. Nora was born in the winter in Indiana so going to Florida in March was the first time she’s been in warm weather! I didn’t realize she could get dehydrated (thankfully my aunt was aware of this possibility and let me know!) so be sure to be aware of that as your might need to nurse more than normal or if baby has started eating food, you can offer water as well. Nora loves this sippy cup for drinking water.
–Diapers + Wipes: If you have the space you could always bring them in your bags OR just bring enough for your flights then buy at a local store upon arrival. We did both options. I really love water wipes for travel!
–Upon arrival, make sure baby gets some wiggles out. This will help them sleep better that night!
-Sleeping arrangements: If where you’re going has a crib, pack-n-play, or the ability to rent one of those, that can be a great option! For my solo trip, my aunt had a crib setup so we didn’t bring anything. For our family trip, we packed Nora’s pack-n-play (we stayed at a condo that didn’t have the option to rent one) in our large checked bag. To make it fit we had to have it in 3 pieces then stuffed diapers/etc. around it. You could also just check that as its own item (make sure this has some sort of cover to protect it!). For our two long road trips, we just brought that along with us in the trunk.
–Bring a warm baby blanket, even if you’re going to a place that’s warm. I recommend this because plane rides & restaurants can get chilly! You can also use it to help baby nap if you’re in an overstimulating place (like a restaurant).
-Flying with breastmilk: As long as its frozen, you’re golden! I had a mini cooler with 2 ice packs and it went through just fine. On our way home there was 3 bags that weren’t 100% frozen so they did take those out to inspect them. If you have a lot, you can also ship it ahead or ship it home. I’d refer to Google for logistics on this!
-Going through security: I recommend wearing your baby through security (we love the Ergo baby + it comes with an infant insert too) if you’re flying solo or with help. It just makes it so much easier!! They will swipe your hands once you walk through but overall, easy peasy.
–Rolling suitcases with all 4 wheels that roll are your friend!! This was especially helpful when flying solo but also was really nice when we traveled as a family!
–ID for your baby: When flying domestically, you don’t need any ID for your baby. For international, they would need a passport. For both you MUST have “infant in lap” (unless you get them their own seat) listed on your plane ticket. You do this at booking but make sure you double check you tickets (we ran into an issue with that on our flights home from SC and almost missed the flight so again, learn from our mistakes ha).
–Make sure baby is sucking during take off & landing (nurse, bottle, water, pacie…whatever you have!) so their ears don’t pop. One flight Nora was passed out so I let her sleep through both take off & landing and she didn’t seem affected.
-Strategically book flights if you can. Direct flights are the best, but not always possible (or affordable). When I flew solo we had direct which was awesome and when flying we Drew we had 1 connection which wasn’t bad at all, especially with Drew there to help! We chose to book early flights whenever traveling so they lined up more with her nap schedule which worked out really well for us!
–Don’t be afraid to ask to change seats if you need to. For example, if there’s an empty row open (we LUCKED out and there was empty rows open on both my flight to + from FL when I traveled solo with her) or if for some reason your seating gets separated from your partner, you can go up to the counter before they board and if its possible, they’ll generally switch you! We found airport staff to be SO HELPFUL and accommodating!!
–Bring your car seat & stroller! They are FREE to check at the gate or when you initially arrive. You don’t need to bring car seat base with you as you can just use a seatbelt when in a vehicle. I recommend:
-Check your car seat and stroller at the gate so you can keep baby in stroller while you’re going around the airport. This also lets you store bags in stroller depending on which one you have. We LOVE this one!! I actually didn’t have a car seat or strolled cover for these my first flights but in the future, I’d bring just a car seat cover (mainly because germs ha) as they were more careful with protecting the stroller.
Flying with help:
-Check car seat and stroller at the counter upon arrival. Make sure you have a car seat AND stroller protected otherwise they will get dirty and likely damaged. We had a cover for our car seat but not stroller the first time and a chunk got taken out of the stroller handle. We think it happened when coming onto the conveyer belt but either way, we definitely recommend you have it covered if you plan to check it!
–Protect your car seat & stroller!! (I know I just said this above, but really want to emphasize this one!) When we traveled as a family, we checked both the car seat & stroller so we borrowed a friends car seat cover but didn’t do that for our stroller. We had major regrets because a chunk got taken out of the handle. We won’t be making that mistake again!! When I flew solo I checked both at the gate so I could easily push her around (and lets be honest put the bags on there too so I didn’t have as much to carry ha) after we got through security, before boarding our flight. I liked both options, but it was nice to not have so much stuff when traveling with Drew!
–Nap when you can! Traveling generally can feel a bit stressful/tiring and that’s just magnified with a baby along for the ride! Plus, if you’re like us, you might have early flight (4am is rough y’all) so cap naps are essential!
-For our 10 hour journey, we left in the morning and drove all day. It was an 8 hour drive but we took our time with stops when needed and made sure Nora was well fed so that tacked on 2 extra hours. We didn’t bring the car seat base for this trip since it was a long weekend so just used the seat belt and that worked well.
-For our 20 hour drive, we opted to drive through the night and I’m sooo glad we decided to do this! It helped get more traction since that was Nora’s longest stretch of sleep. Again, we made sure to stop when needed and kept her well fed. We did bring the car seat base for this trip since it was over a week which worked great.
–Butt paste is a must to prevent or stay on top of diaper rash! We’ve been using aquaphora since day one with her diaper changes so she’s never had diaper rash…until the long car ride home. Swamp butt is a real thing y’all ha.
-If you’re driving through mountains or elevation changes at all (aka if your ears start to pop), try to have baby sucking on paci or toy to prevent them from any pain.
–Bring lots of toys to keep baby occupied and happy. You can also be creative and use things like your hats, the butt paste, etc. this also all make for great sources of entertainment during the drive ha.