Updated: Feb 2
When my second baby was born, we had to move from Maryland to Japan when she was just six weeks old. I've never been more scared of a flight in. my. life.
We also had a 2 year old at the time so everything seemed like it was going to put me in crisis mode, from the jump!
But we made it to Japan with nary an incident.
It wasn't until we decided it was time to adventure around our new locale that things went sideways...fast.
My husband and I decided to take our little family for an adventure in to Yokohama (a not-at-all-small "suburb" of Tokyo). There's a giant ferris wheel there and the Cup o' Noodles museum (yes, you read that correctly) and who even knows how many other amazing sights!
Not 10 minutes into our 30 minute train ride, the infant detonated her diaper...up her back, on my husband's shirt. It was a textbook blowout.
And I forgot to pack an outfit change. For anyone.
So Mothra (our long-standing nickname for the baby) would spend the next several hours in a diaper (I did remember several of those, thank the gods). Not long after that, the toddler peed through her diaper and soaked her shorts. So that was fun! Guess who else I forgot to pack a change of clothes for.
Our family spent the next SIX HOURS just trying to get out of the train station. And when we finally did, it was a long, hot walk to the McDonald's to get us all something to eat. And along the way, we found a baby clothing store at the gargantuan mall atop the train station (Japan does not mess around, y'all) where the cheapest thing we could purchase for Mothra was a $60 Burberry onesie.
This was the outing that almost broke me.
But here's how I survived air travel with two tiny humans (and the biggest take-away from our Yokohama misadventure):
Wear your baby through the airport. Making yourself as hands free as possible is key. It's unlikely you'll be asked to remove the baby at security and they'll instead do the old school wavy-wandy thing. If they don't offer it, ask for it.
Make sure you're seated as close to a galley and a bathroom as possible when on the aircraft. Being close to the bathroom is kind of an obvious one, but the galley is important. About 98% of the flight crew I've had during my various flights with littles has been more-than-happy to help with them, as much as they can. Which leads me to:
Bring quality chocolate for your flight crew. We've all seen those videos of people gifting chocolate and earplugs to surrounding passengers. Forget them. Your flight crew is who you're going to need the most help from. A simple gesture of appreciation will go a l-o-n-g way. Sometimes it even means a little extra wine for you! I can't count the times the flight crew has offered extra snacks to my kids or let them play in the galley or generally just engaged with them so I could finish my damn dinner. Treat your flight crew well.
And the one big takeaway from Yokohama? PACK EXTRA CLOTHES. Before you jump to, "Um DUH?!", let me explain in a little more detail. Pack two extra outfits for each baby/toddler/kid and at least one extra shirt for you. Each outfit (along with a diaper) goes in a separate gallon sized ziploc baggie. This is in case of diaper detonation...you can stuff all the dirty clothes into a sealed bag and not have to worry about a) throwing away your cutest outfits or b) stinking up your diaper bag). And you can go about your day and your adventure and no one will be the wiser.
So there you have it. My favorite "traveling with littles" tips.
Since the Yokohama disaster, I've taken twelve international flights and innumerable road trips with my kids...often without my husband (because #deploymentlife). And almost nothing will make you feel more like the badass that you are than not only surviving, but enjoying, an adventure/vacation/whatever with a newborn and a toddler 😂
So get out there...and bring the littles! Indulge your wanderlust. Explore your surroundings. Take the vacations and plan the adventures.
You won't regret it.
Micah is a birth doula.& photographer and a prenatal yoga instructor based in Fort Worth, TX.