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Traveling TATL with toddler and infant alone
I have a 4 year old daughter and expecting a second child. We travel once a year to Germany to visit my parents, normally it's just me and my daughter. She's experienced little flyer, I took her over there 4 times already and 3 of those I was by myself with her (she was 18 months, 3 years, and 3.5 during the times we went). Together, we make a great team travelling on our own, so travelling with one child to Europe is fine with me.
But, with the baby coming, I'd like to get some advice from those of you who've travelled long distances with more than one child on your own.
Next time we'll go, my daughter will be 5 or older (Im not sure if it's going to be next year or the year after, the baby is due this coming winter and I'll have to go back to work after maternity leave, so no vacation will be left at that time) and the baby about 1 or little older.
I dont know how often my husband would be able to come along, plus the cost (in miles that we have and/or money) for the 4 tix to Germany every year could be pretty steep, so Im just counting on me and the kids to go regularly.
I actually do something similar. I fly from Europe to California about twice a year, alone with three children. Since I started older, I didn't have the luxury of spacing them apart and yes, there was one flight with all three in diapers! (The 4 1/2 year old was day-trained but I couldn't risk it on the flight).
For you, it'll be much easier. A five year old can be left in a seat and told you'll be coming back. You'll only have one in diapers.
I had seats for everyone (on all but two transatlantics). I'm a former Flight Attendant so the safety factor was a big reason but it was also much more comfortable for me and everyone around me. You may not be "able to pay" for a seat for the baby (although you wont have a choice after age 2) but if you can swing it, I recommend it highly.
If you don't, be aware that Lufthansa's bassinets are some of the biggest we know of. My year old son fit in it and he was bigger than average.
If your baby crawls, get him or her used to socks over his or her hands beforehand. If you bottle-feed, and the baby is over a year old, try to get the baby off bottles and drinking out of a sippy cup before leaving. Much easier to travel with than hard-to-wash bottles. I recommend too that he or she can drink powdered "toddler" milk so that you don't have to carry fresh or UHT with you. Just add water.
Many parents find it easier to travel with "finger food" rather than messy baby jars (with the spoons and the bibs). Get a "smock" style bib that really covers the baby. Easier than disposable.
The tip I give (that was debated on another thread) was to learn to change the baby standing up. Practice at home first! Put him or her in the "frisk" position. The baby changers are small on airplanes and a lot of larger babies and toddlers don't want to lie down in a strange place to get changed. It's hard to pin them down and change them at the same time! You also wont have to hunt down baby changers in public anymore!
No need to make either of them suck on anything for take-off and landing. Children often fall asleep on the tarmac so please don't wake either unnecessarily. If either/both are awake and thirsty, it can help but it isn't obligatory.
If you can AT ALL travel off-season, do it. I am recommending taking her out of school, if necessary. Pull her out before an existing vacation. American schools are much more understanding about this than here in Europe, especially if it's to see family. A good time is June, when American schools are out and most European schools are still in session till July.
Also, I'm guessing that the trip you made when she was 18 months old was probably the hardest. Really try to avoid flying with a toddler, if you can at all manage it before his or her first birthday, ideally. Toddlers can be a handful on airplanes!
The rest of it, you know. Bring enough diapers, etc. Make sure you have a good, comfortable baby carrier that will get your baby to at least 2 years of age. Front packs are usually outgrown before a baby's first birthday so a wrap, ring sling or good quality front/back pack will work better. Older babies and toddlers often get clingy in strange places with a lot of strangers around and don't want to be stuffed into a stroller, looking at everyone's knees. Good baby carriers are also magic for calming crying babies during the flight. It's nice to have your hands free!