|What can mom & dad buy me from SkyMall?|
My first piece of advice would be to fly Southwest if at all possible. No, this is not a sponsored post (I wish), but they have several policies that make it much easier to fly with them than another carrier.
Next up, be prepared when packing. Checklists are your friend. I typically started my list about a week out from travel. It is amazing how many things you need when traveling with a little one and a list makes it hard to forget. Then again, forgetting is not always the end of the world. We were able to fully wean my daughter off her last before bed bottle (at 16 months) after it was forgotten.
While you will be bringing a lot of stuff with you, check as much of it as possible. (One reason why flying Southwest is helpful). Anything that is not super fragile (e.g. computer, camera) and you won't need on the flight, put in the suitcase.
Be realistic about what you need. Don't pack for the absolute worst case in-flight scenario. For example, I would typically have about 15 diapers and 2 sets of baby clothes in my carry on for a 3-hour non-stop flight. Yes, we could have gone through more, but after weighing the probabilities, I felt comfortable with this. Enough, but not too much to carry.
Wear the baby. This is especially helpful when you are traveling by yourself with the baby. The idea of folding and unfolding a stroller while holding a child that doesn't really walk gave me major anxiety. I also wasn't big on my child rolling around on the floor at airport security. If you are wearing the baby, they send you through the X-ray machine, test your hands and send you on your merry way. I wore E when traveling until she was almost 20 months old.
Sit in the back of the plane. Again, this is where flying Southwest can work in your favor. Unless the plane is packed, which happens, people are lazy and don't want to go to the back of the plane. It increases the likelihood of having an extra seat in your row and giving you some extra space to move around.
Bring entertainment....and snacks. We always had a variety of books, toys, crayons and other things to keep E busy on the plane. That said, the only thing that was a sure bet was snacks. Lots and lots of snacks. I also suggest water for an in flight beverage because it doesn't stain and isn't sticky when it inevitably gets spilled. I also skipped it in favor of my own water bottle on several occasions.
Rent what you can at your destination. The less you have to get to and from the airport the better. We were lucky enough to have family where we were going for most of our trips so we didn't have to pack much. We flew with a car seat and pack-and-play once and that was a huge mistake. It made the travel experience so much harder. I will be renting or buying these items at my destination from now on.
I know these tips may not work for everyone, but hopefully, you can learn from my experience (and mistakes).
Just remember to take a deep breath and enjoy the journey!