Flying with a Toddler: Germany to South Korea
First my husband told me the flight to South Korea from Germany was going to take more than 20 hours, I shuddered. Then, he told me I would have to fly solo with our 13 month old daughter. Then panic set it. I started doing research and worked on my game plan to survive. I worked off two main ideas:
1. I need to be hands-free
2. I need to be able to carry everything by myself.
I've traveled my whole life and have discovered that there is no such thing as coming too early to the airport and I need to be able to run with everything for at least half a mile. Now, adhering to these ideas while also traveling with Sam was an order of the impossible.
While pre planning I knew I didn't want to hold Sam in my arms for 20 hours and with no one to pass her to having her own seat on the plane was a non negotiable. I also knew that she needed somewhere secure to sit so I could get up to use the restroom, and be able to fall asleep, without worrying about her. That meant I was going to have to bring her carseat. This is when things got tricky. How do I carry a carseat, a baby, and a carry on while still being hands-free and self sufficient? Without a doubt it would not have been possible without our Sunshine Kids carseat. (Now called Diono Carseat) It folds flat and becomes a backpack. Although it is much heavier than an average carseat, being able to put it on my pack made the weight tolerable. The carseat also laid flat enough that on the first leg of the trip I put it in the overhead compartment and let Sam enjoy the extra room to play.
I also made use of our favorite travel item, Sam's ErgoBaby carrier. I bought the attachable backpack to use as my carry on. It attaches nicely to the Ergo. I put the carseat on my back, the Ergo with Sam on my front and the backpack attached to the Ergo. Although I probably looked ridiculous, I managed to achieve my two main ideas for this trip: I was hands free and I was able to haul it all solo. Having the backpack on my front was nice because it allowed me to keep all our travel documents and paperwork in an easy to reach place. I had considered buying a rolling cart to put the carseat on but in the end it would have just been more work and one more thing to fumble with. In the areas that I could have used the rolling cart, there were generally luggage carts available. In the areas where I couldn't have used it, it would have been one more thing to fumble with and then carry. (For example: getting on and off the shuttle bus to the airplane, walking up the airplane steps, getting down the aisle of the plane, etc.)
I checked the 2 suitcases. I choose a duffel and a wheeled bag so that I could move the luggage one handed. I thought about bringing two wheeled bags but realized I would have to use both hands to move them. With a duffel I could just throw it on top of the wheeled bag and move everything one handed. This was very helpful while entertaining Sam with one hand and moving us through the check-in line with the other.
Although I ended up running through the Paris airport with a carseat on my back and a baby and bag strapped to my front ( didn't want to miss our connection) we made it!
Plan Ahead: Call the airlines and see what services they offer and reserve what you need. (Bassinet, assistance to the gate, etc.) With that being said, just because you reserved it, don't bank on the fact that those things will actually be there when you arrive. I called ahead and requested a cart to get us from one gate to the other in Paris but when we arrived, there was no cart available. Also, find out what will be available on the plane for you. On our flight from Paris to Seoul Sam was given two baby meals.