Having traveled with Silas on four, almost five planes now, I feel qualified to talk about traveling with a baby. This first part will be about packing and preparation. The later parts will touch on my actual trip and also the act of being on a plane with an infant.
So, I don't know about you, but if you're like me, you don't want to check a bag. If you don't want to check a bag, you need to know what you need for a trip and what you don't need.
I traveled for five planned days (six with a flight delay) from Florida to Illinois, so I needed to be prepared for coldish weather (around freezing most days). I packed one messenger bag to stow underneath the seat and one backpack to stow above me. I use a backpack instead of a standard size carry on because I don't want to have to gate check my luggage.
My messenger bag was the diaper bag for the trip. I brought about ten diapers and a package of 80 wipes. It goes without saying, but if you can buy diapers at your destination, do so. I packed enough diapers for Silas to need one every hour of travel plus a few extras. Honestly, I could have gotten by with five but diapers are small enough that it's easily a case of better safe than sorry.
In addition to that, I had an easily accessible burp rag tucked into the side pocket of the messenger bag. I made use of that rag often. I also packed two more receiving blankets, a bulb suctioner, two new toys and a warm sweatshirt in that bag. The receiving blankets made a good place for him to roll over on the floor during our layover. The sweatshirt was overkill as Silas is a baby furnace and next time I'll skip it, but if your baby gets cold easily, I'd keep it.
Finally, my wallet and cell phone, along with a baby book, a birth certificate and our plane tickets went into the messenger bag. On the return trip, I packed the baby motrin that I had bought during my visit into this bag as well, though I didn't end up needing it. However, as a "just in case" item, it barely took up any space.
For Silas, I packed two pairs of pajamas, three pairs of pants, two short sleeved onesies and four long sleeved onesies. I guess it was overkill because I didn't use all of that, but baby clothing is so tiny that over packing is not typically an issue. Plus if you don't have an easy option for laundry, you might have to over pack.
For me, I had originally packed several outfits but ultimately ended up going with two pairs of yoga pants, a nursing bra, nursing tank top, two short sleeved shirts that were easy to nurse in and one (you guessed it) nursing shirt that was long sleeved. I also brought a button front sweatshirt, and the basics of underwear and socks and a pair of long johns. My clothing took up more space that Silas's and honestly, I didn't do anything that left me unable to wear a shirt two days in a row, so I think next time I will try to bring less.
Anyhow, all of that clothing went into the backpack along with a hat for Silas and a hat for me, a couple more receiving blankets, my manual breastpump and a few other of Silas's favorite toys.
When you're traveling with an infant, you are allowed to gate check a stroller or car seat. I did not do either, and instead used my wrap and tie baby carrier to bring him around. I think that next time I will bring an umbrella stroller as well. I really like my wrap and tie because then I can take the stairs/escalator in the airport, but it was exhausting to have a baby on the front, my backpack on my back and my messenger bag. So we'll see.
Finally, as far as a traveling outfit - I chose to wear a pair of yoga pants (yes, I brought three pairs of yoga pants. They were all black. And comfy) and a nursing bra and tank top. I also wore a button front sweater and zip up hoodie, and boots. I was a bit warm in Florida but it served me well in Illinois. Silas was outfitted in a short sleeved onesie, a pair of pants that had feet so that he wouldn't lose a sock in the airport and a lightweight jacket. He was plenty warm in the baby carrier with his hat outside, but if your baby tends to be colder, you'll want to obviously dress them a little warmer. Next time, I will wear comfier shoes. My toes ended up cramping by the end of the day from wearing those boots and walking everywhere.
Overall, flying was worth the time it saved and I think I'll be doing this again in the near-ish future. We'll see how my advice holds up then!