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Is Driving or Flying Better to Travel With an Infant?

by Nicole Vulcan, studioD

You're looking forward to getting out of town, but with baby in tow, you suddenly have a lot more to consider. One big thing to think about: whether you'll drive or fly to your destination. Unless your baby has just been born or has a respiratory condition, she should be safe to travel on an airplane, says MayoClinic.com. Before you choose, take some time to consider the pros and cons of each form of travel.

Driving Pros

Having an infant makes time seem to pass quickly, meaning you might not be on the same tight time schedule you were on before your new arrival. One of the pros of driving is that you'll be on your own schedule, able to stop to feed the baby or eat a meal when you need to. Since airlines generally charge for every bag you check, driving means you might be able to bring along more necessary baby gear than you would on a plane, such as a foldable crib or that bulky breast pump. Driving also tends to be less expensive than flying. If your child is a newborn, some airlines might not allow her to fly. For example, Southwest Airlines requires children to be at least 14 days old in order to fly.

Driving Cons

In most cases, driving is going to take a lot longer than flying. If you're planning a long road trip, you might have to make more stops than you would without the baby, possibly turning what was once a one-day drive into a two-day adventure. Factor in the cost of hotels and restaurants for multiple days and driving might not be as cheap as you'd originally thought. If you're headed to an urban area, you'll also have to find your way through an unknown area and worry about where you'll park the car -- all while having an infant crying the backseat.

Flying Pros

When you have limited time for your vacation, flying might be the practical option, since it's generally faster than driving. Since your child is an infant, you'll be able to keep her on your lap during the flight, meaning you'll be able to attend to her needs right away. You'll also be able to put some of the travel concerns in someone else's hands; no worrying about missing the exit for your destination or finding gas stations. You might even have time to read a magazine or do a crossword puzzle while in flight, instead of worrying about what's ahead on the road.

Flying Cons

If you've been on an airplane in the past, you probably know that crying babies tend to be quite ill-received; the longer the crying goes on, the more icy stares you'll get from across the aisle. If your baby has a meltdown it could make for a very long flight indeed. Babies often have a difficult time clearing their ears when the plane ascends and descends; usually a round of nursing or giving your baby a bottle or pacifier helps, reminds MayoClinic.com. Not only will you have to lug baby around and stick to a tight time schedule, you'll also have to deal with all the gear you'll need at your destination, including food and drinks for baby, car seats, strollers and bulky carry-on luggage. On top of all that, flying is often the most expensive option for travel.

About the Author

Nicole Vulcan has been a journalist since 1997, covering parenting and fitness for The Oregonian, careers for CareerAddict, and travel, gardening and fitness for Black Hills Woman and other publications. Vulcan holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and journalism from the University of Minnesota. She's also a lifelong athlete and is pursuing certification as a personal trainer.

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