Christine Folch

International Research Travel with an Infant

I’m an anthropologist. Almost by definition that means I travel a lot for research. And, to be completely honest, that’s not incidental… it’s one of the reasons I was drawn to this life. But this year, it’s different. Unlike the dozens of previous research trips I’ve taken, this summer we have a little one of three months in tow. And so here is what I’ve learned so far (note: I’ve now successfully *flown* from the U.S. to Paraguay, my long-term fieldsite–> almost 10 hours in the air, two legs).

What worked:


Closely reading the airline’s infant-traveling baggage policy to know that, though he was an “infant in lap,” because we had to pay 10% of an adult fare for him, he was allowed TWO carry-ons. We chose a diaper bag and a car seat (which had to fit in the overhead compartment). We only carried TWO additional carry-ons (small suitcase, computer bag) plus a small purse in order to have as many free hands as possible.

Single-serve formula packets, so that we didn’t have to measure the stuff ourselves. (We use Enfamil Gentlease, which is what my mom used with me.)

BuyingJC and luggage bottled water after security. Asked the flight attendant for warmed water.

12 hour flight. Normal bottle usage during that time: 4. Packed: 8 empty bottles. Used: 6.

Dish soap in a carry-on size (3oz) bottle, to soap up during the lay-overs.

Getting to the airport 3 hours ahead of time. Accepting that we’d be that slow-going family in all the lines. We had *just* enough time to get two airport lattes before getting to the gate and boarding.

Checking the car seat at the gate (he hates it, it’s bulky, and there wouldn’t have been room for him to sit in it during the longest leg of the flight).

What didn’t work:

Bidding for a business class upgrade on one of the legs. Maybe they didn’t want a crying infant among the muckety mucks.

EarPlanes. He’s too little. He also didn’t need them.

Swaddling him to sleep on the free seat next to us. (We held him asleep.)

What I wish I’d known:

That other passengers would be super baby-friendly, smile at him, and keep him entertained.

That sometimes airlines seem to not notice your ticket says “infant in arms” and they assign you to the last two seats: Exit Row. Unfortunately, infants cannot sit in Exit Rows.



One comment on “International Research Travel with an Infant

  1. Larycia A Hawkins
    May 18, 2018

    And you still managed to write this!


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This entry was posted on May 17, 2018 by in Scholarly Life, Uncategorized and tagged , .
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