Tag: Traveling with Kids

Beijing Airport Security – Traveling in China

Traveling Abroad

Traveling abroad can make you feel a little out of your element. It’s stressful, different and exhausting. We learned that some places to fly to are easier than others. This can be due to a number of factors. The location, the airport, the security, the weather, the airline… so many things can affect how smoothly your travel is. One place that will stretch your stress meter to the max is the Beijing Airport. Prepare for the pat-down of your life!

planes

Here I’ve tried to include our story and some helpful hints to make it run as smoothly as possible.

Secure Security to Make You Feel Insecure

You have not seen airport security until you have been to Beijing. Well, it might be rivaled by North Korea. But I don’t know for sure, I’ve never been there. I am not entirely sure what they are expecting to find, but they seem to have one of the tightest securities there is.

Our Experience with the Beijing Airport

We were flying from Beijing to Shanghai. We had been staying for a quick visit to see the Great Wall and other such historic landmarks. I have SO many stories from Beijing, but for now we’ll just focus on the Beijing Airport.

Camera Conundrum

camera equipment. An idea of how much we had to take out at the beijing airport
To give you an idea of the amount of equipment in one bag. (Not including cords, batteries, chargers and memory cards.)

So, because it was a site seeing trip, we had brought our nice camera. We’re photographers, so naturally we have some equipment, but we brought our cheapest DSLR, (Canon EOS Rebel T5i  which is amazing and takes terrific traveling pictures by the way.)

Well, the camera was a bit of a problem for the Beijing Airport security officers. They made my husband take every, single item out of the camera bag and show them. Yep. Camera, lenses, batteries, cords, straps, lens hoods, EVERYTHING. Each item was inspected as if the cords were harboring a thumb drive that would expose government secrets.

After putting each item meticulously back in place, he finally crossed the threshold to me and encountered the problem I was facing.

Infant Imposition

beijing airport security example
We don’t have a picture of the Infant Imposition because Austin was busy taking apart every piece of the camera… 😉

While he was taking his time putting the cords, batteries, straps, lenses, camera and memory cards back into their proper places, I was asked multiple times to hand my three month old daughter to the security guard there. I said no.
They persisted in asking and I kept telling them no. I might have been a little paranoid, but in hindsight I am so glad I didn’t. Even if the security guard wouldn’t have intentionally harmed my child or taken her where I couldn’t see her, she could have dropped her.

One of the security guards looked extremely frustrated that I would not comply. He tried slowing down what little English he knew. I told him no again and pointed at my husband, indicating that I would wait for him.

I handed Siena to Austin after he had finished putting the camera equipment away.  Then after I had been properly frisked, Austin handed Siena back and I held her while Austin was frisked.

after getting through beijing airport security
There is light at the end of the tunnel. Your baby will go back to sleep and it will all be okay. Just take a deep breath and try to relax.

Helpful Hints

  • Arrive early to the Beijing Airport so that you aren’t worried about missing your flight.
  • Be firm in your boundaries and what you are comfortable with.
  • Expect to be treated as the most threatening person to pass under the metal detector. That way if you are not treated that way, it is a pleasant surprise.
  • If you get tripped up, just breathe, say a prayer. It’ll be okay.
  • Make sure you have your passport easily accessible and all other documentation. This could include where you stayed, what you did, or any other information. The more information you have, the better.
  • On that note: Keep track of your passport. As most people know, an American passport is extremely valuable.
  • Some places in the Beijing airport it is best to not even have your phone out. There are ‘no picture areas’. Make sure you respect those rules.
  • But when you’re allowed to take pictures, make sure to capture all of the great signs that have been “translated” to English for your benefit.

Flying with an Infant – It’ll be Okay!

Flying with an Infant

I’m not going to claim to be an expert on flying with an infant, but if there was an expert based solely on experience, that person would be me. This is not a brag list, but a comprehensive list so you can understand that when you are reading my advice, I have some life lessons backing me up.

Flights during the first 6 months of my First Baby’s Life

1. Raleigh, North Carolina --> Denver, Colorado – 1 week old
2. Denver, Colorado --> Salt Lake City, Utah – 1 month old
3. Salt Lake City, Utah --> San Francisco, California – 6 weeks old
4. San Francisco, California --> Shanghai, China – 6 weeks old
5. Shanghai, China --> Shenzhen, China – 2 months old
6. Guangzhou, China --> Shanghai, China – 2 ½ months old
7. Beijing, China --> Shanghai, China – 4 months old
8. Shanghai, China --> Xi’an, China – 4 months old
9. Xi’an, China --> Shanghai, China – 4 months old
10. Shanghai, China --> Hong Kong, China – 4 months old
11. Hong Kong China --> Taipei, Taiwan – 4 months old
12. Taipei, Taiwan --> Hong Kong, China – 4 months old
13. Hong Kong, China --> Shanghai, China – 4 months old
14. Shanghai, China --> Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – 5 months old
15. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia --> Singapore, Singapore – 5 months old
16. Singapore, Singapore --> Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – 5 months old
17. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia --> Shanghai, China – 5 months old
18. Shanghai, China --> Los Angeles, California – 5 months old
19. Los Angeles, California --> San Francisco, California – 5 months old
20. San Francisco, California --> Salt Lake City, Utah – 5 months old
21. Idaho Falls, Idaho --> Salt Lake City, Utah – 6 months old
22. Salt Lake City, Utah --> Denver, Colorado – 6 months old
23. Denver, Colorado --> Detroit, Michigan - 6 months old

Map of all of infant's first 23 flights for flying with an infant

If you were thinking that we must be insane then you are correct. I don’t know what we were thinking, but we have all survived and lived to tell the tale.

This also does not include the many train rides, bus rides, taxi rides, metro rides or road trips that were also a part of my daughter’s first 6 months of life. I am sure in her big baby brain, she probably thought that her family must be gypsies and she was doomed to a life of constant change.

The best part about this list is that on flight number 23, someone asked me if this was my baby’s first flight and I just laughed.

So, from someone who has REALLY been there, here are my juicy secrets:

Call Ahead

If you will be flying with an infant, call ahead. Especially on International flights, but even on Domestic flights, it’s possible that they have a baby bassinet and you’ll be able to lay your angel inside of it and just let him sleep. They can also put you in an emptier row, or closer to the bathroom with a changing table. Let the crew know about your situation so they can be a team player for you.

breastfeeding-on-the-plane-while-flying with an infant

Take a Bottle & Some Formula

I don’t care if you are exclusively breast feeding your baby or if you have so much milk you feel like you might explode. If you are a new Mama, you may not know how much milk you are producing and it might be awkward to bust out your boob for the general public.

Also, flying with an infant can be very stressful and stress affects milk production. Bringing a bottle also provides a way for your spouse to feel like they can be helpful too. You don’t have to use the bottle, but having it can be a lifesaver.

My experience: I didn’t think to bring one until the very end of our 6 month journey. All of the flights were hard. We were stressed out of our minds and so concerned about our little baby girl. On our flight out to China, I figured I would just breastfeed her in our row. We had the whole row to ourselves, and I breastfed, but she kept crying and crying. I spent 15 hours onboard an aircraft, with no escape and other passengers watching, trying to soothe a screaming baby.

Hindsight is 20/20 and if I could go back and tell myself, I would say to bring a bottle. I don’t think she was getting enough milk to fill her belly enough to fall asleep. My poor exhausted baby was hungry and her poor stressed mother couldn’t feed her.

Just swallow your pride and bring a bottle.

Also, if you're a new mama, not all bottles are created equally. The first ones we got leaked everywhere! We never had a problem with these ones:

Bring a Pacifier

Even if you don’t typically let your baby suck on a pacifier, this can be a lifesaver when taking off and landing. The elevation changes can hurt your babies ears and giving him something to suck on will naturally release the pressure in his ears.

Also, flying with an infant is just as stressful to the baby as it is to Mommy and Daddy. Providing the baby with some way to self soothe can help him feel safer and more secure.

If for some reason you forget a pacifier or lose it, I would let Siena suck on my finger. Sometimes you might not be able to reach it. After all, the flight attendants want those bags to stay in the overhead bins during takeoff and landing.


Pack Extra Diapers and a Change of Clothes

You never know when a blow out can strike! My son is an eating, sleeping, pooping machine. And when I say that, I mean he eats and eats and eats and then a couple of days later, he explodes. He has a blow out almost EVERY time he poops. I literally have to catch him in the act to prevent a desecration of his outfit.

There are also other bodily fluids to worry about. For example, vomit, spit up, urine, blood… Someone could spill a drink on your baby. It could be raining. It’s always good to be prepared.

Flying with an infant is not always predictable. On our way back from China, we missed our second flight, due to delays with the first one. We couldn’t make it to Salt Lake that night, had to fly to San Francisco instead to try and catch the last flight out there. Then we missed that one and had to spend the night in a hotel. We were very glad that we had packed extra diapers and a change of clothes for our daughter in the carry on but our own clothing situation was not as fortunate.

sitting-in-the-airport-waiting-to-be-flying with an infant

If you want to read about the most memorable time I forgot to bring an extra diaper, you can read about one of my many Mom Moments.

Ignore the Looks of Disapproval

MOST OF THE TIME people are SO NICE! Even flying as frequently as we do, I have found very few people who are shooting daggers at me. In fact, the only lady who I think legitimately hated us was someone who sat in front of me and my 18 month old daughter, who decided that kicking the chair in front of her was the best sensation her feet could experience.

But I had so many people offer to help, or the flight attendants would ask how they could help. One flight attendant gave me an entire liter water bottle so that I had enough water to mix bottles for Siena on the very long flight.

I’ve had nice passengers hold my kid while I grab something, make sure she didn’t fall, lifted my bag for me. You will not believe how amazing people are, so if someone is being a jerk, ignore them. Most people are NOT thinking the same thing. In fact most people have had to experience flying with an infant themselves. They get it.

flying with an infant-using-the-joey

Use the “Joey”

We call those backpack, baby carrier things, the “Joey”. The Joe saved our lives. A stroller is bulky. When you have a toddler or heavy baby, sure, bring a stroller. But when you have a little infant baby, bring a Joey. The closeness will make your sweetheart feel more secure and if you’re lucky, flying with an infant will be even easier because as you’re going through the airport your little one will fall asleep from the gentle rocking motion.

However, expect to take the Joey off at security. Apparently a Joey is a good place to hide drugs or something.

This is especially important when you are traveling out of the country. Americans have a lot more baby gear than most other countries. One day I will tell you all about some of our experiences with our “gear” in China. But suffice it to say, the Joey became our best friend.


I have heard rave reviews about the Ergo baby, but we had a just a cheap $40 one the whole time we were in China. My biggest complaint with the one we had was that it didn't support my brand new baby's head as well as I would have liked. So when she was super little, we had to put our hand under her head at all times to support it. So, maybe the extra money is worth it.

Trust Your Gut

Flying with an infant can be nerve-racking. The worst place I could imagine losing your child is an airport, so trust your gut.

When we were traveling from Beijing to Shanghai, a security personnel offered to hold my baby while they scanned me with their little hand scanner. I did not want any of them to hold my baby. I felt extremely uncomfortable with the situation.

A man kept retranslating as if I didn’t understand that I needed to hand my baby to the woman. I told him no. I was not going to do that. He looked exasperated so I pointed to my husband and told him that he was going to hold my baby.

Don’t be afraid to say no. If you don’t feel comfortable with something, especially when it comes to your kid, trust your gut! I suspect my baby would have been fine, but I was much happier waiting for Austin to come and join me and hand him my little baby. No one can force you to do something you don’t want to do.

This is ONLY a situation that we ran into in Beijing. No one else asked to hold my baby while going through security (in case this story scared you). Beijing, in general is a very high security place and the government has a high degree of control and power there.

Blankets: 1, 2 & 3

I recommend 3 blankets, maybe 2… depending on your situation.

1. Swaddle Blanket
2. Warm, Snuggle Blanket
3. Cover Blanket

Numbers 1 & 3 can be interchangeable if you don’t need to do both at the same time. We combined these when we traveled to China because any time our daughter was in the Joey, she couldn’t be swaddled so we would have her thinner blanket to cover her. Protecting her from the light (and nosy faces of potentially sick and contagious onlookers) was essential to having a happy, healthy baby while traveling.


walking-around-while-flying with an infant
waiting-in-the-airport-before-flying with an infant

You Can Do It!

Here’s the thing, you know your baby. You are her Mama or Dada. Don’t ever doubt the significance of that because that is your number one compass. If you think your baby needs that pack of teething crackers, bring them along. If your little one has a favorite blankie, bring that thing. My daughter had an owl blanket that she STILL takes everywhere with her. I think that because it was one of the only constant things in her life, it is now like a lifeline to her.

Every time someone shoots you a look or tries to offer unwanted advice, just remember that God gave you that baby, He trusts you to be her parent. Your opinion about your baby and how to travel with her is the one that matters the most.

You may be tired and worn out by the end of your trip, but the flight will end eventually. Flying with an infant is not an experience that will last forever and you'll usually have a memorable experience to look back on. Pretty soon you’ll be blogging about your own horror stories.

Check out how to entertain your toddler here!

5 Mom Moments That Were NOT Funny at the Time

Mom Moments = Memories

Mom Moments may find us as soon as we see that we are going to become mommies. Three of the ones I will share with you today occurred while I was pregnant with my first child. The other two are ones that happened within her first 4 months of life. You cannot have too many Mom Moments because those are the memories you talk about until you die.

Passed Out

I was only four months pregnant when I had one of my first Mom Moments. We had spent all day shooting a wedding, that night I had walked a midnight 5K with my two sisters and then we had had to spend the whole night packing up our apartment to move. The next day, we had somehow managed to get everything out of our apartment.

I had ended up without a car, stuck at the apartment with just me, the cat and the litterbox. All the furniture was gone and I was exhausted. Finally, I laid on the ground and immediately fell asleep. Less than ten minutes later, my cat let out these long mournful cries like I had never heard before. I got the distinct impression that he had literally thought that I had died. As soon as I moved and called to him he came over and plopped next to me and demanded to be comforted.

Me&My-Sisters-before-the-5K-during-one-of-my-Mom Moments
Selfie-on-My-Birthday-to-Get-Oil-Changed-Before- the road trip of one of My-Mom Moments

Pit Stop in the Canyon

The second of my Mom Moments: The day after my birthday, we were driving and I was pregnant. I had had some bad sushi (all cooked fish) that morning and was already prone to morning sickness. We were driving out in the middle of nowhere to get to a family reunion. The road was on the side of the mountain and on the left side of the narrow road there was a cliff and on the right side of the road, a wall.

My nausea kept building and building. I told Austin that I had to throw up, I couldn’t hold it in. I looked for something, anything to catch the vomit and found a grocery bag. Barely opening the bag in time, vomit spewed from my mouth.

I quickly realized that my grocery bag had holes in it. “Austin, there’re holes in this thing!”

He was already pulling over in the first tiny alcove he could see in the canyon wall. I hadn’t even noticed that he had already rolled the windows down. Apparently the fumes from the vomit had been immediate and it was all Austin could do to keep driving and not throw up himself. “Get that out of the car!”

I am not proud of us that day. We definitely littered. We left that grocery bag full of vomit on the side of the road and I still hope that no one has found it.

A Memory Lapse

Mom Moments #3 - I was driving and Austin was giving me directions on how to get somewhere. He said, “K, now turn left at the next stop sign.”

I nodded and silently took note. I pulled up to the intersection, stopped at the stop sign and went straight.

Austin stared at me in shock. “You didn’t hear me?”

“What?”

“I literally just told you to turn left at the next stop sign.”

I started laughing. “I’m so sorry. I seriously forgot.” I could suddenly remember him telling me, but not a second after he told me to turn, I had already forgotten. He was in disbelief.

Jennifer-at-the-Steering-Wheel,-representing-one-of-her-Mom Moments
hotel-room-in-china-location-of-one-of-my-mom moments

No Boundaries

Mom Moments like this are ones that few people in America will get to experience this viscerally. Six weeks after Siena was born, we moved to China for the next 5 months. During our stay there, our parents came out to visit and we stayed in a hotel. One evening, I was inside of our room breastfeeding and a maid comes in to prepare it for the nighttime.

She puts the candies, adds the towels, oh and makes sure to peak down my cover at my nursing baby. That’s right, she walked all the way around the bed, came over to me, grabbed the top of my cover and looked down at my naked breast and my hungry child.

Although she was more assertive than other Chinese women, she was definitely not the first or the last to attempt such a thing so while shocked, I was not surprised.

The Great Wall Disaster

The Great Wall Disaster

My Mom Moments will make you feel better about any Mom Moment you may have, especially this one. We obviously had to see the Great Wall when we were in China with our parents. We put little Siena in our “Joey” (front pack) and went off on our grand adventure. The Wall was quite a ways from our hotel and we realized as we got off the Wall that Siena had pooped.

I looked in my backpack for a diaper and with crippling fear realized I did not have another one. It would be at least a couple of hours before we would be able to get back to the hotel and that included a miserable, hot bus ride.

We pulled out what we did have in the diaper bag and realized we had a “cloth diaper” that we had been using as spit up cloths.

Then I spotted a Subway. I wasn’t sure how I was going to communicate with the server there as no one speaks English. I walk in and play a game of pantomime and charades until she finally hands me a plastic bag, big enough for a 6 inch sub.

We took Siena to the main reception area for people wanting to go on the wall where there were some chairs. I tore holes in the corners of the bag and we made a makeshift diaper for her. She hated it at first, but you know what? It held up. She peed on the way back and her clothes stayed dry.

My-poor-trusting-baby-during-one-of-my-mom moments
My-poor-trusting-baby-during-one-of-my-mom moments

Share Your Mom Moments!

Do you have a Mom Moment that can stand the test of time? Please share it in the comments below. It will make the rest of us feel better about our own Mom Moments. 

If you want to read about an epic FAIL of many Mom Moments about potty training, check out my blog post: Potty Training, Poop Everywhere Edition

Want to see more embarrassing Mom Moments? Check out Embarrassing Mom Stories