Before Olive, I always thought I wanted to be the parent that didn’t let having a child keep them from going places or traveling. Once she was here I didn’t quite feel the same, which I’m sure any new parent can tell you happens! I had wanted to go to Mexico City, or D.F. (del effey), until recently changed to la Ciudad de Mexico, CDMX.
My dad had mentioned of doing a family trip, something we hadn’t done in over a decade. I scoffed at the idea really, “why would I travel with Olive”, I told him, “that sounds like so much work, she’ll be 9 months then”. Conversation continued of the trip; he researched flights and hotels and I researched what traveling with a baby is like. My dad came back with a realization: if we fly out of Tijuana, the flights are half the cost of flights out of LAX. The price was right, we would be going as a group of 6 (my parents, brother, his girlfriend, John and I) so they could help me with the baby and the timing was right for us celebrating my parents’ 30th wedding anniversary and a friend meeting us there for a few days!
Flying out of Tj, requires crossing the border into the Tijuana airport and there are a few ways to do this: drive across the border straight to the airport and park there, have family drop you off at the border, walk across the US/Meixco border and take a taxi into the airport or using the Cross Border Xpress. I hadn’t heard of it or ever flown out of the Tijuana airport but there is a new bridge from the US Border that takes you right into the airport on foot. Why is this more convenient than driving across the border? Well, you can park your car on US side and avoid Tijuana traffic. Traffic getting into the airport can be a pain, and more importantly, if you’ve ever driven from Tj back into the US… the traffic on la linea (the line) can be ridiculous. Sitting in your car to cross the boarder can take hours. We were already spending half the cost of the flights had we flown out of LAX so we didn’t mind the expense of the bridge.
The CBX bridge is only a few years old. While planning for the trip I read many blog posts and yelp reviews about people’s experiences. A lot of the early reviews were not smooth, but my guess is the longer it’s been open the better operated it’s become (there were some construction areas too, so clearly some areas are still under development). The use and convenience of the bridge comes at a cost, of course (see their website for current ticket price). You can buy tickets in advance, or just buy once you get there. They also offer group tickets at a discounted price but these aren’t available for purchase online. For 6 people (infants are free) a one-way group ticket is available for $75 and we purchased there. The only disadvantage to buying there, I would say, is time. For our departing flight there was no line to buy tickets so we bought our CBX ticket and filled out our travelers entry form hassle free. We didn’t spend much time on the US side, but there is a cafe and a currency exchange there. And for the traveler’s convenience there are luggage carts free to use. One hassle with the luggage carts, is when you make it into the Tijuana airport, you have to exchange the CBX luggage cart, for a Tijuana airport luggage cart. This created a short traffic jam of all of the other switching luggage carts and waiting for the elevators. You can read plenty of details here about walking through the bridge.
Returning home and using CBX was rather smooth too. Right outside of the baggage claim area is the CBX counter and entry point. We purchased our family ticket and continued along the corridors making our way to the US customs checkpoint. There was already a line for customs (mostly the people that were on the same flight as us) so this took about 45 minutes. There were only 2 counters open and one line was going significantly faster than the other, so we waited in the longer line, saw the opposite line progress so much faster and then switched lines.
Young children on airplanes just sounds like an awful experience to most people. For long flights I might agree, but to Mexico City it was just over a three hour, manageable flight. Some tips I learned from many a mom bloggers on Pinterest: have baby suck on pacifier/breast/bottle during take off to prevent ears from plugging, buy a brand new toy and give it to baby on the plane, and pack plenty of snacks and food (obviously). We didn’t carry on anything other than my purse and Olive’s diaper backpack because we didn’t want to have the hassle of carrying much while managing her.
I had my ring sling with us on both flights. If you are taking a stroller or carseat with you, it’s left at the entry of the plane, so I had her in the sling to be ready to drop off the stroller. We purchased this umbrella stroller for our trip. A note on the stroller… I waited and waited to purchase it because we were weighing our options and then it was unavailable on Amazon! But many stores price match competitors prices, so I went to BabysRUs and matched the in-store price (almost $90!) to the Amazon Price ($57). Another great purchase we made in preparation for the trip is an additional canopy for the stroller. Olive can have difficulty sleeping when there is too much stimulation. We encountered this first when we went to Disneyland a few months back! We would lay her in her stroller in hopes of her taking a nap, but with so much going on around her, she only napped well while I wore her in the sling. The canopy is also Summer brand as the stroller, but it’s “universal” and will really work with any stroller (you can see it in action below).
Once on the plane I did give her a new toy! I purchased two toys she had never seen before and gave them to her on the flight. This really seemed to work! Whenever she plays with something new, it keeps her busy for some time.
One last think I’d like to add is that travel with a baby can be stressful enough, try not to add on stress or anxiety to yourself worrying about everyone else on the plane. The noise of the plane while in air is so loud, I didn’t think the baby noise traveled very far. On the departing flight, my brother and girlfriend were on row ahead of us and across the aisle. At one point they were holding and playing with her on the flight and Olive screamed and laughed. From across the aisle I could barely hear her baby noises. One last thing that worked out well for us… when picking seats on the plane for our return flight, I chose the seats at the very back of the plane; and for a couple of reasons, there is a bathroom at the rear and if the flight isn’t full, there are typically more empty seats. It worked out perfectly because there were plenty of empty seats, that John and I had an extra seat and put Olive between us.
I still have plenty more to share, but to keep this post from becoming incredibly long, I’ll save it for next time!