The best summaries of what to bring were on the Feeding Tube Association's site, and on the blog Feeding Raya.
The logistics of how to get Evie through the TSA process and how to feed her on the plane, in a hotel, and in a hot environment were not situations in which I wanted to "wing it." Here goes.
GETTING THROUGH SECURITY
All our medications were put in a small cooler the size of a thick phone book.
The ice packs were frozen solid, because I had read that if your ice packs are slightly liquified in any way, the TSA will confiscate them. Sure enough, I heard TSA agents both times mumble "frozen" to themselves as they confirmed that the ice packs were nice and frozen.
Printed this card: TSA Card
This card alerted the agents in the line that we needed more screening than the average person. On the way back, an agent saw Evie in her stroller and asked if we had formula. I said yes, and we got to go through the quicker line. Yay!
One of us carried Evie through the security gate, and we were through. When I called the TSA's special needs hotline, I was told to get to the airport at least 2 hours before the flight. In hindsight, I wish we had gotten there 2.5 hours before, because it seemed a little tight for us to get food for the plane and feel situated. But hey, we made it, and that's what counts.
This was our first time being eligible for pre-boarding! We were allowed on our Jetblue flight after the Mosaic and Even More Space customers. Once we got on the jetway, our handy Gate Check bag came into play. Evie was in her carrier and her snap and go, and we threw the whole thing (without Evie) into the big red bag. It had a pink Gate Check tag from the check-in agent, and into the plane we went.
My awesome friend GY told me to bring a Boppy on the plane and that I would not regret it. The thought of lugging around a big Boppy made me hesitate, so I decided to look up a travel boppy. Lo and behold, the Boppy people knew my need. This was the best thing ever on a 5 1/2 hour flight with a 16-lb little girl on our laps.
This travel boppy folds up into a cute purse-like thing and is very light.
Evie needed a couple bottles and g-tube during the flight. Erick put 2 ready-made Dr. Brown bottles in the cooler, and I had packed 2 canisters of 2 teaspoons of oatmeal each to thicken her formula.
I knew I hoarded those Medela pumping canisters from the NICU for a good reason!! They are perfect for pre-measured amounts of baby oatmeal!
G-tubing wasn't much different on a plane vs anywhere else in public...we used our trusty Pepe backpack and had her g tube extension tube primed and ready to go. I felt a little self-conscious about the loud beeps that the pump made, but no one even looked over at us. They were too busy making googly eyes at Evie.
Of course we brought a trusty ZipadeeZip for napping! I wish I had had my own ZipadeeZip for a snuggly nap!
LIVING IN A HOTEL
I like Amazon a little too much. I was looking for something online, and Amazon suggested a travel bottle cleaner and drying rack. I thought this was a great recommendation. Then it suggested baby dish soap. This made sense to me, since we don't use regular dish soap for evie's bottles.
I had the satisfaction of whipping out the soap and the bottle cleaner/drying rack when Erick realized we didn't have dish soap in our hotel kitchenette. All my shopping skills had paid off!!
One of the possible issues with living in a hotel was that we weren't sure we could get a freezer for our multiple ice packs. So instead of making the bottles for the day ahead of time, Erick measured out just the formula powder for each bottle (we brought a whole formula can), and we just added bottled water to the required amount when she needed to have a bottle. No warmer needed! Thankfully we were upgraded to a suite with a full fridge and freezer, but we still didn't need anything to spoil in the heat.
Another possible dilemma was how to hang the g-tube pump at night during Evie's continuous feed. Usually we have the IV pole next to her Pack and Play. Before we left on our trip, I grabbed an over the door hook from the closet door and threw it in the suitcase. Best decision ever (besides the travel boppy). We hung the hook on the side of the pack and play and hung Pepe the backpack on the hook. It worked beautifully.
|Re-enactment of Pepe on the over the door hook on the pack and play|
One of my fears was that something would happen to her g-tube button whe we were out of town. To prepare for this, I got a g-tube organizer off of Etsy, and put together an emergency kit. This kit had a spare Mini One g-tube button in the EyeMed metal case, extra extension tubes, tubie covers, an extra AMT clamp so we wouldn't feed the hotel bed, and various necessities like saline, cotton-tipped applicators, gauze, syringes, and Grip-Lok anchors.
It's really a glorified travel organizer, but it was worth having everything together. I have more emergency supplies in Pepe the backpack. Speaking of Pepe, it's time to retire Pepe I and hire Pepe II. Pepe I started flaking from frequent use. Pepe II has an extra pocket and seems stronger. Thank you for your service, Pepe I!
I highly recommend Feedie Friends on Etsy. She adapts the kid backpacks for G-tubes so well.
|Evie living it up and G-tubing on the bed in the hotel|
Vegas in August is so hot. We avoided being outside as much as we could. We also avoided the smoky casinos. The bright sun was a concern, so I got a sun shade for Evie's infant carrier. It's like a little cabana for your stroller. It gave me peace of mind about the strong sun shining on her on the unforgiving Vegas sidewalks.
|The caption is right--this keeps out strangers as well.|
Total side note: When we were eating breakfast at McDonald's, Elvis walked in to use the restrooms. That totally made me giggle.
We G-tubed at the wedding, and Evie danced with her mommy and daddy.
And that's a wrap! Evie was an excellent traveler for the most part, and her parents are grateful! It was a big production to get out there, but worth it to see our friends get married.