Baby Travel Tips from the Trenches
I used to fly a lot as part of my corporate life and I was never afraid of flying. Especially not of short trips to Sydney or Adelaide (by the way Adelaide is seriously underrated – it’s the city I secretly have a crush on). Since quitting my job and having a baby I’ve stayed home a lot more and for some weird reason I’ve started to become scared of flying. When I’m scared I need to be prepared (ask me about what I’ve done for labour prep..).
I read about this lady who travelled the globe with her baby and I have never been more in awe of someone’s achievements than when I heard about her. The sleep deprivation, the lack of routine, the sourcing of food – I thought it would be all too overwhelming. Danielle from “Bubs on the Move” recently wrote a blog post about flying with kids and she mentioned that it is exhausting but you’ll be exhausted anyway so why not on holiday. Fair point.
So we travelled and I like to be prepared. I read a lot of blogs and seriously overpacked my hand luggage. I HATE flying with lots of luggage so travelling with a bub wasn’t on the top of my favourite things to do. We flew from Melbourne to Sydney (baby was 4 months), Melbourne to Auckland (5 months), Melbourne to Hamilton Island (5 months), Melbourne to Munich (10 months), Munich to La Palma (10 months) and back of course. From all of this flying I have the following tips for fellow parents who are travelling with one baby (if you travel with more than one let me know how you handle it – you have hero status in my books).
1. Try not to pack too much into your hand luggage
- I packed for every single possibility and ended up forgetting a sleeping bag, a book and almost my mobile phone and glasses on a few planes. Plus, lugging it all around is a nightmare. I don’t even want to mention screening points – I might have had a meltdown on my trip to Europe (travelling solo..). It took forever to unpack it, push it through x-ray and I didn’t know that you had to take off the carrier too. Where’s my additional set of hands?? It pushed me over the edge – if I was failing at the first hurdle how was I going to cope with the whole flight??
2. Let your baby suck on something during take-off and more importantly during landing
- It will help to prevent ear pain. Use a dummy, boob, bottle or even your finger – anything works as long as they are sucking on it for the entire time of the descent. I’ve always made the mistake of starting too early and by the time we were into the landing he was over it.. Not helpful!
3. Take a stroller that you can put into the overhead compartment or take a carrier
- I love baby carriers and I’ve taken it everywhere. My little one couldn’t really sleep in it during the flight but at least I had my hands free when walking through the airport. A stroller would have been a godsend when I was travelling by myself. It’s either that or taking less carry on.
4. If your baby is less than a year old take a feeding pillow
- Yes, very bulky but worth it. My baby slept the whole time on that feeding pillow (V-Shaped pillows worked best, as they prevented him from being too uncomfortable when lying on the arm rests).
5. Take your own food
- They say they carry baby food but it’s really only those purees in jars. Your baby might want more. I recommend the pouches you can get and perhaps some rice crackers. Also, best thing I’ve done was bake savoury muffins to take with me (check below to get the recipe).
6. Don’t worry about liquids so much
- If you have a baby you are allowed to take liquids with you within reason and if its’ clearly baby related.
7. Take some toys
- This is obvious but take a few toys and preferably ones that don’t make any noise. That’s a tough one I know but a mirror works wonders. Also an all-time favourite: water bottles. Babies love them.
8. Beware of baby’s leaky water bottle
- We all love our babies’ water bottles. Whatever your favourite one is – take it with you. One thing you should be aware of is that water bottles often leak when you’re on a plane because of the change in pressure – even the most awesome ones have leaked. Put them in a plastic bag so that you don’t ruin your bag’s contents like I did.
9. Be friendly
- Strangers love babies. I made lots of new “friends” and your little one will love the interaction with other passengers. It passes time and you get to talk about a few interesting things with interesting people. Embrace it.
10. Book a night flight
- If you can – book a night flight. Especially for long haul flights. The more active your little baby is the more grateful you will be for longer stretches of baby sleep. You might not sleep but as mums and dads we are used to that anyway right
11. Take additional documents for identification
- If you are travelling solo and your partner / your baby doesn’t have the same citizenship/passport as you take the birth certificate and also a letter, signed by your partner, that it is ok to take the kid overseas without him / her. You might be able to leave Australia but you might have some issues getting into another country which is a hassle you don’t want after flying for 20 hours
12. Flight attendants are awesome
- Really there is not much more to be added here. They are so lovely and helpful and you will get an extra blanket and some extra care because of your little one. If not from them then definitely from other passengers.
13. Other passengers
- Don’t worry. Babies cry and everyone knows that. I know it’s stressful when your baby cries. I get so frazzled! You are well prepared. As you know your baby is either hungry, tired or bored.. You’ve got this – your baby will stop. A few cuddles, distractions and it will be ok. If nothing works walk up and down the aisle. One word is to be said here for all mums who are still breastfeeding – it’s pretty much the silver bullet. It worked every single time.
14. Be prepared for things to happen
- My little one knocked his lip on a table one hour before departing to Europe. He bled like nothing I’ve ever seen before. I honestly can say this was the worst part of our whole trip. I looked away for one second and then I heard him cry. I applied some pressure and made sure he was ok. The bleeding stopped and we went on the plane. At least it took my attention away from being nervous about the flight and he was giggling minutes afterwards (phew).
15. Take it slowly
- I’m a 24/7 sort of person. I don’t sit down – much to the dismay of my husband. Relaxing is hard for me and I usually want to go and see 10 places in 7 days. Allow yourself to relax for a few days before getting stuck into your travel plans. Your baby will be grateful for it and so will you. Sleep deprivation is always hard but with a baby and jetlag on top it’s a nightmare. Get adjusted and then go for it and keep exploring these new countries!
I have written a list of things to pack in your carry-on luggage along with my savoury muffin recipe for long haul flights. Head on over to www.treehutvillage.com.au, register and I’ll email you the file.
Enjoy travelling with your little one. It’s a lot of fun. Find us on Instagram and on Facebook and share your story with us. I would love to hear how it all went for you. Short trip or long trip? Near or far? Let me know!
Merry Christmas and I hope your travels bring you closer to your loved ones.