We all agree that travelling broadens the mind like no other activity in the world. Being able to travel is one of the greatest gifts you can give to kids and it’s a good idea to expose them to the travel bug when they are young.
This post is from Sara our contributor and she has a few tips up her sleeve:
My child (Little E) was 9 months old we went on our first trip together. It was just me and Little E and we went to visit my sister who was living in London at the time. The trip alone was an adventure! But this adventure does require some more strategic planning when it comes to travelling with a baby.
- Initial Prep-work
Little E was very curious when the luggage come out and we made a game out of it by hiding under the carefully packed clothes (all in the name of fun right?). I also read books to Little E whereby the story centred on London and kept saying that we are going to go on a plane to get to London. We visited the airport and we went to the viewing gallery to see first-hand what I was talking about. Little did I know that Little E was going to love this experience!
I emailed and researched all the airports we were going to in order to see what’s allowed and what isn’t when travelling with a baby. Airports tend to be very lenient when it comes to children. It’s a good idea to do the same with the various airlines as well just to make sure you are covered. About two weeks before, I spray Saline into Little E’s nose. The pharmacist said that this helps clear the sinuses. This way you protect their ears (and yours!)
Make sure that you have a baby bag which is comfortable to travel with. This is an absolute life saver, mine is a back pack so my hands are fee! I packed 2 extra outfits in Little E’s bag. These outfits were easy to take off and put on so that in case Little E feels sick or has an accident, the change is quickly done. Keep a plastic bag for dirty clothes in your bag
Keep all the toiletries in a ziplock bag for easy access. I had a smaller tub nappy rash cream in the baby bag whilst travelling and the normal one in my luggage. I also had a no water needed cleanser with some cotton wool so that just in case baby needs a quick wash, I can use this product without a sink or water. Pain reliever sachets are great for travelling and it’s good to keep a few in the bag with a spoon. Your toiletries will depend on the country visiting and the season. But the above are the basics for a short flight. The rest can go in your luggage.
Nappies! Pack extra. You don’t want to risk an accident at the airport so check the nappy often and have wipes with you too both types but not a large packet so it’s not too much weight on your back. I also have a changing mat with a small pillow that attaches itself to the mat. This is convenient not only for changing the baby, but also for the baby to sleep. Don’t worry too much if your last nappy has run out…most airports have some kind of convenient stall, still carry that extra 3 -5.
When it comes to feeding, some maths and timing is involved. If you are breastfeeding, then you are absolutely covered. Little E had just started taking solids at the time and was on formula milk. Calculate the time you will spend at the airport and flight and see how many feeds baby would normally have at that time. Then add an extra 2 feeds just in case. For the London trip, I had 4 sterilised bottles in the bag, formula in the dispenser and a thermos of cooled boiling water. The airport may request that you drink the water or they will scan it.
For the flight I used smaller teat than what Little E was using. The reason is so that it would be harder to suck and so help with unblocking little ears. I also had rice crackers and some good, crusty Maltese bread – something hard to chew on to help with the ears too. Apples work well too. I chopped them up and drizzled some lemon juice on them so that they don’t go brown. These were the first things I gave Little E during the flight. Chopped frozen carrots work well too – as a teething ring and for the chewing motion.
If you are going on an Air Malta flight this tip you can skip, but if not pack lots of baby books – favourites and new books too. Feely books work really well and busy books as well. The busy book was new with different textures. It’s a good idea to have something new so that baby can be occupied for longer. Naturally her favourite Bear was in the bag. Their favourite toy must always be there! Some airlines do give colours and colouring books but just in case, it’s a good idea to get some sort of activity book with you.
Make sure that if baby is on any medication or has a condition, get the doctor’s note. Keep this in a plastic folder just in case there are any leaks from the fluids in your bag. I also keep a copy of this in my hand luggage.
- The flight.
Right before boarding, I give Little E a pain reducer sachet – the sachet is for very young babies so it’s quite mild but helps with the pain. Spray the nostrils and get the bottle out ready for take-off. I gave Little E a bottle during take-off and as we were about to touch down. As I mentioned this helps with popping any blocked ears. Incidentally crying also helps in this situation but it doesn’t help you.
If there are people sitting next to me or around me, I just let them know that Little E is on board and apologise in advance for any crying. This way they kind of empathise with your situation and you’d be surprised at how helpful people may be. You could prepare a small gift for the person that is sitting next to you, like a little note and a chocolate bar or a something it’s just a gesture saying that you are sorry if things get out of hand. A gentleman in front of us was wearing a hat and Little E found this extremely amusing. He would occasionally play hide and seek using the hat as a prop. We also walked up and down the plane just so that Little E can get oriented and not be too bewildered. In actual fact I was far more apprehensive than I should have been. Little E was completely mesmerized by the experience and just listened to what I had to say about planes. We went back to our seats, played with Bear and Books, ate apples and soon nodded off to sleep. In an ideal world, you won’t let the baby sleep before so that they can sleep on the plane. But this obviously on the routine you have for your child as well as how cranky the child will get!
- You only have 2 hands!
When you disembark, you need to find your car seat or pushchair which does not always go with the rest of the luggage to the conveyor belt. Some services take out the car seats and buggies as soon as you land and leave them on a pile near the plane. Other services keep everything and you will get them with your luggage even if you don’t have luggage to pick up. Check with your flight attendants and with the airlines prior to arriving as this can be a big hassle. One thing you need to remember is that we all need help sometimes and you shouldn’t be embarrassed to ask for it. In fact I didn’t know this and I needed to pick up my pushchair and car seat so there I was loaded with bags and baby and I had to pick up my car seat. No one from the staff helped. Thankfully the passenger wearing the hat who helped entertain Little E came to my rescue and carried the car seat for me. Next time I will request it is taken with the suitcases! When kids a slightly older things tend to get easier especially if you use a Trunki, check out why we think they are awesome.
All the tickets, passports, boarding passes were in a little folder so that I don’t waste time looking for them whilst struggling with a squirming Little E. Out they come when needed, then back in the folder and straight in my bag. There are some really cool and stylish ones now adays so there are no excuses!
So there you have it. The above are the tips, tricks and techniques that worked for me and Little E. And it was all worth it when we saw squirrels in the parks and had a really great time visiting family and exploring London, especially M&M World – not too sure whether Mummy or Little E enjoyed it the most!