Planning long haul travel with babies? Expert long distance traveler Rebecca Timmins shares her top tips with us.
Being from the UK but living in Australia means that I have traveled between the two countries a number of times. Due to the fact that it is such a long flight I have never visited the UK for less than 3 weeks at a time. This means it’s too long for Hubby to get time off work and so I have had to travel alone with the kids.
The first time I did this I just had my eldest who was 6 months old at the time and since then have also travelled alone with him at 3 years old and my other child at 19 months.
Before I took the first flight with my eldest I was terrified. Thoughts kept flying through my head such as “How was I going to carry everything and him?”, “what will I do if he keeps crying?” “How will I eat with him on my lap?”
Of course, in the end it was fine. I am considering another trip home in the New Year but this time it will be me and 3 kids however I am not worried but am confident that all with be okay!
So, here are my tips for long haul travel with babies and toddlers.
1. Pack enough but pack lightly. I only made this mistake once! I am known to be an over packer. I hate the thought of needing something but not having it. The first time I flew with my 6 month old I took EVERYTHING! It’s fine when you still have someone helping you up to departures but once you have to carry everything yourself, not so fun.
2. Take spare clothes but think smart! Think about what will be comfortable for Bub to wear, is easy to put on/take off and not too bulky. I have always packed a couple of all in ones as they tick all the mentioned boxes. Try to avoid jeans or heavy knitwear.
3. Take a couple of spare plastic bags. These will be handy for rubbish bags and to put any wet and dirty clothes in.
4. Pack some new books and toys. Think small but things Bub hasn’t seen before so that their attention is held as long as possible. Items such as small Lego sets, colouring books or just those little toys you get from the dollar shops.
5. Take snacks. All Mum’s know that kids get hungry a lot, especially when they get bored! The last thing you want is to listen to the constant whining of “I’m hungry!” for hours.
6. Use a baby carrier. I never used one of these with my first and he was boob dependant to fall asleep which meant I ended up holding him for about 10 hours on one flight. It was hard as it meant I couldn’t move that whole time!
7. Check in your pram but ask the airline if you can borrow one to use until you get to the plane. Also ask if there will be one available at the plane door on arrival and also if you are transiting.
8. Book a bassinet. Different airlines have different rules regarding the age and weight of the baby for their bassinets. Check this out before you travel. PS. So far I have found British Airways to be the best in that babies up to the age of 1 can use the bassinet!
Also, bassinets are on a first come first serve basis even if you have requested it in advance so make sure you arrive to check in early to secure it!
9. Put in a request for child/baby meal. Not only will they get food they are more likely to eat but these special meals get served first which means you can get them sorted before yours arrives. If you also have a special request meal that gets served at the same time as your little ones you can simply ask them to hold it for you until you are ready.
10. Take something for your child to suck on during take off and landing to avoid the painful ear popping. If you baby is breast or bottle fed try and delay their feed until then so that they are swallowing.
11. Take some Nurofen/Panadol just in case of sore ears or any other pains or discomforts.
12. Pack a small shoulder bag for nappy changing. Once on the plane I then put the wipes and 4/5 nappies in it so it’s ready to go and so that’s all I have to take to the toilets with me. Also, ask when you first board the plane which toilet is best for nappy changing as some are bigger than others.
13. If you get stuck ask for help. I have always found the cabin crew, ground staff and other passengers are more than happy to help!
Lastly, don’t stress. Remember you child or baby has just as much of a right to be there than any other passengers.
Rebecca is an Imperfect Mum to 3 boys. When not chasing after them she is working on her blog Imperfectmummy.com where she writes about Realistic Parenting including tips, tricks and info on all things Parenting related.