Traveling with young children can be very unpredictable. We have had trips where both kids slept for our entire journey and others where my husband and I would strongly consider leaping from our moving vehicle. Trying to board an aeroplane and be confined to a single seat surrounded by strangers, feels like a nightmare to me. Magdel Brink has done this a few times.
Our family of 4 have travelled abroad a couple of times over the past few years with numerous travel companions ranging from the family as a whole to just myself and our 4 month old. Although it was smooth sailing (mostly), travelling with a little one can be a daunting idea, especially when travelling alone.
Here are some tips on how to make your journey a little easier
Invest in a good stroller . A good stroller is a must for any family even considering to travel abroad with an infant or toddler. If you make use of a stroller, take note that you are allowed to use it up to the time you physically walk into the aircraft. They will take the stroller from you there. When using a stroller, make sure you invest in a light one that can easily be folded with one hand. I wonder how many times my husband told me “this was money well spent”. It is helpful if you can steer the stroller comfortably with your one hand, especially when travelling on your own, and you don’t have a partner to help you with your luggage. It must be comfortable for your baby to sleep in and if it can recline all the way down, bonus! A stroller is definitely the one item that can make or break your trip.
Invest in a good “baby” backpack. It is best to use a backpack as your diaper bag, so that you can have your hands free when travelling.
Let your baby suck on a dummy, bottle or breast during take-off/landing. It helps with their ears. Remember to find out what are the aircrafts’ allowances for bottles and formula
Book a bassinet for your baby on the flight. That makes the flight so much more bearable, because you can eat and watch movies with your hands free. There are a limited amount of bassinets available, so make sure you book them well in advance.
Pack enough diapers, wipes and clothes for the duration of your flight AND a little extra. You never know if your flight could be delayed or if you will have an unplanned stopover (it happened to us with our other child). Also make sure you pack warm and cooler clothes for your baby. The temperature can fluctuate inside the plane.
Pack a light muslin cloth. You can use it for cover when breastfeeding, and also to lightly cover your baby when he/she is sleeping, and they switch on those very bright aircraft lights.
Keep everything you need close at hand before settling in for the long flight ahead. It is difficult to keep getting up and fetch something from the overhead luggage compartment, so make sure you have diapers, wipes, bottles and small toys with you. I usually store it in the seat holder in front of me. I promise you, your “neighbour” won’t be very friendly after the 10th time you bother him to get up and out. Remember you need those “passes” for REAL emergencies.
Pay attention to airport announcements regarding boarding. When travelling with a baby, or any small children for that matter, you take priority over other passengers. Passengers travelling with small children get called first, together with the disabled passengers. That really helps with your stress levels when boarding, because you can find your seat and unpack your things in peace before the chaos starts.
Most important. Do not get worked up if your baby cries or is struggling to sleep. It will make the situation worse. And don’t be shy to ask for help, you would be surprised how helpful and willing some people can be.