Travelling and flying can be draining at the best of times. Throw in a baby and it can seriously ramp up your stress levels. However for those of you can’t keep your wanderlusting feet under the table or are desperate to explore with the little one in tow, then here’s my top tips for flying with a baby.
1. Make a list (I’m literally sat here singing “he’s making a list, checking it twice” – I know Christmas is over…!)
Being as prepared as you can will be invaluable. Tiny humans come with so much kit and caboodle, and our new parent mushed up brains can mean we forget things. Work out what you will need clothes wise, equipment wise and food wise for the journey and for when you arrive at your destination. As you start to buy items for holiday or pick out what from what you already have, tick them off your list, and put them to one side for packing. As you pack, cross things off your list. By the time you walk out the door aim for there to be nothing left on that list other than “enjoy holiday”!
2. Plan your time at the airport
Think about your baby’s needs (and siblings too) and plan your time at the airport as far as possible. For example, if you know someone will be hungry at a particular time, then try to avoid being stuck in a check in queue or security queue for example. Arrive a little bit earlier than usual to be at the front for check in, or choose to eat before going through security. This can be difficult if you’re catching a connection and you’re in a rush – I know becuase this happened to us twice last year.
3. Be organised at security
1) Keep formula/expressed milk, food items, and all other liquids/medicines in one bag. Pack nappies, wipes, change of clothes, change mat etc in a another bag. That bag does then not have to opened or thought about going through security.
2) Put all your liquids in the little clear bag before you enter the queue. There are usually bags available and a small area to stop and sort them out before the queueing commences.
3) If you’re travelling with someone who can help you, delegate responsibilities. One of you take the baby, and one of you be in charge of the bags and security checks. Especially if you have formula/expressed milk. If you’re travelling alone do not be afraid to ask the staff at security for help.
3. Transport at the airport
Consider using a sling or carrier for your little one. For two of our trips we used a carrier to navigate the airport. We checked in the pram, and just used our carrier. Part of our reasoning for this was that we were connecting through London Heathrow, and we knew we would be in a rush on the way home. There was no messing around and she was safely secured to us with no faffing around getting on and off buses etc and we had our hands free. My only warning is that you may be asked to remove your baby from the carrier at security, the same as you would if they were in a pram. We’ve had very mixed experiences at various airports across the UK and abroad.
4. Check and double check your baggage allowance
Airlines differ in what they permit you to take. Check the fine print and if in any doubt phone and check before you fly. Once you know think carefully about what you need to take. Can you wash clothes, can you buy things where you’re going? If you’re travelling within the UK can you just take what you need for the journey and shop when you arrive? If you’re going abroad do you know if you can easily buy the nappies you want? It is also possible to buy formula and other items at Boots at many airports, and many stores offer a click and collect type of of service.
6. Travel in comfy clothes and take a spare set…or two
Babygrows or leggings and t-shirts are all you need. Dress in layers as airports can be unpredictable in temperature. Carry a spare few baby grows, and a spare top for you too, and if you can some leggings. Just in case. Think about the temperature at your destination, or for when you arrive home, and make sure you either have a blanket and warm jumper handy, or something cool to slip the little one into.
I’m not going to lie – I am looking forward to the time when all I need to entertain my child on a plane is either a book or an iPad or food. Worst mum ever? Don’t really care on a 12 hour long haul flight. Anything to get through it. Until then – it’s up to us. However, you don’t need to pack your entire toy box. Choose a few select items – a favourite toy or comforter, a touchy feely book and something new colourful/sensory toy they haven’t seen before. First time round I had a a dozen or so toys and quite frankly she wasn’t interested. I learned and second and third time round we took her favourite owl, a new Lamaze “toy” and some of the “That’s not my…” books. That plus the new surroundings, new people to play up to and general hustle and bustle kept us busy. If you can, get up and walk around when they start to get restless and then pray for sleep.
8. Jet lag
Nuff said. I have a whole post on this subject alone…
Congratulations – you’ve made it away. Now try your very best to enjoy it. Relax and try to not to worry. Do what you need to do to ensure you enjoy your precious time away, and don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Find what works for you as a family and go with it.
I’d love to hear your tips for travelling abroad with littles so comment below! We’re going Hong Kong to visit my dad in April. It will be 5 months since we last travelled – I imagine a 15 month old is going to be very different to a 9 month old so any suggestions welcome! E x