When we first told our friends and family that we were travelling overseas with our eight month old we got some pretty confused looks.
“You’re WHAT? You guys are crazy. 14 hours on a plane with a baby! The passengers are going to love you!” one exclaimed.
“Good luck with that,” said another. “Babies and travel don’t mix.”
Well, let me tell you folks… Babies and travel DO mix. And I have a few simple hints, tips and tricks for making travel much easier when you take your precious bundle on an adventure over the seas.
- Brace yourself. There’s no denying it. Travelling with babies (and I suspect toddlers and children) is not always a piece of cake. It is not easy all of the time. So go into this thinking that your child may not be perfect during the whole trip. Unless of course you are one of those very rare people blessed with a unicorn baby. Congratulations to you! You obviously filled out the paper work at the hospital correctly! Unfortunately for the rest of us we have to accept that travelling with babies can sometimes be hard work (and also really REALLY FUN!). So be prepared for anything… the bad (multiple projectile vomiting on a really cramped flight) and the good (watching your child experience a new culture).
- Pack EARLY and efficiently. Start your packing a couple of weeks early so that you don’t miss anything important. With the packing I put outfits together (singlet, top, pants, socks) into zip-lock bags so that during the flight and day-to-day I could quickly and easily pull out a new outfit incase of sudden poo-splosion. I recommend packing outfits that are easy to throw on. You want zippy suits on the plane trust me. Dressing a baby in an airplane toilet is like trying to put a fawn in leotard; cute but awkward. And try to pack light. Babies don’t need much in the way of toys. On the flight we asked the air hostess for an extra tooth brush to keep our baby distracted while we ate our meals. It’s also amazing how many hours your baby can play with a plastic disposable cup… Kids don’t need a lot of stuff.
- Be FLEXIBLE. Stepping onto a plane with your baby signifies the end of “routine” and the start of a new schedule. Sure, you can still refer to Tizzy if you’re inclined but chances are that little baby you adore so much is also not immune to jet lag. That 7pm bed time routine you’ve got at home might not work so well at 2pm in San Fransisco. So my advice is just go with the flow and try to encourage naps/awake time where needed. Sun shine is also a fantastic and natural way to readjust your baby’s body clock… so find a park and enjoy the fresh air! If you can I would recommend not booking tickets to shows and events etc until you’ve arrived. That way you can get a good gauge if your child is up for a particular event/activity on the day. Try to get a balance of adult friendly and child friendly activities in your itinerary – that way you can wear out your little one at the kid’s museum in the morning and let them sleep it off in the pram while the adults puruse an art gallery during the afternoon etc. Sometimes things don’t go to plan and as parents you just have to wear it. Try to remain flexible and simply enjoy being in a new place (even if you missed out on seeing Celine Deion at Luxor because you couldn’t find a babysitter in Vegas). 😉
- My five non-negotiables for baby travel A light pram that folds well. A hat (with a chin strap so it can’t be pulled off). Baby food (enough to last you a few days to find a decent grocery store). Sunscreen (not all countries sell the good old heavy duty Australian grade). A open minded approach to life in general.