We just returned last month from 2 weeks of vacation time in Singapore and Malaysia. So naturally all I’ve wanted to do since I’ve been back is write about travel.
This was the first time we have travelled on an airplane with Baby Z and I must have spent many hours looking for travel tips and asking friends and family for their experiences so that I could be prepared. I must say it paid off. We had a great time, and even though we took 6 flights (2 transatlantic, 4 domestic) it was all quite easy-breezy.
Here’s a few tips that I think would be great for anyone travelling with one year old:
1.Wear your baby – Even though we took our Steelcraft Holiday stroller (great stroller for travel – we loved it, have a look here), it was really helpful to have both hands free when you’re lugging around 2 suitcases, 3 carry-ons, one toddler, 2 personal items and those last-minute items thrown into a little bag. The stroller can be used to carry most of your hand luggage if you wear your baby. Also remember that a lot of small airports will require you to check-in the stroller so you can’t use it at the airport (usually domestic airports). We used the BabyBjorn carrier (click here to see it) and even though Baby Z prefers the stroller he’s still quite happy to sit in it and look around the airport. I strapped it to myself after check in and through security all the way till we got to the gate. We didn’t use it anywhere else other than at the airport though. I would recommend bringing a stroller because you can check it in for free and use it at your holiday destination. The Steelcraft stroller is lightweight, easily foldable and can carry a lot of weight (good for shopping). It also reclines all the way back so baby can get a good sleep if he wants to nap.
2. Take lots of snacks – Because babies need to eat. And snacks are a great distraction and fun to play with on the plane. Snacks are easy to pack for a one year old, as they can eat most solid foods. I took lots of cheese-cracker mini packets, cheerios, little packets of chocolate cookies, and baby custard. Baby Z has never been a fan of baby food but he will eat applesauce and baby custard if he’s really hungry. I also kept some packets of other baby food for emergencies. Other great snacks include raisins, grapes, fruit etc. Avoid soft chocolate as it can melt and get really messy.
3. Nurse or feed on take-off and landing – As air pressure changes during takeoff and landing, help your baby stay more comfortable by feeding both ways up as well as down. Unless baby is sleeping of course (YAY!), in which case start watching movies while you have the chance!!
4. Choose Aisle & Window seats – Babies under the age of 2 usually travel for free. Some international airlines will offer a bassinet for your baby to sleep in, but this depends on availability and you need be seated at specific spots (usually front seats) for that. But most of the time your baby will be an ‘infant in arms’ especially on those small domestic airlines. So if you and another person are flying with your baby, choose an aisle and a window seat – leaving the middle seat open. These seats are usually the last ones taken as no one wants a middle seat. So if your flight isn’t full, most likely your middle seat will remain empty and baby can sit there! What if someone ends up in the middle seat? Just ask to switch with the passenger – most likely they will be happy to take the aisle or window seat. We were lucky 2 out of 4 times when we flew domestic airlines.
5. Bring a change of clothes for baby and you – Accidents can happen including spills, vomitting, and diaper disasters. So be sure to pack an extra one or two outfits for the baby, and an extra shirt or outfit for yourself. Keep in mind that some planes are freezing and others are really hot so dress baby in layers that you can always add on or take off.
6. Tire baby out before getting on the plane – Waiting at the gate is common before boarding. Allow your baby to walk around (if he’s walking) or crawl, as long as they move around. For a crawling or sitting baby lay down a blanket and place them on it. We let Baby Z go crazy and run around before boarding. This way, he would get really tired and hungry as well. He always fell asleep as soon as we got on the plane. Even if your baby doesn’t fall asleep, at least he will have used up most of his energy levels before boarding so its still a good thing.
7. Take lots of playthings for baby – Come prepared! A one year old has a short attention span so take a variety of items for baby. We packed 2 or 3 favourite books, some small toys (Happy Meal size), tiny items like slinkies, crayons, spinning toys etc. Basically small things that don’t take up much space and weight and are easily replaceable. Someone suggested an iPad but I felt that we didn’t need one as we don’t really use electronics around him. Sometimes I had to resort to showing him his baby videos on my phone but that was about it. Stackable cups are a great toy – they can be used to serve little snacks, hide things and baby can spend a lot of time playing with them.
8. Pack extra diapers – Count the number of hours until your hotel or destination starting from the point that you will be leaving home. Pack one diaper for every 2 hours and then pack a few extra. Or count how many diapers your child usually needs during that time and double it. And then pack some extra. You do not want to be stuck at an airport or airplane in the middle of the night with your last diaper. I’m quite sure that should be on the list of worst nightmares for every mumma. Babies nurse more during flights hence more dirty nappies.
That’s about all the main tips I can think off. I might write another post later on if I find more. But at the end of the day, flying with a toddler is not always easy and if you’re having a really rough day, just remember that it will be over soon and you will probably never see any of these people again. Other than that, travelling with a baby is extra special as you will have lots of extra memories to cherish and share 😀