Flying With A Baby
Greg obviously travels a lot for work, possibly more than people realise. Each year he has a warm weather training camp (this year was in Arizona) and he ordinarily jets off for 7-9 weeks while I stay at home and Facetime his chops off. This year we decided to go as a team because two months is a terribly long time to go away from your baby and while Greg still stuck to his strict routine of eating healthily and heading off to train every day etc; we managed to make it a bit of a holiday. One thing we agreed not to budge on while I was pregnant was our approach to travelling & life experiences in general. We still wanted to go on adventures; we’d just add a little person in to the mix. And I’m very happy to confirm that six and a half months in, we’ve managed a few and we haven’t died, yay!
Thanks to being freelance for the past couple of years, I’m lucky enough that I can trot off with Greg and just fire up my laptop wherever we land (provided there’s wifi) and get my work done. We saw no point in this changing and me staying at home for the sake of it, so if Greg needs to go to Birmingham over a weekend to compete; we go. If he needs to fly to America; we go. London for a few nights; we’re in tow. He will be spending time in Shanghai and Beijing over the summer and we won’t be accompanying him, but that’s for other reasons. The majority of the time athletes competing abroad stay in holding camps where there’s a strict routine of train, eat, sleep and a baby plus very fake tanned woman tweeting probably wouldn’t be welcome. In that instance, we tend to go visit my family and friends back in Kent.
With this in mind, I’ve jotted down what I think are helpful points when it comes to venturing over seas with a baby. Then, we’re off to Manchester in a few days so I’ve got a weekend away version coming up. I like to over plan for these sorts of occasions, making lists in the run up like no woman’s business, so hopefully I’ve covered most elements for you. Have a read & feel free to leave any further advice in the comments section below, it’s great to hear what works for other families!
- Have you bought your baby a ticket and sorted their passport?
Annoyingly, you’ll need to (but don’t worry they’ll be cheaper). If you’re travelling economy then try to book in advance and grab an aisle seat or bulkhead (where there are no seats in front of you), allowing you easy access should you need to go for a walk around the plane. If your little one’s younger than 2 years old, they’ll share your seat using a special add on seatbelt (which the airline provide and will help you with) and nearly all long-haul flights have elevated cot contraptions where your baby can snooze, provided they’re no heavier than 27.5lbs. They’re on a first come, first serve basis though so get in QUICK. It may just save your arms wilting. Apparently you can buy a child’s ticket from 6 months onwards so your child gets their own seat but I guess it’s whether or not you want to fork out extra money for that. If you do, they’ll need to travel in a car seat. Some airlines provide one but I always prefer to use my own because… well, some are a tad budget. Lastly, don’t forget your child’s passport because you won’t be going anywhere without it (you can get their photos taken at places like Snappy Snaps, Post Office etc).
- Luggage – Carry On
These days, most airlines will allow you to carry on a baby changing bag as well as your own hand luggage, but obviously double check because we all know there are certain companies who like to charge for breathing their oxygen (EasyJet I’m looking at you bruh). Here’s what I included in our bags (anything I couldn’t fit in I just slid in to my own carry on, it’s remarkable what you realise you don’t actually need for yourself when extra room’s required for your baby);
- A bulb syringe Babies are snuffly as it is without getting a helping hand from air-con. Take one of these and should your little one develop a bunged up nose, ask for some cooled boiled water from a steward and pop a droplet in each nostril so your baby can sneeze and loosen everything up (yum). It’s a good idea to have this on holiday with you anyway.
- Mini changing mat. Other passengers may not appreciate you taking care of baby’s business right in front of them so be ready to head to the cramped toilet, but if not, it’s nice to have something to lay on the floor.
- Hand sanitiser. Because you’re changing bums and sitting near coughing passengers. Keep those germs at bay.
- This, from SkyBaby
- Formula, bottles, spoons, bib and baby food. There’s not really baby friendly food on planes so bring something easy you can get sorted from your seat like a nice Ella’s Kitchen sachet. They do tend to say food and milk for baby isn’t restricted to the 100ml malarky but there’s been lots of reports in the newspapers about slebs being stopped at security and told to dump stuff so just be prepared and try to eliminate the possibility of that happening by sticking to the guidelines when it comes to formula & co. If there’s delays at the airports you can always run to Boots if need be and airport staff are always happy to help in showing you where to go to warm milk.
- Pack your boobs if you’re breastfeeding.
- Pack earphones. You tend to get provided with a pair on flight but bring spares just in case they’re rubbish. Milo loved our Bose ones and even watched a bit of CBeebies on the in-flight channel.
- New toys. Don’t underestimate how interested your child can get in something new and how unbothered they can be by something they’ve played with at home after the past few weeks. We tend to grab three new toys for Milo, along with his trusty Sophie and a couple of books. Try not to go for anything too musical so other passengers don’t hate you plus planes get noisy, your baby probably won’t be able to hear it. Also, sounds odd but bring something completely random your baby might be interested in. Milo really likes one of his shoes for example, so I popped that in our carry on and he chewed on it silently for a good 15 minutes.
- Cheap baby grows (0- 6 months) We all know it, when a baby’s tiddly, the poo is OH-so explosive. Rather than carrying around manky baby grows until we got to our final destination, I’d buy cheap ones and should Milo treat us to a poonami, I’d lob whatever it landed on in the bin and pop him in a fresh one. For older babies it’s less of a concern and I just carry a couple of extra outfits.
- A blanket. Good for covering up if you’re breastfeeding and comforting for your baby. It can get a little chilly on flights so they’re always good to have, plus if your little one gets in to an uncomfy position, they’re fab for rolling up and resting your arm on.
- Dummies (if your baby uses them), I take at least two because Milo loves to throw them.
- Wipes (one whole pack at least) Be aware these might flag up when you go through security so keep them near the top of the bag in case they get all cross about you having liquids.
- Nappies and sacks. But you knew that, you’re not silly.
- Ordinary Luggage
- Be prepared to take so much stuff than you ever did before, or to at least leave behind that extra pair of wedges because your baby needs more space (‘sake).
- You may want to pay extra for more luggage.
- BUT, if you’re going somewhere you know you can buy baby clothes/products and you’re there long enough then it might also be wise not to take too much and stock up on arrival. When we went to Arizona for instance, we kept Milo’s luggage to a minimum on the way out there then bought a play mat, toys, box of nappies, wipes and Baby Gap sale clothes in the first few days. You can always buy a new suitcase and pay for extra luggage on the way back rather than doing it both ways.
- We really, really, really missed our jumperoo while away so be prepared to hold an aggressively bouncy baby and try to pack at least a few extra items along with the carry on toys that you hope will keep him/her busy for the duration of your stay.
- Remember your milestones. While away Milo started weaning so we bought spoons, pots, bowls etc with us in our luggage.
- Milo also started crawling (backwards) so the mat was an imperative purchase.
- If you’re going somewhere with a pool, remember the water friendly nappies! Huggies Little Swimmers are super. You might also want to take a buoyancy aid (they ordinarily come in quite small boxes so won’t take up much room). Plus it’s cheap enough to leave there rather than deflate and re-pack.
- Weather appropriate bits and pieces. Going somewhere hot? Remember sun hat, sunglasses, mini fan (a godsend to lean on the foot rest of the pram to blow on Milo while in 39 degrees), sun shade and suncream. Cold? Coats, mittens, scarves, hats, extra clothes, mini heat pads. Essentially, just try to take whatever you can to keep your baby at the temperature they would be back here at home. They’ll find it a shock to the system otherwise.
- When it comes to sleeping arrangements, you shouldn’t need to be taking anything with you and I presume you will have already checked your hotel/apartment/villa has something baby appropriate. We personally don’t like to stay at hotels, preferring to opt for a home away from home when we can (check out Air BNB) because it’s just that little bit more comfortable and often cheaper. Lots of places shown on there are family friendly and will have cots/child beds but things like your baby’s favourite blanket should come along for the trip.
- It’s very doubtful anywhere has a baby bath and taking one with you is a bit impossible so just be prepared to bathe your little one in an adult bath or in a sink. And don’t forget the baby shampoo, bubble bath.
- Remember lots of countries’ baby products will differ to your faves at home so allow for that cropping up. Either take your own and lose space or buy over there but be ready to not necessarily be impressed. It might go the other way though, you might find a product and love it WAY more than what you use at home so swings and roundabouts.
- Don’t forget any trusty baby meds like plug in Calpol, teething sachets, nappy rash cream, reflux drops etc.
- Same goes with your baby’s red book. Y’know the one, the one you take EVERYWHERE.
- You may use a baby towel at home but you don’t need to pack it for holiday. It will take up room and is unnecessary, just use what’s provided.
- Adapters people! Remember your adapters. Anything you need to plug in baby-wise will NOT work without one so find out which one you need (Amazon will be good for this) and stock up on a few.
- Getting Through Check-In & Security
- First off. Do this: put up your pram. Put your car seat on top. Put your carry on bags underneath. Carry your baby.
- Take your time. No-one expects you to rush and if they do a) they’re bumholes. 2) they’re in a rush and should have thought about that when they didn’t leave the house on time. Airport staff can also be super nice and will always try to help if you’re struggling so accept it if they offer.
- You’ll need luggage tags for all parts of your luggage so if yours separates (like our Stokke Crusi does) then let them know at check in so they can log everything, and if you’ve brought a car seat this will also need to be tagged. Take everything up to the plane door where staff will then take it off you ready to stow. Once you land, you just wait to one side once off the plane and staff will bring it all to you.
- When going through security, again; don’t panic. The car seat will need to go through the scanner with your bags and electricals so pop that on there. You’ll be asked to wheel the pram through the larger scanner. And then lastly, staff will swipe you and baby with a weird stick thing to check you’re not about to blow everything up.
- Try to wear shoes you won’t have to remove (something open like flip flops) because trying to unlace while carrying an infant is like trying to bath a cat. With your nose.
- You ordinarily get to go through the Special Needs/Attention section when boarding the plane because you have a baby so yay for not having to queue.
- Getting Through The Flight
- People around you will automatically internally grooooooan when they see you board with a baby, so just remember that. They’re already dreading the fact you’re near them and imagining the worst so you really can’t make them anymore miffed. Be smiley, let your baby flirt away with anyone around him who’s receptive to it and just try to appear calm even if you’re not. The only people henceforth who’ll then get grumpy with you aren’t worth trying to be nice to. I remember seeing an idea that went viral about handing those around you a bag of sweets and earphones with a ‘sorry if we cry!’ note. Screw that, you won’t be seeing these people again and you’ve got nothing to apologise for.
- Feed your baby while you’re taking off to reduce the likelihood of their ears popping. It may also mean they fall asleep so you get a little while to yourself at the start of the flight.
- Feed your baby when coming in to land for the same ear-popping reason.
- Don’t feel bad about walking around with your baby. It keeps them occupied, gives other passengers around you a break and airline staff are always mega friendly to chat to.
- Be prepared to play with your baby pretty much wherever you can. This may mean you have to sit on the floor while they sit on the seat.
- Remember, you’re not the first person to fly with a baby so don’t feel bad! A whole load of how your journey goes depends on how YOU feel. If you’re stressing out you’ll make it worse, it’s all about mindset.
- Take it in turns if you’re travelling with your partner. When one has the baby, let the other nap or watch a film and so on.
Lastly, some may see this as unhelpful or a cop-out but I cannot encourage this enough. If you have time to save, fly business class. Airlines such as British Airways (who we always try to fly with where possible) have great sales throughout the year so if you know you want to go on holiday then it’s worth booking it far in advance, saving and opting for the more expensive option. You get access to the lounge, better food on the flight and beds (rather than seats, so this is a miracle on long haul). You also get so much more room for your baby to chill out in, it’s something I see as fully worth the money.