Time to go exploring! Going for an overseas holiday with your bub may not be as impossible as it may seem. Knowing what to expect and preparing for the trip will help to ease the bumps along the way. Here are some tried and tested tips for travelling with your baby for the first time. From the right questions to ask the airlines, to what to bring with you on your trip, to handling baby on the airplane – we’ve got you covered!
Travelling with Baby: Preparation at Home
It’s undeniable that your packing list is woefully long, and travelling light seems a thing of the past.
But don’t worry, as your baby grows older, the packing list will become much shorter.
Some things to note and decide early if you want to take along:
A car seat. If you’re renting a car, you can usually rent a baby car seat though; but the cleanliness and safety of that car seat is unknown. Some airlines allow baby car seats on board, but only if you buy a seat ticket for your baby.
A stroller. Leave your heavyweight jogger at home and bring your super-light stroller instead; it’s no fun juggling the baby, several pieces of luggage, AND the stroller.
Find out more about your holiday destination – is it stroller-friendly? Strollers are great for napping on the go, diaper-changing, and saving your aching back!
You might even want to bring one of those snazzy super-small strollers that are cabin-sized.
A baby carrier. If you bring both the stroller and the carrier, you could alternate between both. For some cities that aren’t so great for strollers eg. crowded Hong Kong or Tokyo, or a hiking holiday, a baby carrier is more useful.
Baby formula or breastmilk. Depending on where you’re going, you can decide whether you want to bring a small stash of formula or buy more at your destination (provided that your usual formula brand is readily available).
For breastfeeding mums, don’t forget your nursing cover, for eating on the go.
If you’re exclusively expressing milk, you can arrange for your frozen stash of milk packs to be kept in an ice box that’s sealed and check it in. But be sure your ice box can keep your liquid gold cold for the duration of the flight and the journey to your accommodation.
Some mums travel with a steam steriliser. If you’re worried about lugging a bulky item along, you can use a sterilising set for microwave ovens – so you probably have to find a hotel or apartment that has one.
Diapers. How many you want to bring depends on the availability of your baby’s usual brand at your destination. You don’t want to be dealing with a new brand of diapers that’s giving you leaky nightmares or even baby diaper rash!
Depending on the age of your baby, you could end up lugging along a suitcase of diapers. We are not kidding. But the good news is that you will have an empty suitcase for more shopping at the end of your trip!
Baby food. If your baby has started solids, well, it ain’t as easy as just milk feeds. But you will manage, as parents always do.
Buy food pouches for snacking on the airplane and as a back-up plan. You can always buy fresh produce at your destination later. Note: Staying near a supermarket is always a boon!
Baby travel cot. Most hotels offer the use of baby cots. If that is the case, you can bring your own cot bedding. But some parents like to travel with a baby cot if they are staying at an apartment, or if the availability of a baby cot might be an issue. Just remember that every piece of baby gear you bring would mean more of a juggling act for you.
*Find out from your airline ahead of time whether you can check in all your baby gear eg. stroller, car seat, baby cot for free. Some airlines allow free check-in for any number of baby gear; some limit the number.
Travelling with Baby: At the Airport
It’s no news that baggage handlers toss baggage around. You have probably heard horror stories about broken strollers at touchdown, and a ruined holiday without a stroller.
Some airlines and airports allow you to do gate check-in for your stroller. This is great if you’d like to keep your stroller in a pristine condition (no guarantees, though), and you’d like to be able to transport your baby all the way to the boarding gate.
Some parents, however, prefer checking in the stroller at the counter, so that they don’t have to deal with another piece of gear while walking to the gate.
Changi Airport allows liquids for babies on board – hot water for formula, and even thermos flasks of baby food. Yup, your baby gives you immunity from the liquids rule, sort of.
Arrive at your gate early. It’s not so easy to rush around with a baby in tow.
In fact, arrive at your check-in counter early. For babies under the age of one, you get a baby bassinet on board on many airlines. But it’s subject to availability.
Travelling with Baby: On the Airplane
One of the best tips you’ll ever hear, and this comes from seasoned mums: Feed your baby when the plane is taking off and when the plane is landing. This way you will help to relieve the pressure in the ears.
Whether it’s a bottle of water or formula, or breastfeeding, or even solid foods, you’ll save yourself a screaming episode due to baby’s painful ears.
Enjoy the baby bassinet. It is a godsend, and you’ll appreciate not having to carry your bub in your arms the whole way. Everyone gets to snooze! Plus, you get more legroom, as is usual for the seats that come with baby bassinets.
Baby toys and books will keep your baby engaged. You can’t bring baby for a walk, so the next best thing is to keep him occupied in the seat. Bring his favourite toys, and bring new ones that will surprise him.
What to do if your baby screams? Take a deep breath, and don’t stress yourself about judging glares. Many of your passengers know that you’re doing your best.
Travelling with Baby: At Your Destination
When you get to your hotel, check to make sure you have all the basics covered. Hot shower, air-conditioner, kettle, refrigerator (especially important for breast milk and baby food) are working.
If you brought your frozen breast milk and you don’t have a freezer in your room, arrange with the hotel to place your stash preferably NOT with the raw meats in their restaurant’s freezer section. Because, sometimes they do.
To be safe, double bag your ice box or bag.
Part of the experience of bringing baby on an overseas trip is a sense of adventure.
Sometimes, the best prepared parents meet surprises and challenges. A wrong turn on the road, leaky diapers, screamy baby, missing luggage – many of these are beyond your control.
Just (again) take a deep breath, and enjoy the adventure as a family. If it gets tough, you have each other, and you are experiencing challenges together!
Another travelling with baby story to tell!
Now that you’re armed with these tips, here are some ideas of where to go!