During our first trip with Baby E, she was 16 months and already couldn’t sit still. I followed some baby advice that I found online and packed a bag of toys and stickers in my carry on bag. The flight there was smooth-sailing, but the flight back was filled with horror because there was turbulence throughout and I did not have the foresight to leave the carry on bag under my seat. It was stuck in the overhead compartment and I had to deal with a cranky and bored toddler for 4 hours. It was really a flight from hell.
Hence, I wanted to share some tips and lessons on how to travel with a kid that I learnt from our 3 overseas trips with Baby E…
Preparing for The Trip:
About routines: Contrary to some popular baby advice websites, we don’t establish a hard routine for Baby E. She does follow a routine at childcare but we don’t follow that routine on weekends. She also stays over at my parents’ place every now and then since she was a newborn and hence is able to sleep wherever we are. It makes for easier travelling and a less fussy kid. We do stick to a bedtime routine such as brushing the teeth then a bedtime story though.
About food: If you intend to let your baby eat whatever you are eating overseas, you need to start to give him/her some adult food a few months before the trip (not for really young kids <6months old pls!). This is to get his/her systems accustomed to the food. We also reduced the frequency of sterilisation of bottles to every other day so that she could get used to a not so sterile environment.
Packing light: One way to pack light is to layer the kid’s clothing. So we usually let her wear rompers then a long sleeve shirt outside for bedtime. This way we save luggage space on pyjamas. Of course, if your kid is the kind that wears pyjamas to sleep, you need to prepare him/her mentally by dressing him/her in the way you want him/her to sleep overseas so as to avoid a full blown ‘I want my pyjamas’ tantrum overseas.
What to carry on: Within your carry on bag, there should be the following items and you should have the carry on bag with you at all times. Stash it under your seat for easy access!
- A bag of toys, doodle pad, stickers, books etc. I call this the Doraemon bag… and pull something out when she fusses on the plane.
- Snacks for the kid… for the extra fussy times. (Sorry, I hope my kid doesn’t turn into a 100kg Trim and Fit Club kid in future, but for now we do give her healthy snacks to calm her down during super fussy times)
- Wet and dry tissues. Super important in times of crisis such as the kid barfing or emptying the food tray on your lap.
- Change of clothes, for YOU and your kid. See previous point.
- An extra jacket and pair of socks for the kid, in case it’s cold on the plane.
- Cutlery for the kid if you are squirmy about him/her using the airline’s or restaurants’
- Plastic bags for emergencies (they do provide one barf bag on board though)
During Takeoff: Give the kid something to drink or eat because they won’t know that they have to swallow to clear their ears during takeoff. We do have the problem of the kid polishing off ALL her food before the plane even took off so do pace yourselves.
Best practices: Once the seat belt sign turns off, get a bassinet for the kid… and try try try to get him/her to sleep. For our active kid we haven’t had much luck getting her to sleep, so we usually ended up putting the blankets on the floor to create a play area for her (provided you have the bulkhead seats). We won’t have such a luxury during the upcoming trip because she’s no longer considered an infant and we can’t qualify for the bulkhead seats so I will update you on what happened when we’re back. *Fingers crossed*
During the trip:
About facilities: We try to book hotels that have self service laundry facilities if the trip is long. Our upcoming trip is 10days and we will have to do laundry midway. During our first trip, we booked a service apartment that had a washer and dryer in the room. It was convenient as we didn’t have to worry about the kid dirtying her clothes. The dryer killed the vibrant colors of her Carter’s clothing though =(
Travelling with the kid: While a lot of parents hire drivers on trips with their kids, we usually take public transport. I find the baby carrier useful for this because Baby E finds it calming to sleep in it. We can then encourage her to sleep on the public transport. Of course, we limit our journeys to 2 hours because the kid will not tolerate anything longer than that. Having a baby carrier also makes it easier to move around with the kid in crowded areas that prams cannot access. It also gives me the peace of mind that nobody can suddenly grab my kid and run off with her in public.
Making milk in the middle of the night: On our trips, we prefer to bring along travel milk powder containers and measure out the milk powder beforehand. This is to minimise accidents in the hotel rooms because we usually cannot switch on the lights since the kid is sleeping. We operate under minimal light conditions usually and it was more convenient to prepare the milk powder beforehand.
That’s about all I can think of regarding tips… will add on when any points come up. Next post I shall share on which hotels we are staying in and the places that we are going to! It’s our most ambitious trip yet because we will be staying in 5 hotels and going to 4 places within the country. We didn’t dare to do this with Baby E previously but she seems to be older and more able to take the travelling so we’re back to our old ways of doing roadtrips. Again, fingers crossed to the max I can cross. =x