It’s not as hard as it sounds. But I know like any first-time moms, we tend to over prepare (and over think!). I have traveled with my son several times alone in a plane, whether it is a 45-minute domestic flight or a 15-hour international flight.
Here are my simple and practical tips I always do in each flight.
1. PLAN AHEAD
It is an advantage if you have at least 1 week to prepare and plan for your flight.
Write it down. If it is your first flight, I advise to write your things to bring down in a paper so you can tick off items and won’t forget anything. Think about the things you need to bring and the amount; how many checked in bags to bring; what will be in your hand carry, diaper bag, etc; and a contingency plan in case there is a delay or stopover or emergency landing (i know!).
Ask the airline. Call the airline or ask other people who have flown in the same airline before for information like if they offer bassinets for baby, drinking water, hot water, baby food, first aid kit, emergency meds, toys, etc. With this info, you will know what to expect and what not to bring.
Call. Call the hotel to confirm if they offer crib and have them prepare it before your arrival. If you are staying with your relatives, ask if they can borrow a crib and set it up for you.
Decide. Decide if you want to buy an extra seat for your baby. Kids above 2 years old require a seat for themselves. Also, decide if you want to bring stroller, car seat, and baby carrier. Ask the airline if they charge for stroller. Don’t always assume that you get the first 2 checked bags free. Stroller is helpful especially when walking around the airport. You can always leave it at the gate prior to boarding. There are some airports in Asia where they have a stroller service and will lend you one while waiting for your flight. I usually don’t bring car seat since it is bulky and heavy and some of the countries in Asia are not so strict with that. It is completely up to you. Most importantly, I always advise to bring baby carrier. It is a big help and keeps your hands free.
2. STRATEGIC PACKING
Pack to Unpack. I believe you need a skill in packing especially now that you have a baby. Strategic means that the way you pack your things in your checked in bags is the way that will be easier for you to unpack and look for stuff when you get home or to the hotel. Because you don’t want to waste a second looking for baby items in your pile of clothes with a cranky baby. So it is important to remember where you put each item.
Order Online. Whenever we go to my in-laws, I always order the bulky things to their place ahead of time so I don’t need to carry a lot, like boxes of diapers, packs of wipes, cans of milk, baby foods, baby detergent, etc.
Buy it there. Remember even third world countries have formula, diapers and the like. Just bring enough amount for couple of days and buy the rest from there. But if you are brand specific and sure that it is not available there, then bring your own.
Light Hand carry. I know it’s difficult esp babies need a lot of stuff that is not readily available in the airport much less in an aircraft. With experience, you learn to pack light. Think about this: do you think you can manage to bring a hand carry, a diaper bag, a personal hand bag plus a baby in the baby wrap walking around the airport, going through immigration and security??? It will be too heavy for you and you only have two hands!!! By the time you board the airplane, your arms and legs are aching, your back hurts, you are sweating, and you are tired and haggard; and the flight hasn’t even taken off yet. Strategize!
I only bring one hand carry bag
Season. Summer vacation means light packing; whereas winter trips means heavy baggage.
Flight Time. Day flight means your baby will be awake so you will be up the whole flight, but you get to sleep with your baby when you reach your destination. Night flight means your baby will be sleeping (provided he sleeps through the night) in the flight and you also get to sleep, but you will be wide awake when you get home.
Time Difference. I always find it easier when we travel to the West (USA) because my son can easily adapt to the time rather than when we travel to Asia where we are awake at night and sleeping at day. It will surely mess up your little one’s bed time.
Age. Below 4 months means you only need to think about milk. Older than 4 months means you have to prepare also his solid foods. Aside from that, you think about what kind of toys to bring depending on the age, etc.
Health. Younger babies means they will be prone to germs and sickness compare to older babies. You will be grossed out if you think about what’s in your seat or what the other passengers had touched. Just keep your hands clean and keep physical contact of your baby from other passengers to a minimum. My son’s first flight was when he was only 6 weeks old and it was a 15-hour flight. Imagine!
Eat. This is important. You need energy. This is one thing less to think about when you reach the airport. You don’t need to look for a place to eat or to buy food. Also, if your baby gets handful in the flight and you have no time to eat, at least you are full. Plus, we get cranky when we are hungry! We don’t want that! Positive vibes only!
Arrive early. Well, this is a no-brainer. Arrive early so you are not running like a headless chicken in the airport. Check in online if possible. You would want an ample time for long queues in check in and security. Don’t forget to take out the formula, baby food or any other liquids for Security. They usually check both liquid and powder formula. Don’t stress out. Usually people will help you if you need to fold your stroller. Or you can always ask for help.
Board first. Most of the airlines prioritize mothers with infants to board first. This way, you will have time to sort your things, prepare formula, and relax.
Charles’ first flight from Miami to Doha at 6 weeks old
Be nice. Be nice to other passengers. They will be the one to help you with your little one, and the same one who will be annoyed with a cranky baby. Some mothers would give earplugs to nearby passengers, or chocolates. But you don’t have to do that.
Ask. Don’t be shy to ask help from other passengers and flight attendants. Ask if bassinet is available so you can eat and move around. Ask what other amenities that have onboard for the baby.
Fill out. Don’t forget to fill out the necessary landing cards, arrival cards or customs before landing.
Relax. Sleep if you need to. Watch movies. Read. Listen to music. Eat. You will land soon…
If you think you left something, it’s ok. Improvise. If you are struggling, don’t pity yourself. Stay positive. Don’t think about the reaction of the other passengers when your baby starts screaming. Keep your cool. Remember that it’s better to see a cranky baby than a mother getting frustrated.
I hope you learned something and enjoyed my post. Let me know how your travel goes; and you are very much welcome to share your own tips with us.
Have you traveled with your little one alone before? Leave us a message in the comments below!
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