My husband and I are planning our first trip home with our little one who will turn 10 months old this month. I had no idea how to prepare, what to bring, what to do or what not to do for our first time flying with our son. Apart from arriving at the airport at least two hours in advance to make sure you’re not late for your flight, there are a few other tips that can make life traveling with a mini-globe-trotter a lot easier.
Fortunately for hubby and I, we have spent the best part of our five years abroad traveling around Asia, and after my second attempt at bringing those just-in-case shoe and clothing options on our backpacking expeditions, I learned that less is definitely more.
Traveling with a baby makes me feel like this would be difficult to achieve because a baby needs so much right? However, after taking my little one hiking a few times, I realize that some of the most challenging activities can be done without bringing a whole trunk full of diapers, blankets, muslins, and clothes. I will pack just as I pack for one our hikes: keep it to a minimum and only bring essentials. Smaller items like more packs of baby wipes and creams can be bought on arrival. If your family is anything like mine, they’ll already have more than enough items for baby ready and waiting.
Only bring one carry-on item
Make the load lighter and ditch the extra bag or purse that you can bring as carry-on. When I take my little one out, I always ensure that I only have one item to keep an eye on and carry. Make it easier on yourself, and only take your baby’s diaper bag on board. You will be less likely to forget things and no doubt will appreciate carrying less weight with baby in tow.
Wear your baby
I was encouraged to do this very early on and when I can avoid using our buggy, I will. Use a baby wrap or carrier to make the whole checking in and boarding process much easier. If you can, check in the stroller, and try to use a travel-light, foldable pushchair. You can wheel it around with ease and quickly unfold when ready to use it on the other side.
Look for signs that help you
I have often seen separate boarding queues for families at airports. Babies and young children are a sure way to get through the security check quickly and bypass the exhausting wait. If like me you’re traveling with an infant under two, then your little one with not only be flying for free but will get to go on the plane first.
Dress easy and nurse
Forget kitting baby out in brand new fancy gear for his first flight! Try not to dress your little one in booties or shoes, they will have to come off several times during security checks. Don’t wear a belt or lace-up shoes as these will also have to come off at security and this becomes a challenge if you happen to be wearing your baby. The same goes for big coats and unnecessary layers. Dressing easy will also come in handy when you need to nurse. Nurse or let your baby suck on something to avoid any issues with the sudden pressure changes on your flight. You can do this as frequently as needed during the duration of the flight.
Call ahead to ask for a baby sleeper
Most flight carriers will provide a baby bassinet for your journey, however, this usually has to be requested. Call ahead in advance of your flight and let your requests be known; these could also include an aisle seat or more seat with plenty of legroom. Usually, reputable flight carriers will be accommodating but also note that there are no guarantees on the day. Access to a baby bassinet will depend on availability. Most of all, sit back, relax, and try to enjoy!