Traveling with a tot
Traveling becomes a completely different experience when a little human is one of the family.
From passport applications to making sure you’re super organized, well packed and prepared, here’s what I learnt from my first few experiences from flying abroad with Noah.
Thankfully (and I say that with no disrespect to my home country that I love dearly) Noah was registered as an Australian at birth. This meant that he didn’t have the long waiting, poorly administered process that is the case with the South African Home Affairs Department (truth not opinion), and became a citizen with an Aussie passport in just a few working days.
In the UAE, you should collect the documents from the hospital after birth, then head to a central office at Al Baraha Hospital for your birth registration and documents. Once ready, you will be asked to return to collect the unabridged certificate that can then be used to apply for a passport and Emirates ID.
Andrew and I are not very organized travelers. We’re normally packing bags a few hours before leaving to the airport, which leaves us buzzing about frantically. I’d like to say that it all changed with Noah, but it didn’t. A minor improvement was that I made lists a few days prior to flying, and pulled out a lot of Noah’s items – ready to be packed at the last minute. Baby steps I say!
Try as far as possible to take a light load on board
Noah’s bag was the trickiest – trying to remember all the bits and pieces that I use with him daily, and that he may need abroad. I went through a typical day in my head, added in extras and the special going out outfits he’d need and then threw in extra extra’s for good measure. Fortunately, most of our first countries visited were ones we could have bought anything we didn’t have. And. as Noah was exclusively breastfed for his first few trips, food wasn’t an issue. On our most recent travels, with Noah taking some formula milk and food – I checked ahead to see whether his brands of milk and food were available and took backup just in case. Australia caters very well to baby needs, as does South Africa and most western countries so it’s also about being a little flexible where you can be.
He was just going on 3 months on his first trip, exclusively breastfed and not a very vomity baby. But, you also always plan for the worst.
So here are my lists.
Nappies – 10 for a 8 eight flight (just in case) / about 12 – 14 for the 13 hour flight
Wipes – a full pack
3 babygro changes
3 blankets of varying thickness
Baby Bjorn Carrier
3 face towels
Nappy throw away bags
Dettol hand wipes
Sleeping bag (Amazing for the flight!)
Paw paw cream
And at 5-6 months I added in:
Aptamil milk supplement bottles x 3 (the ready milk not powder)
4 food sachets
2 clean bottles
Spoon set (it lives in his nappy bag now)
2 outfits per day
1 PJ per day
Clothes for special events – we were attending a wedding in SA / going away in Australia
Breast pump + bottles + store bags + mini cooler to take milk out
Baby wash + shampoo + body cream
Pram (we use the Babylon yoyo when traveling as it folds really well)
Travel vanity kit – baby scissors + thermometer + hair brush
Mozzie cream (most say 12 months+) so look for a herbal and mild one online
Socks / shoes / hats and accessories
Some extra tips:
I was gifted this really nifty nappy clutch that stores about enough for a 2-4 hour stretch without taking the entire nappy bag. I use it for short trips where the car is not too far and easily accessible.
Buy mini’s – inflight and in some pharmacies they have mini size bum cream, wipes etc – great for the nappy clutch and your handbag
Pack extra ziploc bags – they are always useful for dummies/biscuits etc
Noah flew very well. In the space of a few days he had several long and short flights, morning and night, domestic and international.
Each time, I’d try to work his sleeps so that he was tired fairly soon into the flight, feed him and put him down in his bag. He slept pretty non-stop through most flights, in my arms or packed partially into the compartment in front of my seat. Fear not, this is safer than it sounds!
If traveling economy, I’d suggest considering the sleep style of your bub.
We did have an economy flight and I found taking a 4 seater rather than the bassinet, and sleeping him next to me. I’ve since done another economy flight with the bassinet and if you’re on your own it ca be a help for space.
Changing on board was less than fun. Again I preferred doing that in my seat (yes, even Poo) as I felt I had more room. I did my nappy changes in my seat in both seat classes – but this is very dependent on the person next to you in the case of economy. Always ask, as it is impolite to assume they are ok to have a nappy changed beside them. I am not a germaphobe but I am a bit weird about touching things in a loo so I use dettol wipes or small disinfectant spray in a cosmetic travel size spray bottle to spritz or wipe the area I/bub will touch.
If you’re flying alone, generally the in-flight team are great with helping where needed. If you need a wee break you can either take bub with (not as bad as it sounds), or one of them will hold for you.
A few tips:
Try as far as possible to take a light load on board
Make sure your baby bag is comfortable to carry – not falling off your shoulder or hand held
Always aim to be hands free where you can be
Pack your happy bag in a user friendly way – you’re less likely to need 3 clothing changes ahead of Nappies, wipes and the sleeping bag
If your plane nappy bag is a bit larger than usual, throw a smaller one in your case for daily outings
If traveling to a warmer or colder climate, have appropriate clothing easily accessible on landing
Don’t forget about yourself! Pack your plan essentials (cut back on excess), clothes change etc so that you don’t end up on board without anything that you need on the flight. You’re still you, plus a wee one
Plan nappy changes toward the end to compensate for the arrival process – immigration, Travel etc
Always remember that your period can come at any time after baby, so be prepared for that too. You don’t want to be stuck early into a flight without tampons or pads. If you are a tampon user and breastfeeding, keep KY Gel or something that you can lubricate with on hand. You’re likely to be dry and sore without it.
Feed close to, or during landing – again to compensate for delays on landing
Stay away from sick people! Planes are prime germ territory so don’t feel shy to move away from sick people who are coughing or sniffling around. It may save you from dealing with a sick baby on arrival on holiday or at home.
You’re allowed one piece of baby equipment to be checked in at no cost or weight restriction, so decide whether it is your stroller or car seat. Most countries will have good car seats for hire with your car, or you may arrange it with a friend or family member. I normally choose a stroller over a car seat, but have on occasion taken both. The BabyZen Yoyo is only 7kg and very compact so this could fall into your weight allowance without too much sacrifice.
Traveling with a bub means things take a lot longer to do, so be sure to allow enough time before flights and for commutes.
A good baby carrier will save you!
Something to think about is planning time in to pack. Particularly if you don’t have a nanny or help, it’s easy to forget how difficult it can be to pack while bub is awake. You need to pack for them and yourself so allow enough time for that!
Airport Lounges are a huge help, so if your airline offers that to you, make use of it. If you aren’t a frequent flyer on one airline, there are services like Priority Pass will give you lounge access around the world.
It’s impossible to cover all travel scenarios in one post, so if you have any specific questions, shoot them over. I’ve had loads already via IG messenger and love hearing from you all!