Late last year I did a post on my tips for travelling with a baby (read about it here) after we had a pretty successful trip up to Port Douglas with our 7 month old son. With that experience under our belts we decided for Easter to take a chance and travel overseas with the little guy, but don’t get too excited, we didn’t cross the globe (I’m not ready to endure a long haul flight with a baby, but hats off to anyone who is) instead we opted for the relatively short five hour flight over to Fiji. For the most part, we had a great trip, but there were a few things that I’d definitely do differently next time, so here is version 2.0 of travelling with a baby.
The first things to organise and often the most nerve wracking part of overseas travel is with a small child are your flights. I don’t know any parent that hasn’t had that anxiety associated with travelling with what may be a very unsettled child, I definitely did, so I spoke to just about everyone I knew who had travelled with a small child to get their advice on the best time to fly.
You have two options – fly during the day and have what can be the painful task of trying to entertain your child for the duration of the flight. Or fly at night and pray your child sleeps, if not, you have the anxiety of trying to get your bubs to sleep, plus you’re faced with a cabin full of tired travellers who desperately want to sleep but can’t because of your mini. Awesome!!
I decided that the lesser of two evils was a night flight because my little guy is usually a great sleeper, so chances were that he’d pass out as soon as we boarded the plane and I wouldn’t hear from him again until we arrived. Take note that I said usually, because this ended up being one of those nights where I regretted relying on his great track record. Let’s just say the night flight was the worst decision that I could have made. My little guy was so unsettled. He’s not used to sleeping in my arms, so he was exhausted and frustrated because he couldn’t get comfortable and he let everyone in the cabin know about it. He literally spent half of the flight crying, whilst everyone else on the plane was trying to sleep. It was awful!
Having said that, when I was walking up and down the aisle trying to calm him down, I did notice that all of the other children on the flight were fast asleep. Granted he was the youngest on our flight by a couple of years, it looked as though all of the kiddies from about 3 years and older had no issues sleeping. So now I think that the decision on what time to fly has to be made on an age basis. Since the older kids seemed to have no issues sleeping, I would definitely go with a night flight if my kids were this age. The upside being that you don’t have to entertain them and they’ll sleep for most of the trip – Winning!
As for the younger kiddies, I now think a day flight is the safest option. Yes you may have to entertain them, which can be draining, however, I promise you it’s 100 times better that trying to console an unhappy bubba at 2am, whilst fending off death stares from everyone else on board. Chances are they may go down for a short nap, and you only have to entertain them for half of the flight. At worst, if they’re hating it, and crying their little lungs out atleast you’re not going to upset people as much as you would at night.
As with my last post, I still think you should take as little equipment with you as possible and hire everything at your final destination. Once again, I hired a porta cot and high chair from the resort where we stayed and the only item I brought with me was a super compact stroller.
When it comes to strollers you have a couple of options. The first is to bring along your nice expensive stroller/pram that you use at home, however be warned, I have heard one to many horror stories of strollers being damaged in transit, so think twice before you go down this path. Option two is to borrow a small stroller from someone else (I did this then we travelled last year), the upside of this is that you don’t have to cart around your big stroller and you don’t have to invest in a second stroller if you’re not likely to use it after your trip is over. The third option and the one I opted for this time, is to buy a second smaller stroller that I can use at home and to travel.
My day to day stroller is a Baby Jogger City Select, which seemed great in the beginning, but I now find it to be a bit bulky when I’m out and about with the little man. I’m sure it’s full potential will be realised when I have baby number two and the second seat is put to use, but for now, it’s bigger than what I really need. So I was already on the hunt for a small stroller before the trip and after a stack of research I decided on the Mountain Buggy Nano. The Nano is light, really easy to manoeuvre, the seat reclines so bubs can have a nap and best of all it folds down into a square, which depending on your airline can be taken on as hand luggage. We used this stroller every day whilst away and absolutely loved it. If you’re looking to pick up a stroller for when you travel, I highly recommend looking at one of these (and no, Mountain Buggy didn’t pay me to say that, but damn it’d be nice if they did). They retail for about $400, but I got mine on sale at Baby Bunting for $300.
My son is almost 1, so he’s at that stage where he eats just about everything, but it can be hard going out to restaurants and finding healthy food for him to eat (and I didn’t want him living on chips and nuggets for a week), so I brought along heaps of snacks and pre packaged food for him (I declared everything with customs and had no issues so long as it wasn’t fresh or uncooked food). Having said that, I always tried the fresh food option first, so if a café had pumpkin soup on the menu, I’d order that for him or in some cases, I was able to order a side of vegetables and he’d eat that. So it’s not impossible to find healthy food for little kids, it can just be a little more challenging.
As a back up, I’d suggest packing at least one or two squeezable fruit packs for every day that you’re away, one muesli bar per day (I packed the Rafferty’s Garden bars which come in either fruit or vegetable fillings) and a few other snacks like rice rusks, yogurt drops, yogurt covered rice cakes ect. I know it sounds like a stack of food, but it’s a life saver. I had a number of days where we were out and I couldn’t find any suitable food for the little man so these snacks came in really handy.
Also, when we arrived in Fiji, I made a bee line for the first supermarket I saw to pick up some fresh fruit and yogurt, which proved to come in really handy for days where we were at the beach or sitting around the pool.
With regards to milk, my son is still on formula, so I packed a full tin of formula in my suitcase and put four of the filled single serve travel containers in my carry on luggage just in case my main case got lost in transit. For those who aren’t aware, you are allowed to bring baby bottles filled with water on board overseas flights as well as filled drink bottles.
I really hope this helps anyone who is either considering or about to travel overseas with a little one. If I’ve missed anything, or if you have any tips for traveling with a bubba, leave a comment below.
Happy travelling xx