Travel the globe with baby in tow – Part 1: Before the flight

Travel the globe with baby in tow – Part 1: Before the flight

Getting on a plane with your child can feel like the worst idea in the world. Calm your nerves with our tips on how to make that first time much easier.

Mother and child at the airport

Step one: Make ’em cry in the airport to tire them out (Just kidding! Sort of!)
Photo credit © 2014 Peng Zhang

Packing for baby

Remember the first time you took your baby out into the world? How you packed EVERYTHING plus a million extras just in case something went wrong? (Ten nappies! Three changes of clothes! WINTER JACKET!) Packing for your first flight is something like this. The first time I flew with my daughter, she managed to finish all her backup milk, throw her nice clean toys right into my lunch, and poop so massively that it exploded out all over her clothes – and this was just at the airport waiting to board the plane. A long trip is just as stressful and uncomfortable for your child as it is for you, so expect the unexpected.

Baby in luggage

Tempting… so tempting…
Photo credit © 2007 Rick Kempel

Think about what you’ll need on the plane and what can go into your check-in luggage. If you’ll be bringing milk or meals, plan how many feeds you’ll need to cover the flight as well as any transit time in airports or by road/public transport once you reach your destination.

Other things to pack in your hand luggage would be favourite snacks and SUPER OMG favourite snacks – it’s time to break out the stuff you don’t usually let your child eat (chocolate!), to have ready for emergencies. A variety of small toys, a favourite book and a change of clothes are also essential, as is a blanket.

For your check in bags, you’ll want to be prepared for anything. Sterilisation tablets are a must for children under 2 to help you sterilise without hot water, especially since you can’t always vouch for water quality overseas. Also important is a first aid kid including basic child medications for things like fever and tummy upsets, and a thermometer.

Call your airline

Now that the bags are piling up, it’s a good time to find out your airline’s luggage restrictions. Most airlines give extra allowance for children, which ranges from letting you check in a stroller and car seat, to allowing you one extra bag.

Also make sure you’ve booked a cot seat, as this will put you at the front of the row with more legroom. You may also want to request a baby meal.

If you’re carrying liquids like expressed breast milk on board, make sure you’ll be able to get it through airport security – each country has different restrictions. This also applies to any creams or medications your child might need. There’s nothing worse than repacking your bags at the check in counter – except repacking your bags at the check in counter with a crying baby.

It’s also worth requesting an empty seat next to you once you get to check in, or even on board. Many airlines are happy to do this if the flight isn’t full – I’ve had especially good experience with Silk Air. After all, keeping your baby happy and not-crying is in their best interest too.

Child pilot

When things seem really bad, remember – they could be much, much worse
Photo credit © 2006 Tammra McCauley

Call your doctor

You may want to see your child’s doctor to get some emergency medication and ask about health risks for the country you’re visiting. Many parents with particularly restless children also ask for something to make their baby sleepy on the plane. If you go this route, make sure you test it out before you fly, as such medications can sometimes have the opposite effect (no, we’re not kidding!)

And we haven’t even got to the flight yet! Check back for Part 2 of our guide to travelling with young children.




1 comment

  • […] In Part 2 of our guide to travelling with little ones, we shoot for the impossible – keeping your baby happy on the plane. (If you missed it, here’s Part 1: Traveling with your baby : Before the Flight) […]

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