Maybe you are needing to travel overseas with your precious baby and you are afraid and nervous? Perhaps you don’t think you can do it or worried about the safety of your baby. Well be reassured, it is more than possible and can actually be an incredible experience. If you are going to be traveling overseas with a baby – you have come to the right place.
This post will provide keys on how to successfully travel overseas with your baby.
A little of our story
We have four children, all who first travelled overseas by the age of 3 months. Our 1st born travelled at just 3 weeks from New Zealand to Australia. Our 2nd and 3rd children travelled at about 6 weeks old from New Zealand to Tanzania, Africa – a journey of 4 flights, taxis, hotels, buses, airports and arriving in a ‘3rd world’ environment. Our 4th child flew at 3 months as my wife needed knee surgery in New Zealand prior to heading back to Africa. She flew from New Zealand to Dubai, to Greece (for a wedding), back to Dubai and then to Africa.
I mention all of this for two reasons:
- It is very possible to fly with a baby – we have done it many times – from 50 minute flights to 18 1/2 hours from New Zealand to Dubai (with a 1 hour transit in Australia).
- The information in this post and on our flyingwithkidz.com website has been learned and put into practice many times. We have made the mistakes for you – so hopefully you don’t have to! You will find practical information on every aspect of travelling with your baby as well as checklists and an array of our best tips.
So – don’t be afraid and look forward to the experience. Approach your journey with confidence.
Here are some tips for taking your precious baby on a plane:
Its about a positive attitude
We discovered that one of the most important aspects about flying with your baby is your mindset and attitude. Many parents let fear and uncertainty about the impending hours in airports and on aircraft over-ride their own sense of control. Flying with a baby is usually a pleasurable experience and not a place of torture. Sure, things can happen and we had the occasional trial – but we had many, many more wonderful times with our babies.
One of the best things I ever read was:
“Value the time you have on the plane with your baby as it is not often you get completely uninterrupted and undistracted time with your little one. Treat this opportunity as a privilege.”
This one thought completely changed the way my wife and I viewed our many hours of flying with our babies and toddlers.
“If you fail to plan, you plan to fail”
You have probably read or heard this quote many times, but it is so true. If you are well prepared for your travels, you have a much higher chance of a positive experience. Enter the travel poorly prepared and there is a very high chance you will regret you ever entered the aircraft. Preparation involves:
- Sensible trip planning and booking – read more here
- Ensuring you have the correct documents – discover more here
- Packing all the necessary items – get your checklist here
- Learn your best plane strategies and be one step ahead – gain insights here
- Prepare your transits and stopover strategies – learn more here
I can not highlight enough the need to be well prepared. You can’t just ‘get-by’ like you do traveling overseas by yourself. You certainly do not want to run out of nappies / diapers or baby formula or not have enough changes of clothes etc.
Do yourself a huge favour and be well-prepared!
Your flight timing and times are important:
This may seem unimportant but selecting when you are flying and for how long is vital. If you fly for too many hours without a good break – you and your baby are likely to have a meltdown. A couple of little tips:
- Try to avoid difficult boarding times. We use to fly out of Bangkok at 2am in the morning which meant leaving the hotel at 10pm and then having to do the airport stuff during the babies key sleep times – adds a lot of stress. In these cases we had no choice – but when we did have choice, we worked hard to get reasonable flight times.
- We worked on a door to door timeframe when working out the length of our journey – not just flying time. Our maximum was 27 hours (and that is tough) – any more and we were heading for trouble.
Book the bassinet row:
Most longhaul aircraft have a small numbers of seats that have bassinets for babies. The bassinets are removable and are attached to the bulkhead. The advantage with booking a bassinet seat is it provides you freedom while your baby is sleeping or playing. It gives you some space to eat your meals or maybe read a book if you get lucky.
Read about the advantages and disadvantages of booking Bassinet Row here.
What do I do with my baby on the plane?
Hopefully a young baby is going to fill some of the time sleeping and feeding. Then there is changing nappies / diapers and clothes. But, what about the rest of the hours on board the aircraft? Thankfully a plane actually has a lot of helpful activities and distractions already on board. Add the toys and items you brought with you and it is possible to keep your baby positively engaged.
Some key activities on board the aircraft are:
- Visiting the air-crew
- Playing with water and the mirror in the bathroom
- Exploring up and down the aisles
- Meeting people
- Rotating through your various toys
Read this article that lists more ideas of activities to do on board the plane.
Time your feeding for take-off and landing:
One critical aspect of flying is to protect your babies ears as best you can during the assent and descent phases of your journey. The change in pressure, especially during landing can hurt your little ones ears and make them restless and upset. The best medicine for this is simply to feed your baby some milk during these phases – either breastfeeding or from a bottle works well.
This requires careful planning to try and maximise the amount of time your baby is feeding while the plane is climbing or descending.
Timing this can be difficult as it is hard to gauge when exactly take-off and landing may occur.
For the record – on most international flights, the descent will commence 30 – 40 minutes prior to landing at the airport.
Traveling overseas with your baby can be an amazing experience. I can’t pretend that it is easy but it can certainly be enjoyable and rewarding. Be prepared to be challenged and tired – but really that can be parenting of a baby anyway.
What we do know, however, is that if you follow through the steps in this article and on the flyingwithkidz.com website, you will be surprised how in control you will feel and how enjoyable the travel can be.
Please feel free to leave a comment, ask a question or provide feedback below.
Thanks for taking the time to enjoy the article.