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Traveling overseas with a baby? More than possible!

Traveling overseas with a baby

You can travel overseas with a baby

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:

  1. 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).
  2. 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.

 

Prepare Well:

“If you fail to plan, you plan to fail”

Prepare well for overseas travel

Be well prepared for your journey

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.

Read more on flight times and selecting flights

 

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?

Baby activities while flying overseas

Baby playing 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:

Feeding baby while traveling overseas

Feeding your baby during 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.

 

Happy traveling

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.

Enjoy!

 

Please feel free to leave a comment, ask a question or provide feedback below.

Thanks for taking the time to enjoy the article.

Regards

Richard

 

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Richard

owner and creator of the website

47 Comments

  1. Hey Richard great post! Traveling oversees with a baby can be a disaster without planning. I didn’t know that it was so much involved in that. Thanks for the info 🙂

    James

  2. Hi Richard,

    I do not have young kids anymore but I know when on a flight I always felt sorry for the parents with the little ones. Very rarely were they happy and obviously uncomfortable with the take off and landing.

    I will keep these tips in mind for when I have grandkids 🙂 I agree you really do have to plan to help keep you and your kids happy. We want flying to be an enjoyable experience all the way around.

    Great article, I think you covered all the basis!

    Cheers
    Nichole

    • Yes – it is a harrowing experience for many parents and babies – but doesn’t have top be if you are well prepared and have worked through what is required.

      Thanks for taking the time to read the article. Hope you enjoyed it.

      Richard

  3. Hey Richard,

    This post can actually be used as a manual not only for travelling with babies, but for many young parents in general. The first tip is probably THE most important thing, well, for anything in life, really 🙂

    It is surprising how often parents anticipate a negative outcome of just about any “major” activity, when it is inevitable to involve their little ones in it. That’s what actually ruins everything before it even starts.

    Me and my wife traveled with our two boys overseas once, our youngest was 5 months old, but from the beginning we decided to stay positive and to not fear that anything bad would happen and our vacation turned out to be just amazing! We even went on a 4-hour trip on a yacht, with diving and such and it was as good as if there were only two of us – better even, because it’s so much fun when there are kids around!

    Anyway, great post and the tips are insanely useful!

    • Wow – thanks for reading the article and posting your experiences also – really great. Attitude is everything and like you suggest, it is really a parenting tip for everyday anyway.

      You are right that traveling with children does not have to be a noose but can be a wonderful experience – just get your thinking in the right space, plan accordingly and you can have a wonderful time. We just finished 2 days skiing actually with our 4 kids – now 3 – 9 years old – all 4 of them on ski’s and lasted from 9am – 3pm on both days in average weather – again – preparation is key.

      Thanks again and all the best to you and your family.

      Richard

      • Thank you, Richard, I wish the same for you and your family as well!

        And I forgot to say in the beginning: 4 kids, wow! I bet it’s never boring wherever you go – I know it’s not with just only 2 🙂

        • Yep – 4 is never dull. While it seems a lot more work and logistically more difficult than 2, you get used to it and life is probably just a bit more fluid. I have some good friends who have 10 and their family is just amazing – we’re not going for any more though :).
          Hey – all the best and hope your family are great.
          Thanks for stopping by.
          Richard

          • Oh God, 10 kids!!!!! I couldn’t even begin to imagine, hahahah )))))) But don’t get me wrong, I think it’s just amazing and I have a feeling of deepest respect for such people.
            We are actually waiting for the third one (should happen somewhere in the middle of January).

          • Yep – I know it is amazing and they are brilliant parents as you woudl need to be.
            All the best with the 3rd – that will be wonderful.
            Richard

  4. Hi Richard

    Great Article! I thought flying with my two month old puppy was hard, especially when she cried a bit. There happened to be a fellow passenger that complained and was very rude to us. Have you had issues with rude passengers?

    Thanks for the great tips on flying overseas with your baby. I will certainly apply a few of your suggestions next time I fly with my fur-baby.

    Sheri

    • Hi Sheri

      Thanks for the comment. Wow – we are about to get a puppy so may need to come to you for some tips!

      It is amazing how people watch us as we board a plane with the 4 kids and you know they are just happy when you are not sitting next to them. We have had a couple of difficult / rude people. The worst was when my oldest (about 4 at the time I think) was pushing the seat in front that happened to have a very grumpy and arrogant lady in it – probably mid 30’s on a trip with her trendy girl-friends. She turned to our little girl and let fly – very rudely. I told the lady her behaviour was inappropriate and but we managed to find another seat for a while so our little one could just get on with flying.

      Overall though – we have had 20:1 comments on – “wow your kids were amazing”. They are not always angels but with good management by us, we can generally ensure there are not the hassles and melt-downs. It really does come down to attitude and preparation – and our aim is to provide all the tools necessary to assist parents.

      Thanks again Sheri.

      Richard

  5. I tell you what, this seems very brave. I have a son that is almost 3 and I can’t even imagine taking him on a place right now. But if you are doing it with a baby then I have to start reconsidering the way I’ve been thinking about it. Do you know if a child’s ticket cost less at all or is it the same?

    • Hi Devin

      Its interesting how people perceive travel with young ones. We have expat friends who refused to travel until their children were about 3. Anyway – a baby is actually pretty easy – the hardest time to travel is from about 8 months until they are 2 years old. They are mobile but have limited attention span. By the time they are 3, there is the added advantage that dvd’s and ipads can also be added for some entertainment!

      A child’s ticket can be a little cheaper depending on the airline. You’ll need to check.

      For an infant – under 2 years old, they can be free if they sit on your lap.

      Thanks for reading the post and all the best. If you do take him on a plane, at least you can read up on some of the tips first. We have checklists that can assist also.

      All the best

      Richard

  6. Hello there
    l love travelling, whenever my work allows and l have some savings, l do try to travel to a new destination every year, usually overseas.
    But l have never thought how it will be like travelling with a baby abroad,l guess l will worry about little details.
    But you have explained things so well, what to look out for that travelling abroad with children should not be a problem.
    Thanks for a wonderful read, im sure many parents will find this very helpful.
    By the way,l admire your courage travelling with a 6-week old baby to a third world country,l don’t know if i`ll be able to do it with a 3-year-old.

    • Thanks for the wonderful comment, appreciated. Its great that you have got traveling – what’s your favourite destination?

      I think it takes a certain type of person that is prepared to live in a 3rd world country anyway – and with a young family, probably even different again. It certainly has its challenges – security and medical facilities the two biggest. However, we did learn a lot about life and what is really important. It had a profound effect on our 2 older kids who were 5 & 7 when we left Africa.

      Again, thanks for taking the time to stop by and at least you are aware of the resource now.

      All the best

      Richard

  7. Hi Richard, thank you for all this info, I’ve never heard of a bassinet row, but unfortunately I don’t think they offer them on cheap flights here in Europe, maybe more expensive airlines do. To me the most difficult part of a flight is security check. we’ve got two little ones and a double pushchair. Last time we travelled through Madrid and to my surprise they had a special lane for families with a mini playground next to it. The security check was a breeze!

    • Thanks for the response. What great info and wonderful with Madrid – I have seen kids rooms but never play areas next to security. I agree that security can be very difficult – we found Australia the worst – but I think most countries can be difficult at times.

      Bassinet Row will depend on the size of the plane and length of the flight. We travel from New Zealand – where we normally travel a minimum of 9 hours unless you are doing the 3 hour flight to Australia. Less than 4-5 hours, its probably not that important.

      Thanks

      Richard

  8. What a great comprehensive post on flying over seas with your baby. It’s nice that you tell your readers that you made the mistakes for them and then share the tips that you have for them.

    I think one of the best and not practiced because paople don’t realize how it can help, is the feeding at take off and landings.

    I was told once, after my kids grew up, that giving a baby a pacifier at take off and landing will do the same thing. Do you know if this is true?

    Oh and thanks for the great article.

    • Thanks for reading the article and your comments. I hope you found it useful.

      Yes – a pacifier will do the same and perhaps I should add that into the post – thanks for the comment. Our oldest used to suck her thumb and that also was very useful.

      Again – thanks for reading and interacting. Appreciated.

      All the best.

      Richard

  9. My best friend just had twin boys, and her parents live overseas, this article will be so useful to her so I will surely pass it on. I never knew so much goes into planning travel with a baby, me and my fiance are planning to move overseas next year and also have a baby, so who knows this information might come in very useful soon, thank you for a very informative post!

    Take Care,
    Eva

    • Hi Eva and thanks for taking the time to read this post and comment. I certainly hope you and your friend can find some useful information on the site. The preparation and a positive mindset are key.

      I wish you all the success with your eventual move and hope this may assist a little. Where are you planning to head to?

      Thanks again

      Richard

  10. Hey Richard!

    Awesome to see an article from a Kiwi!

    Loved your article! I have always shy’d away from this, I have 2 kids, one 5, one 4 but have never really wanted to take them on a plane until they’re older, currently they are in the “are we there yet” phase, lol it’s bad enough driving from town to town, let alone a 13 hour flight to the U.S.A to see their grandparents.

    What would you suggest for kids of that age? I know planning is important but are there maybe activities to get their mind off the timeframe it takes to be on a plane or help them relax and sleep on the plane?

    Awesome article man!

    Aiden
    Freedom Weight Loss

    • Firstly – thanks Aiden for reading the article – appreciated. Glad you enjoyed it.

      I can understand the hesitation and to be honest sometimes it can be easier just to wait until they are a little older. We travelled out of necessity and it was hard work when they were young – I did 5 days from Tanzania to Mildura in Australia by myself with 3 aged 5,3 & 1 once – that’s tough but was fine. All that to say – delaying another year or two is not a bad idea.

      However, if you did want to take them now, they ae probably at the age where they would be fine. There is enough novelty to keep them going. Book a quality airline with good entertainment systems – that would be number one for that age. My kids would have no problem watching various programmes or trying different games for a few hours. Take some books, an ipad, lego, pens & paper for drawing, perhaps a couple of simple games. The water painting books are great too. Its just about variety.

      Perhaps have a couple of little ‘surprises’ with you that you can bring out if they start getting restless.

      For a long flight – a great tip is to book one that flies overnight. They get 3-4 hours of fun plane experience and then put them to sleep for 5-6 hours after the meal – then they just have 2-3 hours at the end.

      At 4 -5 years old, they should be pretty good though and a lot easier than when they are little.

      Let me know if you have any other questions.

      Hope this helps.

      Richard

  11. Hi Richard,
    We have flown numerous times with kids from the UK to Australia too! Your absolutely right that you need to prepare well beforehand – it’s nearly always something like wipes that you tend to run out of.
    I also found that the ascent and descent were probably the most stressful time for the kids – it seems to hurt their ears little more or perhaps it’s just a little frightening. We made a game out of it and told them the plane could only take off or land if they pushed the button on the side of their seat. They had to press it at exactly the right time in order for it to “happen”. The button was of course only the seat recliner but, still it took their mind off it and before we knew it we were airborne!
    Cheers,
    Dylan

    • Hi Dylan

      Thanks for the comment. I hope you enjoyed the article and information on the website.

      I love your ideas about the ‘push the button on take-off’. Its certainly a great one – I’ll add it into my information sometime if that’s ok. Anything that keeps the kids thinking on other things is helpful.

      A couple of questions:

      1. Whats the best place you have visited with your young ones?
      2. Do you have a favourite kid-friendly airport or airline?

      Cheers and all the best

      Richard

  12. Hello Richard,

    Great post! I’m always traveling both local and overseas but I do not have any children. I always feared that when I do become a father it would make things very hard. You always see these poor parents having the worst time on a long flight with a baby.

    I think you have some great pointers and all parents with small children should read this site.

    • Thanks so much for taking the time to read the article. Yes – it can be daunting but with the right attitude and preparation it can be an amazing experience. We have also witnessed some awful situations and also put up with our own trying times – but mostly it was very positive and satisfying.

      Thanks again for your comment. Feel free to share this with any friends you have who may be traveling with young ones. All the best.

      Richard

  13. Some great tips on flying with a baby and I can see from your article and your website in general that you have lots and lots of experience flying with babies and children. The points you make about preparation will be so useful for parents who have never flown with their baby before and give them the confidence to try. You see it so many times on planes, some babies quite content and their parents know how to handle it when their baby gets upset, while others just don’t seem to know what to do to settle their obviously very upset baby. Following the tips here would certainly help them. Thanks

    • Hi Neil

      Thanks for reading the article and your comments. Yes – the aim is to give parents some peace of mind – that it actually will be ok and they can fly with their young ones.

      All the best.

      Richard

  14. Hi Richard,

    I don’t have kids but was drawn to this post because a good friend of mine, who is an avid world traveler, is pregnant and plans to fly with her baby.

    You gave some excellent tips. I especially found it interesting that feeding during take offs/landings can help with the pressure change. I kind of wondered about that. I flew when I was child and I remember the pressure really hurting my ears.

    That’s for this great post! I’ll be passing it along to my friend. 🙂

    Jess

    • Thanks Jess for reading the article and your insightful response. I hope it can be a help to your friend. The site is full of a lot of helpful information that hopefully can also be useful to her.

      One thing I have noticed also is that more modern aircraft seem to handle the change in pressure a bit better also – so it is not as severe as when we were kids. The advice is still useful though.

      Thanks again and Merry Christmas & Happy New Year.

      Richard

  15. What a very necessary post! I myself do not travel, but I can see all the problems that could flare up from leaving the house, to boarding an airplane, and I definitely DO NOT want IN on that kind of chaos! But I must say thanks to you for going ahead and working out the kinks for those who are afraid to even consider travelling with an infant. Is it your occupation that causes flying to be a MUST for you, do you just love to fly, or do you just have family in different countries or what? I ask that because I am horribly terrified of heights and I just cannot imagine taking ANY one of my babies on an air plane. But I don’t knock anyone who does. Love your work!

    • Hi Retha

      Thanks for taking the time to read the article and comment. Appreciated.

      We flew so much due to working in East Africa – we are from New Zealand. Our journeys would take between 36 hours door to door up to 4-5 days, so we built a lot of experience. I would say that a lot of our travel was ‘semi-forced’ due to work but some was definitely by choice and for pleasure – even with the kids. Our kids now just love to travel and fly – they are always asking to do more!

      Just to add to our story – my wife and I also are pilots of small planes – just a hobby – so maybe its in our blood a bit :).

      Have you been overseas then – perhaps on a cruise?

      All the best.

      Richard

  16. How are you doing today?

    Flying with a baby is scary! Your article is opening my eyes to how it can not only be more possible but also enjoyable if you prepare your self. With our 1st son we waited until he was 3 before we flew anywhere. We have another one on the way and are planning to fly shortly after he is born. Hopefully at 6 months or so. It is only be a 6 hour flight but I’m especially taking away your tips on positive attitude and making sure to plan everything out. This will really lift some of the stress we accidentally put on ourselves.

    Thanks again,
    -Anthony

    • Hi Anthony

      Thanks so much for reading the article and providing some feedback. Attitude and planning are key – get those and the rest will flow more smoothly. Congratulations on the new addition on the way – exciting times – we trust all goes well.

      I also like the comment in your response about it being pressure we put on ourselves – so true. It is often our expectations and fears that drive our feeling.

      Where are you looking at traveling too? 6 hours is a good length – still long enough though to require good planning.

      All the best.

      Richard

  17. I always say that to people about preparation as a piece of advice. I second that concerning on that statement. Powerful statement actually and it is proven.

    It seems flying with a toddler or a baby would be a bad idea for parents who have short fused and are temperamental.

    The bassinet one is a new tip that I’ve learned and just found out. I think all planes do provide that, right?

    • Thanks Tar for reading the article and your comment.

      I think you have a good point that parents need to have patience and have a flexible attitude – these will put parents in a good place to be successful when flying with their little one.

      Bassinet Row is normally just on larger planes flying long-haul.

      All the best

      Richard

  18. Great information! I had no idea bassinets are available! I have friends that are very hesitant to fly even a few hours with a young one. You guys are very brave! Your information is very helpful and I think will set travelers with young babies/children up for success. I appreciate that you provide a list of what to make sure to have. Very important in keeping things smooth.

    • Thanks so much for taking the time to read the article and pleased you found it useful. Hopefully you can pass the info on to your friends and it can help them. All the best.

      Richard

  19. Thanks for taking the time to create this very helpful site. I am researching on travel with kids for a blog post and we have travelled with our four across the world since they were babies too. Great to find another family who has a shared experience with us. I will be sharing it on a local website called quicksearch.ie, I hope it will be ok for me to reference your site? I recently overheard a child saying they will not be travelling this summer as her baby sister is too young!! If only they knew. I guess it’s number one about attitude, and a willingness not to avoid risks at all costs because the rewards are great. Happy travels 😀

    • Hi
      Thanks for taking the time to look at my site and great to hear of your experience too. I’ll take a look at your site also and might be able to also reference it.
      Of course, happy for you to connect and reference information on my site. Its basically there to help anyone who might be interested. So many parents are fearful of flying with babies and toddlers – and its not all tough and tears! I agree with you about attitude. Preparation is the other key ingredient.
      Thanks
      Richard

  20. Hi Richard, you guys are awesome and I don’t know how you manage with 4 children! I have baby nieces and nephews and I dread traveling in the same car with them. The cries and the anxieties are all the drama that I would rather avoid so flying with them has never crossed my mind.

    Another thing is that I always have bad experience with baby travelers on the plane. Whenever they start crying, I would feel stressful throughout the entire journey.

    But you know what – your site makes me think differently from now and as an avid traveler, I could see myself wanting to go places with my kids, regardless of their age. I have a lot to learn from you guys so keep sharing those helpful tips.

    • Thanks for he response – your words are very supportive!

      I can understand your feelings – I can also find myself getting on edge with a young one getting upset when I fly by myself. Sometimes there is little you can do about it – but this is rare. Normally though the parents attitude and preparation will ensure the flights go relatively smoothly and enjoyable.

      Appreciate the comments.

      All the best

      Richard

  21. Hi Richard,
    These are wonderful tips. I am not a parent but I have many friends who are that have expressed their concerns about air travel to me. Now I have a great article to refer them to. They, as well as many others will gain much from your site. Thanks so much for sharing.

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