Thursday, May 2, 2013

Travelling by Air with Baby: What to Bring and Tips to Stay Sane

Since I had my baby, my travel life, particularly one that would require me to hop onto an air plane, came to a grinding halt.

Every time I had the urge to fly home (as I had not gone home for almost 1 year!) or felt like realizing my wildest dream to have a short vacation overseas with my husband and baby, I always killed the idea. Both my husband and I planned to apply a passport book for Baby Naomi long time ago but we never actualized it.

"Maybe next time", "Later" and "Wait until she is a bit bigger" were the common reasons of delaying our plan to travel overseas. Why? Because we foresaw the humongous amounts of stuff that we'd need to pack and carry should we go for an overseas trip with a baby. Then, we got lazy. In addition, we dreaded the possibility that Baby Naomi would be very fussy or get really hyper for hours inside the air plane. Troublesome, don't you think?

Two months ago, after some family members in Indonesia persuaded me to go home so they can meet their newest family member addition, along with lots of encouraging words from friends who've successfully travelled by air with their baby; I finally clicked the ‘confirm payment’ button on AirAsia website.

Days after we booked the tickets, we applied for Baby Naomi’s passport book.

A week before the flying day, both husband and I started packing our stuff for this trip and as expected, it's not possible to travel light with a baby on hand.

In mid of April, the three of us flew for the first time. We flew with AirAsia and the destination was Surabaya, Indonesia. Baby Naomi was 6 months and 3 weeks old when she flew for the first time.

Baby Naomi’s diaper bag was extra heavy when we packed that for our international trip. In her diaper bag, on top of carrying extra disposable diapers, clothes, medications, toys, milk bottles, wet tissues, blanket, etc.; I brought a Thermos containing hot water and two sets of baby milk powder dispensers containing her measured formula milk powder. When adults are usually not allowed to bring any liquid including mineral water that amounts more than 100 ml to the plane, seemingly it’s fine to bring a Thermos full of hot water on-board when travelling with a baby.

It almost felt like we’re moving house again when we carried Baby Naomi’s daily necessities to the plane. It’s a lot but luckily was not more than the allowed 7 kg hand-carry limit.

After checking in LCCT Airport.

Also, after much contemplation whether we should bring Baby Naomi's stroller overseas, we decided to do so due to convenience reason. Apparently, after checking-in the airport, we can put our baby in the stroller until we’re about to board. Until then, the air stewardess would keep the stroller for us and we can collect it in the airport’s baggage claim area after landing.

I believe this picture was taken before the nightmare began.

So, did Baby Naomi behave during her flying time? Errr… not really. There were times when she was quiet and manageable but most of the times, she was pretty hard to handle unfortunately. Both husband and I spent most of our times inside the plane soothing and entertaining this little passenger. She only slept for less than half an hour inside the plane, thus my plans to catch up with my sleep and rest my dizzy head evaporated in the air.

Well, despite all the minor glitches that Baby Naomi caused inside the plane, the three of us managed to land safely in our destination and were very happy to meet my family in Indonesia again. 

Before I end this post, below are some tips to travel safely and sanely with a baby by air, based on my personal experience:

  • During take-off and landing, to help baby's ears adjust to changes in cabin pressure, offer him or her a bottle of water/milk or a pacifier. This step is so important; else, once your baby’s ears get really painful due to air pressure, your next few hours of flying time would be nothing but a misery and even more dramatic than the saddest Korean drama ever aired on TV. By the way, some people recommend stuffing baby ears' with a bit of cotton balls during take-off and landing to avoid painful ears but I have not tried this method.
  • Bring jacket and dress your baby in warm and cosy outfit. Don’t you think it’s always freezing inside a plane, let alone for a baby?
  • Always keep your baby dehydrated with water as flying in an air plane may cause dehydration.
  • Bring lots of favourite toys to entertain your baby if he or she is awake inside the plane. I don’t know how my husband and I would survive in that 2,5 hours trip without baby toys!
  • Pack some baby biscuits (suitable for babies aged 6 months old ++) that your baby can nibble inside the air plane. Baby biscuits spare parents at least 15-20 minutes of peace as with a biscuit on hand, baby would now sit still and focus in munching the biscuit instead of screaming or pulling or eating AirAsia's new in-flight menu book that features Farah Quinn on the cover random things surround him or her. Don’t forget to put a bib on the baby’s neck, cover his or her lap with a napkin and carry wet tissue to make sure that we can manage and clean his/her snacking mess later on.
  • Consider booking hot seats (if you are flying with budget airline) inside the plane as it’s more spacious. I don’t think AirAsia has changing tables on-board so changing Baby Naomi’s soiled diaper on our laps whilst sitting in the tight spaced economic seats was super challenging; especially when she refused to stay still whilst we’re cleaning her dirty bottom. Been there, done that!
  • If your baby begins orchestrating drama inside the plane, stay calm and tend to him or her. Other passengers would typically be unhappy about the disruptions and constant loud noises from a fussy baby (in their heart, they might curse you for indirectly causing public nuisance in the air too); but seriously, the baby’s parents are normally in equal distress in handling their fussy baby. I usually don’t sing in public, but I shamelessly sang various kiddie songs in three languages over and over again inside a plane with full passengers in an attempt to keep Baby Naomi quiet.

Last but not least, I wish you happy trails in travelling by plane with your baby!

2 comments:

  1. I think you meant to say keep baby Hydrated instead of dehydrate 😂 still a good post. Thanks for sharing!

    ReplyDelete

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