Bub Talk · Travel

Tips for travelling with a bub – Part 1

Disclaimer: This post might come across as condescending or even rude, I apologise for that. I’ve been asked / seen plenty of jaw-droppingly stupid senseless questions, I seriously wonder how some of these people could have kids! And I know that not many people are blessed enough to have travelled a fair bit before and with child, so I still welcome any questions on travelling.

Having been on 18 flights (9 sets of return flights), the longest being 22 hours (I kid you not; October NY snowstorm remember?) with a baby, I guess it gives me the licence to write a travel tips post.

1. Use common sense

We’ve all gotta start somewhere and travelling with a baby scares many (if not all), but please for the life of me use some common sense! Unless you are heading to non-traditional vacation spots (like India, Bhutan, Madagscar; places whereI personally wouldn’t take a baby), most things (food, diapers) are available at the destination countries. And when in doubt BRING IT WITH. Between 2 adults and a baby, you get at least 40kg (usually 50 or more) of baggage allowance (checked in; plus another 14kg carry on). And this does not include the stroller!

In the grand scheme of things, a few days of the baby drinking mineral water (distilled is better but…) is not going to kill her. A few days of eating seasoned food isn’t going to do irreparable damage to her kidney / liver either; just feed more water. A few days of using a different brand of diaper isn’t going to hurt your baby’s bottom.

Other than the 2 trips where I knew we weren’t leaving the resort, I didn’t bother bringing more than a small travel pack of diapers (6-12 pieces).

2. Bring a baby carrier (include in your carry on)

It doesn’t matter how good the roads are or how much the baby loves her pram, I find that a baby carrier is a lifesaver. Nothing calms them down faster in a foreign (as in new to them) environment faster. C has slept in hers, ate in hers; I breastfed her in it while walking to the Colosseum in Rome. There are just days it’s easier with carrying them than dealing with a pram.

3. Pre-trip prep – flight times, supermarkets, transfers and hotels

These are the most important items on my pre-travel to-do list. Travelling with a bub is different from DINK trips; gone are the days of spontaneity and cup noodles (well technically bread can replace the latter). Planning ahead is an understatement.

Flight timing – Choosing the correct flight is the difference between an okay flight versus a nightmare. The idea of a night flight seems a surewin, in reality it doesn’t quite work. We’ve worked out with C any flight after 8pm is a sure die. She gets all wide-eyed with all the airport admin (check-in, immigration, boarding, etc) and will not settle even if it’s way past her bedtime (7pm usually). Then she crashes and we die; we learned it the hard way (HK to Rome). Day flight or early evening flight works because we get onboard, she plays a little, feed a little and then sleeps (cycle repeats during day flight before a longer stretch of sleep).

Supermarket – like I mentioned above, I don’t bring much diapers or food, so the first thing we do when we get to our destination is to hit a supermarket. I usually have a general idea of how easy it is to get to one before I leave for my trip.

Airport transfer – This piece of information is easily available by googling or asking people who have been. Don’t try to save money and do a train transfer (unless maybe in Tokyo). Book a car, take a taxi; whichever is the fastest and most comfortable way to get to the hotel. After a flight with a baby, no matter how short, all I wanted to do was to get somewhere comfy and chill out.

Hotels – forget slumming it (not that we did any much before child) . I am not saying choose a top end hotel; many 4* or higher hotels will provide baby equipment. Since C was fully breastfed (latched) for the first 11 months of her life (well she is still latching 80% of the time), we had no need for sterilizer or warmer, etc; we usually need only a cot and maybe a highchair (if the hotel has a restaurant they will have a highchair). When in doubt, phone/email to ask if the hotel has whatever you may require.

Next up, things to bring on a flight – long and short hauls.

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4 thoughts on “Tips for travelling with a bub – Part 1

  1. Oh Lord… I’ve a 2am flight with the little one to Manchester in May. 7Hr to dubai where stopover for 3hrs and another 7Hr to Manchester. Wish me luck…..

    1. Well, it’s dependant on the nature of the child. I have a friend whose baby can sleep anywhere – like in her Ikea highchair immediately after food. For someone like that I doubt the check-in, security, boarding and meal service will disrupt her sleep. I happen to have a light-sleeper baby.

  2. I’m planning to bring my Child to Tokyo end December so she should be 21 months by then. Would it be safe to take night flights at that age?

    1. Depends on a couple things:
      1. Is she a good/easy sleeper?
      2. When is her bedtime (as in how long after her bedtime is the flight)?

      Different babies adjust differently, my bub probably won’t be able to do a midnight flight (her bedtime is 7pm) even at that age (we are heading to France on a day flight). But I’ve got friends whose kids are fine with any kind of flights.

      Personally I wouldn’t chance it. While I know doing a night flight saves time (don’t have to waste a day flying) and money (extra night in the hotel), I’ve long given up on low cost travel. If I can throw money to ease my own life, I’d do that.

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