As we will explain in an upcoming post “First Trips Travelling with a Baby” we don’t claim to be experts on this topic (yet!) but here are our top tips and lessons learnt from our experiences so far to help make your trip and flight a little smoother:
- Invest in a travel stroller that folds down into hand luggage size (we have the Silvercross Jet) – there were so many exhausted parents & children in the huge lines at passport control. I can’t imagine having to hold a wriggly, crying baby the entire time (we queued for over an hour once). The stroller was a life (and arm) saver.
- As were snacks! Snacks, snacks and more snacks. Oh and water. A toy didn’t go a miss too to keep him entertained.
- Use the airport lounges – they’re a great place to let your little explore without getting in the way or lost! It’s also generally quieter and there’s usually some nice food available. Lots of lounges have good views and the Maltese lounge had an outside seating area with views directly over the runway. It was great for keeping our little entertained. They are a great opportunity to stock up on water/drinks/snacks too. But do check the lounges you intend to use as some require advance booking even if you’re a member, etc.
- Pack a change of clothes in your hand luggage. Yes, we were those novice parents who didn’t have a change of clothes! Cue biscuit kid in his stained white vest, sockless shoes and a baggy jumper in passport control! Don’t forget a change of clothes for both parents too.
- Dress your child in easy access clothing. Should go without saying, but we didn’t think! A cute aviation style jumpsuit for his first airplane flight = cute! Right? Not when you’re crammed into a tiny airplane toilet, trying to change a baby flailing like an octopus on a precarious shelf of a changing table. Trying to manoeuvre legs out of jumpsuits whilst not spilling the contents of the nappy bag all over the floor was a struggle. Then since he was pretty freaked out by the experience too, he decided to wee without his nappy on, all over himself and daddy (see point above).
- If you’re hiring a car, hire a car seat. They will make sure it’s installed correctly and you’re less likely to damage your own and saves having to cart it around.
- If you do decide to take your own car seat, you can save space (and weight) by packing things in your seat bag to pad it out. Make sure you get a seat bag that either has comfortable shoulder straps (hello snail) or wheels. We struggled to find a luggage trolley when we landed and it was a trek to the car rental area.
- Don’t forget to take your car seat mirror & sun blinds. They won’t have them in your rental.
- Take your own pack of antibacterial wipes. The single wipe you are given when you board the plane isn’t sufficient to clean everything your baby/toddler will touch (*everything).
- Feed your little during take off and landing. This helps calm your baby and distract them from the weird sensations, their ears popping and may help them sleep if they’re tired etc.
- Try to choose flights (where available that fit around your child’s nap schedule. The flight we did when we were in the air during his nap time was an absolute delight, he slept most of the flight until we started our decent and was super happy when he woke. The flight we didn’t have a choice on time was much harder, trying to contain a toddler that just wanted to roam.
- Try to take minimal hand luggage. It seems counterintuitive seeing as you get SO much allowance (especially on BA). But you don’t want to be running around after your toddler whilst navigating an airport with too much stuff to carry. Since you can’t leave it anywhere (obviously) even when going to the toilet, keeping the number of bags light definitely helps! You also have much less to try to remember so the risk of losing or forgetting something decreases.
- Put all baby liquids (drinks/milk/meal pouches etc) in a clear plastic bag. You’re allowed to take more than the standard 100ml but you still need to get it out of your bag etc so this just speeds up security.
- Get to your gate early. No one likes rushing, especially with a baby in tow. You also get to board early which ensures you have space to store baggage overhead for easy access during the flight.
- Use stroller straps to keep cups and toys, etc. attached to your stroller instead of all over the floor when they decide to throw it out of the pram.
- Pack a foldable changing mat – we had many a impromptu change and this was a life saver.
- Take more nappy bags (or pick up some clear liquids bags from security) than you think you’ll ever need! Your little one’s toilet schedule are all over the place, add that to the wet clothes, additional snacks, leaky drinks, lack of bins, etc. you’ll be thankful you have a spare bag handy.
- Make sure you have all your paperwork printed or to hand on your device.
- Look for family check in/security lines. They’re usually shorter which means less time hanging around in the airport.
- Make use of the valet parking/meet and greet at the airport – it means you can rock up to the airport, load your luggage onto a trolley and roll right into the check in desks. It was such a relief when we landed knowing we didn’t have to go find and wait for the bus to the car park, then try to load/travel/unload with ALL our luggage onto a small bus or try to remember where we parked the car. There was less walking involved, our car was ready when we got there (we called to let them know we were ready when we collected our luggage) and then we got home quicker.
- Although we have unlimited roaming data, sometimes it’s hard to get a signal when travelling. So we always download the map of the country we’re visiting on the “Here We Go” app to make sure we have reliable directions/satnav. You don’t need to be connected to wifi/internet to use it.
- A car charger connector is always useful.
- Lots of people recommend a toddler harness for when your little one is walking – we didn’t have one, but it might have been useful when walking around the airport whilst not in the stroller.
- Pre-download your iPad (or phone) with some entertainment. We didn’t need to use it much but it was a comfort to know it was there just in case.
We’d love to hear your tips or experiences in the comments below.
We’ll update these as we continue to travel and as Oscar grows.
Last modified: 26th October 2021