Having a half Aussie baby, and trying to obtain a permanent visa myself has involved a lot of traveling to and from Australia. I feel like every couple months I’m on a plane. I by no means hate traveling, but traveling with a baby? Now that’s a different story.
Ainsley’s first long trip was at six weeks old, her second long haul flight was at four months, and her third will be when she’s around 6 and a half months! She’s travelled a total so far of about 60 hours, and by the end of the year will be at around 90 hours of travel time!
Ainsley saying bye to Dadda before our long flight back to Canada!
To be completely transparent with you all, I would avoid this at all costs if you plan on doing it solo. But if you must travel a long haul trip with your little one, here are my tips.
- Fly with someone
Our first trip I luckily had my partner (Ainsley’s Dadda) with me! And let me tell you it was a world of a difference opposed to flying solo. If you can, definitely bring a spouse, family member, friend, or hell even a nanny. It’s so helpful to have an extra set of hands to help out while sorting through customs, dealing with baggage and even just to have someone to hold the little one so you can get some sleep on the plane!
- Ditch the diaper bag, get a backpack
This was a mistake I made the first time around, I used Ainsley’s diaper bag as her carry on and boy did I regret it! Lugging that thing on my arm while also having my own carry on to hold AND having a baby strapped to my chest was awful! Second time around I used a backpack and it was so much easier because I had a free hand (which is crucial when traveling alone with a baby.) Not to mention it was also way more comfortable rather than holding a bag on my arm the whole time and having to set it down every time I needed to do something.
- You can never pack too many diapers
To me, the worst thing imaginable would be to run out of diapers while on a 16 hour flight or I mean any flight really… I can’t even fathom how shitty (pun intended) that would be. If you think you’ve packed a good amount, add 2 more.
- Disinfectant and hand sanitizer are your bffs
Airports, planes, and public bathrooms are nasty and filled with germs. I’m no germaphobe but it’s common sense to know that these places are disgusting, and the last thing you want after a huge day or so of traveling is a sick baby. So just do yourself a favour and wipe everything down before your little one (or yourself) touches it. I always travel with disinfectant wipes, hand sanitizer, and disinfectant spray (they make a none aerosol one which is plane safe.)
- Have all your tickets and travel documents in one easy access folder
There’s nothing worse than getting to the front of the line and fumbling through your bag to find your passport or ticket (especially if like me, your baby is screaming bloody murder.) Go to the dollar store, buy a sealable folder, and keep everything all together in one spot so you can easily find everything you need! Again, if your travelling alone this is key, since you won’t have anyone to dig through the bags for you.
- Ask for help
Don’t be afraid to ask people for help! Traveling with a baby is hard, especially if you are by yourself. People are generally nice enough to lend a hand to a mom with a crying baby that’s trying to chase after her moving luggage at baggage claim or who’s struggling to get her bag in the overhead bin. Typically people will offer, but if you have a bunch of A-holes on your plane just ask the flight attendants!
- Ask for an open seat
Before boarding go to the service desk and ask if there are any seats that have an empty one next to it. If you have a baby they are usually pretty good with moving you to a seat with an empty one next to it. This is a life saver, having a seat to put all your stuff on or even so that the baby can lay down is so handy! And also no one wants to sit next to a baby… So it’s a win for everyone!
- Look for flights with a good lay over time
This is something I didn’t think of the first time, so we were extremely rushed we almost missed our flight. Look for a flight that has a layover long enough that you will have time to feed and change the baby, and also get yourself situated, fed, and of course caffeinated. But a layover short enough that you aren’t sitting around in an airport waiting for hours and hours. I found 2.5hrs gave me just enough time to get everything done and get to my gate for pre boarding (and yes, since you have a baby you get to board first, score!)
Those are my top tips for traveling with a baby, like I said I’d avoid it if you have to do it alone, but if you have a partner coming with you it’s definitely manageable.
For those of you brave souls going solo with a baby on a long flight, I wish you luck! I’ve been there, and will be there again in about three weeks when we head back to Aus (yikes.) Make sure to have your Mamma on speed dial because your in for a meltdown or two…