The joys of overseas travel. Alone. With a baby.
We made it! Four international flights, lots of cousin cuddles and several sleepless nights later, we are home! Elka travelled like a champion and the flights all went fairly smoothly. Phew! Here are a few things I learned on our trip away….
1) Having the bulkhead seat with a bassinet when travelling alone with an infant is a blessing. BUT if you have a rather large woman sitting next to you and she needs to go to the toilet while your baby happens to be asleep ON you, then you may end up having her substantial bosom pressed into your face as she tries to squeeze past. No matter HOW far you put your seat back.
2) Although the bulkhead seat allowed me more legroom and the bassinet, taking Elka out of the bassinet whenever the seatbelt sign went on was a bit frustrating so she ended up sleeping on me most of the time. #bladdercontrol
3) If I travelled on a long-haul flight alone again with Elka again, despite the fact she was a brilliant traveller, I think I would take along a little gift bag for the passengers around me. Offering a truce before the flight has even begun = genius! Some of my friends have done this and say it has really helped get people’s sympathy and many even offer assistance.
4) If you have a child who is quite tall/long, or a child more than say 6 months old then the bassinet may not be much help at all. Elka only just fit in.
5) Packing all baby medicines and liquids in small, clear zip lock bags and placing them in an easily accessible pocket in your backpack will help you manage security checkpoints in a more streamlined way. It also means you can easily access your hand sanitiser, nappy rash cream and toothpaste.
6) Take too many nappies. Much better to be safe than, well, covered in poo.
7) Having spare plastic bags for dirty/soiled baby clothes is a good idea. A few sets of spare baby clothes and a spare top for yourself is also advisable.
8) Going to the toilet in the “hover” position while having a baby strapped to you in a baby carrier is an extremely good workout for both the pelvic floor and the quads. Elka found it hilarious for some reason.
9) Make sure you take a few toys for your baby. These are handy for distracting them, entertaining them and soothing them, but it also reminds them of home.
10) Wet wipes are good for everything. Changing nappies, cleaning toys that have fallen on the floor and wiping your own face when you feel totally gross from sitting in a plane full of people’s farts for WAY too long.
11) It’s actually rather easy to identify fear and annoyance in the face of others. It is the grizzle that flashes through their eyes, the tension-twitch in their temples and the firm set of their jaw when they notice you have a baby with you and are seated next to them. Hurrah!
12) The lights and screens of a plane are very distracting for a 5-month-old baby, particularly when they are feeding. I found covering Elka’s eyes and head whilst feeding her saved me from continued nipple exposure!
13) Some airports require you to remove your baby from the baby carrier before going through the security gate. If you do have to remove the baby then take your time putting the baby carrier back on. If you have an Ergo like me, and can’t put it on while holding the baby, just use a baby cloth or your nappy change mat in the object tray to put your baby on while you put on your carrier. The most important part for me was not to rush. I found if I just took my time then I didn’t get hot and flustered. Being hot and flustered before even putting your baby in the carrier is just going to mean you’re even more hot and flustered once you’ve got the baby on you!
14) Asking constantly for water will probably annoy the air hosties so much that you will most likely get given a giant 1L bottle of water that will keep you hydrated while you’re breastfeeding on the flight.
15) Covering your baby’s ears while breastfeeding on take off and landing will help prevent your baby’s ears from hurting from the air pressure in the cabin.
16) Be prepared for some sleepless nights when you get to your destination and when you arrive home again. It takes time for day vs night sleeping to work itself out again!
17) Take a small towel or cloth nappy that you can use as a play mat at the airport between flights and throw away once you’ve used it. Airport floors. Ew.
18) Don’t be afraid to ask for help! Most (most) people are more than willing to hold your baby while you get your bags out of the overhead compartments, or get your bag for you. Make the most of it!
19) Don’t be tempted to buy duty free alcohol at your stopover just because you had a horrendous flight. I opted for a Swatch watch and perfume instead!
20) It’s easy to feel frustrated that you only get to watch snippets of the movies on the plane due to your baby feeding, nappy change, crying etc. Try to think on the positive side, you can pick the movie up where it left off once your baby is asleep and besides, the movie is probably terrible anyway with really bad sound quality so who cares! #glasshalffull #wishitwaswithsomethingotherthanwater
21) If you need to do a pop-off you can blame it on your baby. Winning!
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