Travelling with a baby can be a daunting prospect for a new parent. How will your baby cope with the journey? How will you cope? Will other passengers be upset or judgmental?
Then there is the packing - how can such a small person require so much equipment? Nappies, toys, formula, a change of clothes etc, there is just so much to remember (and that’s before you even get to your own things!).
Whilst all this angst and stress is understandable, there are a few simple things you can do to make the experience easier, and hopefully even enjoyable, for both you and your little one. After all there is a whole world out there just waiting to be explored.
As with most things in life, a little bit of preparation goes a long way. First of all make sure that that the travel documentation for both you and your baby is all in good order. Gone are the days when a small child could just travel on a parent’s passport, and applications for a baby passport can take several weeks to process so you will need to make sure that you have applied well in advance of your intended travel date.
If you are travelling to a different time zone, it can be a good idea to start slowly shifting baby’s sleep time by an hour or so a day for a few days before travelling so that it better lines up with the time at your destination. Obviously there are limitations to how far you can go with this but every little bit helps.
2. Booking your travel
When it comes to choosing a travel provider, make sure to do your research before you book. Some providers offer much better support for those travelling with infants than others. Make sure to compare infant fares and, if you are flying, check the airline infant luggage policy (most will allow you to bring a suitable stroller or car seat into the cabin, some will even allow both) and find out if they can provide you with a bassinet - these are usually suitable for babies up to eight months, although some airlines will provide them for children up to the age of two.
You may need to speak to the airline directly to ensure that the bassinet seat is actually free before you book as this information may not be available online. If a bassinet is unavailable then the cabin crew will supply you with an additional attachment to your own seatbelt, in which your baby can be secured. If you are going to splash the cash and buy an extra seat for your baby, then make sure to check the airline policy on car seats as some will only allow ones that are forward facing.
3. What to pack?
Packing can be divided into two categories: what you will need when you get there and what you will need whilst you are getting there. As mentioned above babies seem to require an inordinate amount of equipment, however, here are a few essentials to keep with you whilst traveling:
A baby sling - this can be invaluable on your journey, as its lets you keep your hands free and keeps baby feeling safe and secure.
First aid kit (painkillers, thermometer, diaper cream etc).
A small bottle of sterilising liquid for cleaning baby bottles.
Baby wipes and hand sanitiser.
A few spare nappies.
A change of clothes, both for baby, and, depending on how ‘messy’ things are likely to get, you too!
Entertainment for baby (books, toys etc)
A plastic bag to stand in for a laundry bag
Snacks (puree, rice crackers etc).
Regarding food, it is helpful to check with your travel provider what food options they have available for children and babies before you set off. Most airlines, but not all, are able to provide baby food and some will do special meals for toddlers, but this is not always the case.
When flying it is also good to be aware, that the 100ml liquid restriction applies to all liquids apart from baby milk and food, both of which are completely unrestricted (you may be asked to do a taste test at security though).
4. Where to stay?
As the saying goes, ‘Location, location, location’ and this definitely true when a baby is involved. Try to pick a place to stay that is close to the main attractions i.e the beach, or the city centre, depending on the type of trip you are on. This will allow you to easily pop back to your room for a nap, or to pick up additional supplies, whilst still making the most of your time.
Rather than staying in a hotel, booking a private apartment can be a great idea. If you do your research well, there are amazing places to be found with excellent rates, that will likely give you more space than a hotel (including separate bedrooms) and home amenities, like a kitchen and laundry - both obviously helpful when it comes to traveling with children.
If you do go for the hotel option, make sure to check what sort of support they will be able to provide you with: do they supply cribs, or rollaways (suitable for slightly older children)? Do they have a babysitting service?
5. Mindset and dealing with other people
Babies cry, this is a fact of life. Travelling can be a little disconcerting at the best of times, so many new things to see and experiences to be had and, added to this, a major break to our normal routines; this is especially true for an infant experiencing it all for the first time. Your baby will most likely cry at some point during your trip, whether it be from nerves, tiredness, or, simply boredom.
Do what you can to counteract this, be on top of your preparation (e.g bring enough food, toys etc), and be as polite and respectful to other people as possible, but, realise that there are limitations to what you can do and that this is ok. Whilst there are always going to be unpleasant people out there, the majority are nice and will be understanding of your situation - if they are really nice they may even offer to help!
The more you stress and worry about something, the more it can become a self-fulfilling prophecy and this applies to all forms of travel, especially with a baby. If you are stressed then baby will pick up on it and react to it, in turn further stressing you out and so the circle will go round and round until the whole experience becomes one big vortex of pain and misery!
Instead, tell yourself that this will be a great experience, that you are going on an exciting adventure with one of the people that you love most in the world. It is important to relax and try your best not to worry, something definitely easier said than done - but it is so true that just a slight tweaking of your mental processes can make all the difference in the world.
Hopefully these tips will alleviate some of the concerns you may have about travelling as a new parent. Remember, life is a journey, not a destination and you may as well get your little one started on experiencing our incredible world as soon as possible.
This guest post was contributed by Bali Villas.
With extensive experience in servicing Australian clients, Bali Villas know exactly what families are looking for in terms of location, style and pricing. Each of their family friendly villas situated on the beautiful island of Bali have been hand-picked by their ‘family expert’ – someone with children who knows exactly what families are looking for.
Contact Bali Villas for a short consultation, and they will be able to find you the perfect villa. Bali Villas aim to take the stress out of planning your holiday, so you can concentrate on creating lasting memories with your family.