I have travelled as a sole parent with a baby through until Tamika became an adult. Now I am travelling with a baby through to toddler, with a partner. I have been often asked for hints on the best options. After our trip to Sydney and seeing a poor mother struggling with her baby I thought I would write a post on the knowledge I have gained over the last twenty years of travel.
Just a small selection of the places I have been with Tamika.
Each age group comes with its own set of challenges and need to be addressed separately. People often think travelling with a small baby as a sole parent would be the hardest thing, but I challenge them to travel with a pre-menstrual sixteen year old that just got dumped via text before a flight from Australia to Spain. Oh that was a torturous flight!
Today I will concentrate from newborn through to two year olds.
Jarvis has loved the sling from birth and I used it all of the time, right up until it got stolen this weekend in Sydney.
I have a bulkier and heaver pram that was gifted to me, so before we travelled to France I bought a cheaper light weight stroller. Something that I can lift with one hand with ease. I check this in with my luggage, if, unlike me and you do not want to use a baby sling, in Australia you can take a pram/stroller all of the way to the gate with you and the staff will then check it in for you. You just have to let the staff know when you are checking in your luggage you are going to do this.
Our cheap, lightweight stroller
I then have two separate bags, a backpack for the child and a bag for me. This is why the sling comes in handy. The backpack is filled with everything and anything possible to amuse the child. Each and every child will have their favourite things. These must be bought along to give the child a sense of familiarity, to what can be a strange and stressful situation. I also pack a couple of new things to be bought out separately throughout the flight. Some parents now use Smart Phones, IPads and portable DVD players, but I am use to travelling with Tamika before these things were available and so don’t use them with Jarvis.
In my bag, besides the wipes and nappies, I always pack at least one to two changes of clothes for both myself and bub. Call me vain but I like to dress nice when I travel, I have been given a couple of upgrades over the years (appearance and lots and lots of nice manners go a long way). However, once on board I change my clothes into comfy options. I get cold on long flight so this is also taken into mind. Plus if you end up with either vomit or poo on you, it is nice to know you have something clean to wear.
In my bag I also pack allot of food, small things that take a time to eat. You will be given food on each flight for your child, but snacks are a must. Sultanas, cheese sticks, fruit sticks, anything that take awhile to unwrap and consume. You are allowed to take drinks on board for the baby so a sippy cup filled with water is ideal, as they too can dehydrate on long fights.
I have a small bag inside my bigger bag that I take out before the plane takes off, I fill this with wipes, two nappies, food and drinks. So much easier to have one small bag tucked under the seat than to have to annoy other passengers by getting your bag in and out of the overhead locker.
I am also a big believer in a dose of Nurofen before take off, and to breastfeed. If breastfeeding is not an option something they can suck on to help their ears is invaluable.
I think the most important thing is to not stress, stop worrying about what the other passengers think of your crying, shitty child. Children are so good at picking up on your stress. Instead try to turn things into a game. Jarvis loved tearing the vomit bag into strips and throwing it on the floor. This amused him for almost an hour on our flight to Fiji. On our flight to Sydney, Jarvis found the in-flight magazine to be the most entertaining thing from us reading it to him, to him reading it, to then shredding it and making paper hats.
There are so many more hints I can write about, I have been on so many flights with children, but these are the basics. But most of all enjoy the experience of travelling with your child.