Life as an expat tends to mean that airports become your second home. With both my boys born in Switzerland and family in the UK desperate to meet them, they first flew at five months and nine weeks respectively. So I’ve put together my top ten tips to consider before your first flight with your baby.
1. This might seem like an obvious thing but I’ve heard tales of parents arriving at the check-in desk without a passport. They can’t travel without one. Paspic is a great site that lets you make your own passport photos so you can take a picture of your little darling in the comfort of your own home should you wish.
2. Children under two can travel on their parents’ lap. However, if you can afford it, I wholly recommend booking them a seat and letting them travel in their car seat (do check with the airline regarding which seats are allowed as not all fit). It gives you more freedom and space and ultimately is the safer option.
3. Even if you decide not to book a separate seat for you baby, they could still be entitled to luggage allowance. Some airlines allow up to 10kg so it’s worth checking in advance.
4. Foldable pushchairs or prams (or the base of a travel system if you are taking a car seat) can be checked in, taken to the gate or to the aeroplane itself depending on the airline or the airport – they offer slightly different services. On arrival, some will have your pushchair waiting for you as you step off the aeroplane and others will return it to you at baggage claim.
5. A sling or baby carrier is perfect if you want to check in your pushchair at departures and get through the airport quickly (pushchairs and car seats need to be x-rayed and you’re expected to lift them on to the conveyor belt yourself – not so easy if you have a baby and hand luggage with you). The Babasling Lite carrier is perfect for such occasions and is very compact if you need to fold it up and put it in your handbag.
6. Some airports, Zürich for example, have excellent family rooms should you wish to hide away from the hustle and bustle while you are waiting for your flight. With facilities such as a quiet feeding area, changing tables, play pens, and toys, they are perfect to keep you and your baby relaxed and entertained before you board.
7. If you’re breastfeeding then drinks and snacks won’t be an issue for you but if you’re formula feeding or want to take sterilised water onboard for your baby, you can pack it in your hand luggage. On occasion, you will be asked by security staff to taste the milk or water. For older babies, pouches are perfect for travelling.
8. Often, the noise of the engines will lull a baby to sleep but it’s worth taking a few small toys to keep your baby entertained if they’re determined to stay wide awake. Some airlines (Swiss, for example) will give you little toys when you board but it’s worth having some in your hand luggage just in case.
9. Don’t forget to think about how you’re going to get to your final destination. Will you take a taxi from the airport, hire a car or transfer by coach? You need to make sure that you have the appropriate car seat for your baby prearranged and also drinks and snacks to cover that part of your journey too.
10. And finally, try to relax. I know it’s not easy because this summer I’m taking my two year old and six month old on a two hour flight by myself and I can’t say that I’m looking forward to it. But what’s the worst that can happen? Good luck!
Did you read Rachel’s previous post Before I was a mum? If you didn’t, take a look. We challenge you to read it with a dry eye – it really is a beautiful read.
Visit kiddicare.com for travel essentials for your little one.