Travelling with a baby – By Emma Hawkins

If you follow me on Instagram you would have noticed that I have had a busy five weeks travelling. Belle and I (and sometimes my husband) have covered nearly 18,000km of travel from Geelong to Finley, Warrnambool to Port Fairy to Barwon Heads and then Melbourne to Geelong (at least five or so times) and finally Sri Lanka and then home. Phew! I am exhausted just thinking about it.

While it was a fun few weeks and so special to have time off work and spend delicious days with my family, I was so happy to come home. And most importantly, come home to a routine.

I am a big believer in routine. It works for me as a mum and it works for us as a family. Having said that, I have lots of friends who are parents who don’t need routine (both have their positives and negatives but I do not judge). Being a slave to our routine however, because we live 20 minutes out of town, can make trips and errands restrictive at times. But I won’t be changing a thing. Belle sleeps through the night (7pm to 7am) and still has two sleeps during the day and it works for us.

Because Belle is on a strict routine, travel can put her out of whack. However on the positive side, as soon as we arrive somewhere new we get straight back into our routine and she adapts really quickly. Belle is a great traveler. She was used to being in the car from a young age which is lucky considering we are back and forth to Melbourne so much sometimes up to three times a week.  We have also flown a lot together and she is a great on the plane but Sri Lanka was next-level for us! She has never flown long haul (10.5 hours) before. So understandably, I was a little nervous about it. I asked my girlfriend Rozalia for some tips. Our conversation went like this:

Me: “Hi lovely. How are you? Quick question, any tips on taking kids on an international flight?”

Rozalia: “I’m well! Hope you are, too. Do you want my honest tip?”

Me: “Yes please!”

Rozalia: “Don’t do it!”

Righto then! That was helpful! Just kidding… On a more serious note she did have some helpful tips, as did my sister Caroline who is a seasoned traveler with her young one.

So here is a collection of tips on travelling with kids that I have collated from friends, my sister and my own experiences. Now keep in mind I only have one baby (I cannot begin to imagine the additional challenges with multiple kids) and I’ve only been doing this for 12 months so take my tips with a grain of salt but I hope you find something useful in there.

Here it goes:

  1. Planning is essential

Try timing your flight or car trip around nap times. When we travel to Melbourne we try to jump in the car at either 9:30am or 1:00pm, which are Belle’s nap times. When we travelled to Sri Lanka, we were lucky enough to get a flight at 8pm so I kept her going throughout the early evening and she was exhausted once we boarded the plane. Coming home was a different story though; we left at midnight which was harder on her.

  1. Pack well

Like any outing, pack a change of clothes (or more), favourite toys, comforters, snacks and drinks and did I forgot to say MORE snacks! Some airlines provide food but it’s best to be safe.

  1. Go valet 

If you are travelling with a child on your own like I have a few times, pay the extra money for valet parking if you can afford it. One of the staff will help unpack your car and walk your suitcases over to check in with you while you have the pram. Its money well spent.

  1. Ear pain

It has been said that babies are particularly vulnerable to ear pain or blocked ears during take-off and landing. While we can chew gum or yawn to unblock our ears, obviously our babies cannot do this yet. I had heard that breast or bottle-feeding your baby during takeoff and landing can equalise pressure to their inner ear and this has worked well for Belle.

  1. Travel pram

Three words for you. Best. Investment. Ever. I have the Zoe, which unfortunately you cannot get in Australia. I ordered mine from the American Amazon website and then used my “US Shipping” account which is basically a website that you can direct online orders to in the US and they ship to you for a fee. I love the Zoe because it’s the biggest (however does not fit in all overhead compartments, so be prepared).  It is incredibly easy to push and super-durable for such a small pram. I have used my sister’s Yoyo and while it’s the smallest and will fit onto every overhead compartment, it’s definitely not as durable and easy to push as the Zoe. So, both have negatives and positives. I’ve also heard good things about the Mountain Buggy Nanno but I haven’t tried it so can’t speak from personal experience on this one.

  1. Water 

Always carry your own boiled and bottled water if you are formula feeding so you do not have to wait for the hostess to bring you either. I carry my boiled water in a thermos and if you are in a lounge you can easily fill it up there or ask a café in the airport who will happily give you some hot water. Tommy Tipee have some good thermos bag options to put your bottles in, Kollab have incredible travel lunch bags and flasks and Avent have great formula containers.

  1. Medication

Always be prepared. I pack teething gel, antiseptic cream, vapor rub (natural), sunscreen, insect repellant and repellant bracelets (this was specifically for Sri Lanka), Band-Aids, and paracetamol. 

  1. Clothing 

Loose clothing for the baby is important (he/ she will be so much more comfortable) and it’s good for mum and dad to wear black so all of the mess your baby makes, which ultimately ends up on you, won’t look so obvious on your clothes. Also, bring a change of clothes in case of accidents (for you and the baby). Extra baby blankets are also a good idea too.

  1. Backpack is king

Dump the handbag and pick up a backpack. You can fit so much more in a backpack, and it is way more practical because it leaves you hands-free. I bought mine from Country Road however, The Iconic, ASOS, Shopbop, Net-a-Porter and/or Witchery all have great options. I would recommend getting one with different zips and compartments to keep things tidy.

  1. Book a ride

Be prepared for when you arrive. Make sure there’s someone at your destination to pick you up, whether it’s a friend, family or a booked car. It’s obvious but imperative. The last thing you want after a long flight with a baby is to have to wait around for transportation.

  1. Jetlag

There’s no easy fix here and I won’t lie, it’s a killer. It took Belle two weeks to get her groove back when we came home from Sri Lanka. My sleep nurse just told me to try to stick to her routine as much as possible, make sure she was in lots of daylight, and keep her busy doing lots of activities throughout the day and most importantly, be patient. It was good advice.

Written by Emma Hawkins

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