July 1, 2014

Travel tips: Infant on board !!!

This post was picked as a featured member post in the Family topic on BlogHer.com

Source : Google Images

Vacation planning for couples or singletons usually means shopping for new attires, packing all essentials, planning trips or outings, and checking off items on their must-do lists at the holiday destination. Travel time during flight journeys or train/bus rides is leisurely spent by watching movies, listening to music or reading books.

Add a baby to the above definition and we have an exponential shift. Vacation planning now means, shopping for only baby stuff, packing essentials, packing essentials and more essentials, weighing bags countless times to ensure you haven’t crossed the allowable airline limits thanks to all the packing and last but not the least, throwing out only your stuff from the baggage to make place for….. yeah, you guessed it right….. for baby’s stuff. Travel time is now dominated by the baby and if you get to sleep, that’s a bonus.

Time to sulk and panic, right? Wrong. Not all vacation-planning or travels with an infant need to be disastrous. Let me share my experience with you.

Earlier this year, the hubby and I discussed how our baby girl needed to meet our families in India. It had been 6 months since the baby’s arrival and our families were getting impatient to see the new member. The hard part of our discussion was not the decision making itself; rather it was the acceptance of the matter that I would have to travel alone by flight along with an infant, thanks to hubby’s prior work commitments.

Panic city struck me big time. So much that I was having nightmares about the 24 hour travel from US to India. But things worked out for the best and it didn’t seem so bad in the end. Sharing my take-away points from this experience –
  1. Things will work out for the better – Since the hubby wasn’t traveling along with us, I was at stress forever about how I would manage with the baby. How am I going to take a washroom break? Who is going to help with lugging around of the bags? My questions were answered when a week before my travel, my next-door neighbor from US also decided to fly with her baby girl in the same flight as me to the same destination. It was a relief knowing that I won’t be traveling alone on the baby’s first flight journey.
  2. Your hand/cabin baggage should be smartly packed always – Airlines normally allow you to carry an extra cabin bag for your infant. So if you think getting to carry an extra bag will solve all your problems, then you are wrong. Ask me - ‘cause carrying an infant along with 2 cabin bags and a purse is an impossible task. I made the mistake of packing excess stuff into my cabin bags fearing the baby may require this and that. Relax! There was stuff in my baggage which my 6-month baby never demanded during travel. Oh yes, never carry a book. With an infant, did you really think you could read during the long journey?
  3. Don’t carry a laptop in your cabin bags – Yes; I made this mistake as well. This being a long vacation for me and baby girl, I wanted to bring the laptop along. So between deciding if I need to pack it in the check-in or cabin bags, I chose the latter and repented it big time. You don’t want the trouble of taking it out and packing it in between security checks at airports.
  4. Expect unexpected surprises – Picture this: You have an infant and heavy cabin bags. So you thought bringing along a stroller (car seat included) would ease your pain. You can rest your arms from all the heavy work and your baby can sleep peacefully, right? That’s true…. Unless the airlines decide to break your sole travel mate. That’s what happened to me. After the first leg of the journey, when I received the baby stroller – the cup-holder was broken off. Which meant, I couldn’t place the baby seat on. So imagine my plight – having to deal with an infant, 3 cabin bags and a broken stroller ? My neighbor was my savior who lent me her stroller when her baby wasn’t sleeping in it. And packing a baby carrier for such times always helps.
  5. All babies don’t fuss about flight travel – That’s right. When I come to think of it now, I realize how worried I was about how baby girl would deal with all the traveling till we reach home. On the contrary, she was a sweetheart. She only demanded her regular feeds and slept for most of the journey. So don’t worry, your baby wont trouble you as much as you picture it in your head.
  6. Lastly, don’t forget to enjoy the experience – Even with all the little mishaps, we were given priority with special care at every place so don’t stress yourself about the travel. If all baby travels went off perfectly, you won’t have a story to tell right ? ;)
Did you or someone in your family travel with an infant? Do you have any take-away points to share ?

Yours' truly,
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  1. We also had our first flight with our son when he was 5 months old, and it went a lot smoother than I had expected.

    1. That's great to know. I guess the experience only becomes a hassle when we imagine it to turn out that way.

  2. That was quite brave of you, to travel so far with an infant. It can be quite challenging at times when the baby gets cranky.
    You're right, at most times we over pack our cabin luggage hoping we might need them but hardly use them, more so when you have a baby with you.

    1. Thanks Vinodini and welcome here. :) Yeah I have heard it few times on this vacation of how brave I was to travel alone with an infant. Sometimes a little inspiration is all it takes for you to achieve bigger feats.

      True, babies when cranky are hard to manage. To add to that, we mothers tend to over stress ourselves with the baby's needs when actually the baby is the calm and composed one. :)

  3. Very nice narrative. Travelling with babies is a big hassle. Once while travelling with our six month old baby, he pulled the tea tray,. The tea was boiling hot. I shudder when I think of that incident.

    1. Thanks Usha and welcome here. I can't imagine what must have been your state of mind when a boiling hot tea falls on your lap. Especially when an infant is around. Sometimes babies are so quick at grabbing stuff. I hope you and the baby didnt injure yourselves in that incident. :)