Sunday, 25 November 2012

Plane Travel with Babies - The Pain-free Way

There are not many people in the world who haven't experienced some form of air travel with a screaming baby keeping them from their sleep or in-flight entertainment. Having never taken five month old Jack further than a half hour drive from home, it was with great trepidation that I commenced the week that would contain three flights in six days.
The first part of our busy travels was to the wedding last weekend of a dear friend in Albany, Western Australia. For those of you not so familiar with Australian geography, to get there from Adelaide involved a 3+ hour flight followed directly by a 4+ hour drive. Fortunately for this trip I had my husband with me to carry porta-cots etc. We left Adelaide on the Friday and returned the following Monday as that week we were making the move to Canberra. The flight to Canberra on Wednesday was just Jack and I, but as it turns out, despite all my concerns, we had nothing to worry about.
Jack was simply an angel during this trip thanks to some excellent tips and because he's just such an awesome kid. The following are a few tips from my experiences and other friends' advice for pain-free travel with children.

  1. Learn how to equalise the air pressure on babies' and children's ears. It's super easy and luckily my chiropractor showed me how before we left. Stick your thumb into the child's ear and whilst holding fairly firmly, pull outwards and slightly up. Ideally feeding during take off and landing will take care of this, but as fate would have it, Jack didn't want to feed whilst coming in to land in Perth and anytime he was getting unhappy, we tugged on his ears and he was fine! Winner!
  2. Be prepared to carry baby around the airport after check-in. Despite what it says on the Qantas website, you cannot take prams to the gate at Australian airports. They do offer strollers for use to the gate but we found these were not appropriate for a five month old.
  3. Don't let baby fall asleep on the plane without the seatbelt on. If you hit turbulence or need to put  the seatbelt on for another reason, it's really difficult when baby is asleep!
  4. Take your own car-seat insert for hire car. We had booked a hire car and infant seat with a very reputable company, only to find once we got to the car that car seat had no infant insert to support baby's head, despite being installed in the rear-facing position. They were able to fine a small padded insert, but this still did not meet my high standards. Add to that, when we turned our first corner, the car seat slid on the back seat as they hadn't pulled the main seatbelt tight enough - something my husband and I were luckily able to quickly fix. Terrible! 
  5. Take a sleep toy/noise machine for familiarity. This was a great tip from a friend of mine and helped when Jack was sleeping in various hotels in his porta-cot. A bit of white noise and familiarity never goes astray. 
  6. Take only one carry-on bag. Anymore and you won't have enough hands for the baby. This is especially important when travelling alone with an infant/child and is when a larger nappy bag really comes in handy.
  7. Book child friendly accommodation. This sounds like common sense right? Wrong. We booked at a lovely Bed & Breakfast thinking it would be the best option as we wouldn't have to go out till all three of us were ready and could have a relaxing breakfast. Great in theory but in practice we were so worried about disturbing the other guests at the lovely hotel that it made life quite difficult. Having a baby whose body clock was 2 1/2 hours earlier than local time didn't help this either. 
  8. Let people help you. When travelling alone with a baby (especially a cute one like Jack) there are always people who want to help you. Flight attendants are always keen for a cuddle and if you're lucky, people around you on the flight will be happy to make funny faces and entertain your child. 
So spread the word people! The ear equalisation trick is the best thing ever. What other travel tips do you have to share??

1 comment:

  1. on first read of point 1 I thought you said "stick your thumb in child's ear and whistle...."
    my 2nd read clarified what you meant
    Granny :-)