- Check the policies of your carrier or agency: While airlines generally have fairly standard procedures when it comes to babies on board, hotels, travel agencies and other transport companies vary hugely. It is good to know what to expect before you travel. For example, some airlines will only refund damaged prams if the pram was transported in a special purpose bag.
- Timing: If I can, I travel in the morning. That’s when our baby sleeps the best and early morning train journeys or flights can be very pleasant with a sleeping baby, who also seems to enjoy the motion of the vehicle and may sleep little longer than usual.
- Get ready to suckle: Especially on those first flights I made sure that our baby was suckling on something during the take offs and landings, to make sure her ears would not be affected by the changes in pressure. After a while when I saw that her ears were not a problem for her, I have not worried about this so much.
- Think of renting: Want to travel light or save in costs? In most major cities you can rent prams, car seats and other bigger baby equipment. If you are renting a car this option is also worth checking out as the baby car seats provided by car rental companies can be costly. In many cases the baby equipment rentals will deliver the products you want to the airport.
- Have a plan B: Have a plan B in everything. Couple of extra nappies, change of clothing and little extra milk go a long way when your luggage goes missing or flights are extremely delayed. And never travel without a babycarrier of sorts. This comes especially handy if your pram has been damaged (as ours have) or you need to run from one terminal to another in between flights. If you are traveling alone, what is more convenient than having your hands free for carrying luggage or looking for the travel documents when needed!?
Even before our baby was born I went to the discussion forums and parenting sites in search of information on how is it really to travel with a little one. And I gave up pretty quickly. Especially the forums put me off with the negativity and the impossibility of it all as traveling parents were often criticized for being selfish in continuing their travels and “dragging” their babies and children along. Instead, I decided that we would just go with the gut feeling and five weeks after our little one had made her entry we were off! And not only traveling from point A to B and back, but from point A to B to C and D by train, ferry, car and airplane. And we have not stopped since. Traveling with a baby doesn’t have to be challenging or problematic. All it takes is a little more time and planning, and once you have done it once, it is easy to keep on going. At this point I have to admit though that we have been blessed with an “easy” baby who is content with bit of sleep, food and lots of cuddling. So if we ever have a second one I might have to come back and rewrite this whole article along the lines of “how we thought it was best to stay at home with a crying baby”! However, in the end of the day I think part of it is down to our own attitude and the way of seeing traveling as an eye-opening and enriching experience for all of us, and hopefully the little one will grow up with the same curiosity to see the world as us. I think most of the “baby travel essentials” are down to common sense, hence I didn’t want to compose a list of “baby travel musts”. However, here are some pointers which have made my travels with our baby more smooth. Especially as most of the time I have traveled with our now seven-month-old daughter on my own.