So I just travelled transatlantic with a lap infant for the 3rd time this year. This was by far the easiest trip because I avoided the self-inflicted stresses of the previous two. Here are my top-5 tips to keep you both smiling:
- Leave plenty of time between connections. Rush, rush, rush is a sure way to stress you and baby out. Instead, have a sandwich at the airport and let baby lie out on a mat or crawl / toddle around / look out a window. They will appreciate the break and so will you. Nappy change needed? No sweat. Full clothing change required (for you) after baby’s lunch comes up on landing? Again, no rush, no problem. On that note, don’t forget to pack a matching set of non-iron clothing for yourself in your Essentials bag…
- Don’t check any hold luggage. Bring one small roll-on case and one large Essentials bag (shoulder bag or rucksack) which you can stow under the seat in front. Put everything you might need in-flight (nappies, wipes, change of clothing for you and baby) into the Essentials bag. Within the Essentials bag have an easy-to-find ‘mini-essentials’ zip-lock bag or clear purse for – in my case – tissues (I sneeze a lot on planes!), pen for completing landing cards and noting blog-topic inspiration, lip balm and headphones (in case baby sleeps and I get the luxury of watching a movie) and small sachets of Calpol with measuring spoon. Finding the mini-bag is a lot easier than rooting around the large one for a pen with a crying baby on your lap. People can be incredibly helpful, but it may be that the nearest steward is having a bad day and everyone around you is sleeping when you most need something from the roll on case in the overhead bin.
- Inquire whether you may be seated next to an empty seat in the middle of the central row or a window seat and – if you have brought one – whether baby’s car seat may actually be placed in this empty seat. Most reasonable airline staff will accommodate your request, provided the infant’s seat can be placed so as not to block anyone from getting to the aisle. Avoid peak travel days and routes where possible to increase the chance that there will be an empty seat on your flight. If the flight is overbooked, check the infant’s seat at the gate and collect it again when you deplane. Remember – no hold luggage means no hanging around if baby has pooped or is hungry and no stress from lost luggage!
- Use an infant carrier or an umbrella stroller. For babies under 1, an infant carrier (I prefer the Ergobaby) keeps baby close to you at all times and leaves your hands free to pull the small roll-on case (with infant car seat – if you have brought one – hung over the handle or otherwise attached to it) and the Essentials shoulder bag. Once your baby is older than 1, an umbrella stroller – preferably with just enough room for your shoulder bag underneath – may be more practical and kind to your back.
- If you are breastfeeding, wear a nursing top and bra and scarf for easy feeding anywhere. Otherwise prepare baby’s in-flight bottle(s) as much as you can at an airport cafe just before you board. Just the thought of juggling a hungry baby in one hand with powdered formula and boiling water in the other should be enough convince you on this point. Phew!
Those are my top-5 tips for stress-free travelling with a lap infant.
I’d love to hear your tips.
Thanks for reading!