lundi 24 février 2014

Tips for travelling with an infant

Taking a trip to the other side of the world with a little one is possible. Indeed, we paid a visit to my sister who lives in Australia when the Frog was only five months old. It was quite an expedition but it was most of all an unforgettable trip. Everything was great and the Frog was adorable in spite of the 20 hour flight and the jet lag. A proof that with a bit of daring and a lot of organization you can do whatever you want.

We decided to leave while the Frog was still an infant, because I really couldn't imagine myself travelling for such a long time with a toddler who starts walking, wants to go everywhere and gets bored pretty easily. I really didn't want the other passengers to feel like kicking us out. If we wanted to go to Australia, it was now … or not before a while.

First of all, you have to know that you can take a plane with your Frog as soon as he/she is one week old for a short flight and three weeks old for a long distance flight.

Here are some pieces of advice :

  • Make sure your Frog has a passport (or an ID card if you plan on staying in Europe). He/she has to have his/her own one (in France, it costs about 20 euros and has a validity of 5 years). His/her fingerprints are not taken but I wish you good luck with the full-face-mouth-closed-not-smiling-open-eyed picture ! I would say : forget the photobooth (do you really think you can manage to have the good picture in less than three attempts?) and go to a photographer.
  • Obvioulsy don't forget the passport when you leave, it will be of no use if it stays on the dining table. Then, also think about taking your frog's child health record booklet.
  • Make copies of your important documents and paperwork and put them in another bag. This will be useful in case you loose them or if they get stolen.

  • If you pay a visit to someone, especially if they live on the other side of the world, ask them if they can get the basic stuff you need to take care of your baby in order not to get overloaded. My sister had managed to have a stroller, a car seat, a bed, a baby rocker, a changing mat, a small bathtub … Well, stuff to feel as comfortable as home without taking over half of the baggage hold and skyrocketing the budget of your trip on baggage excess.
  • Plan your trip with your pediatrist and make sure there is no contraindication. 
You will probably be prescribed a first aid kit, with an oral rehydration solution and medicine against vomiting for example, and you will have to take it with you in the aircraft with the prescription. Think about taking also paracetamol, a thermometer, band aids, moisturizing cream, arnica 
  • I can only advise you to travel with a top notch airline which offers you a certain amount of services. As far as we're concerned, we travelled with Emirates Airlines and were fully satisfied.
  • Try to book a flight with few stop-overs and waiting in airports. Forget about the 10 hour stop-over in Bangkok or the itinerary with six stop-overs.
  • Think about asking the airline for
 a bassinet for your baby when you book your flight. It is a kind of small cradle that can be clipped on the wall in front of you. Special seats (close to the emergency exits most of the time) will be offered to you and thus you won't have to spend all the flight with your baby in your arms or on your lap. To be allowed a bassinet, your Frog should weigh less than 11 kilos (24 lbs).
  • Liquid restrictions on hand baggage do not apply to baby milk or food and most of the time airlines supply baby food if you don't want to carry your own. Strollers are also sometimes available in airports, which can be useful during a stop-over.
  • Then you are also allowed a priority boarding and an extra baggage allowance if you travel with an infant. Check the infant policy with your airline before departure.
  • Make sure you have a cancellation insurance in case the Frog gets sick and you can't leave as well as a hospital and repatriation insurance in case of a big mishap (even if I wish it won't happen to you). If you pay your tickets with a Visa card, most of the insurances are already included.
  • While onboard, think about having your baby
 suck something (baby bottle, pacifier, breastfeeding) on takeoff and especially on landing to help his/her small ears adjust to the plane pressure. Make him/her drink a lot because the air in the cabin is particularly dry. If your baby has a cold, have his/her eardrums checked by your pediatrist a few days before departure and clean his/her nose before takeoff.
  • It goes without saying that you should pack everything you need to change your baby (diapers, wipes …) in your hand baggage. Make sure you also pack extra clothes in case of « accident », setback or if your checked baggage gets delayed or lost. Also pack some warm clothes for your baby, it can sometimes get chilly in the aircraft.
  • Pack some of your Frog's favorite toys as well as his/her cuddly toy. This will keep him/her busy and will remind him/her of home during the trip.
  • Take some disinfecting wipes with you to be able to clean objects that may fall on the ground but most of all to clean the changing tables in the plane and in the airports. We're never careful (or paranoid) enough.
  • If you plan on going to a far away country, you should preferably stay more than 10 days 
so that the Frog should not suffer too much from jetlag. Also avoid going to a country where sanitary conditions are not suited to an infant. Let's wait a bit for the trek in the middle of Amazonia.
  • Don't overload your baggage with useless things (diapers, baby food). You'll probably find what you need in your country of destination.

That's all ! Now you can only keep your fingers crossed and wish that your frog is a globetrotter person who will enjoy the trip, so that you can enjoy yours !

(Pour la version française de l'article, c'est par là : Around the World)

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