When our eldest daughter, Sophia, was five months old, we travelled from Amsterdam to Brisbane to start our “new life” there. That was our first experience of travelling overseas with a baby and was actually a much easier trip than we were expecting. We managed to get a seat with a bassinet, she slept a lot of the way, and when she wasn’t sleeping seemed quite content to have mama and papa giving her undivided constant attention! I was also still breast-feeding so this made things easier. Despite a delay of several hours before even leaving Amsterdam – meaning we missed our connecting flight in Kuala Lumpur – the trip still went quite smoothly. It was tiring but was a one way trip and due to the delay, we even had a nice break at a luxury hotel in Kuala Lumpur where we all got some sleep and an amazing meal. Then, seeing my parents at Brisbane airport and introducing them to their first grand-daughter for the first time was wonderful!
However it was a whole new ball game two years later when we decided to travel with her back to the Netherlands to see my husband’s family. This time we were travelling overseas with a baby AND a toddler. Sophia was almost three and her little sister, Isabella was just one…she actually had her first birthday on the plane!.
This time, with a very active toddler, and a curious baby on the verge of walking, my husband and I knew we had to be well prepared. So here are our five tips from our experience of travelling overseas with a baby and toddler.
1. Order child meals
I worked for many years as a travel agent and this should happen automatically when you book a seat for a child – but doesn’t always. So if you’re travelling with a baby and toddler, you may wish to double check with the airline that these have been ordered.
2. Take snacks and milk powder
We took a stack of the girl’s favourite snacks and also some milk powder for both of them. Unfortunately my youngest had weaned herself just a few weeks before the trip, it would have been much more convenient if I was still breastfeeding like with her sister. I tried to get through customs with some pre-packaged and sealed tetra packs of baby milk but wasn’t allowed. We also bought six empty baby bottles and a stack of sachets of baby and toddler milk and a sippy cup for our toddler. Then we asked for bottled water on board to mix it. The little squeeze baby food packs were a big hit with both the girls too. Though you can get plenty of food on the plane, it may not be the type your baby or toddler are used to, so taking a stack of snacks and milk powder is a good idea…. we all know that hungry kids are not happy kids.
3. Pack a rolling bag for your toddler
Our toddler loved having her very own rolling bag packed with some of the snacks, some new little toys and activities, spare clothes etc. Not only did she look super cute rolling it through the airport, it seemed to make her feel special and kept her entertained while we were in transit!
4. Check out the play areas and facilities at your transfer airport in advance
I need to give full credit to my husband for this. When we arrived at Singapore Airport for our transit, he’d already checked out the exact locations of the play area and baby change facilities at the airport. Of course, you could go to the information desk or look around at your transfer airport when you get there, but we were all tired. While other parents on our flight mostly hung out at the “boring” departure gate, my husband took the lead directly to a great little play area where our girls could have some fun and we could rest and recharge a little.
5. Dress in layers and take spare clothes
Travelling from one side of the world to the other, walking around airports and spending time in an aircraft cabin means you’re likely to experience a wide range of temperatures. Dress in layers so that you can add on/take off items as you need to and stay comfortable. Also pack spare clothes – not just for the kids but for mama and papa too. I’ve heard of one dad leaving a plane in an aircrew uniform after his baby was sick over his only set of clothes! Packing a whole set for each person in a ziplock plastic bag also makes it really easy to grab in one go when you need it.
Have a great trip! If you have any further tips would love to hear them in a comment.