International Travel with a Baby
In November I took a big trip across the ocean to visit my family back in the States. My husband couldn’t take time off of work and so I took the trip by myself with the baby and to be honest I was quite anxious about traveling so far with a baby alone.
The trip went well and I didn’t have much reason to be worried because it all worked out fine and being back in the States and meeting up with friends and seeing my family and meeting new family members was absolutely priceless.
So what would I take with me for the next international flight and what advice would I give to others?
1. Don’t be afraid to ask for help
First of all: People want to help you. I was little apprehensive about asking for help because I didn’t want to bother people. It can feel like people are so closed in their own world, especially traveling; talking on the phone, listening to music, working on the computer, reading a book – that interrupting them felt like I was being a nuisance. However, when some people see you by yourself with a baby they reach out to you and just help you with your bag without asking or they will offer to help you then or say you can ask for help on the flight.
2. Travel light
I brought along the diaper bag with about 6 diapers, wipes, one change of clothes for Baby T, 2 burp clothes, and some toys. The diaper bag also served as my purse so I had my wallet, kindle, phone, and important documents. I also had a rolling backpack where I had a change of clothes for me, extra clothes for Baby T, more diapers, a blanket, and my toiletries bag. The backpack was mostly just in case our checked bag was lost and I would say I almost could have done without it. But better safe than sorry!
3. Choose the flight with a longer layover
When booking my flight I could choose between the flight with a 1.5 hour layover or a 4 hour layover. I went with the latter because that extra time was so nice to have space, stretch out, easily change a diaper, go the bathroom, and have a change of environment. Plus, when traveling with an infant you can’t check-in online or print their tickets, you have to have them printed at the airport and at the transfer desk. So taking my time to get to a transfer desk, wait in line, and have the ticket printed without worrying about running to catch my next flight was really nice.
4. Ask if there is a seat with an empty seat next to it available (the bassinet isn’t worth it)
Flying back to the States I had a seat in economy comfort at the bulkhead with the baby bassinet attached to the wall. It wasn’t that helpful. It limited the space available in front of me, it’s really narrow, and there are some restrictive rules that go with using the bassinet. When the baby is in the bassinet you have to “close” the bassinet with a thick mesh covering that makes the bassinet feel even smaller and the poor baby is practically breathing into the flap. Plus the seats in the bulkhead have to store all bags above in the overhead carrier which made it really hard to get toys, burp clothes, phone, diapers etc. in and out.
However, flying back to Italy, I had a whole middle row of seats to myself and it was so spacious and made the trip so much easier. When Baby T fell asleep I lay him down on the seat next to me with arm rests up and he slept almost the whole flight. I could take up as much space as I wanted and had the space under the seat in front of me and the back pockets to store things.
5. Use a baby carrier
Baby T was still small enough to use the classic Baby Bjorn baby carrier and it was perfect for walking around the airport and waiting in lines for passport check, and boarding and getting off the plane. It was so easy to throw on and put Baby T and he likes being in the carrier and it freed up my hands to hold documents, bags, or food.
It definitely helped that I didn’t need to bring a stroller or a car seat with me since I knew my family would have everything I needed when I arrived. We’ll see how the next long flight goes with an older baby and probably more bags! But if you’re traveling alone with a baby younger than 6 months, I say it’s definitely possible and you can do it!
Do you have any other advice you would give for traveling internationally with a little one?