When I was 3 months pregnant with Avis this time last year, my friend Caren from Indonesia invited me to Bangkok, Thailand for her summer break after school, but I will be 5 months by August (the date of our trip) and Southeast Asian nations could get really stormy after June. Since I learned I was pregnant with her, I’ve been spending days and even weeks thinking of raising her travel-savvy, always curious to explore and learn, to learn from life as her teacher. However, I ended up not going to Bangkok with Caren. Even though I could, I was not sure my doctor would approve. Travelling at 3 months sounds feasible but the activities after I hop off that plane might not be.
Fast forward to when she was born at 4 months, and learning I had post-partum depression (PPD), my best bet was to travel. I had the opportunity to fly from Manila to Cebu for my work and portfolio, so on the side this was a much-welcomed workcation (yes it's a word I made up for blending work with fun). I still not ended up going with Avis. I felt sad and overwhelmed. Here are some things I wish I had known before…
Avis, at 4 months old
Traveling With Your Baby Is Not That Simple, But It Is Possible
If I had this article, I would have done otherwise. I felt that I couldn’t bring her because she was too young. I do know, that taking my baby will be a wonderful experience. Looking back (I was recovering from my stitches and PPD then), this baby checklist would have given me the confidence.
Planning Is Key
It is possible to bring your baby abroad – but you need to plan it very carefully. Don’t worry about the factors and restrictions that must be taken into consideration. This is what my guide is for ! I’ll help take off the legwork so you can focus on having fun!
What You Need To Know
Refer to these points when making your decision to travel:
- Your Baby
- Choosing Your Date & Destination
- Your Ultimate Baby Checklist
- Before Leaving
- During The Trip
- Travel By Air
- Travel By Car
- Travel By Sea
- Safety Tips & Reminders
How old is your baby? The age will play a vital role in your travel. Young infants under 6 months of age don’t have certain immunizations yet. When I wanted to travel to Cebu with Avis at 4 months, she could not come because she was scheduled to have her Synflorix shot then. Since Philippines is a tropical country and where I am going is a fast-paced city, the risk of bringing her to and fro international airports, local terminals will expose her to organisms not covered by her previous shots.
BE A SUPER MOM: Consult your paediatrician prior to travelling and see how you can best accommodate your child. Having an expert’s advice will reassure you of what is best for your baby’s safety.
Choosing Your Date & Destination
Which season are you travelling? Knowing which dates to fly and travel will help you plan your trip much easier. The weather can be unfavourable so prepare you and your baby with the essentials. Choosing your date not to coincide with vaccination schedule will also lessen your worry.
Babies below 6 months of age unfortunately can’t travel just anywhere. There are certain establishments that do not allow infants of this age such as the crèche facilities at ski resorts or island pump boats.
For older babies, the world is at your fingertips! Just make sure to exercise precautionary measures and good judgment when bringing your baby to an overseas trip.
BE A SUPER MOM: Plot your calendar & put down some sticky notes with weather info for the week. If you’re the on-the-go mom like me, a handy smartphone app I use is SolCalendar. It’s like the modern journal with stickers. As for the destination, research where you’re going to first, list it down and contact them to verify if they are okay with taking in your baby.
Your Ultimate Baby Checklist
I designed a travel baby checklist to help you better organize your trip. If you need to print this out for reference, click here to download.
Downlod the printable checklist here.
*optional. You can do without these if you plan to pack light.
- Be sure to pack the checklist ahead of time. You don’t want to be on the plane only to miss out you’ve left your baby’s diapers, his formula or the baby car seat!
- Double-check the fine print of your insurance. Make sure your whole family is covered and ask whether your coverage includes unfortunate cases such as a sudden outbreak or disease such as measles.
- Let your accommodations know that you will be checking in with a baby. Make sure that there are safety measures implemented, there’s access to water (with my baby, she has to have distilled drinking water and a hot water for making her milk) and the place is clean upon arrival.
- Ask if electrical socket plugs are provided at the place you will be staying at. If not, you should pack some to ensure safety especially if you have a wandering toddler with you. Take note that if you’re going to a different continent, voltages can be different, for example in Philippines we use 220V whereas in USA it’s 110V.
- If your accommodation is a standardized hotel, ask if there will be a crib or a baby cot available. Although I do recommend on bringing your own, such as our Portacot All-In-One Blue Nursery Furniture, the Baby Bjorn travel cot or Phil and Teds Travel cot, because these portacots have amazing features best suited for your travel. If you need help in choosing which portacot to buy, check our guide to read the 12 Reasons Why Portacot Is Better Than A Crib.
- If you are formula-feeding your baby, it’s best to contact the manufacturer of the formula via phone call to see if the brand is available in the country you are visiting. With Avis, she uses Enfamil A+ and the manufacturer is Mead Johnson. At the bottom of the tin can, it says “Mead Johnson Nutrition Center” and the phone lines, email and website are indicated.
- Car rentals may not provide a baby car seat or a car booster seat. In this case, just bring your own.
During The Trip
Travel by Air
- It’s best that you fly with your baby when he’s at least 2 weeks old. This will be enough time for you and your baby to recuperate from childbirth. Seek your doctor’s advice first before flying.
- Airports can be a densely populated place. Keep your baby entertained with some toys or keep him in a quieter place. Large airports can be so busy your baby might be overwhelmed, but can be the same case for smaller busy airports as well. If you can’t avoid this, at least avoid the crowd. The hind portion of the lounge is usually the best spot in my opinion.
- Contact your airline for special requests and immediate needs. Find out what facilities they offer for parents and their children.
- Check that your baby car seat or car booster seat is FAA certified ; some airlines do not allow uncertified seats to impose strict safety precautions.
- Try to pre-book your seat so it won’t be a hassle if the airline assigns you and your baby near an aisle. For parents, the best seats I would pick would be at the ones adequately near the toilet.
- Book your seats together with the people you will be travelling with. This allows easier switching if you need someone to substitute carrying the baby – plus you have the peace of mind during the flight.
- Use earbuds for your baby before takeoff to avoid ear pain. If this does not work and your baby is still on the breastfeeding stage, try to either breastfed him or offer him feeding to help him swallow.
- Strollers and portable cots come in handy when you and your baby are tired . If you’re flying on business class, ask the airline ahead of time if it’s okay to set-up there. If you’re already at the airport, approach the helpdesk for information.
- Airlines provide a life vest for your baby. Pay attention to the instructions every time you fly. Some flight vests may be different and you may need a different adjustment for your child.
- If your baby is fussy during the flight… soothe him and coo him. Remember the portable nightlight on the checklist? This comes handy as babies are easily amused by flashing objects. Just make sure that the nightlight is not too blinding for other passengers.
- Change your baby’s diaper immediately before the flight. If everything goes smooth, you won’t need to again until you reach arrival. However if you’ve fed your baby minutes to an hour before takeoff, make sure you have things ready when you board such as the baby bag with diapers and wet wipes. It’s handy to pack yourself with mini changing bags instead of hauling the whole baby luggage with you every bathroom trip.
- If you need help with the bathroom facilities, don’t hesitate to ask. The flight attendants will be happy to help you, but bear in mind that they won’t take your soiled nappy for the bin – attendants handle the passenger’s food!
- Depending on the airlines, if you need warmer food, you may request for this via the in-flight button. It may take some time so do ask of this in advance and particularly let them know to make sure it’s not too hot or it might burn your baby’s tongue.
Travel by Car
- Always pack your car booster seat to ensure a smooth car ride. The last thing you wanna do is have your baby fussing at your lap.
- Place baby’s car seat at the back. NEVER at the front where the airbag is located.
- On hot sunny days, stick detachable window shades. This will keep your baby from the glare and the excess heat of the sun.
- If you’re driving long hours, dress baby in appropriate clothing. Some destinations can have a cooler or hotter temperature so make sure your baby is equipped in a jacket or light clothes.
- NEVER leave baby unattended with food at the back seat. Have an adult with him to avoid the risk of choking. Always bring bottles of water for your baby and place it for easy access.
- Have the first aid kit ready by the dashboard compartment. In case of emergency, I recommend that you have this near you. If you’re driving, orient the person on the passenger seat with its location and what to do.
- Pack your portable cot in a drawstring pouch to be placed in the trunk. Choose one that comes in a bag so your baby will not be disturbed by the clunking noises from the rear compartment.
Travel by Sea
- Always check the ferry you will be boarding if they have infant life vests. Usually these are placed under the seats but contact the company days ahead to make sure there’s available.
- Be seated at the front. If you’re on a common river ferry, request to be seated on the first row so you have access to the attendants immediately. For private ferries, inform the cruise ship that you are boarding with a baby and ask where it might be best to book rooms.
- Keep a paperbag and a wash cloth at bay. Your baby might not be used to the rough waves so help him recover during vomiting with a clean paperbag & a cloth to wipe his face.
- A bucket hat is good for open boats. If you’re travelling in the Pacific like in Philippines, keep a baby bucket hat in order to keep the harmful rays of the sun blinding your little one. If he’s old enough he can wear sunglasses too.
- Always bring a facial mask in handy. Some smaller ferries on short trips allow close contact due to limited space and it would be best to protect your baby with a small surgical mask to keep the germs away.
Safety Tips & Reminders
- Pack sunblock and aftersun if you’re going to humid countries and bring a thicker jacket for colder climates. Your baby’s skin is still mild, so always be aware that he is comfortable enough. Ask your doctor what treatments your baby can use for sun rash and skin burn before your trip.
- Always have your paediatrician’s contact number with you at all times. Put it in your phone, your small journal and in your wallet in case of emergency.
- Keep your baby hydrated at all times. Dehydration can occur in almost all instances. If your baby is formula-fed and can drink water, a sippy cup will be very useful.
- Bring mittens as an extra precaution as some places can get cold. I noticed that when Avis goes into a cold place, her hands easily get cold and I would need to wrap her in a double jacket or have her use her mittens.
- Watch your baby’s neck during the trip. Allow him to rest well with the U-shape neck pillow to avoid stiff neck.
Now you’re all ready and set! Where are you off to with your baby? Comment below or let us know on Facebook!