My mother didn’t catch her first flight until she was 36 and I didn’t catch mine until I was 12. But M? He travelled by air when he was just three months old!
Even before M was born, his travel plans had been chalked out.
You see, before I realised how laborious labour actually was, I wanted three kids. I’d joke then that since my kids would have a set of grand-parents each in Singapore, New Zealand and India, I’d send a kid to each grandparent while I happily sat at home reading my book.
My mom took this joke a bit too seriously and insisted I travel to New Zealand with M as soon as I could. The lure of being on leave for two months and having my mom wait on me and M was too much to resist and so I readily agreed. I didn’t take into account the marathon 16 hour flight I’d have to take to reach there. And, I didn’t take into account that I’d have to fly there alone!
Miraculously, our marathon flight from Mumbai – Delhi – Sydney – Auckland went great. So much so, that I bravely booked another flight and also flew to Napier the next weekend as well! If you’re travelling solo with an infant soon, here’s my top 5 tips that worked a treat for me.
Keep them close by wearing your baby
Cheap airlines charge a fortune for bassinets and airlines that don’t, rarely have enough bassinets to go around – our flight had 11 infants and only 2 available bassinets! For me, the best workaround this was to wear Baby M in my mei-tai. Not only could I keep him warm and contain his curious arms but I could also feed him without constantly flashing my boobs to all and sundry.
Pack complete outfits rather than a bag of clothes
Remember that time you had to visit the loo in the plane and could barely manoeuvre into place. Now imagine changing baby 5 – 6 times in this tiny space while you dig around for nappies and clothes in your bag. What worked for me was to pack complete outfits rather than individual bits and pieces. Then, each time I changed a diaper, I would fold in a new outfit into my change mat and keep it ready. This meant I could change nappy in under 5 minutes and I didn’t have any angry passengers waiting for me at the toilet door wondering why the baby was screaming down the airplane.
Sleep before your flight
Are you like me and fall asleep on your flight before the plane takes off? When travelling with an infant, it’s easiest if you simply forget about those good times and stock up on your sleep quota before your flight. If baby is on your lap, you’re likely going to have to jiggle them or rock them to sleep. Between making them go to sleep and ensuring they stay asleep there will be very little time for you to catch a nap so indulge in a movie marathon if you like but forget about catching up on those forty winks!
Practice doing things one-handed
As much as we’d like to pack light, the reality is that a hundred things are ‘essential’ when you’re travelling with baby. Yes. I need that pram and the two hand bags and the mea-tai! While you will encounter several people at the airport who will gladly give you a and baby a hand, its best if you practice doing things one-handed in the house before. Make sure you can fold that pram with one hand and definitely practice eating with one hand while you jiggle baby on your leg!
Accept the fact that there is going to be atleast one occasion where your baby will scream their heads off no matter what you do. I went through an hour where Baby M screamed at the airport in his pram, in his mei tai and in my hand. I guess the bright lights and hoards of people was just too much stimulation for his tiny brain. What helped was being shameless and going about my business without caring about all the stares I was getting. Mums with infants can get away with a lot. You can skip queues, ask for the golf cart to take you to your gate and ask for the flight crew to hold baby while you go pee . Don’t be a martyr and shameless accept all the privileges you’re getting!
Have you flown solo with an infant? Do share your tips with me in the comments below!