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      /  Motherhood   /  Travelling with a baby

    Travelling with a baby

    momish_blog_unaisa_gani_travelling_with_a_baby

    Travelling with a baby

    A little back story- my husband and I got married early so that we had years together to travel the world and then we were gifted with a little surprise! The best surprise, that is. It’s so expensive to travel from South Africa that we weren’t avid travelers at all. We had to work for months before we could travel. The few trips that we had done was full of adventure, from walking aimlessly (also pronounced as ‘lost’) in a foreign town at midnight, to hiring a bike in India, to extending trips on the last night. Nothing of the way we travelled was baby friendly.

    Did that stop us after the baby was born? No! and I can tell you, dear parents, if you can, travel with your children. Yes, the trips are different, and the flights are harder, but you will cherish the memories. I promise you. When your child is 8 years old and, God forbid, you are not around, or you aren’t able to travel anymore, your child will still have the pictures. Or if you’re like us, a video too!

    So here are my semi-pro tips for choosing a location, packing, the actual travel and working around your child.

    We have done travel with a newborn, a little older and then a trip while we were weaning onto solids and then a trip while he was on solids! We have done trips both alone, and with company. So, trust me, I’ve been through it all! We have actually started to travel a lot more post baby, would you believe?

    So, with choosing a location, I have one rule that I think is a must for all! Do we need travel injections? A baby can only take yellow fever injections by 9 months old and that still comes with its risks. Some travel agents will advise you and some wont in your booking process, so it’s best to just be aware. Being in these areas also have a high risk for you getting ill. Can you imagine being sick on holiday and looking after a child? Nothing relaxing or enjoyable about that!

    If you have a newborn, the type of holiday isn’t greatly affected. They are usually attached to your hip and sleeping most of the time (I hope). It’s also easier to carry them in a baby carrier! We did a major city holiday in a first world country when our little cub was 6 weeks old. Being an ‘easy’ destination, nothing was easy about it at all. From running to find nursing bathrooms to breastfeeding in public- we made the most of it and damn! It was a good holiday.

    Now, a year later, the type of places that we are looking at is so different! With an older child and toddler, look at places that have less travel time, kids’ clubs and kid friendly hotels. You don’t want to be exploring mountains, volcanoes or even walking some dungeons or museums with a toddler. There is so much that you can explore with a child.

    My top local picks for babies and children:

    • Durban
    • KZN Midlands
    • Drakensburg
    • Beacon Bay, East London
    • Eastern Cape and the Wild Coast
    • Cape Town
    • Cape Town winelands towns
    • Kruger National Park

    My top international picks based on accessibility from SA

    • Zimbabwe
    • Malawi- Lake Malawi
    • Kenya
    • Dubai
    • Mauritius
    • Reunion Islands
    • Madagascar
    • Indonesia
    • Malaysia & Singapore (this may be a long flight, depending which airline you book with)
    • United Kingdom

    The actual flight should not be seen any other way but another day outing. Naps should be allowed at their normal time to avoid a fussy or overstimulated baby. Nappy bags shouldn’t be overpacked. My best advice would be to take the same number of nappies, burp clothes and your change of clothes. If you are flying, check with the airline regulations, but most carriers allow you to take a flask of water up to 150ml) otherwise keep in mind that bottled water that can be bought past boarding gates, count as sterilized water- I usually request a room temperature bottle. Whether you are going local or international, I would suggest that you check the weather before you leave and pack a spare outfit accordingly.

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    I take full advantage of the priority boarding. Not only does it have benefits for me and my cabin luggage (lol) but it allows my little guy to explore his environment before everyone boards the plane.

    Pack one toy and take a blanket with you. Take extra liquids as planes can get dry and lather your baby in some oil or lotion to keep their skin moisturized. After about 15 or so local and international flights and a few road trips in between, I think we have medicated our child twice on a while travelling- and that too was due to a high fever and one time to see if the theory works. We have only used Panado.

    I take full advantage of the priority boarding. Not only does it have benefits for me and my cabin luggage (lol) but it allows my little guy to explore his environment before everyone boards the plane. My go to is that I allow him to sit on my seat and I sit on the floor in front of him and play or feed him a meal, if its meal time. In this time, he will be comfortable, have the space to look around, explore and the strangers walking through the plane who greet him (because you can’t stop that awkward head rub!) are met with smiles – making them more comfortable too! Babies spark fear in people on planes more than flying does!

    We usually give him a dummy or a bottle on take-off and landing just so that his ears don’t hurt and allow him to play as he needs until he’s ready for a nap/sleep time. This. Is. Exhausting. I share it with you, because if you are going to take a child onto a plane, you need to be prepared!

    The one thing you ought to remember, is that a child won’t be ‘normal’ on a plane. It’s an unfamiliar environment and you forcing them to do anything in routine is just torture. If you have a crier, hold them and find out their needs. They are trying to communicate something. Everyone on that plane was once a baby who cried in public. Ignore the stares, your child is talking to you. If you need to breastfeed, don’t make a faff about feeding covers, the space allocated to you in economy is tiny. No one is watching you anyway! It shouldn’t be awkward to do it anywhere actually! You eat in public, why shouldn’t your baby? Society is evolving, we will get there…

    The one thing you ought to remember, is that a child won’t be ‘normal’ on a plane. It’s an unfamiliar environment and you forcing them to do anything in routine is just torture”

    If you are driving, plan regular pit stops (preferably an hour to three apart) where you give them a break from the car seat and the monotonous environment. It also gives you a chance to stretch your legs and get some fresh air for the rest of the journey! Making regular pitstops also decreases the risk of you having to remove your child from the car seat while the car is moving. Any time out of the car seat in a moving car is too much! Accidents happen in a second, children are light, so gravity is less effective when they’re faced with a big force. Kids can actually fly in these cases. 

    I can’t stress this next point enough. No screen time while travelling for babies and younger kids and for the older kids, limit their screen time! I know of a teenager with Downs Syndrome who had a seizure midflight from overstimulation due to prolonged screen time and an already activated, sensitive, vestibular system. I also know of a kid who sat in the airplanes bathroom and cried for hours due to being uncomfortable in the environment. There is no way out of a plane, don’t let it get to this.  Please, don’t do it. Actions create habits and our children model our behavior. Encourage healthier engagement with toys or even standing on their seat and counting how many seats there are in a plane. Allow the airhostesses to help. Get creative!

    If you have family or friends with you, use them. Get them to look after your child for a bit, even if you are all out together just to give yourself some time to breath and take it all in!

    Most of all, enjoy seeing the world through your child’s eyes. Allow them to run, explore, scream and interact. Show them different cultures, toys and let them play with children of different nationalities. Teach them about the world. Travelling is expensive, experience is priceless. And if you listen and observe really closely, they have a ton to teach you, too!

    Thank you for reading this exceptionally long post! I cut down on so many things, but I do hope that what is here helps you! Happy travelling, parents!

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