I really mean it when I said I burst into tears when looking back at our travel experience nearly a couple of weeks ago.
So let’s start with the story. Yes, we finally decided to move to the U.S. And should I mention that I *thank God* left my job? Ahaaaa…yayaya! Gw beneran resign dong. Lega luar biasa. Semacam sakit di ****** yang akhirnya hilang (pain in the a**, red.)
Sekarang thank God lagi, alhamdulillah, gw dan Piyo udah menikmati waktu leha-leha di Monterey, California. Asiiiikkkk hahaahahaaaa. I am saying bye-bye to the suck bureaucracy, the dirty works, and to the pile of paperwork that’s been haunting me for the last 3 years (or so…). Even though I’d miss breastmilk pumping sessions (semacam arisan yah bok) and bunch of wonderful people I met…
Okay, done with the curcol.
My most important tip for the prep would be: GOOGLE. Yeah, Google everything when you still have time, and the google-able ideas are in this list:
1. Family friendly airways (for me, I narrowed it down to infant friendly airways). You would want your journey to be peaceful, so this is it. In my mind, infant friendly airways are the ones who have special arrangements for babies. This includes priority boarding, bassinets (or car seat if you buy your baby her own seat), baby meal, and amenities (could be toys or books, or anything they provide as an effort to welcome your baby on-board). This kind of airways would have nice, helpful staff who could give you extra peace in mind, knowing that you’ll get the help you need if you ever need them.
2. Family friendly airports. This is super important if your travel includes layover(s) and should be a primary consideration in arranging travel itinerary. Google for in-site entertainment for your kids, nursing room, dining area, and be sure to at least look at the airport map once, so you already have a picture of where you are going. Long layover could be a living hell for tired parents with tired toddler. In my experience, I found the nursing room in San Francisco airport pretty nice. My baby and I spent more than 12 hours (oh, long story, will tell you later about this) there, and there are several nursing room available. Well at least I could put my baby to sleep in the couch…
Now after you’re done with googling, here comes the general tips for the travel:
1. Be simple. Bring as few items as you can, make it lightweight. As lightweight as possible. However, you should have EVERYTHING that you will probably need in your carry-on. Changing clothes (for you and the kids), diapers, baby wipes, snacks, drinks, cellphone chargers, and power bank (or other forms of mobile power source for your gadget). Do not carry laptops in your carry-on if it’s not deadly necessary. Trust me, taking it out and getting it back to your bag at every security check would be the last thing you’d wish to do (while also carrying a baby).
2. Get organized. Pack your carry-on in an organized, easy-to-grab order. Put your items in separate groups. As in my case, I used zip lock baggies to keep my stuffs organized. Why? Because they are light, waterproof, and…cheap. I did not wish to spend more money for those so called travel organizer. LOL. Diapers and wipes in one bag. Baby’s clothes in one bag. (I brought four pairs plus socks and beanie). My clothes. Her snacks. My charging stuffs. Emergency kit (baby paracetamol for pain and fever, and minyak telon –traditional warming oil).
3. Play pack. Woo hoo… This one is a must, especially if you are traveling with toddler. At the time I traveled long haul with my baby, she had just turned one year. However, she has been walking unassisted since she was 8.5 months old so she was practically a running at that time. Bad timing, I know. Sigh. Well, who would have guessed she would start walking at 8 months? Okay, back to play pack. I packed her toys in separate bag. A suitcase, to be precise. My tips for this would be carefully select which toys you would bring. I did pack some of my baby’s favorite -and not too loud- toys which I have kept hidden for two weeks before the departing date, so she would be excited to find her favorite toys again. I also bought some new toys, just to make sure she won’t get bored. Anyway, I chose the toys that will keep her busy and focused, like click-clack puzzle, magnetic drawing board, baby books, small wooden puzzle, and the ultimate steering wheel toy (this one was quite loud so I had hoped I wouldn’t need to get this one out. Ever. LOL)
4. Happy tummy means happy baby. Oh yeah, a really wise saying. Do bring non-sugary snacks for your baby, but solid enough (or in adequate amount) to keep her full. Non-sugary, or low sugar, so she wouldn’t have too much energy to spill out. Check if the airline provides baby food. I did that; I ordered baby food when booking my itinerary. However, if you are not sure your baby will eat the food provided, just bring your own food, the ones that you know your baby loves.
5. If you are traveling with infant (this means under 2 years old) and you don’t buy extra seat for her, request a bassinet. Do this when you book your tickets. Your baby will sleep more comfortably in a bassinet instead of curling in your lap for a really long time. It’s safer, too. She will be tied in the bassinet when she’s asleep. If you buy your kid or baby her own seat, then it’s safest to bring a car seat. There are some airlines who provide car seat for young passengers, but many don’t. So, do check with the airlines. The car seat should be FAA approved, if I may add (you can find a sticker somewhere in the car seat with this information. In my Graco,the sticker is in the right side).
6. Have I mention tons of diapers? Oh, I haven’t. Yeah, do bring more diapers than you think you will need. Even the driest baby would turn into heavy wetter once they’re on a plane. I don’t know why, but it happened to my baby. She always peed a lot during a flight (it didn’t matter short or long flight, she just did). Change her diapers once you get in the plane (after you are all settled, but before the other passengers get in), and every time you feel like you need to. Don’t wait until the diaper’s too full. You wouldn’t want your baby to be uncomfortable and ended up being fussy all the time, right?
7. Stroller versus carrier? For me, carrier for sure. I checked my stroller for checked baggage so I wouldn’t need to push it around while my baby is running around the airport. When she’s tired, I just go to the nearest nursing room and put her on the couch or if you are lucky enough, in the crib. Otherwise I just nurse her and she’d fall asleep within minutes in my lap. Why carrier? Well, picture this. I traveled alone. I had to bring one backpack and one playpack which happened to be a suitcase. I have one busy toddler. And…since I am not an octopus…I only have two hands, I need them all. See? I found baby carrier much more making sense than a stroller. The only thing about carrier was that I had to take it off everytime we passed through check gate (eventhough in San Francisco, after a messy carrier-taking-off, the officer told me that it was actually okay to pass through with my carrier on. Ugh.) However, I couldn’t imagine lifting heavy stroller on and off though… A bit out of topic, in the end I was really grateful I didn’t have my stroller with me. Our last flight from San Francisco was canceled (in the middle of a freaking freezing night) and we had to move here and there, from one terminal to another, countless shuttle bus rides, up and down stairs…and so on, and so on… There’s NO WAY I could handle a stroller in times like that.
8. Forget the temptation to enjoy any kind of in-flight entertainment when your baby is sleeping. Whenever she sleeps, you sleep. That is the rule. You need your full energy, give your body time to rest whenever you can.
9. Give your best shot to keep yourself healthy before and during the travel. Get your vitamins, eat well, sleep well, do not get around sick people (this may sound a bit mean, but you’ll thank me for it).
10. In the check in counter, ask the ground staff if you can get an empty seat next to you. This worked for me. My baby got an extra space to do anything she wanted to do, and it will give you extra privacy, too. Especially if you are still nursing.
So, there it goes. My ten tips for a happy traveling with a baby. I survived with no meltdowns at all! The last thing I need to say is just… “YOU CAN DO IT MOMMA! (or Dada)”. You’ll do just fine 🙂