Booking a three and a half week trip to South Africa back in April when Hudson was only 4 weeks seemed like a pretty good idea. He was just a “lump” back then. Not moving, not squirming. He was quite content to just sleep and drink and lay in the same spot.
The journey was not like that at all. Don’t get me wrong, he was better than I could have imagined. But it wasn’t a walk in the park either.
Being the super organised control freak that I am, I needed to know everything! What can I take on the plane, what can’t I take on the plane? Will they let me take water in his formula bottles because it’s over 100ml? Can I take food on? Can I take baby puree food on which is just like liquid….but you can’t get any under 110ml. How will I get boiled water if I can’t take it with me. Does the plane have a microwave, a kettle? How will I heat his bottles….will I need to anticipate when H will wake up and want a bottle because I might have to heat it in hot water? ARGH! (Yes I can get myself a little worked up!)
Luckily I have a friend who travelled with her 1 year old the previous year and a friend who works for an international airline. With advice from those two wonderful people (you know who you are) and my own research…I calmed down. Yes I could take baby food and I could take other food, like s sandwich, for him. I could take formula already mixed or in powdered form and have bottles ready to go with water already in them. The plane would have boiled water for me and the flight attendants would be more than happy to arrange for a bottle to be heated.
So the adventure started with a 50 minute flight from Wagga to Sydney, Hudson was great, just chilled out on my lap and fell asleep just as we arrived into Sydney – great!
The immigration line was long and slow and I thought Hudson was going to create a scene as he was over tired by this point. We were spotted by a staff member (it must have been the red pram!) and ushered to the area where flight crew go through. We didn’t have to wait and having bottles of water with 180ml and lots of baby food wasn’t a problem. They didn’t even blink. My stress was unwarranted!
Now for the fun part – the long flights!
There were four of us travelling. My partner, and our two kids. We booked the bulk head seat with the bassinet however this was a row of three and they wouldn’t allow me to book all three seats in case there was another traveller who required a bassinet. And unfortunately there was. So Olivia, Hudson and I were in two seats, and Warren sat in the row behind us. Next to us was a nice lady with an almost 2 year old girl.
I can’t tell you how amazing our flight to Singapore went. It was an evening flight that departed at 7:50pm. Hudson’s bed time is 7pm so this was perfect. He sat on my lap, jumped up and down, sat with his sister and his dad for the first 2 hours and then he slept. Out of it!
The almost two year old next to us was a different story! She screamed hysterically basically the whole flight. And it wasn’t until half way through the flight that we realised the guy sitting behind her was her dad…he just didn’t assist his wife in any way for about 4-5 hours!
The bassinet was ok – the only problem was that once the seatbelt sign went I had to take Hudson out. I don’t know if this is the same for all airlines but even though the bassinet had a zip up wide strap across the top (the middle of Hudson) he still had to be taken out and have his baby seatbelt on and attached to me. Once this happened a couple of times I just let him sleep on me. There was no point in moving him back and forth and disturbing his sleep and having to re-settle him .
One difficulty was trying to eat. I don’t know how parents do it if they are travelling on their own. We had one of us eat first, and then once they were finished they would take Hudson and the other would eat. But sometimes it was difficult as we still had the food tray. That’s where the bassinet came in handy! It was like another table and an extra storage space!
In Singapore we had just under 2 hours to fill so we found a quiet spot and let Huddy crawl around to burn energy and stretch out as much as possible. He loved it and so did everyone else.
The second flight was better as we were all sitting together. So this was easier to manage Hudson, he could be passed across the row as opposed to from one row to another.
Stretching out in Singapore
Falling asleep upon landing at Johannesburg
The flight attendants on both flights were great. Whenever I pushed the call button (which I hate doing) they were happy to fill one of my bottles with warm water. There was only a few times on our return trip when the water was too hot. Most of the time it was spot on! They also didn’t mind me heading into their Galley to ask for warm water when I needed it. I also booked baby weaning meals for Hudson on the flight. The other option was jarred purees which he still enjoys but has past that stage. The meals were great and he enjoyed some jelly as well. The only thing to take into consideration is that the meals came out not when he was due to feed. So you may still need to take your own food with you.
Most of the toilets were fitted with change tables. However it was still an ordeal trying to change Hudson. He would kick his legs and that would bang against the wall and make a loud racket.
We didn’t have any problems on any of our internal South Africa flights – the only difference was that I didn’t have to wear the child seatbelt which made it easier for Hudson to bounce on my lap and stand up etc. They were all only 1-2 hours as well so that was good.
I took one of Hudson’s cot sheets, a small diffuser, a music box, his sleeping bag and a toy that he always sleeps with to help him adjust to sleeping in different locations whilst on the trip. He slept pretty well. And I don’t know if it’s just him or if they helped. It’s probably a combination of all of them.
It took a week for Hudson to adapt to the time difference for his night time sleep, but all his day sleeps were fine. Initially he was waking up from 3:45am onwards but after a week it was back 7pm-7am. We tried to keep him in his routine as much as possible and if we had a day where we were out all day, we wouldn’t do too much the next day to keep his sleep schedule intact.
Hudson was pretty much the same on the return flight. The first international flight was 10 hours and it was a day flight – we departed at 1:30pm. This made the first part of the flight quite difficult. Over the three and a half weeks of our holiday, Hudson made some huge jumps in his development – the main one being pulling himself up and starting to walk holding onto chairs, couches, tables – anything! So the first 5 hours of our flight was HARD WORK! He didn’t cry or scream, but it was difficult to keep him happy and occupied on our laps. We actually thought we were going to be in for a horrible flight with him but after the first 5 hours he slept the rest of the way!
We have now been back for a week and a half and this has been the hardest time with Hudson. He hasn’t slept through the night once since we have been back – and many nights we are up 5-6 times with him – sometimes for hours. He is right back into his day routine, still sleeps at the same times – one morning and one afternoon – but his night sleep and getting him to sleep has been quite difficult. One thing that has helped is my dōTERRA essential oils. Ylang Ylang and Vetiver in the diffuser definitely calm Hudson and help him get to sleep. The Peaceful Child Blend has also been helping. And then there’s Bergamot, Wild Orange and Peppermint that have been helping me to stay energetic and focused!
Key Hints & Tips:
- Book a bassinet seat or bulk head seat for your flight (if travelling with an under 2 year old. 2 years and older is classified as a child and they require a seat). Whilst you may not get use out of the bassinet for your child to sleep – it will provide extra storage for you
- You can take your formula and food onto the flight with you.
- Take a change of clothes (for you and bub). It helps to freshen them up half way through a flight or before you want them to sleep. You’ll also feel more sane in a fresh top after 8 hours of having another human sleeping on you!
- Take some familiar things with you that your child like to sleep with – linen, a toy, dummies, music. Creating an environment similar to that at home should help your child to adjust to the new environment and time zone
- Aim to only have one day at a time that is out of routine. Follow this day with low key activities and sticking to the routine as closely as possible
- Attempt to get your child into their routine as quickly as possible from arrival. This will help them to adjust.
- Get outside into the midday sun (between 11am-2pm) as often as possible upon arrival at your destination. This will help adjust the body’s circadian rhythm.
- Start using a diffuser in your child’s room at night and diffuse relaxing oils like Lavender or Vetiver and then diffuse these in your child’s room whilst your traveling to help create a familiar environment.