Sunday, 10 February 2013

Airplane Carry On Luggage 1: Babies

In a moment of craziness, I once let my then two-year-old have a go at packing his own luggage for a 13 hour flight from KL to London.  Here's what he came up with:

Now to be fair to him, the cuddly teddy bear was a good idea.  And I see where he was going with the potty...but our co passengers may not have.

My opinion is that carry on luggage makes or breaks a journey.  I probably spend more time on it than my suitcases.  It's easy to pick up things you might have forgotten when you are on the ground - not such a doddle when you are stuck in the air with a screaming baby who really, really needs that extra nappy you thought you could forgo.  Having been there and worn the (grubby) t-shirt, I thought I'd pull together my ultimate carry on luggage lists, based on what I've found to work.  In this blog I'll write about babies under 12 months.  I'll make sure I follow up on this soon with my lists for toddlers and young children.  And please do let me know if you've got anything to add.  Bear in mind that even infants travelling on your lap are usually entitled to their own carry on allowance, and children over two receive the same allowance as you do.

Carry on luggage for 12 mths and younger:

(I've listed these in age order - I'm assuming your three-week-old probably won't be so bothered about some of the toys towards the end here)
  1. Nappies!!!!  Always, always travel with more than you think you'll need.  They don't weigh much.
  2. Nappy bags.  And not just for disposing nappies.  They are great to tuck away dirty clothes and soggy bibs, make perfect rubbish bags for the snack you saved from the dinner tray and only just managed to eat now that baby has finally fallen asleep.  They also make handy, impromptu sick bags (got that t-shirt too).  And they weigh nothing.  
  3. Wipes!  If it's not a long flight just take half a pack or decant some.  If it's long haul, take the lot.  Incidentally, these are excellent for removing your smeared mascara before arrival (yep, I once thought it was a good idea to wear mascara on a long haul flight) and those grubby spots where your carefully balanced airplane dinner fell all over you.
  4. Lots of changes of comfy clothes (including a spare t-shirt for you).  Babies have explosive poos on planes too.  And leave the designer, 'meet the doting relatives' outfit in your suitcase.  It will be neither comfortable, nor presentable by the time you reach your destination. 
  5. Breastfeeding cover.  Nine times out of ten your co passengers won't even notice you're breastfeeding.  But trying to pull your t shirt up with a baby balanced on your lap, dinner sitting precariously on your tray, the magazine you actually thought you were going to read digging into your shins and Mr Nosy sitting 3 inches away isn't that easy.  You might just want that cover up to bury your own head in.
  6. Formula, bottles etc.  The cabin crew will usually be very helpful with making up feeds.  If you are carrying expressed milk ask them to keep it in the fridge for you and help you warm it up later.
  7. Drinking water.  Provided you're willing to take a sip yourself at the security point, you're allowed to take more than the 100mL of liquid that is standard for other passengers.  Don't forget lots of water for yourself too, though you'll have to buy yours after security.
  8. Nappy rash cream and moisturiser.  Airplane air is very dry.
  9. Finger food for your weaning baby.  You can order a 'baby' meal on a flight.  You'll get a few jars of Heinz Baby Food.  If your little one isn't into that you'll be sort of stuck.  I've found cut grapes,  boxes of sultanas, mini sandwiches etc work well.
  10. A familiar blanket.  If you have an infant, always pre-book a bassinet seat (there are only certain seat types that can take a bassinet).  A familiar blanket from home turns a weird little box into a cosy bed (for some babies, anyway.  Otherwise it's mum's arms all the way, but at least you can use the basinnet as extra, arm-height storage).
  11. A favourite teddy or comforter. 
  12. A cheap packet of plastic keyring tags, all connected by you pre-flight.  I always found this little gem diverted tears time and time again.  It's so distracting.  Which baby doesn't love a set of keys?  And these can be chewed, clawed, broken, pulled apart and no one will mind.
  13. Books.
  14. Photos of familiar faces.  Just make sure you can reprint them because they are likely to be past their best by the time you arrive. 
  15. Your voice.  You can sing really quietly on a plane without other people clocking it.  At least I think you can.  Or my co passengers have always just been really polite.  Or deaf.
  16. Comfy shoes.  You will be walking up and down the plane.  There's no two ways about it. 
  17. Teething rings. 
  18. Something new.  A new toy.  Anything that has novelty value.  Keep it in the packaging for the added excitement of unwrapping it together.
  19. 'Clip on' toys.  You know the ones you can clip onto prams or carseats?  Well you can sometimes clip them onto airplane seatbelts too.  No more bending down to retrieve that soggy rattle fifteen times each hour.
  20. Calpol/Baby Panadol.  Now I'm not talking about drugging.  I'm talking about the weird fever that strikes five hours before you're due to land. 

And three things that should NEVER follow you onto the plane:

  1. Noisy, flashing toys.  Even your gorgeous baby's sweetest smile won't counteract the reaction to this one.
  2. Sugary sweets. Ever met a hyperactive ten month old?  Besides, it's not cool and the bloke sitting next to you might be a dentist.
  3. A white t-shirt. 

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