Like many Bay Area expats, we’re taking our baby home this Christmas and I’m already prepping for the long journey back to the UK.
We’ve done one other long-haul flight with him and several shorter ones. This is what we’ve learned so far:
Call your airline before you fly
On long-haul flights babies, less than 25 pounds can sleep in a bassinet, but these are only provided if you’re in the bulkhead seats. Contact your airline in advance to bag these early. If you forget, ask at the desk when you check-in if they have any spots still available. Even if your little one is too big for the bassinet the extra room these seats offer can be a lifesaver.
Take your baby carrier in your hand luggage
Even the best sleepers may struggle to get some shut-eye on a flight. All the smiling faces and shiny buttons are a mega distraction for our babe. Take your baby sling or carrier so that you can bounce your bundle of joy in the aisles without breaking your back. Head to the back or the middle of the plane for areas where baby is less likely to be distracted by other passengers.
Don’t forget the toys
We were at Heathrow airport when my husband said ‘Did you bring the toys?’ Panic spread, ‘I thought you’d packed them.’ Heathrow has shops that sell absolutely everything…except baby toys. We flew from London to San Francisco with just one red, squeaky, rubber duck to entertain our six-month-old. It was a long flight. For this trip, I’ve bought lots of $10 toys that baby won’t see until we board. I’m hoping the novelty value will keep him entertained for longer.
Use the first class toilets for nappy/diaper changes
Changing a nappy in an airplane toilet is no small feat. Our big boy can barely fit on the changing table so there’s absolutely no room to set out wipes and cream. It’s impossible to keep one handle on my little wriggler and rummage for a fresh nappy at the same time. If you fly with Virgin the toilets at the front are much larger, making for a safer nappy-changing experience! You’re not technically supposed to use them if you’re in economy but the flight attendants are normally accommodating when you’re flying with a little one. And however many nappies and wipes you think you need, double it. That means you won’t be caught short if there’s a delay/poo-splosion/spillage.
Invest in covers for your car seat and stroller/buggy
We did three flights without these and the airline lost or broke part of our travel system every. single. time. We learnt from our first trip and ordered the covers, but then, in the panic to leave we left them at the front door. You’d think after going through the bureaucracy of filing a claim with an airline twice I’d have learnt my lesson!
Order supplies in advance
I get on Amazon and do a big order of wipes, nappies, baby food and formula to the grandparents’ house a couple weeks before we fly. It’s a relief to know we don’t have to dash to the shops for size 4s the moment I’ve stepped off an 11 hour flight.
Don’t forget seasonal gear (for the stroller/buggy)
We live in California. There’s a drought and it never gets very cold. We’ve bought our little one warm sweaters/jumpers, but we’ve only recently invested in a rain cover for our buggy. Depending on your destination, it might be more than just the baby that needs weather-proofing!
What tips do you have for travelling to your home country with a little one?
We're counting down until we make the epic journey to the UK, going home to visit my husband’s family for...I am, however, filled with dread rather than joy