“Asked to switch seats on the plane because I was sitting next to a crying baby. Apparently, that’s not allowed if the baby is yours.”
Ilana Wiles, blogger
So, last April I went to Indonesia together with my seven month-old baby to attend my little sister’s wedding. Although it was not the first time for us to travel together without my husband and our two other kids (when he was still 4 months old, we traveled to Paris but a friend joined us half the way), it was still quite worrying for me at first to do the trip.
Main thing that concerned me before doing the trip was of course what if my baby (fabian) gets cranky all the way. This trip is way much longer if we compared it to Paris trip. And anyone who had experience of getting irritated by crying baby(ies) in the plane would know what I mean I guess (I am one of them 😜 – can you imagine if its your baby who did that!). Another concern was the loo issue. I didn’t have anyone to assist me or asked for help (well, I can ask the flight attendant actually but only to a certain limit I think). Plus, my baby at that age (7 months) has already starting to recognize people and he didn’t want to be hold by a stranger.
Having these in mind, my husband and I had to think and manage the trip as efficient as possible to make it easier and less hassle for me.
First of course which flight will suit best for us: direct flight or the one with stopover. After taking some considerations, we then decided that it would be better for me and fabian to use direct flight instead of flights with transit. There are few options for me to take direct flight from Amsterdam to Jakarta (we chose to use Garuda Indonesia). The duration of the flight from Amsterdam to Jakarta was approximately 13 hours, and the return flight was approximately 14 hours. The flight departed in the evening, hoping that it would be easier for fabian to sleep along the way and to adapt with the time difference later on.
After we confirmed the booking, I immediately contact the customer service of Garuda via email to request for a baby bassinet. This is actually a big advantage for those who travel with children less than 1 year old (well, maybe maximum 1,5 years – depends on the size of your baby).
After the ticket and the bassinet have been settled, then we have to decide whether I should bring the buggy along to Indonesia or not, and which way would be the easiest for me to bring fabian and his (including mine) “equipment” along the whole time. In the beginning I considered to bring the buggy and a backpack diaper bag with me. But at the last moment (during the check in queue lol), I decided to leave the buggy and instead just using a baby carrier and replaced the backpack with shoulder-carry diaper bag. The consideration for the latter was mainly for the practicality – if I use backpack it would be a bit difficult for me to reach its pocket(s) without needed to take the bag out of my back.
I also have read some articles which discussed about how to handle a baby during take off and landing (because of the loud sound of the engine). Some people suggested to use earplug or earphone to reduce the sound, while others suggested to breastfeed the baby during the take off (and landing). Luckily fabian was not that critical at that moment. During the take off and landing he was quite relax and (without me asking) he just went to breastfeed and getting ready to sleep. I guess picking the evening flight also helped then 🙂
All in all, we had quite a smooth trip I can say. My son were mostly sleeping during the flight, and since I couldn’t use my tv (entertainment on demand) on my seat (hindered by the bassinet), I decided to make use the wifi connection on board (not for free but the price is still reasonably ok). I could use internet connection nicely during the flight (at least on the first batch) and able to chat with people on the ground – in Indonesia and in the Netherlands.
Nevertheless, doing a long haul trip only with your baby is definitely a tiresome. Yes – it’s possible, but if you have an option, I would suggest to bring your partner (or someone else) along. That would be much better for your body! 😉
And finally, although already a lot of people discuss it and what I will write below probably not much, I would like to share some tips for those who “must” do a long haul flight with a baby (or toddler below two years old).
1. Book your flight early. If you have an option to fly in the evening, do pick that. Evening flight(s) mean your baby doesn’t have to adjust that much with the time frame during the take off and landing – which means would be less stress for them.
2. Don’t forget to contact the customer service of the airlines in case you need them to provide a bassinet for your baby. Fyi, the bassinet can only be used for baby with maximum weight of 9kg or maximum age of 2 years old. The airlines only can provide limited number of bassinet in one flight, thus make sure you contact the airlines the soonest after your booking is confirmed.
3. Travel as light as possible. If you think you don’t need the stroller/buggy that much, just bring your baby with a baby carrier. Make sure your carrier is easy to wear on and off without assistance needed (as reference, I used ergobaby 360 four position). Further, bring a diaper bag which sufficient enough to accommodate your baby stuff, travel documents and your stuff as well (you don’t have to bring separated bag). In short, things you bring to the cabin would only be the baby (with the baby carrier) and one diaper bag.
4. If possible, choose a diaper bag that has at least one or two mini bags (one for the clothing stuff and one for food stuff – the latter is optional) with some extra pockets on it. The minibag is handy to bring in case you need to change your baby’s diaper. The extra pocket with sufficient size (preferably one with zipper in front or in the back of the bag) is important so that you can put your travel documents there and you can easily easily access them when you need it.
Stuff you need to bring in the clothing minibag: diapers (2 pcs would be enough), 1 pack wet wipes (choose the small one or reduce the wipe half), 1 set spare clothes (make sure its a comfy one like a jumper for example – no need to bring jeans or any clothes that less handy and less comfy), one pc of diaper cloth and 2 pcs (disposable) body wipes (washandjes).
If you have two minibag, you can put these things in the food minibag: (food and) milk container (to bring some snacks, milk, and the cereal/porridge for your baby – you don’t have to bring alot! Just some small portions in case your baby need it), baby spoon, bottle feed (for the milk), a mug (if your baby also drinks water), wet napkin, tissues, and (disposable) bib 2 pcs. If you only have one minibag, do remember to bring a thermal bag for your baby’s milk, while the rest can also just dump into the bag.
Some other stuff you also need to bring is a spare clothes for yourself (one t-shirt would be sufficient enough – in case an “accident” happened you would be happy that you bring a spare shirt 😅), some (small) toys for your baby (teethers, tiny stuffed doll), phone/cable charger, and a (light-weight) novel (optional). Don’t forget also to bring medicine such as paracetamol or other medicines you usually used (always handy when you have them around), band-aid (pleisters), mini perfume (important!), travel size toothbrush and toothpaste, and telon/kayuputih oil (only applicable to indonesian I think haha).
5. Make sure you and your baby wear comfortable clothes yet warm enough to wear in a room with an airco. Put your high heels and the blings in the baggage, also your make up kit. You will only need a (vaseline) petroleum gel or a lipbalm (and a thin lipstick after landing) to be put on your lips during the flight.
6. In my experience, the airline also provides baby food (usually baby food in a jar) and a diaper (complete with the wet wipes) for our baby. But, you cannot count on that since there’s always a possibility that the flight attendant forget to give them to you (happened to me).
7. After you landing (also applicable during the flight), if you need a help do not hesitate to ask someone else to help you – especially when picking up your luggage(s) from the baggage belt.
8. And finally, don’t stress out. Just relax, enjoy it and consider the trip as something that will make the bond between you and your baby stronger (😁).
I hope this post could help those who will do the travel alone with her (or his) baby just like me😊