Staycation: The Empire HotelJanuary 6, 2018
Eating out with kids: LaMeeFebruary 25, 2018
If you had told me a year ago that I would find myself taking my infant on an epic 5 week holiday to New York, London and the English countryside, I would have told you that you’re crazy. But when Ellie turned 4 months old we did just that. We travelled from Brunei to Singapore, then to London and then on to New York. On the way back, when Ellie was 5 months old, we spent a week in London and a small town in the English countryside before coming home to Brunei.
Again I prepared and prepared and prepared. I packed everything from emergency formula (Ellie is exclusively breastfed) to antiseptic wipes and wet wipes. The trip itself went rather smoothly and Ellie slept A LOT, but the same can’t be said for the adults and so that last leg of our 24+ hour journey was killer. Here are a couple of things that I learnt.
Many of the long-haul flights flying out of Brunei, will usually require you to go through at least 1 long layover. On our journey we had 2 long layovers, and with a baby the quality and comfort of the airport was a huge factor. Our first long layover (9 hours) was in Singapore’s Changi Airport, which was my favourite part of the journey. We booked ourselves a room at the Ambassador Transit Hotel, which gave us time to all have a good nap, allowed Ellie to have a good time lying down (she was going through a toe sucking phase) and made it easy for us to give her a wipe down before the next leg of our journey. Not to mention, we managed to grab some 4fingers chicken and Garrett’s popcorn as well - winning!
Our second long layover (6 hours) was at London’s Heathrow Airport. I have two words - never again! We spent more than an hour getting through security screening (this was between flights and we never left the transit area) which even included giving my 4 month old a separate pat-down. It took almost an hour to get from one terminal to another and in the end we didn’t have time to do anything except grab a bite to eat. The baby nursing room at the terminal we were in was also terrible, it was basically a disabled toilet.
So choose layover airports wisely, if you can.
Before booking our flight, I had read a lot about child safety on flights and that the safest option would be for baby to be strapped into their carseat on their own seat for the flight. You have 2 options here, purchase a seat for your infant OR ask when you check in or at the gate if there are extra seats available for the baby (I have been told that most airlines will try accommodate if there are any available seats - if they don’t, you can gate check your car seat for free).
Of course, the kiasu in me flared up and I went ahead and purchased a full child seat for my 4 month old (children under 2 years old can travel on a parents lap for free). A couple of things I learnt from this:-
- Royal Brunei Airlines (and some other airlines) do not allow babies under 6 months to be placed in a carseat and must sit on your lap, so we went with Singapore Airlines.
- My baby hates the carseat and spent a total of about an hour in the seat each way. Make sure your baby can sit in the carseat for longer periods if you go this route, it was a waste for us.
- If you have purchased a seat for your infant you will be less likely to also get a bassinet in the bulkhead seats. BUT even if the counter staff say no, you should check with the airline office (ideally the one at the airport). We got a series of no’s from the Singapore Airlines main office in Bandar and the airport counter staff, but finally got a bassinet once we asked the Singapore Airlines airport office. Be persistent but polite.
- BRING A BABY CARRIER. This saved our sanity (and our arms) on the journey and I can’t imagine what we would do without it. We have a Lillebaby Complete embossed carrier, but any carrier that your baby is comfortable in (ideally that they can sleep in) will do.
- If your car seat attaches to your stroller, gate check the stroller so that you don’t have to carry around the carseat between flights.
Be prepared, but don't go overboard
I brought a ton of stuff for the flight. Here is what I found to be most and least useful.
My must-bring items:-
- A travel companion (if you are able to - this is a big one)
- Diapers & wipes
- Changing pad (usually comes free with most diaper bags)
- Change of clothes for baby (at least 2)
- Change of clothes for adults (Ellie threw up all over herself and all over me as we were boarding our flight from Singapore to London)
- Baby carrier
- Antiseptic wipes & hand sanitizer
- Hand and mouth wipes (I used ones specially made for babies which I found at Jaya Hypermart)
- Toys & a book (babies get bored too)
- Wash cloths/small towels (for wipe downs after vomit sessions or just between flights)
- Plastic bags (for dirty clothes)
- First aid kit, including baby panadol (we didn’t need it, but just in case)
- Diaper rash cream/balm
Of course for babies who are bottle fed or eating solids, must haves would include things like formula, bottles, food and/or snacks.
At your destination
Remember items you need for safety and comfort in the following areas:-
- Sleep (cot/playard or bedrail)
- Car travel (carseat if you will be travelling by car a lot)
- Bath (some kind of tub would be SUPER useful, don’t underestimate this like we did and end up with a screaming baby and wet mummy and daddy)
Overall, travelling with an infant so young is nowhere near as hard as we imagined. All she did was eat, sleep and play on our laps or in her carseat. So if you have the chance, travel.
Travelling with a toddler? Check out our article on Travelling with toddlers