Travelling with your little one need not be frustrating… in theory. But really, who are we kidding? As prepared as a parent think they might be for baby’s first trip on a plane, train or a really long bus or car ride, your little one will surprise you with exactly how displeased and grumpy he can be with all those hours sitting in a particular space.
Travelling after pregnancy and with very young children can be quite a daunting thought – you probably have not had a moment of reprieve after all the physical exhaustion of pregnancy, childbirth, and looking after a newborn and your other children, not to mention all the emotional and psychological turmoil. At the same time, travelling can also sound like what you exactly need, especially if it’s been a frequent feature of your life pre-children.
So we’re here to tell you that while travelling with your little ones can be quite a challenge, enjoyable travel is not entirely impossible! We share with you some tips from Jade Szonyi, an experienced International Flight Attendant with Qantas Airways and mother of two and travel blogger at Mum with Wings (www.mumwithwings.com.au).
1) What are the most common issues families with young children face when onboard a flight?
Jade: Keeping a child entertained, comfortable and still in a confined space are definitely issues that parents face. Other things we’ve seen parents have had to deal with are tired children, sore ears on takeoffs and landings, and motion sickness.
SC’s Tip #1!
Take a walk from time to time down the aisles, especially on long flights. You’ll get to stretch your legs, while at the same time distract both your child and other bored adult passengers. Everyone likes attempting to communicate and play with children on board flights.
2) Are there particular seats (other than the seats with bassinets) that parents should request for to make the flight more enjoyable?
Jade: An aisle seat is great as you can get in and out easily for nappy changes. Its close proximity to the toilet is also handy for this same reason.
SC’s Tip #2!
Check with your airline if they have special in-flight kid packs to keep your kids occupied. Alternatively, some airlines provide downloadables on their websites that you could print out to create your own activity kit!
3) What other special requests / arrangements can parents ask / make?
Jade: Some things that parents can do is to request for a child’s meal or special assistance if necessary. Parents can also utilise an airport stroller!
SC’s Tip #3!
Check out the services provided by Changi Airport. Strollers can be loaned from the Information and Customer Service counters found in the terminals. You can also find out the different facilities that are available to calm or distract your child prior to boarding the plane. For more information visit www.changiairport.com/en/passenger-guide/special-assistance.html.
4) What are the five most essential items one should pack with children in tow when on a flight?
- Baby wipes. Even if your child is out of nappies baby wipes are great for cleaning little faces, wiping down tray tables, getting stains out of clothing. I always keep some baby wipes in the seat pocket.
- Lollies or something to suck on during takeoff and landing. Little ears can be so sensitive to changes in pressure.
- Snacks. You know what your child likes and once in the air the cabin crew will do their best to accommodate but we are limited in what we have. Definitely bring your child’s favorite snacks with you. Light things like sultanas and biscuits are handy, not just once in the air but while waiting in the terminal or in the taxi after your journey.
- Comfort toys/ blanky from home. My children always travel with their comforters.
- An iPad loaded up with your child’s favourite shows and games. There are some fantastic entertainment options on board, but always good to have this back up for use in the terminal.
SC’s Tip #4!
It is best to visit the doctor about 4-6 weeks before you travel to enquire if you require vaccinations to be done prior to your departure to your travel destination. Vaccinations required to certain countries can change according to several factors, like seasonal outbreaks or following certain events or natural disasters in the country.
Travel clinics in Singapore cater to both children and adults, with Singapore General Hospital (SGH) catering to adults and Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH) catering to anyone above two years of age. Here are five children’s travel clinics you could check out for your little ones:
Thomson Pediatric Centre (Thomson Medical Centre)
KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital
Tan Tock Seng Hospital
SBCC Baby and Child Clinic (various centres)
Gleneagles Medical Centre – 6235 6706
Mount Alvernia Medical Centre – 6354 1922
International Medical Clinic (Paediatric Clinic)
This article is an extension of an article found in the print edition of Singapore’s Child April Issue 174 with the headline ‘Travel with Bébé’.