I am a pretty organized person and I love preparing for major trips. In fact I have more fun packing than flying. (I am obsessed with bags with a lot of pockets!) I knew that the success or failure of the massive trip was going to come down to preparation and getting the right things on my list. So I began researching baby travel tips and recommended packing lists.
I started with a white board a month before the flight. Every time I thought of something we had to have, I wrote it down. By the end, my list was very complete and I dare say we used everything!
PACKING CHECKLIST WHEN TRAVELING WITH BABIES and TODDLERS ON PLANES
- NAPPIES / DIAPERS: 1 for each hour you’ll be in transit plus extras in case of delays or accidents.
- CHANGING PAD: Fantastic if there is one already with your Nappy Bag; otherwise you can buy disposable or reusable changing pads. Great for anywhere you need a clean surface!
- WIPES AND TISSUES: For bottoms, hands and face. Consider having a small pack in each of your bags: handbag, carry-on and packed luggage. You can never have enough but you can always buy more along the way.
- PLASTIC BAGS: I cannot stress the importance of zip-lock bags enough! Bring a variety of sizes for storing food, soiled nappies, clothes, blankets/wraps and wet swimmers.
- NAPPY / DIAPER RASH CREAM AND POWDER: We had a travel size powder but kept a regular sized (under 100mg if in carry-on) nappy rash cream with us at all times.
- DISINFECTING HAND GEL
- TRAVEL-SIZE BABY WASH & LOTIONS: Baby lotions are especially good to have in your carry-on as the long flights create a lot a dry skin. A little bit of moisture goes a long way to making a baby feel comfortable.
- PACIFIERS / DUMMIES: If your baby uses these, make sure you have extras on hand. They are great for reducing the ear pressure during ascent and descent.
- CLOTHES: Pack at the very least one extra change of clothes for your baby and you! Babies will go through possibly more change of clothes so be prepared for quick changes on the plane and off. Don’t forget clothes for yourself. Messy feeds and small airplane bathroom changes could mean messes for you too.
- PAJAMAS & SLEEPING BAGS: Super important as part of getting used to time changes by using their own routine. If you put your baby to sleep at home in a sleeping bag, do the same on the plane. (See my tips on HOW TO FIGHT JET LAG below.)
- BLANKETS: Airplanes tend to fluctuate with temperature. Instead of thick heavy blankets, bring several lightweight blankets that you can double up or take off depending on the temperature. You can also use one over the bassinet to minimize light from overhead (especially when descending) and general distractions when they are trying to fall asleep.
- TOWEL: We brought a sheepskin towel from home that also doubled as a liner in the airplane bassinet. It was soft yet absorbent. We had this towel in Charlotte’s bed a few nights before we left so the smell would be familiar.
- WASHABLE BIBS: Bring bibs that are large enough to cover most of their outfit and can be easily folded or rolled.
- PLASTIC FEEDING SET: We found a very compact set that mixes spoons, knife, fork and chopsticks in one small set.
- BABY FOOD & SNACKS: Plan out your meals on the plane and pack only as much baby food as you’ll need for the trip. I find that organic squeezy pouches are the perfect travel food as they are very portable and you do not need bowls. Keep in mind that your baby will be more thirsty than hungry during the flight. Bring crunchy snacks like rice cakes or cereal to keep them occupied when hungry.
- BOTTLES & CONTAINERS: If you use bottles and formula, bring them separated. Have boiled water ready in the bottles (add a little extra in case of spillage or testings at customs) that you can warm up (if you prefer) on the plane. (*Note: ask the steward/ess to warm up the water ½-1 hour before you need it, as they tend to be very hot.) Have the formula pre-measured in small containers so you can easily mix in your seat without having to go to the lavatory. Pack extra bottles and nipples for times when you can’t wash.
- EXTRA BOTTLES OF FILTERED WATER: Airplanes are very dehydrating spaces, so bring separate bottles of water (preferably sanitized). I have found a wonderful brand of filtered water called Bebi Drinks that comes with a built-in nipple; perfect for ascent and descent times.
- BREAST PUMPS (if you use one)
- NIGHTLIGHT: The nightlight is an important part of our night time routine, so it came with us on the plane. We placed it at the foot of the plane bassinet while on the plane and then later in each room that we slept in.
- MUSIC OR WHITE NOISE APP: Another important part of our night time routine. We placed this too in the plane bassinet.
- FIRST-AID KIT: Along with the typical items you would place in a first-aid kit, include things like saline water for eyes and nose spray.
- MEDICINE: Baby Pain Relief and (Toddlers) Motion Sickness tablets for kids if over 2.
- SLING OR CARRIER: Another excellent way of getting a fussy baby to sleep on the plane. You can also wear your baby in the sling while in your seat so that you can sleep and not worry about the baby falling out.
- SUN OR WINTER HAT: For getting off the plane. A hat with a wide brim will also minimize distractions and possibly allowing the baby to sleep longer off the plane. It will allow your hands to be freed more so than a blanket.
- BABY ENTERTAINMENT: My entertainment tip for babies is to bring several goody bags containing different favourite small toys that you bring out at different times of the flight. For us, little toys such as the bath toys were a huge success on the plane and very compact. We could then place larger toys in the check-in luggage.
- TODDLER ENTERTAINMENT: My entertainment tip for toddlers is to bring items that spark their independent interests, for Charlotte that would be creativity-based toys. We bring along mess-free toys like aqua-doodle, water based colouring, and puzzles. If it’s fine with you, I-Pad games take up far less space and easy to pack.
- BOOKS: Books are a must in our family and are great on the plane, regardless of age.
- TRAVEL GEAR: Travel Cot, Car Seat, Collapsible Pram or Stroller.
- ENTERTAINMENT & BOOKS: Extra toys and books are a good thing to pack if you don’t think you’ll be buying more on the trip.
- CLOTHES, SOCKS & SHOES: Don’t get too excited about packing too many clothes, just enough to get you through until the next wash. Do consider the climate you will be visiting. Having a variety of layering clothes will allow you to take clothes on and off with the change in temperature.
- TOILETRIES: Travel-sized baby wash, shampoo, moisturizer, sun block, insect repellent, nail clippers, brush or comb, toothpaste, toothbrush, etc…
- WIPES & NAPPIES: You can always buy more at your destination, but it’s good to have some with you until you can find a shop.
- MEDICAL: It’s always a good idea to pack a few oral re-hydration unfrozen freeze pops.
- TRAVEL KITCHEN UTENSILS: A travel plate or bowl is handy, plus a sippy cup.
- DISINFECTANT TABLETS: For cleaning bottles, dummies/pacifiers and eating utensils.
- WASHING SOAPS: If you plan to stay in hotels without a kitchenette or laundry, small packets of travel laundry soap and dish soap are always helpful, especially with babies.
- MISC: Extra plastic (zip lock) bags. You can never have enough.
EXTRAS FOR A PKU BABY/TODDLER – CARRY ON & CHECK IN
- FIRST-AID: Include items that you use for taking the blood. Make sure you bring enough for each week that you’re away. Discuss first how often you need to do the tests with your Doctor and allow for this in the kit.
- FOOD: Bring 1 extra piece of carry-on luggage just for food. (You can always use the excuse that you’ll need this luggage for bringing back presents or souvenirs.) I recommend that this be a large carry-on size in order to hold all the food you think you will need on the trip that can’t be bought. Most likely, the bulk of which will be the supplement formula. All food and formula should come in the original packaging, and not be opened. If at all possible, DO NOT check-in the formula. What you would do if you were separated from the luggage? If need be, adjust you’re the amount of carry-on to include more formula. (See our story about Running out of Supplements on an Overseas Holiday.) The other option with the formula is to ship it to your destination. Again, what would you do if it did not arrive on time or was lost in transit?
- DOCTOR’S LETTER FOR CUSTOMS: Organize to have your Doctor write a letter to Customs explaining your need to bring in food into the country. Keep this letter with all of your important travel documents and make sure you make copies.
- PRESCRIPTIONS: Prescription for additional PKU supplements: In case you need to acquire additional supplements on your journey or are separated from your luggage. If you will be travelling to a foreign speaking country, ask for a translated version as well. This is also true for the Customs Letter.
- (Alternatively, you can arrange to have someone at home on standby to post any items you may have forgotten.)
MAILING / POSTING SUPPLIES: Find out from your clinic how often you should be performing the blood tests. If you will be mailing them overseas to your clinic for testing, find out how long this will take and consider stoping at the local post as soon as you arrive to buy Express Post envelopes. Often times, there will be a post in the airport where you can arrange this as soon as you arrive so that you do not have to worry about it later.
LAST OF ALL: PACK FOR YOURSELF
Don’t forget to pack for yourself and don’t forget the Money and Documents!
Most of the packing space will be taken up with the baby items, so save space by packing lightweight clothes that you can layer. Keep packing for yourself simple and focus only on the basics.
Keep important documents close by and well organized.
Last of all, the stress and energy of travelling will take its toll, so make sure you pack some energy bars or fruit and nuts for yourself.
Now that you have your packing list, do a trial run and lay out everything you think you’ll need. You’ll soon see if you need to cut back and if everything will fit in your luggage. Remember by packing nappies and baby food or formula, you will naturally create additional space for souvenirs and gifts.
You may also want to do a smaller test flight locally to determine which items you actually need and where to have it placed on the plane. I did a short domestic flight by myself with Charlotte one month before the big family holiday as a way of getting over my anxiety of flying and to get a feel of how Charlotte flies. This was a good way of getting my courage up and introducing Charlotte to the plane. After that, flying with help from my husband was a lot easier than flying on my own and juggling everything.