Thursday, 9 March 2017

Travel tips - Feeding a baby, and keeping your sanity on Loooooong Journeys

I have been asked by a lovely lady to  include this on the blog from another online discussion.  So I have basically expanded  the tips a little bit and I hope it helps!

You have a  well deserved holiday  coming up or  just a long  trip,   you have managed to scrape up the money for the flight  ticket and other expenses without selling  your  spare organs - we know  the dollar rate these days will make one want to sell  a kidney ( who needs two when you can survive with one eh!).

Spending  money... check, 👍
Accomodation... sorted, 👍
Luggage... packed....................😩 or not quite!

Why?  as  a new mum you  have a new appendage.... your lovely little bundle of  joy,  who has their own extra padded seat (your lap)  on the  plane.

now you have packed  their clothes and   the odd toy and a few treats, but  not quite sure  if and what to take in terms of food.

Now if you r child is  still  taking only milk,  its kinda easier,

If your baby has started taking solids, its somewhat tricker.  how much do you take,  what can you take.

If you are travelling to a location that you can get  good  food options,  you only really need to worry about  your journey.  if you are going to  a location where you  are not sure about getting  the food you want them you may need to take a few more items, just in case.

Tip 1- Calculate an estimated travel time 
For the  journey  you have to consider the entire the period of time you will actually be traveling. ie. flight or car journey time from your home to your destination, and any transit times you spend in the airport, i.e door to door.
So if for instance you live in Ibadan, travelling to New york and transiting in Amsterdam: you need to carry enough food from when you leave your house in Ibadan till you get to the place you will be staying in your destination city in america, plus a few extra days worth of food as if you arrive at a stupid time, the shops may be closed and you wont be able to buy anything till the next day.


Ibadan to Lagos - lets allow 2 hours
assuming you arrive 3 hours before your flight allow for this in your calculation
Lagos Amsterdam - 6 hours
transit in Amsterdam - 3 hours
Amsterdam to NYC - JFK- 8 hours
Customs, immigration and baggage claims at JFK= 2 hours
JFK to where you are staying - assuming 1.5 hours

total - 25.5 hours

You basically allow for 24 hours food, milk snacks, and bottles for your journey ( handbag and hand luggage) plus a couple of days extra for when you get to NYC ( in your checked in luggage), you can even add a couple of  adult snacks for yourself as well.
Why  the extra  food in your main luggage, first of all I find a lot of people  do not really pay attention to time difference in their final  destination  and what time they may be landing... Personally I try to make sure  i arrive at  my destination during daylight hours, however Lets paint a scenario:

well imagine you finally arrive at  your destination  airport at 23:00 and you get to your hotel/ house at a stupid "o" clock (this is any time between midnight and 7:00am when the only reason you should be out doors is  clubbing!).    All the shops and restaurants  are  closed for the day, and  then you  find out the next day, that it is a public holiday.  Now if you are in a religious country and the holiday is a holy one...... you may be well an truly stuffed.   You may not find  any open shops  around  to  do emergency shopping to buy food.  or you find out that you have only dollars and  no local currency, and need to find a BDC  or bank which may not be open at the time you need them.

Yes,  when you are hungry you will consider eating  baby rice and formula if it is the only thing available.

Tip 2: Organise  baby's meals

Pack each travel meal separately in transparent freezer bags and label them: for example breakfast bag will contain, milk, cereal, fruit and snacks, bottles, bowls, spoons and bibs. same for lunch, dinner and any other meals
typical  meal pack - milk, fruit pouch, yogurt/custard, jar food

Meal packs with bib and  spoon, in either cooler bags, or freezer bags like ziploc.

The main reason for this is that it makes it easier when you get to airport security and you need to bring out your hoard of "liquids" and fluids and food.  while you are allowed a somewhat unlimited amount of  baby food  for your  journey,  having  6  jars of food randomly strewn about your  hand luggage and  you forget to bring one of them out  before you pass your bag through the scanner WILL   cause extra delays that you do not want.
3 meals  set and ready to go!
In the plane, go for meals that only require you to  either  add  hot water or   heat up in water,  you do not have to carry a  flask,  the flight attendants  will readily help you  either get hot water or  heat up your baby's  food for you.

The images above are  all prepacked  meals and milk for convenience  however if you don't have  access to or are unable to afford the prepacked meals you can substitute : 

  • Milk - measure out the  dry formular powder into your  feeding bottle  and all you need to  do is add water.
  • fruit pouch - you can substitute this for  actual fruits, apples or bananas work well, 
  •  jar  food - you can pre pack your baby's usual cereal with milk in a tight lidded bowl and you  need to do is add water. 
Why so many options, well, babies are known to be fussy so they may take 2  spoons of one and decide  they want something else, so the  options are for variety.  you can also offer  some of the plane food, you never know you baby may just love the cauliflower couscous  they serve. 

 The only other thing i pack are water and a few snacks like  biscuits, crackers, puffs and  bread sticks
Snack bowl with  water

Tip 3: Allow Extra time for everything
Allow extra time for travelling to the airport as there may be traffic.
Allow extra time for clearing security, because of the food you are carrying, they will check, swab and scrutinize, EVERYTHING.

Allow extra time to get to the plane -  do not waste  time  unnecessarily in duty free -  your baby  can decide to  do a blow-out poo that requires changing everything,  it is better to be by the gate and let  the ground staff know  the situation and  where you are  rather than in some changing room by the channel counter  10 minutes away and they proceed to  unload your baggage because they cannot find you.

If you do not leave enough time you may miss your flight!

Tip 4: Prioritize the meal packs for easy access
Take only the meal pack you need in the plane or car journeys in your handbag put the others in your hand luggage.

if you feed your baby just before you leave home, put the first food pack in your handbag, you may need it in the car so it should be within easy reach.

when you get to the airport, during transit or before you land move the meal pack for the next meal into your handbag. because when you get to your destination whoever picks you up may put your hand luggage into the booth and there may not be a good place to stop the car and retrieve it so either you keep it with you or you move what you need into your handbag.

Pack the foods you know your baby like and take without much drama, this is not the time to be experimenting if you have a fussy eater.

Tip 4: Timing is key
Aim to feed and do your nappy changes before: you get into the car, plane and before you land. - Immigration queues can be long. if you arrive at the same time an A380 packed to the brim is arriving from China, or India, immigration will be packed to the hilt and you can easily be on the line for an hour or more. the airport staff may not even see you to give you preferential treatment due to the crowds so plan ahead.

During take-off and landing, you may want to  give your baby  a bottle of milk as  the sucking  action  helps relieve pressure build-up in the ears which could be very painful even for adults

If as in tip 2, you   plan to give your  baby's food to that flight attendant to heat up for you, remember it will take time and they may be  in the middle of doing other stuff as  well, so give it to them for heating well in advance of when you think your baby will need it.

Tip 5: Plan for  convenience if transiting
if you are checking in a buggy, and you are transiting and will need it in your transit airport- IMPORTANT!!! Make sure you let the check in staff know you will need it in your transit location (there is a special tag that lets the ground staff know it needs to be returned to the plane doors at the transit hub - because  your buggy can be collected from you and the next time you will see it is at your final destination! very very annoying!!!

It may  pay you to get  a longer  transit time:  first of all a flight with a 12 hour wait in the transit airport can be loads cheaper than  a 2 hour  wait.  But what will you do in a transit airport for 12 hours....

Well if you  have no visa limitations and can leave the airport, go check into a hotel:  have a shower, stretch your legs, sleep on an actual horizontal bed with soft pillows, have  a  meal,   have some private time to walk around butt naked if you wish,  allow your baby  roam free for a bit (no one likes being restrained for long periods and  believe me a  baby will show his/her frustration), go get  some fresh air!   many airport hotels in  big  transit hubs have free shuttle ( usually a 30 mins drive) to and from the hotel as well as  free breakfast and wifi!  just leave ample time to get back to the airport  and since you have nothing to check in,  its basically a  walk straight  to the departure gates and clear security.

Airport hotel room
Airport lounge. the  choice is yours

Over night stays are more  straightforward as you can book one night stay if you are  arriving in the afternoon or evening and  flying out the next day. However , if you are arriving in the morning and leaving later in the evening, you may need to pay for an extra night or  check with your hotel as late checkout may be available usually  for an additional fee  and  cheaper than a full night's stay but this is subject to availability and can be a bit of a gamble.

If you have visa restriction, check your transit airport facilities as  some modern airports have hotels within  the airport,  although more expensive than the  ones  outside the  terminal,   you may be pleasantly surprised that  it may  work out cheaper than having a short transit, as well as  not being as stressful, even 4 hours sleep on an actual bed can  work wonders!

Tip 6: keep your hands free

Take a baby carrier - for a good number of reasons..... lets start from when you leave your house:

  • In the event that you take a taxi to/ from the airport, you may not be able to carry your carseat, i find a good  baby carrier with baby  facing outwards for  older babies is  ideal. that way you can strap both of you in with the seat belt - you may need to adjust the belt strap from going across baby's  neck or face  but i  usually  use one arm to add  and keep some slack to the seat belt. 
  • When your buggy gets  taken off  you at the door of the plane, you suddenly have  1no. baby to carry, 1no. handbag/ baby bag,  1no.  carry-one  luggage ( it is wise to get one with wheels), 1no. boarding pass to bring out to check your  seat number which may be at the very end of the plane and you have  to navigate between the narrow aisles to get  to your seat..... oh by the way you have only 2 hands.
  • In the event that  your  buggy gets fastracked to your destination.   sometimes it doesn't  come out  by the plane door, your may need to go pick it up at  baggage  claims.   a baby carrier  will allow you to have your hands free to  juggle your  handbag and hand luggage  and  meander  through the airport.
Hot dad  with a baby bjorn carrier.

.....If you cannot afford to buy or you are reading this at 1 am the night before you are to catch a 10:00 flight and you don't have a baby carrier.... carry a  wrapper with  you and back your child! there is no Sisi involved in these  things.

Tip 7:  Have an adult travel companion if possible
Definition: A travel companion MUST be a USEFUL somebody.  It can be stressful doing a solo trip with a baby in tow, so if going on holiday, travel as a family so you have assistance.  do not let your hubby trick you into  going alone on a trip he is paying for in the guise that it is a treat.... It is not!  you will be 30,000 ft  above sea level when the full magnitude of the  situation hits you.  if it is a  treat,  please buy me first class tickets with airport assistance, and a  nanny in tow. 😁

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