Sunday, February 17, 2013

Travelling with Baby Tip 2: Packing

Having traveled so often I've gotten pretty good at avoiding underpacking/overpacking problems for myself. When I first moved over to Australia 10 years ago the contents of my suitcase included my hangers, a printer and an iron. I felt pretty silly when I arrived here and realized that these items could be purchased from K-mart for less money than I would have paid to not have to lug all that stuff to and from the airport. So if I'm travelling alone I only really stress about Passport, Tickets and Money. Anything else I forgot can be purchased if necessary.

Enter the Little Man. Who's "Stuff" takes up more of our house than his size would indicate. This also applies to packing space. Here are my lessons learnt:

Anything forgotten at the destination can STILL be purchased if necessary

This was a helpful reminder from a good friend when I was packing for our first trip to the US when Little Man was 7 weeks. Most developed countries have supermarkets and nappies and baby food can be purchased with relative ease. In fact I would recommend bringing enough spares to take you to when you expect to be able to get yourself to a supermarket because I have yet to arrive in a country* where nappies are more expensive than they are in Australia. Even the premium brands like Huggies and Pampers are way cheaper than they are sold here. I generally end up bringing back more nappies than I left with because they are so much cheaper.

*Sampled countries include: USA, New Zealand, Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia.

The most important thing to pack carefully is the carry on bag

The only area where the above lesson doesn't apply. The helpless hours when you're trapped in a metal tube with no room to move and surrounded by people you'd rather not annoy. Here's my packing list for on board:

  • Nappies (disposable because no one wants to carry used cloth nappies on a plane) 1 per every 2 hours flight time.
  • 2 changes of clothes for Baby
  • Light Blanket
  • 1 change of clothes for Mum *
  • If Dad is going to travel too then 1 change of shirt for Dad **
  • Baby's favorite snacks and rusks. Pack more than what you think he'll need. Little man is only allowed  2 or 3 baby bikkies a day but on a plane he gets as much as will keep him quiet.
  • Couple of small toys. Though I've found that my Little man gets more fun exploring the remote control than his own toys on board a flight.

* Lesson learnt when Little Man got a bit of a tummy upset and decided to throw up all over me. He had a change of clothes but I had to finish the flight in slightly damp baby puke washed-off-as-much-as-I-could, T-shirt and jeans.
**Lesson learnt when on a different flight, the Little Man decided to knock a drink all over Daddy during the meal time. This time Mum and Baby had changes of clothes packed but Dad didn't.

When travelling for business I've got a rolling hard case cabin bag but that is a serious pain to get stuff out of when you have to carry a baby in one arm. Also when travelling alone with baby, the rolling bag takes up one hand which I tend to need when dealing with the Little Man. For this reason, I find a shoulder strap cabin bag or duffle bag with lots of zip up side pockets very useful. Why zip up? Because you can't control how other people are going to shift your bag in the overhead compartment when they are trying to stuff their own bags in.

Additional tip: Don't overstuff your carry on. It makes things difficult to find without unpacking everything. Also extra space is useful because some airlines will give you little pressie for the Baby (Activity kits, Comfort packs, Baby Blankets) and it's useful to have some room to squish these goodies into the bag when you disembark.
Some goodies from a recent 8 hour flight on Emirates

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