Travelling over 10,000 miles with a 4-month-old baby by Alison Hughes

When my brother emigrated to Sydney 6 months before I was due to give birth, I made the very naive decision (while standing in the airport waving him off) to head out to see him during my maternity leave, as I figured that I wouldn’t get the chance to travel so far again while taking a decent amount of time off.So, within half an hour of returning home from Manchester Airport, I’d booked a flight for myself, my mum and my new addition (name yet to be determined) for what would be a mammoth journey to the Land Down Under.

I then spent the next 10 months questioning my decision, but also planning for an exciting trip, and ensuring that my little girl (Neve) entered the Travel Retail world in style!

Here are some recommendations that I would offer to someone planning a similar trip….

Business Lounge: We decided to treat ourselves to the Business Lounge at Manchester Airport, and arrived in plenty of time so that we could relax and not add to stress levels, rushing through security. This turned out to be a wise decision – it meant that we could settle Neve in a quiet corner of the lounge, warm her bottle and make final preparations in comfort before boarding the flight (I ordered disposable bottles, which meant no sterilising was needed throughout the journey). Mum and I also helped ourselves to a glass of bubbles.

Baby perks: Unfortunately, my budget didn’t stretch to travelling business class. This made no difference at all, however, as when travelling with a baby, you might as well be travelling business class. Both in Manchester and when we transferred in Dubai, we were treated like royalty. Priority lanes were opened for us, and not once did we queue for security or to board the flight – airport and airline staff couldn’t do enough to help.

Gifts: To help relieve any anxiety of disturbing your fellow passengers, my one recommendation is a little bit of bribery… Before travelling, I decided to give all neighbouring passengers a little gift to make their journey a little more pleasant if Neve did decide to exercise her lungs. So, armed with a little card explaining our trip, some ear plugs and a chocolate to sweeten the deal, I made polite conversation and passed our little gifts around. Luckily, no one had to use their ear plugs.

Bassinet seat: When I booked the flight, I researched ways to make the journey with a small baby easier and some top tips included booking a bassinet seat early on, as these seats are at a premium if the flight has a lot of kids on board. I was lucky to secure one of these precious seats, which meant that very soon after take-off I could settle Neve for a nap while I rested my arms and eyes (although little sleep was achieved throughout the journey). You can also book prams/strollers in Dubai Airport, but I decided a sling would be easier, as with large carry-on bags and two passports to carry, having my hands free was a must.

So, 21 hours later, I arrived in Sydney to a very emotional reunion with my brother – and a very happy introduction to his new niece. While the trip was long, tiring and at times a little fraught, it was nowhere near as painful as I imagined. If I think what that trip would be like with my now 2-year-old, then I envisage a very different trip (my recent trip to Dublin, for example, was a very different experience).  One of my top tips would therefore be to not put off travelling when your babies are young. It’s actually the easiest time for them to travel, with long naps and lots of willing helpers, not to mention the advantage of free travel for babies.

 

If anyone would like any more top tips and advice, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

 

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