Personally, I wanted to get Baby R on a plane as soon as possible.
But hubby felt it might be better after she had at least a few rounds of vaccinations. I’ve known some friends who are already flying with their little ones at 2 or 3 months old (Respect!!!). But on hindsight, babies do sleep a lot during those ages, so… it is much easier to fly then.
We finally agreed on a 6th month mark. At least she will then be able to sit steadily by herself and also got most of her important injections.
In order to better prepare ourselves, we planned a road trip with her first.
We learn one thing; she could only sit in her car seat for a maximum of 20-25mins before squirming and wailing. At most, we manage to push to 30-35mins if we continue to play peeka-boo with her. With this in mind, we planned our return trip with 30mins stop interval. It really helped her to stay calm and she even took an hour nap (bliss).
We notice that she drops off to nap as long as her 30 mins car seat ride crosses around her nap time. So, it will be like 15-20 mins into the car ride, doze off for 45-50 mins morning nap, wakes up drowsy and sit for another 15-20 mins. This gives us about 75-90 mins of good solid driving, before we have to make a 30 mins interval stop.
However, when we try to time it with her afternoon nap (around 3:30 pm) it doesn’t work so well. Sometimes she doze off, sometimes she don’t. This come as a big surprise for me since she normally only take about an hour nap in the morning and a deep 90-120 mins nap in the afternoon. We thought she would travel better during the afternoon nap. So, don’t let their normal routine fool you into thinking that it will be the same when travelling.
After the road trips, we decided that she’s ready for the plane. She is about 8 months old when we took her to the immigration to get her passport done. Process was surprisingly efficient and quick. I think we only spend about 2 hours in the immigration. They even offer to give her a free photo update once she passes 2 year old. Awesome!
Even with her passport ready, we decided to do a domestic flight as test run. The first destination was Langkawi. The flight journey was about an hour. We timed it to be around her morning nap, just like how we do our road trip.
Her first flight was with Malaysia Airlines. Good thing was they have a special check-in counter for those travelling with young children. We manage to get our boarding pass and check in our luggage within 25-30 mins. It was really amazing considering that it was school holiday & public holiday that day. So the normal queue was crazy long.
She was asleep as soon as we board the plane. After about 45mins nap, she woke up just as we are landing. I was a bit worried but thankfully she was still in her drowsy mode. Having a pacifier in her mouth helped as well, I guess. So, it was a fuss free first flight.
For our return flight, we try to test time it with her afternoon nap time (hoping that flight might be different from car ride). FAILED!
She refuses to sleep and was on full alert mode. When the plane got ready to take off, she was happily trying to climb mount mummy. It was really a struggle to try and get her to sit still. I gave up and just let her climb me while trying my best to hold on to her with the seat belt strapping me and her together (No – we didn’t fly with a car seat). The Landing was a bit rough and loud. So, imagine our surprise when the little one lifted up both her hand in the air and let out a loud “Wee….” just when the plane touch the ground. It was so funny we burst out laughing which prompt her to copy us and started fake-laughing also.
The subsequent flights, we planned it around her time. So, only morning flights for us for now… I really hate morning flights. sigh… Some of my friends actually find it easier to fly night time with their wee ones.
From the little experience we have travelling with her, I was really happy that we pace our travel bit by bit. It really helped us to understand her travelling behaviour, the best time for her to travel (different babies have difference preference) and also handling her during travel. NOT to mention, what to PACK?! LOL…
Don’t be afraid to travel with your little one.
Try to pace your travel plans and find out their temperament before attempting the long haul journey. But, if things don’t work out as hoped / prayed… just take a deep breath and try to enjoy.