With the Christmas and New Year holiday period fast approaching, many of us are currently in the process of making our travel plans. While most will decide to return home, wherever that may be, and spend the holiday period with their extended families, some will naturally opt to stay in the South East Asia region and visit a nice beach resort to unwind.
Regardless of where you are traveling to, there are a hundred and one issues that need to be taken care of to ensure your trip is as smooth and enjoyable as possible. If you are travelling with a baby, well, let's just say that things become slightly more complicated. To help, we will discuss some of the most important things parents should consider when travelling with a baby.
Regardless of whether your flight is a two hour hop to a nearby location or a 12 or 15 hour flight to the other side of the world, keeping a baby happy and content for the duration of the flight can be difficult to say the least. Young children under the age of one will generally not be content to sit on their parents lap for hours and watch the latest collection of Disney movies. In fact, they will get bored very quickly and will want to crawl or waddle around the plane to explore their strange new environment.
Most operators of long haul flights will not assign a seat to children under the age of 2 years. This means that the parents must sit with the child on their lap for the duration of the flight, which is not a nice situation to be in if you are on a long distance flight. The child will also not qualify for a baby bassinet if it exceeds a certain height and weight, and some airlines will check the baby's weight and height prior to boarding if they think the baby is too big.
The lack of a bassinet will play a big part in the parents quest to ensure the baby gets enough sleep. As those with young children know, an overtired baby can be hard to settle, especially in the close confines of an airplane cabin, and their constant cries can be annoying to fellow passengers and a source of frustration and maybe even embarrassment to the parents. If a bassinet is not possible for your baby, be prepared to take numerous walks up and down the aisles and to give plenty of cuddles and reassurance to your child to help them fall asleep.
Depending on the airline, your baby may be allowed between 5kg and 10kg of luggage allowance which can be checked in. Another 5kg is usually allowed to be carried on in the form of hand luggage and kept in the overhead storage above your seat. Aside from the usual concerns of what items should be brought for the baby, some airlines, particularly small domestic carriers, can be a little bit fussy about the number of individual pieces of luggage within your luggage quota.
Although you might not exceed your weight allowance, you may exceed the number of items that you are allowed check in or carry on board. It's all a bit petty and can be confusing for those traveling with a baby for the first time, but its something that should be taken into consideration if you are taking connecting flights with small airlines.
Items to bring or leave behind
There are a number of absolutely essential items that you will need to bring with you for your baby, such as milk bottles, baby wipes, bibs, infant formula, food, teething gels and medicines. Ideally, the parents would like to bring just enough to cover the journey and then purchase more at their location. However, if you are travelling to an exotic paradise, the baby products they have on sale may not be appropriate and this would mean bringing one or two weeks worth of baby items with you. Aside from the obvious impact this would have on your luggage allowance, you also need a clean and cool place to store these items at your destination and this may not always be possible, even at your trendy beachfront hotel.
What about the maid or child's nanny if you have one, should they tag along? Tagging along may sound a little harsh but essentially that's what they will be doing. It will not be a holiday for the nanny after all. Obvious benefits to bringing the nanny are that they will look after the baby for the majority of the day, and best of all, they can babysit each night while you are your spouse are enjoying a romantic dinner and some drinks.
If you are returning home to your own country and the baby gets sick then there is no need to panic. Normally, your local doctor/physician/GP will treat the child as if it were one of their own patients. Medicines can also be prescribed relatively easily. Say however, if your baby was to get sick while you were somewhere exotic? What would you do then? Well, if this was to happen, you would need to know if the medical services at your location were suitable to treat children. You would also need reassurances that the local medicines and drugs were of international standard.
Before you set out on your journey, it is imperative that you do some research on medical facilities at your destination. If possible, check to see which facilities are capable of treating children and find out their exact location. If this information cannot be found before arrival, you should consult with a local information office or with your country's consular representatives.
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