Cubby and I had a great 2 1/2 weeks travelling in England and visiting family. A lot of people have said that I am really brave to travel alone with her on a long flight and for 2 1/2 weeks; however, my family was a huge help and I couldn’t have done it without them! Cubby was great in England. There were many positive outcomes of going there: she started drinking milk from a bottle, she learned to sleep in a travel cot, she began eating new foods and eating more than usual, she stopped eating purees, she began standing up in her cot, and she began communicating more. Children are quite resilient and although I was worried about the time change and changing her routine so much, she adapted and she was fine. It also helped going to a cousin’s house first who had a little one, so Cubby could play with the toys and her cousin too. It was a smoother transition. I didn’t have to bring a carseat, a travel cot, big toys, or bath toys.
I know it can be scary travelling alone with your little one and I was very nervous and anxious about it. I had asked around to see if there was any advice about it and this is what I discovered:
1. Novelty toys: go to dollar store, Chapters or Walmart and buy a bunch of small toys/books/stickers for the plane. Hide them from your child and don’t let them see until they get fussy on the flight and then you have secret ammunition to keep them quiet and occupied.
2. Travel food: make sure to pack a food bag for your little one as the plane food is not the best and may not be age appropriate. I packed a cooler bag full of snacks, bottles, and food that I had made. Keep in mind that the airline staff may not always be able to warm up your food or bottle. I found one lady a little rude on the flight back and she rolled her eyes at me when I asked if she could warm a bottle for me. Also, don’t forget to pack your child’s favourite snacks and a lot of them!
3. Keeping ears clear at take off and landing: Cubby did not really notice her ears popping when we took off, but she really got upset when we were descending and landing. I gave her her favourite snacks and sippy cup to chew and drink while we were descending in hopes that it would keep her ears clear. I have heard that some mothers nurse their babies at take off and landing. Cubby also has a favourite blanket that she chews, so I made sure to bring that along and she chewed on it.
4. Bulkhead seat: I read mixed reviews about paying extra for the bulkhead seat before I had booked my tickets to England. I had picked normal seats for Cubby and I for the return flights. Luckily I had my cousin helping me out on the flight to England so I did not request a bulkhead seat. On the flight from England, I was on my own so I decided to suck it up and pay the extra $90 for a bulkhead seat. I am sure glad that I did! Cubby had so much room to play and practice standing and I put some toys on the floor and let her play. It was great having so much room.
5. Travel stroller: We have a regular stroller, an Uppababy, but we also have a Zooper Twist that came with us to Mexico last February. I haven’t used it that often as my Uppababy is usually in my trunk, but this stroller was amazing and light. It was easy to use at the airport and easy to fold up to get in and out of the car in my cousins’ cars in England. I even took Cubby on the London Underground (the Tube) while we were there and didn’t pay attention to the wheelchair accessible stops. As the stroller was so light, we were able to carry her up and down the stairs and take it on the escalators.
6. Disposable Bibs: During the travel days where we were spending most of our time in the airport, the travel bibs came in handy. I have the plastic type ones with the lip at the bottom that you can wash and reuse, but I didn’t want to keep washing them in the airport bathrooms. The paper travel bibs were easy to use and I threw them away once we were finished with them. I bought the Shoppers Drug Mart Life Brand ones.
7. Reusable food containers: I have many different sippy cups and plates, bowls, food keepers for Cubby. Some of them were more expensive than others and I would have been upset if I left them at people’s homes in England. So, I bought a box of reusable containers from Walmart that really came in handy. I used them every day for food storage and didn’t get upset if I lost one or left one somewhere. I think they were called the First Years Ziploc reusable containers. (http://www.walmart.ca/en/ip/the-first-years-ziploc-variety-set/).
8. Baby carrier: I have the Baby Bjorn and the ErgoBaby, but I found it easiest to put her in the Baby Bjorn. I used a backpack for her toys, diapers and extra clothes, so I had that on my back to carry on the plane and if she got bored of being in the stroller, I put her in the Baby Bjorn so she could see everything. It also helped when we went sightseeing.
9. Dressing in layers: I was really nervous about what to pack for Cubby in terms of clothes as the weather in England seemed unpredictable when I checked. The best solution was bringing a mixture of t shirts, diaper shirts, pants and zip up hooded sweatshirts. That way I could put on or take off layers depending on the weather. I took one jacket for her with a hood, which she only needed to wear once as the weather was nice for most of the trip.
I hope that helps you if you decide to take the plunge and travel alone with your little one. I also found that booking day flights were better for Cubby than the night flights (especially with the time change). We left Toronto early in the morning and by the time we arrived in London it was night time and dark. She was also tired from a day of travelling so she went to sleep at a regular time and slept the whole night. The time difference didn’t really affect her like I thought it would.