FLYING WITH OUR 13 MO FOR THE FIRST TIME

Traveling has always been one of my (and my hubby's) passions; love to see the different cultures, architectures, sceneries, people, foo...

Traveling has always been one of my (and my hubby's) passions; love to see the different cultures, architectures, sceneries, people, food etc, and my hubby loves photography. To me, travel is a journey, be it long or short, near or far, to somewhere that is new, which makes me sit up and take notice. My hubby and I used to travel overseas quite a bit before our baby princess came along. We took a break from this when we found out I was pregnant - only went for a few short local trips during the whole pregnancy and when she was still an infant. When she turned 1, we decided that it was about time to share this passion for the world with her, but at the same time, we were consumed with hearsay: "Life will change beyond all recognition once you have a baby” and that we would no longer be able to travel independently and freely. My take: Don't listen to naysayers. 


Picture taken from realmumreview.com

Of course, traveling with a baby/toddler, especially when an airplane is involved, can be an ordeal or something stressful. Seeing as this was our very first flight with our 13 mo daughter, I had so many concerns: Would she scream the entire time? How would it be feeding her? What if she puts everything into her mouth? What if she rips the headset off the man in the seat in front of us? Lol! BUT if you’re prepared with a little pre-planning and a calm disposition, taking your pipsqueak on a plane shouldn't be a problem. Here's how we took our 13 month-old on her first 4D3N overseas trip to Ho Chi Minh City:

Why Ho Chi Minh?

Simple because this was her first trip and also our first time bringing a toddler to another country, we didn't know what to expect and if we could handle it well, so we chose somewhere not too far (an hour plus flight), somewhere not too fast-paced and somewhere we've never been to. You can read more about the trip here.


1. KNOW THE RULES.

Check with your airline and the TSA for policies on preboarding, carry-ons, and traveling with formula/breast milk/food. Moms and dads are encouraged to travel with only as much juice, milk, or formula in your hand carry luggage as needed until you reach your final destination. We flew with Air Asia and they were quite lenient on the rules when they saw us flying with our toddler. We had milk powder, drinking water, hot water, snacks and some food in the diapers bag. No issues going through the screening here in Malaysia, and also when we arrived at HCMC. The other bonus is you can skip the queue when you are bringing a baby/toddler. We got priority for check-in, immigration and through the security lanes - all thanks to our baby!

2. PACK IT UP, WITH EXTRAS.

Make sure your diaper bag has extra clothes, diapers, wipes, food (extra formula in our case, or a full meal, depending on when and how long you'll be in the air), and snacks - in case of delays. Oh, and plenty of drinks - plane rides are dehydrating. As with all our outings, I did brought on board anti-bacterial wipes, which were used on armrests and the tray tables, as well as a quick swipe over the safety card. Besides that, you must stock your bag with enough distractions to keep them busy for the duration of your journey, regardless of the age of your child. We brought along a soft toy, her favorite 'telephone' toy with music, loaded our mobile phones with her favorite nursery rhyme videos, and DO NOT UNDERESTIMATE the calming and distraction power of SNACKS! Haha.

3. EASE THE EAR PRESSURE.

During descent and takeoff, let your baby/toddler suck on something to relieve ear pressure - a bottle or a pacifier. Let your baby nurse if you are still breastfeeding. In my case, my milk supply had already dried off and she doesn't take pacifier, so I let her suck and chewed on the steamed carrots and potatoes which I prepared that morning. She also drank from her sippy cup. She didn't encounter any problem or ear discomfort though, to and fro (*Touch wood*).


4. SLING CARRIER VS STROLLER.

Depends on personal preference and the place you are going to. A sling carrier or harness doesn't take up much room in the luggage and is useful to keep your hands free. Traffic in Ho Chi Minh is pretty congested with lots of motorbikes on streets, so we brought the harness instead of stroller. And because I'm a freak, I kept her strapped on when we traveled in taxis since there were no car seats. :P

5. SETTLING HER MEALS.

I wasn't planning on letting her eat outside food just yet, so I had to think of ways to settle her meals when we were there. Before going, I searched, asked around and was wondering whether I should get an electric cooker like most mommies suggested, but that would mean taking up even more luggage space (Note: You’re no longer traveling light when you're flying with a baby/toddler). This went on til I came upon an article on cooking with Thermos food jar. Yes, that's right, Thermos food jar and to be exact, this one:
Thermos Stainless Steel King Food Jar  0.47L. Exactly the one I have at home!!

I've always thought that these food jars are just to keep food warm or cold... Apparently they can do more than that! I tested it twice before the trip, just to make sure.


This is from the 2nd time, with meat and veggie. 1st time was just plain white porridge. Looks pretty good, isn't it? :D
It's easy too! All you have to do is:
  • Soak the rice overnight.
  • Put the rice into the jar the next morning together with the meat (cut into real small pieces). Add hot boiling water til almost full, cover and leave for about 10 mins.
  • After 10 mins, pour away the water. Add in the vegetables (also cut into small pieces) and add adequate hot boiling water for making porridge.
  • Cover and after 2.5 - 3 hours, voila!! Ready to eat porridge!
*MUST be HOT BOILING water!!
So, I just packed some rice, oats with raisins, avocados, small pieces of frozen pork & chicken meat (just make sure your room comes with a mini fridge if you are bringing meat.. Ours did), a small knife, AND OF COURSE, the food jar, in our checked in baggage. For breakfast, she had white bread, steamed tapioca and bananas (to add into her oats) from our hotel buffet, plus, I also requested for hard boiled egg to add into the porridge. As for veggies, simply get them from nearby supermarkets. Just add boiling water to the ingredients in the morning before leaving the hotel and you'll have the porridge ready by lunch time. That was how I settled her meals during our 4D3N there. 

I read that these are also suitable for thermos cooking:

  • Noodles or spaghetti
  • Cubed potatoes
  • Soups, stews and chilli
  • Spaghetti sauce
  • Meats like Beef and Chicken cut into cubes
  • Eggs in their shells
I've not tried them personally, so if anyone has done that, please share the steps and outcome with me :)

Note: Do not try cooking the following in a Thermos:

  • food that are easily overcooked
  • dishes that require many additions of ingredients, which causes heat to escape each time
  • dishes with cheese in them - it sticks to the inside of the Thermos and it's hard to get out


Conclusion?

Well, let's face the fact. Our lives change dramatically the moment we have kids – why would the way we travel stay the same? You’ll be busy, you will be very tired at the end of your journey, but you will have such wonderful memories of your travels with your baby/toddler! We took lots of pictures and perhaps our baby will not remember this journey, but we will never forget it! We're taking her to Japan next month. It'll be a much longer flight, no doubt... I wonder how are we gonna survive that. Haha! Will update you guys on that after the trip :D

Some tips:
  • Get baby used to room temperature bottles and food, so you don’t have the additional hassle of heating.
  • Make sure you carefully consider your own needs when planning a trip. What might have been a simple nighttime adventure when you were single could be exhausting with a baby. There was no exact itinerary planned for this trip. We had a few places in mind and we just went with the 'flow'.
  • The one thing you need to worry about least is your child. If they are young, they will surprise you with their acceptance of new routines and new surroundings. I would say our baby did well, with all the walking and taking naps whenever she was tired, all under the scorching hot weather.

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