Mammaproof brings you some basic tips to survive a flight with little ones: how to get organised, practical tips, what you can bring on the plane (food, baby food and bottles, pushchair, etc.), what you can check in, and more.
When you fly with a baby you need to be very organised and plan the logistics well, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be a big deal. Don’t worry about them crying or annoying other passengers... the soothing, rocking motion and the rumble of the plane usually help your baby sleep! But if you want to have a calm flight, here are a few tips that have proven very useful when travelling with babies.
1. Book flights around midday
After many flights under our belts, we’ve realised that the best time to fly with babies and small children is around midday. You don’t have to get up too early, which is a good thing because no one will be overtired. We advise you to look for flights that fly between 11am and 4pm. We’ll be able to have food while we’re waiting at the airport (so we can sit down and relax for a bit), and then it will be time for a nap on the plane. And it won’t be too late in the day when we arrive at our destination.
2. Check in your pushchair, carrycot or travel cot
Most airlines let you check in one item free of charge per baby. With Vueling you can check in a pushchair, carrycot or travel cot, free of charge. It is advisable to travel with a folding pushchair, as you can take it all the way to the plane and, depending on the airline, you either take it into the cabin or they will put it in the hold free or charge.
Another very useful item is a protective cover for car seats, which can be carried like a backpack. You’ll be able to check the car seat in and protect it from being knocked or stained in the hold.
3. Board the plane without having to queue up
One of the advantages of travelling with children is that you don’t always have to wait in a queue. For example, at T1 in Barcelona-El Prat Airport there is a special gate for families at security, which also has a small playpen where you can put your baby for a moment while you place all your belongings in the trays. If you’re travelling with little ones, you can go through passport control first too. And most airlines, like Vueling, give priority to families when it comes to boarding.
4. A baby carrier is essential
If you are travelling with a baby or toddler, a baby carrier can be very useful. Not only while you’re waiting in the queue, but also when you get off the plane. If you’ve checked in your pushchair, you won’t get it back until you collect your baggage, so you can use your baby carrier from the plane to the baggage carousel.
5. Travel light!
Your time at the airport will be much easier if you reduce the number of bags you bring. We advise you to bring 2 or 3 changes of clothes for each person, and wash them at your destination. How can we carry our bags and the pushchair if we don’t have enough hands? We’ve always found it useful to travel with a wheeled suitcase and a large backpack. That way one of you always has one hand free to see to the baby. As for families with one parent, we advise you to check in your suitcase or just take a light wheeled suitcase and the baby in a carrier.
6. A muslin cloth or blanket for the flight
Another very useful item is a blanket or muslin cloth to cover them during the flight. It usually gets cooler on the plane and you can’t always regulate the temperature. An extra pair of socks and a thick jumper are also handy.
7. About ten nappies
Do we bring nappies with us or buy them at our destination? It depends on how long you are going for, but we always calculate that if we’re going away for 2-4 days, we can take them with us (about 10 nappies) and that will save us having to buy a whole pack. And it’s always useful to have extra room as we take the nappies out, isn’t it? But if you’re going to be away for more than 5 days, we advise you to bring 5-6 nappies for the journey and buy a large pack at your destination. What’s more, there are many countries (especially in Northern Europe), where in general nappies and baby products are cheaper than in Spain.
8. Bottles and baby food
Something else that can worry parents when planning a trip is how to feed their babies while they are travelling. If you’re breastfeeding, it’s easy – you don’t have to prepare anything in advance. If you’re bottle-feeding, you should know that you are allowed to take a bottle of water through security if you say it’s for the baby (they’ll probably just check it). If your baby is already on solids, we advise you to take a flask with veg or veg purée, for example, and some snacks to keep them busy (like breadsticks). There are no restrictions on these items at security (even if they come in glass jars). You’ll probably have to taste them, though.
9. Toys for the flight
Which toys should we take on the plane? Don’t forget your baby’s favourite toy to calm them down, but you can also bring other things to entertain them. For example, depending on their age, you can bring some plasticine, books, crayons, a notebook or some stickers. Make sure you bring toys that don’t make a noise, so you don’t annoy the other passengers! As for toys for your destination, we always pack balloons (they don’t take up much room and they are always a hit), a small ball or bubble mixture.
10. Relieving ear pain caused by pressure
Pressure changes inside the cabin affect us all, and especially babies, who may feel discomfort in their outer and middle ear. They may get upset and end up crying. Breastfeeding, a dummy or a bottle can help during takeoff, just after takeoff and during descent, before landing. If your baby has suffered from ear infections or has had surgery in the past two weeks, it’s better to ask the doctor if they are fit to fly.
These are our tips for flying with babies! It’s an amazing experience as a family as you can spend quality time together, and have adventures and new experiences together. If you have any more questions, you may find this information page by Vueling very useful.