Travelling with an infant is the art of finding new and challenging places to do all those things that you barely accomplish at home like changing diapers, feeding baby, and washing bottles. -MisterMum, 2016
Early in 2016, I was invited to a secondary school friends wedding to be held in Ubud, Bali. Bali is just a 3 hour flight from Singapore and a further 1 hour drive from the airport. Since we travelled with him to Bintan when he was just 6 weeks old this was going to be a walk in the park. Right?
No. It was not. Why?
1. Booked a SIN-JKT-Bali route. Cos I’m an idiot.
2. Didn’t check bassinet policy. Bassinets for baby are only provided when flights are 2hours or longer. Each leg was only 1.5hrs max.
3. Didn’t plan feeds appropriately.
4. Didn’t calculate ground transport time accurately.
5. I don’t read Bahasa. Dramatic story below.
So, this is how it went:
In theory, we were leaving home at 7:30am, lounge till 10am thanks to priority pass access, flight to Jakarta with 1 feed on board, chill in a Jakarta lounge for 3 hours, and onward to Bali with the next feed onboard that flight. Upon landing, 1.5hr taxi up to Ubud. Relax with room service.
What really happened:
Jakarta lounges were in the international terminal but we were in domestic terminal so no lounges for us.
Noah was screaming on board so when he finally stopped, we thought to let him sleep instead of feed.
Latching was terribly sporadic like 5minutes here, 3minutes there. We had no idea how much he had eaten.
He pooped twice on board in conjunction with food service so we had almost no space to change him and going to the toilet was not an option. #poop-fingers #yesithappened
No Lounges meant we had to pump at a toilet or nursery, where I did not read the instructions that were in Bahasa. WOMEN AND BABIES ONLY. I walked straight in and got solid stares from 6 women. Came out and got death stares from 6 men. As a foreigner, I used my 1 get out of jail free card. Hmm almost #lockedupabroad. At least I now know that “ibu dan anyak” means mother and baby.
The list of mistakes were enormous. We got to Ubud at about 9pm after 14 straight hours of travelling and everyone was tired out.
Here’s what we should have done:
1. Check the bassinet policy with the airline. Without the bassinet you’re going to have to hold baby in your arms for the entire trip. Not a good idea.
2. Plan the feeds, stick to the plan. Feed in full. Keep the schedule. Travelling is stressful with a baby. Travelling with a crying baby is 10x more stressful. Keep him fed, and asleep as long as you can.
3. Bring entertainment along. We are against iPads for Noah so we brought rattles and soft toys that kept him happy. I also learned that I could make OO-WAH sounds almost indefinitely. I’m sure the guy next to me wanted to throw me off the plane. But trust me, the OO-WAH is better than the wah wah from a bored baby.
4. Bring the bottle kit. 5 bottles. 2 for pumping, 1 for formula emergency, 1 for feeding, 1 for milk storage. Bring a bottle brush, and bottle detergent. Thermos for hot water and bottle washing.
5. Bring your changing mat/station. In there should be diapers, a padded mat, and wet wipes. Hand carry! Always.
6. Let the airline & hotel know that you’ve got an infant coming along. They will make the necessary arrangements. Noah took very well to being wrapped in an airline blanket. He went to sleep for a good while…. like 10minutes. Better than nothing though.
7. Don’t book stupid itineraries. Flights and trips will cost more but you’ll want to get to your destinations as fast and as directly as possible.
8. Give baby as many new experiences. Don’t let stress get the better of you.
Bonus: setup bottle cleaning and changing stations in the hotel room. First priority. Always. It will make diaper emergencies and bottle cleaning routines much easier.
Don’t let the stress of society and stares slow your baby-travelling down. Everyone wants the best for their baby so just go.
Side track- Alila Ubud was an amazing experience for us. We mentioned that we were coming with baby and they setup a Graco Pack & Play with mosquito netting cover, baby cleaning and moisturizing supplies, and a baby bath with a scoop for the water. We don’t even have that scoop at home!