Since my younger days, I have always been an ardent traveler. The more stamps I have in my passport, the better. Somewhere along the way, I got pregnant. I remember what one of my good friends said to me “Kiss your passport goodbye!” – apparently, she thought I’d slow down once I give birth.
Do you know that kids under the age of 24 months fly for (almost) free? 😉
Having a child is not exactly a deal-breaker when it comes to traveling, ay? So, I decided to take full advantage of that rule.
At almost 10 months old, Nikka has done 12 flights of all sizes and flight times; 4 of which are long hauls. Kids aged and changed rather quickly. So, each flight was unique and somewhat different than the last. Yes, I did dig for information prior to flying but truth be told, I learned a lot after making the journey. Because, hey, no two babies are the same.
The younger they are, the better.
Nikka did her first flight when she was 6 months old (she was born premature, so I decided to hold off traveling for a little while). We took a short hop to Bali to spend time with some friends. I must admit I was quite nervous and even contemplated making small “Hey, it’s our first time flying” treat bags for other passengers.
Somehow or rather, we ended up flying Business. I bottle-fed her at take-off to neutralize her ear pressure. She “watched” IFE for a while, but slept most of the way, only to wake up for another feed again at landing. She was so good, it eased up all my anxieties and we excitedly tried another trip shortly after arriving back in Malaysia.
Babies are resilient and very adaptable.
After our first trip, I realized I was overthinking things. Babies are, to be completely honest, low maintenance and can be taken anywhere. In Bali, we took Nikka for her first swim and while in Ho Chi Minh, she was the center of attention among sellers at Ben Thanh Market.
She was mostly on liquid but couldn’t be any happier whenever we fed her puree (ready-made purees in travel pouches are Godsend). But of course, we still took all the necessary precautions – mosquito repellent, hand sanitizer, wet wipes, etc.
And we didn’t take her on an adult excursion – I stayed behind when the family went on Mekong Delta tour/island hopping. Although in all honesty, we did hire a nanny to look after Nikka on days we went painting the town red 😉
Babies are a great icebreaker. Really.
I realized people are more friendly and open when there are babies around. But hey, who can resist adorable ‘lil ones – everybody will want to play, smile and “baby-talk” with them. There were many times when a completely random stranger approached us to “talk” to Nikka. She, on the other hand, loved the attention and would just laugh along.
We were able to indirectly interact with locals through our daughter – sometimes, without even understanding a word they said.
On our flight back to Kuala Lumpur from Doha, we had a great set of crews. The Purser played with Nikka most of the times when she was awake. We were given bassinet seats (hell yeah to legroom!) though I did not request for it.
And of course, we breezed through at Immigration in pretty much all destinations 😊
Enjoy the moment.
As much as we want our babies to stay babies, they will continue to grow and become independent. Cherish the moment while they are still young and want to have us around.
There is nothing like watching my little girl’s excited face as she looks around and explores her surrounding (though not literally). For the past four months, several of her firsts happened during our travels. We took her swimming for the first time in Bali (and she loved it!), she sat (supported) for the first time during that trip too. And recently, her first proper crawl happened while we were in Sarajevo.
Oh. And we had our first “unofficial” Game of Thrones tour in Dubrovnik just a few weeks ago 😊
Traveling with Nikka takes us away from our mundane everyday routine and allows us to enjoy some quality time together, as a family.
Just go for it. You have nothing to regret.
This is one of the most important lessons I’ve learned so far. Honestly, there’s no perfect time to travel with a baby. Putting their ages aside, you need to just take the plunge and trust your baby. You’ll feel so much better once you take that very first trip out of the way. Trust me.
I know. I know. The fear of traveling with a baby is unshakeable. But don’t let that fear stop you from taking off.
I had some people told me “Why bother? Your baby will not remember any of her trips anyway. You are just wasting money.” – yes, they were completely right. Nikka will not remember any of the trips she took when she was a wee one. But we (her parents) will remember every single one of them. It is our money anyway. So, we choose how we want to spend ‘em.
And we could always just record a video or snap a photo to show her when she’s bigger. If you store them in the cloud, it is highly unlikely you will lose them 😉
Oh, hey. What about you? Have you recently traveled with a baby and what are your takes on it?