Monday, August 22, 2011

Before Flying

Here is a list of pointers which I have gathered from my travels. Do not that they are not all encompassing. On top of that, different families have different needs, so you would need to customize them accordingly.


There are parents who chose the destinations based on flight duration while there are those who are willing to sit through a 20 hour flight with young children. To each his own. But some things you may want to consider.

- Flight timing. Some recommended taking a morning flight when the baby is fresh and happy. Others would recommend taking a midnight flight as it coincides with the baby's sleeping hours. We have tried early morning, afternoon, and even midnight flights. We found the ones in the morning, around 9am, and those in the afternoon around 2pm, the best for our young children. They are fresh and alert in the morning. Preparing them for the flight is also a lot easier as they would be eager to see what's outside the windows, drink their favourite juices and eat their yummy snacks. This helps them deal with the pressure in the ear without the parents even mentioning anything about it. The ones in the afternoon coincides with their nap times. Their nap time is around 1pm and I would usually choose a 2pm flight. Since boarding time is around 130pm, I can settle them nicely in their seat before the actual take off. By the time the plane takes off, they would have dozed off. No fuss at all. We took a 12am flight to Adelaide before and it was a disaster, at least for us. A was only 15 months but was too fat for the bassinet. She was clearly very uncomfortable. Having to take her out everytime there was turbulence disturbed her a lot and she would break into loud wails. I ended up having to carry her throughout the 7 hours flight. Even then she would stir whenever there was turbulences or when there was announcements. Seeing other babies sleeping so soundly through the flight didn't encourage us at all. By the time we reached the hotel in Adelaide, we were all too tired to enjoy and had to turn in early for the night. Fret not. Each child is different so you may have a fantastic flight experience wherever you go. Good to understand your child's needs and more importantly yours as well, before you book the flight. You would become more experienced as you travel more. The girls are now seasoned travellers and can cope with longer flights very well. I definitely did not see this day coming during that midnight flight to Adelaide but yes, the day would come. Take heart. :)

-Transit. Transiting interval has to be taken into consideration too. Changing plane means having to settle the kids again or even waking them up from their naps. If you need to transit, it is good to choose the flight timing appropriately.

- Cost of air tickets. Some airlines do not charge taxes on infant. Singapore Airlines is one of them. That is the reason why I flew a lot with SQ when the kids were under the age of 2. Early purchase of air tickets can save you a lot too. It is good to start planning at least 1 year in advance as ticket prices are still relatively low. One important note- Some airlines do not allow you to change the date of flight one year from the date of purchase. As you would never know the future so do be prepared to take the risk. Do also remember to block your leave early. Alternatively, you can hop onto the last minute airfare special promotions. However, the low fares may not apply to the destination of your choice. Also, if the trip requires a lot of planning, e.g. a backpacking trip to Europe, a last minute decision to travel would just mean a whole load of stress for the parents, or should I say, mothers. At least, it would be for me.

-Child friendly airlines.Some airlines are more child friendly than others. Take for example, Singapore Airlines. (I cannot say about the rest as I have not tried them, not with the kids at least.)I can pre-order the children's meals online. They even have a detailed list of possible food restrictions which I can check off. The girls have food allergies when they were younger so it gives me the peace of mind that their meals are well taken care of on the plane. This would also mean that I have less to carry at the airport which equates to more relaxed shoulders. They have weaning meals, post weaning meals and child meals. I have tried all three and both my husband and I must admit that they are very delicious. We practically steal food from our children on every flight. And don't worry, they are not bottled food.


Again, it really depends on the parents' needs. I know of parents who have stayed in places with limited access to electricity and water, even with babies and young children in tow. I salute them. Some would go for normal comfort in a 3 star accommodation, while some would go for 5 star accommodation with kids club. I have tried the last 2. I don't think I would try the first anytime soon as the kids are still so young. So what I have written would be somewhat limited in that sense.

- Kids friendly resort. This is always a blessing to us especially when the kids were a lot younger. Kids' menu, kids' activities and facilities, kids' pool, availability of doctors, level of service etc. Holidaying is a time to relax and enjoy, forget about the mandane routine of housework and minding of the kids at home (though you still need to mind the kids while on holidays) so having the extra services do really helped to create a more relaxing atmosphere. How so? A kids' menu would mean less packed food in the luggages. Kids' activities and facilities would mean the kids would be kept entertained and hence, the parents can have a slightly easier time keeping the kids happy. Afterall, happy children equates to happy parents. A high level of efficiency and service in the hotel would also mean less stress as kids cannot wait! You know what I mean.

Some things to note - everything comes with a price. To stay in a hotel with all the services would cost a lot. Hence, it would be wise to select the services carefully. A lot of hotels offers kids activities for 4 years and above. That includes a full day programme, lunch and for some places, dinner. Younger children would most likely only be playing with the toys available in the kids' room. If your child is happy with just a few of his or her favourite toys, you can skip the kids' club service altogether. Plus, bringing him or her to the pool for the whole morning is usually enough to make everyone happy.

One more thing, it would be good to check with the hotel of your choice or even read reviews on travel websites to find out more about the kids' services. I have been to hotels which claim to be kids' friendly even for infants but the kids' room is filled with toys for older kids - computer games, pool table, etc. Yes, they have toys for younger children but they were so poorly maintained (being old and dirty) that I didn't even dare to touch them.

To save money on engaging an emergency doctor, bring along the more common medication for cough, flu, tummy-ache etc. Yes, please bring along the thermometer.I have noticed that there has been an increasing number of hotels venturing into kids' friendly services, which is of course a good thing. More choices for parents and hence more competitive prices. :)


A lot of mothers have approached me with great concerns about feeding during travelling. Keeping meal times quick and happy have always been quite a challenge for most parents. I too have my fair share of sob stories to share. Still, I emerge stronger and more ready to take on the next meal time showdown.

- Kids' Menu. When staying at a hotel, you can email the hotel to check if they provide kids food and request for a copy of their kids' menu. You can then decide if you want to pack your own food for the trip. Do note that porridge in some places mean congee, the very watery kind. Feeding your child congee can be a very slow and messy affair. First thing that comes to mind would be to drain the 'soup' away. It is time consuming but it would save you the heart-ache of messy feeding later. Tip: to make the congee thicker, I usually mix it with a bottled of baby food. It gives it a more familiar flavour too.

- Bottled baby food. Do prepare some bottled pureed food and cereal just in case the food in the hotel is not to the kid's liking. Even if he or she has eaten a bit of the hotel's food, you may choose to top it up with the food that you have brought. Always good to have a ready supply. If your child has never taken bottled baby food prior to the trip, start trying some at home first. Every child has differing taste. It is good to know which are the ones he or she dislikes. You wouldn't want to start your little experiment overseas and ended up not having anything he or she wants. A hungry baby is not a happy baby.

- Order normal main dish. Some of the more kids' friendly adult meals are fish and chips, poached salmon, steamed vegetables (usually available in the appetizer menu) and rice with a soup dish. When we ordered fish and chips, we would peel the fried outer layer and just feed the baby the fish. Steamed vegetables like carrots, brocollis and cauliflowers can be smashed into soft bits easily. Soaking the rice in the soup would soften it and it would be like a porridge dish, somewhat. Since the young children won't eat too much a portion, he or she can share a dish with an adult. That would also reduce the cost as well.

- Children's utensils. Some hotels do not provide at all or only provide plastic plates so don't take things for granted. Email the hotel and find out. Of course, you can always bring your own. If you do, you might want to bring along a small bottle of dishwashing liquid. We usually bring a dishwashing sponge and a bottle brush too. :p

The longer the trip, the more medicine you need to prepare. Our most recent 3 weeks roadtrip to Exmouth, Western Australia, saw 2 boxes of medicine. The places we are going to are very far away from the Perth City so I like to be well-prepared. I would visit their pediatrician prior to every trip and stock up all the necessary medication. If this is your first trip, your doctor should be able to advise you on what medication you would need to bring for your children. I would also have the pediatrician write a letter listing the kinds of medication I am bringing. Not that I need to show it at the custom but it is always good to have them on hand in case they asked. The bottom line is I have my medicine from a legitimate source. As long as your medication has the doctor's clinic's labels on them, the custom officers would usually not asked for the supporting letter.

Of course, the list is not all encompassing. There are a lot of things to take note of, such as weather (children are usually more sensitive to temperature changes than adults). I am writing the more common asked ones. Should you have any questions, you are welcome to email me at and we can talk more. Enjoy your planning.

Sunset at Phuket, Thailand

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