Abi and I had a couple of domestic and international flights before and after getting married. Over the years, we had some common practices that we try to sustain–shared bag of toiletries, a book to read, and a “magic bag” that appears as contingency for pasalubong and excess baggage when we go home. But when Atticus came into our lives, we had to do some re-engineering on how we travel with a baby.
Our brilliant idea was to spend two weeks in Iligan which meant long land travels, and a plane ride. Atticus was only 7 months old at the time and as first time parents, we had a lot of questions: how many bags should we bring? Should we bring the stroller or not? What documents should we prepare? Will we survive this?
How many bags should we bring?
Having to travel from Manila to Iligan entails bringing enough clothes for the three of us. And since it’s our first time to bring a baby, Abi made a checklist so we can decide on the things to bring like how many lampins, bibs, etc.
Traveling light seemed like an impossible idea what with baby gear taking up so much of the baggage allowance already. But the first thing that came into my mind is that we can’t bring a lot since Atticus requires a set of hands all to himself already, and there’s a diaper bag we can’t do without. So, I suggested that we bring one huge bag where we fit in all our clothes and a maximum of two carry on bags–my backpack and the diaper bag.
Half of our luggage was taken up by our baby’s stuff. Here, purely breastfeeding was a plus because we didn’t need to bring bottles and a sterilizer. However, Atticus was already starting with solids so we brought the silicone bib, a bowl, a spoon, and a sippy cup.
Tip: We bought bath supplies and diapers in Iligan to lessen our bulk. We’re faithful to cloth diapering, but having to bring them would be too much and we might not be able to manage the laundry duties since we’ll be on the go. Also, get a hip-healthy baby carrier. It acts as an extra set of hands for you, and as an added security while on the ride.
Should we bring the stroller or not?
We asked our friends who travel with a baby and most of them agreed that a stroller is a must. In our experience, the stroller proved to be helpful during the waiting hours in the airport and when we were at the beach or pool during our vacation. It was also his make-shift high chair for his meals whenever we’re dining out.
Note: The stroller will be tagged upon check in and will be intercepted (meaning, a crew will get this from you as you enter the plane). You will have it back through the carousel upon arrival.
What documents should we prepare?
If your baby doesn’t have a passport yet, bring his/her birth certificate.
Tip: prepare a small envelope where you can keep his birth certificate, your ID, and boarding passes. Put it in a secure, accessible pocket in your bag so you don’t have to rummage through it whenever you need to present them. It also helps in preventing yourself from leaving them behind. As for us, this holder never leaves the diaper bag.
In this first travel, We get to try two major local airlines- Cebu Pacific on our way to Laguindingan airport and Philippine Airlines on our way back to Manila. Here are our observations among the two airlines:
Cebu Pacific vs. Philippine Airlines
The flight attendants were very friendly to babies. They always smiled or said hi when they see Atticus. However, there was this one no-no that the airline crew did to us. Abi and I were seated apart on aisle seats.
Now, it’s not wrong to let a couple with a baby sit apart from each other. What’s wrong was that they placed us both on aisle seats. It is dangerous for a baby to be seated by the aisle since some bags may fall off from the compartment above during turbulence or when somebody opens it during or after the flight. And since we didn’t know these things, being first-time parents, the flight attendants should have re-seated us. Also, we had a bumpy landing so our baby cried a lot.
Atticus was a little tired from the trip to the airport, so we used the baby card to get priority entrance. It was a full flight, so we were thankful that we got to skip the long line and board the plane ahead. The flight attendants provided us with blankets that we can use for Abi and Atticus. This wasn’t only a plus on keeping them warm, but also kept our baby busy for the whole flight. And no, we weren’t seated by the aisle and got the middle seats.
Being chatty with seatmates
We were worried about Atticus’s ears hurting due to pressure and crying non-stop as in other horror stories. But he surprised us by charming our seatmates for both flights. Sometimes, quite over-friendly.
On our flight to Laguindingan, we were seated next to a couple and the lady was already playing with him as our plane was taxiing. This lady, incidentally, had a pompom key chain on her bag which she let Tikoy tinker with. Everything was alright until he noticed that her playmate was trying to sleep–to this he intentionally woke her up by grabbing her clothes.
On the flight home, Atticus made friends with our seatmate and called his attention from time to time.
Fortunately, our co-passengers were kind and had a sense of humor. We know we have yet to meet a masungit (grumpy) co-passenger but let’s hope we don’t have to for a little while more.
Tip: Our mom-friend who’s a pro in flying with infants has given us a pretty clear picture of how traveling with babies would look like. In her stories, she mentioned that once a baby cries at the start of the flight, he probably won’t stop (or will be cranky for the whole flight) and there’s really nothing you can do about it. However, not trying to calm you baby will earn you dirty looks from your co-passengers. So if your baby does pull a tantrum, appease other people in your flight by showing that you’re doing your best to comfort your baby.
This was our top concern in traveling. Cabin pressure changes can bother our baby’s ears so we were advised to nurse him (or use pacifiers and teethers) upon take off and landing. One useful tip was to use our own ears as gauge. “If you feel it, then he does too.”
So we had it all planned out: we sit on the plane, and Abi will start nursing a little before take off. But as we have told you, almost nothing goes as planned. Atticus was too distracted with this new environment that he completely ignored feeding time. However, he seemed to be having a grand time so we let him be. He only cried upon landing which, in effect, was a punctuation to the “Mabuhay!” line, signaling that we have arrived. Thankfully, it was nice and quick and he was all better as we were deplaning.
Despite our qualms for the flight, we had a nice vacation in Iligan. As our pedia doctor have advised us, travel can be uncomfortable, but we don’t have to shy away from it because all we have to do is to adjust to put our baby at ease.