Surviving [and Loving] Overseas Flights With a Baby

IMG_0118Looking back, this is probably one of the easiest ages to fly with a child. I didn’t have to worry about kid friendly snacks or drinks. At almost four months old, all she does is breastfeed. I didn’t have to plan out hours of entertainment. She still can sleep for hours or be entertained very easily. Literally, my fingers moving slowly toward her face makes her belly laugh with glee. She’s not asking are we there yet, protesting the seatbelt, or fighting boredom. She was very stimulated just by taking in all the new sights, smells, and sounds of airplane travel. Of course she cried during the flight, it’s probably impossible to prevent that. But we were quick to soothe her, and I doubt many passengers even heard her. One man even said as we were leaving the plane that he’d fly with our daughter any time. I count that as a success!

But before we left, I was full of concern. We’d mastered flying within the United States. But were we ready for 2 flights totaling 24+ hours of fly time with an almost 4 month old? Honestly, I wasn’t sure. But we were doing it. After about 7 months back in the US where we not only gave birth to our beautiful baby girl but also soaked up fabulous time with family & friends, we were about to head back to our Asian home. This time, with an infant. We packed up all our possessions and began a long, but wonderful week of travel.

Not only did we need to purchase tickets, but we also had to get some paperwork together for her passport & documents before we could fly. In the US, babies are registered for a social security number at birth. They say it will arrive in the mail 6 – 8 weeks after the birth, but we had ours in 4 weeks. I had to go in person to the tax collector office to get an official copy of her birth certificate, however. And just to be prepared, I bought two. With the social security number & birth certificate in hand, I could fill out the application for her passport. We then had to take that application & birth certificate to a Passport Application office, which for us was a post office. We had also already taken her photo. This was tricky because her eyes had to be open, both ears had to be visible, our hands couldn’t be in the photo and she had to be centered in the photo. It took several tries! We finally put her arms inside of her sleeper [so she wouldn’t wave them around] and laid her down on her changing pad, which had a white pillow case on top. The result was adorable. The lady at the passport office said she hadn’t seen many this good! My husband and I had to go together to apply for her passport, or there was another set of paperwork we would have to bring if only one of us could go. With all that work done at the beginning, we were only at the office for 15 minutes! An expensive 15 minutes however, as a child’s passport in the US now costs $80. Within three weeks, we had her first passport. And immediately sent it off again for our Indonesian visas. Oh, the glamorous life of living overseas.

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Not long after Baby Travel Bug was born we booked our flights back to Indonesia from Chicago. We happened to book during an incredible run of low pricing on Qatar Airways. The three of us, our 5 checked bags, 2 carry ons, 2 personal items, a gate checked car seat & pack n play, and with a free hotel night stay in Doha, Qatar, one-way tickets cost us total under $1000 USD. Winning.

We had heard great things about Qatar Airways, but this was our first experience traveling with them. It definitely lived up to the buzz. The flight crew was extremely hospitable and helpful, providing toys, diapers, lotions & even a card for our baby. We had reserved a seat at the bulkhead to ensure a bassinet as well. The bassinet was great…when we could use it. Our first flight, she slept in it quite a bit. But the second flight was a little bumpier, therefore the pilot kept the seatbelt sign on for the majority of the 10 hour flight. Which meant she couldn’t be in the bassinet. I was still glad we had it though. While our first flight from Chicago to Doha was quite full, the second from Doha to Bali was less than half full. We had 3 seats to ourselves plus the bassinet. I also love sitting at the bulkhead with a baby because it’s so easy to get up and down for calming, entertaining, and changing the little one. The food on our flights was delicious, which I rarely say about airplane food! So glad we chose to fly with Qatar Airways.

Some things I was glad we had remembered to carry on the flight were: diapers, burp cloths, long sleeve onesies & socks [planes get so cold!], her swaddle, and our slings. My husband and I chose to sling differently, using either a ring sling or a wrap sling. Both work great for our baby girl and she can sleep & snuggle well in either!

Overall, I would definitely say our overseas flights with our baby were a success. It gives me confidence for our next flight as well. I’m sure as she grows and we have many more flights together, we can continue to learn the tricks and skills for traveling as a family.

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