“All you need to know is that it’s possible.” -Wolf, an Appalachian Trail Hiker
So many many hours of planning, wondering, worrying, waiting, packing and packing again finally culminated on the 26th of August at OR Tambo airport when we could check in all our baggage and go through customs. We were on our way to Brussels Airport (via Dubai) for our one-year adventure in Leuven. We have travelled with Eran before, but never internationally, so this was a first for all of us. Here are a few of the tips and tricks that made the journey enjoyable:
- Pray, plan, pray! The moment we started dreaming about this adventure, we asked God to go ahead of us and open the right doors. It is so comforting to know that we can trust Him with the big plans for our life, but also with the little daily details. I spent many hours researching prams, carriers and blogs to get the best advice for travelling with a little (Thank you @thebugthebird and @stellarizeyourlife).
“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” Prov 19:21
- Invest in a carrier. It is stressful enough to book in your luggage (we were overweight with 2 of our luggage pieces) and to go through customs (take off your belt, sometimes your shoes) without having to worry about how to get your baby safely through. With a carrier you have both hands free to manage your stuff, and baby stays nestled close to your heart. We LOVE our Ubuntu Baba carrier (currently using the Stage 2), we have used it on an almost daily basis and it is always with us as our first/last resort!
- We took a stroller. It made things easier when navigating the airports, and Eran could take his naps in there, giving me some time and space to also relax. It was very important that it could fold up tiny and steer comfortably with one hand. See my review for the Banimal Stroller in my next blog.
- Timing is everything. We chose a through-the-night flight as we knew this would be the best way for Eran to sleep most of the flight. He fell asleep when we finally cleared customs, and he thankfully stayed asleep even through the chaos of take-off. (We boarded first to have time to settle ourselves before the masses streamed in). One thing we did not know, is that the bassinets are only issued after the seatbelt sign is switched off for the first time. Eran thus slept on my lap for the first hour. You also have to take the baby out of the bassinet every time they switch on the seatbelt sign (for turbulence inflight). This caused some interruptions in his sleep, but it is still nice to have the extra space to use as necessary.
- Visit your GP / Pediatrician before you go. Eran had his One Year Check up just before we left, so I was confident that he did not have extra fluid build-up in his ears or any other issues that would bother him during the flight. I also asked his paediatrician (yes, even thought I am qualified, I strongly believe in not doctoring my own family) for something to help him calm down / sleep if it should be necessary. We took Vallergan Forte (an old, sedating type of anti-histamine), and we used it once when he woke up at 3AM in the plane. It helped him to calm down and then he could doze back to sleep.
- Breastfeeding saved me!! Even though his entire routine was upside down, a quick breastfeed could usually settle him and give him the comfort and reassurance that everything will be ok.
- During our lay-over we booked into a lounge. It was lovely to have access to healthier food (there were a lot of fruit and vegetables and salads available at the buffet), and space for Eran to roam and explore. Eran tasted his first hummus and olives and loved it! He even made friends with one of the welcoming personnel, and the two of them had a lot of fun.
- Our second flight was during the daytime. Eran took one nap during the flight, but the rest of the time we had to keep those little fingers and toes busy. Granny made a few Ziplock bags with activities / stickers / new toys to entertain him, and that really worked wonders! (Thank you for the idea @thebugthebird) We also had some rice cakes for him to chew on, and he ate from my plate for his meals.
So all in all we had a very blessed trip with minimal tears. We were all very tired when we finally reached Brussels and we were thankful to just fall into our beds at the hotel we booked into for the night.
Feel free to ask if you have any more questions and come back soon for a full review of the Banimal stroller.