Long haul travel with a baby

If you are thinking that this is a post about how to make a long plane journey with a baby stress free you will be disappointed! Maybe do the opposite of everything that we did and you might have a good journey.

Long haul travel with a baby


My husband is from Ecuador in South America. When our daughter Sofia was born it was really important to us to take her to meet her Latino family. I did have a bit of trepidation about the journey but when Sofia was 5 months old we booked a night flight and started packing with military precision. A tiny corner of a suitcase for mine and my husband’s clothes and the rest of the baggage allowance taken up with travel steriliser, super light weight travel cot, folding booster seat, formula – you name it we brought it.

Except…..mistake number one we didn’t bring a pushchair – we figured we’d be fine with a baby carrier. We were flagging by the time we even got on the first plane.

Ominous start

Fate was not on our side – Sofia woke up on the morning of our trip with a cold and the first signs of teething. Being newbie parents we did not realise that this meant bring Calpol (an essential for any trip). She grizzled most of the way to Heathrow on the airport bus – this was not starting well.

Security issues

I’d carefully sterilised bottles for the flight and brought cartons of ready made formula for the journey. The airport security made me open and decant all of my cartons into the bottles at the security desk (so much for hygiene). We then had to re buy a load of new cartons at the airside pharmacy.

Plane delays

The flight to Amsterdam was really delayed because there had been a fire on the run way there so Sofia feel asleep while we were waiting. Once we did get on the plane after her power nap Sofia was wide awake and ready to play which on this short flight was fine. So far so good.

Watch a film?!

We transferred to the second leg of the journey and things started to unravel. We had the front row seats and a bassinette that attached to the wall. It was now quite late so we thought after we had taken off Sofia would probably fall asleep quite easily and we could relax and watch a film. I realise now this was never going to happen!

Terrible take off

We had a bottle ready for Sofia to drink on takeoff to stop her ears hurting but she had other ideas and refused to drink, plus got totally freaked out by the noise. Her ears and teeth were hurting. She started to cry, she started to scream – all hell broke loose!


We were the people that you never want to have on your night flight. I was walking up and down the aisle of very tired annoyed people with a near hysterical baby. Our nerves were on edge as we took it in turns to try and pacify our now very overtired and upset little girl. Getting her to sleep now seemed impossible we just wanted to calm her down.

A sympathetic steward let me sit in the staff area at the back of the plane and the change of scene distracted Sofia long enough to get her to calm down a little bit and stop screaming.


Then the turbulence started! Crazy horrible turbulence! We were strapped back in our seats with our very unhappy little baby. The man next to us was decidedly less chatty and friendly than he had been at the beginning of the flight. He started chipping in with ideas of what we should do which really weren’t needed!

Sofia did eventually sleep a little bit but kept bumping into the sides of the bassinette and waking herself up and getting freaked out and upset all over again. Rolando and I were crazy tired. I was staring at the little plane on the screen willing it to get to our destination faster and for this terrible flight to end. We had a little stop over in the Caribbean to refuel. We decided to just give up on night time and sleeping and start the new day. We sang songs we, read stories anything to pass the time. I realise that everyone must now hate us – who wants to hear The Wheels on the Bus at silly o’clock in the morning! (but it was at least better than the night time crying)

Volcano disruption

Just as the end was in sight the pilot made an announcement. Our flight was being affected by volcanic activity and we would have to take a different and longer route to our destination. Arrhhhh! Now it wasn’t just Sofia that wanted to scream.

Airport closed

A little while later announcement number 2 from the pilot there was a rain storm and they had closed our destination airport. We were being held in the air and may have to divert to another city. This nearly broke us! There are only so many kids songs that we knew.

Luckily there was a break in the weather and after what seemed like forever we were finally cleared to land in the scheduled airport. It was such a relief to finally get off the plane!

Touch down

Little did we know at that all of the roads to Rolando’s home city were flooded and we were about to drive into chaos! We had another torturous 5 hour road trip on badly potholed and rain soaked roads ahead of us. In that moment we were just happy to be back on the ground.

Precious memories

Even though the journey was really hard it was priceless for Sofia to meet her grandparents, aunties, uncles and cousins for the first time. We had an amazing 3 weeks visiting lots of people and doing some travelling along the coast of Ecuador. I’m so glad we braved the flight to have this once in a lifetime trip.


Family in Ecuador

P.S I spent the last few days of our holiday dreading the flight home. It was totally fine! We changed our departure airport to Quito the capital to avoid the difficult road trip to the airport and stayed in an airport hotel the night before. During the day time part of the flight Sofia was happy to play with anything new she could get her hands on (plastic cups and food boxes were a big hit) and in the evening she slept without any drama.

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

28 thoughts on “Long haul travel with a baby

    1. It was a comedy of errors! We haven’t been brave enough to do the same trip again with the whole tribe! If we went when the boys were under one then it would have been much cheaper but it just seemed like too much to cope with. Now the boys are older and need their own seats the price is a bit prohibitive. At least if we go when the boys are older they will have more chance of remembering it.

  1. HiSarah, not sure if you remember me but I was at Ranmoor with you- on the corridor above!! I’ve just had my 1st baby back in august – a little boy called Rohan- so I’ve really enjoyed reading your blog posts- they’ve got additional resonance now for me. Also I think you must have super-powers having twins!! My husbands malaysian and we’re planning a trip to malaysia in april…… feel anxious now having read about your trip to Equador. Look foward to hearing next weeks post, Nicky

    1. Hello Nicky – of course I remember you! Did you know they knocked Ranmoor down? Thanks for getting in touch and congratulations on becoming a mummy. It is such a special adventure. The twins plus Sofia are definitely a test of stamina some days but it has got easier and they are all a source of such joy. Please don’t let me freak you out about travelling. I don’t think this horrific flight was really too representative of air travel with a little one. The flight back was remarkably fine – I think it is a bit hit and miss how it goes and there are definitely a few things we could have prepared for better. We have done a few trips since and they have all been fine too. My top tips are bring a light weight stroller, more spare clothes and nappies than you think you could possibly need, calpol, snacks, new toys/books that still have novelty value – my friend even wraps them up like Christmas presents and maybe an Ipad with some stuff downloaded onto it.

  2. Oh my goodness that sounds like a nightmare and the problem is when they scream like that you get uptight and it makes it worth. We’re debating taking a long haul flight with our two next year, my son will be fine I’m sure but my daughter… the very idea scares me!
    Laura’s Lovely Blog recently posted…REVIEW: Get More Vitamin DrinksMy Profile

    1. There is literally no where to hide! Please don’t let me put you off this flight was a comedy of errors (although I had total sense of humour failure part way through). On more recent flights/long journeys we have taken the approach of plan for the worst and hope for the best and these have been way better – there are always going to be things that are out of your hands but it gives me more confidence to be very well prepared.

    1. Thank you Angela. Wow getting to NZ and back is an achievement. I think some of it is luck and the rest is preparation. We’ve not braved taking the twins on a plane yet!

    1. Oh I love New York, I went a few times before having kids (I’ll have to check out your New York must sees). I’m always more patient to people on planes now, having been the noisy ones!

  3. Oh gosh! I can feel your pain. I dread flying with my 3 boys. But that’s mainly due to Hayden. There aren’t many things more stressful than flying with an upset baby! Ellis was always a bit of a nightmare when he was smaller but I’m hoping he will be ok next time! There’s just the small problem of a baby that always wants to be mobile! Arghh xx
    Clare recently posted…Wicked Wednesday 11th NovemberMy Profile

    1. I can’t even imagine feeling brave enough to fly with all 3 kids. The boys would be bouncing around the cabin. Even a long road trip makes me a bit nervous now that they are the age when they don’t automatically fall asleep.

  4. Oh my gosh I feel so sorry for you!!!! What a hell of a journey over there. I feel quite stressed out reading about it so goodness knows how you feel. It’s definitely not easy taking little ones away on planes is it. It’s so unpredictable how it’s going to turn out. I’m so glad you enjoyed your holiday when you got there though. x
    Chloe recently posted…ORGANISE YOUR BLOG #10 – GIVEAWAY TRACKERMy Profile

    1. It was just a comedy of errors! We were so grumpy and stressed by the time we arrived. I think it’s a mixture of preparation and luck if a flight goes okay or is difficult.

      1. It really is that mixture. At least you’ve had a really bad experience now, any future holidays will feel amazing! 😀 Popping back but this time from #KCACOLS. xx
        Chloe recently posted…#MYSUNDAYPHOTOMy Profile

        1. Chloe we are planning a trip to Cornwall next summer will totally be needing your local knowledge!

  5. The journey out sounds like a nightmare, but worth it in the end! I find travelling so so stressful, so we stuck to very short journeys with Marianna. I’d like to think I’ll get more willing to try it with age, but I have my doubts! 🙂 #KCACOLS

    1. Thank you for stopping by and commenting. We are going to brave a trip to Cornwall next summer but I’m already kind of dreading the road trip. I don’t blame you for doing short journeys with your daughter.

  6. Wow what a trip, I’m glad everything was OK in the end and the trip back home was easier! First time we were thinking of flying with our boys it didn’t happen at all. My brother in law decided to get married in the USA. Boys were only just 5 months old, we probably could have made it, but then we would have been the only ones there with babies. After considering all the pro & cons we decided against it. We finally flew the first time with our boys when they were about 2 years old. We went to Spain on holiday. Before that we had been abroad with the boys before, but only by car. Amazing story!! #KCACOLS
    Markus recently posted…What a SAHD and twin boys think of fashion  #BEDN My Profile

    1. Oh weddings with little ones are so tricky even without a long trip thrown in. I think 2 years old is a good age as they are pretty much eating regular food. We found trying to figure out sterilising and prepping bottles a bit of a challenge (we bought a kettle and took it travelling with us).

    1. Thank you – it was the trip of a life time and priceless to have my husbands family meet Sofia for the first time. We haven’t braved it yet with our twins!

    1. Thank you for stopping by and commenting. I’ll have to check out your site to get some tips from a seasoned traveller!

  7. I know how stressful can be to travel to South America. I have been doing this for the past 11 years. But of course travelling with kids is even worst. I haven’t had such a bad luck like you but yes there is always something going on. It is a long journey and it is very tiring. With time I have realised that the best thing is to travel through the night both journeys so the kids will sleep most of the night. I have been doing this for the past 2 years and there is a massive difference. We normally fly through Madrid which makes the journey easier. I’ve heard that from May next year British Airways will travel directly from London to Peru which I’m jumping up and down of happiness. I hope it is true! Thanks so much for sharing this at #KCACOLS. I’m very happy to have you here. 🙂 xx
    A Moment with Franca recently posted…5 Safety Proof Tips For Kids RoomsMy Profile

    1. Hi Franca – thanks for commenting. That would be great news if BA start doing a direct flight – is so much easier to go direct. I think it helps that we now have an Ipad!

  8. Oh no! That sounds like a nightmare flight! It is very much luck of the draw when it comes to flying with babies, toddlers and children. It looks like you had a lovely time when you actually got there though (after all of the chaos on the roads). I’m glad the flight home went a lot better though, you will be well practiced for you next jet-setting adventure.
    Emma recently posted…Delving into the world of cloth nappiesMy Profile

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