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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.