My husband and I love to travel and it did not take us long to yearn for the next holiday after we became new parents. Granted, we were absolutely terrified about taking a wee baby out of the house, let alone on a flight. We wound up speaking to other parents who were seasoned-pros at travelling with babies before we made up our minds to pack up our bags and hop on the jet plane.
Our First Flight
I would very much like to tell the world that we had a most wonderful first flight with our baby girl, but the truth is it was a complete nightmare. Our darling daughter, at three months old, practically cried non-stop during our flight from Singapore to Perth, and both of us barely made it out alive after taking turns to walk her up and down in the carrier throughout the five hours we were stuck up in the air.
The flight was so unpleasant and exhausting that my husband muttered, “I don’t ever want to travel again until she is very much older!” as we disembarked. I remember nodding my head fervently (but of course, we ate our words a month later), as I wondered how we were ever going to make it back to Singapore after the holiday came to an end.
We did what most new parents would do for the first flight. Pack way too many essentials such as diapers, extra clothing for baby and self, baby wipes, sanitisers, toys. Time the take-off to nursing or drinking from a bottle down to the nanosecond (as if that made a difference because my daughter simply arched her back and vehemently refused to nurse at take-off). Yet, things did not go as planned and so we apologised profusely to our neighbours who had to sit next to a crying baby for five long hours and smile politely even as they watch us newbie parents struggle to pacify our child.
When we stepped off the plane, we were convinced that we had made a mistake in taking our baby on her first flight at such a young age. Whilst the trip was much more pleasant; with friends who warmly hosted us at their baby-friendly home in Perth, we were scared out of our wits when the time came to leave for Singapore. We prepared for the return flight as we did for our first, and ironically, our daughter barely made a peep the second time round. That was when we realised that how the first flight would turn out for every well-prepared parent is really a matter of luck.
Second time onboard
With that in mind, I travelled with my daughter again (sans hubby, with my parents) one month later, this time to Penang, which is only an hour away on the plane. I figured that even if she fussed, we would not be stuck in the air for that long, and there is absolutely no way of telling whether the flight would turn out to be as unpleasant as our first until it happens anyway.
This revelation may be pretty obvious to other parents, but it motivated us to plan for our subsequent vacations to Bali, Bangkok, Hanoi, Jakarta and even Sydney, which is almost eight hours away from Singapore. There have been good and bad flights thrown into the mix, but we have not regretted travelling with our daughter since then.
The memories we have from these holidays are far too precious for unpleasant flights to stop us from taking our daughter on our adventures away from home. I’d say, get that passport done for your child, pack your bags and hop on the next available flight; that first flight may turn out to be a pretty daunting experience for new parents, but it will hardly be one that you will regret for the rest of life when you reap the benefits of travelling and making memories with your child.
By Rachel Tan
Traveled with your bub in the airplane? How was your first flight experience? Share them with us!
This was first published in The New Age Parents e-magazine