Mellow Mummy: Travel With A 1-Year-Old : Be Airport Savvy : Taking life as it comes...

Monday, 28 June 2010

Travel With A 1-Year-Old : Be Airport Savvy

Airports. Ug. I found them stressful enough before I became a parent, but now... OMG! I've travelled abroad twice now with Lara so I have some tips and rants to share...

The first tip I have is to make sure you know what your plan of attack will be if you are bottle-feeding your baby.

The first time I took Lara on a plane, she was 3 months old. At the time, I had just started combination feeding and as we were going to warmer climes, I also needed to offer cooled boiled water. I did my research in terms of what I would/wouldn't be allowed to take through security in terms of formula and water and found that although the rules are clear (you can take what you need for your child during the flight but you may be asked to sample it), that in reality, it is very much up to the individual member of staff you meet at the security desk and that the rules and approaches differ greatly between airports.

We were told that at Gatwick you could buy cartons of ready-made formula from branches of Boots in the departure lounge. They only had SMA available so if you are after a specific brand, I'd recommend giving the branch a call beforehand as I believe they are happy to get different brands in on request but it does all seem like a bit of a faff. At Heathrow, I've found that the Boots branches stock a much wider range of brands and types of formula.

That first trip, I chose to take powdered formula and bottles of cooled boiled water through UK security. We were asked to taste the water but, more stressful than that, Lara was subjected to a detailed search! After queueing over 40 long, hot minutes for an X-Ray, we were stopped as I passed through the scanner and they member of security staff insisted on running the metal detector over her causing to scream even louder than she already was.

A random photo of a sleepy Lara

This time around, UK security was a lot less stressful now that I don't have to deal with cooled boiled water and sterilised bottles. We were however asked to taste the sachet of emergency fruit puree that we took for Lara, even though it was well within the guidelines for the maximum volume of liquid allowed. This is particularly annoying given that it then had to be used within 24 hours when I had been hoping not to have to use it as all. I'm pretty certain they only did it because they didn't recognise what it was.

My second tip is to make sure you take plenty of supplies of all the essentials such as nappies, wipes, cream and snacks.

On my recent trip to the states we took just enough disposable nappies and infant formula to last the trip. On our last day I had 6 nappies and 3 sets of powder left for the journey, which should have been plenty. As we entered the airport we discovered that our flight was delayed by 15 hours – argh. In Newark airport there is simply NOWHERE that you can buy any of the above baby essentials... NOWHERE. As the day wore on we were getting low on nappies, so low that I begged the airline for some but they bring them in from the UK and had already run out on our plane. Argh. We finally made it home with a single nappy to spare – that was close!

My final tip is to pay attention to what the airline want you to do with your buggy! Not every airline or airport is the same. Some places like you to take the buggy all the way up to the aeroplane door, others require that you leave it at the departure lounge or gate. Some places will send your pushchairs through on the conveyor belt to baggage reclaim, others will plonk them at random places in the airport. It is best to find out from the staff on your plane exactly what will happen to your pushchair otherwise you may find yourself hanging around like a lemon, as we did, waiting for a pushchair you should have picked up miles away.
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