I have been flying with my daughter for around 8 years now (when she was just 2 months old). At the age of 3, she travelled to Singapore from India with me. There is a lot of information I want to share with you if you are preparing for international travel with an infant or toddler. The preparation is not only about the date of the journey, but it starts a lot before. I mean you have to start preparing for your international travel with your toddler a month or two before.
Yes, that’s real!
In this blog, I will specifically point out the requirements to be able to board an international flight with a toddler. I will also list down some in-flight requirements so that you are not astonished by anything that happens on the flight with a toddler. In the meantime, I will also share my experience of flying with my child alone internationally several times.
Toddlers’ international trip planning starts at least two months in advance
Kids need time to adjust, especially with vaccination. Sometimes your paediatrician suggests to start vaccinating your child a month or two before. So here are some important tips to prepare for your next international flight with a toddler.
Vaccination record/immunization card
You must have your child’s immunization card handy. Individual countries have various norms when it comes to vaccination. The normal vaccine that your child might have received might not be sufficient for them to travel abroad. Tell your paediatrician which country you are about to visit and they might suggest you some extra vaccines. Sometimes vaccines are important to protect kids from diseases that are common in the country you visit. Mostly these are waterborne diseases, like typhoid, yellow fever, TDP, COVID-19 and more.
Make sure every vaccine your toddler takes, is mentioned with due details in the immunization card. You will require this card for their lifetime, especially, during immigration, school admission and many other essential points when they are still young.
When you visit a paediatrician make sure to ask for emergency medicines. During travel common health issues are inevitable. When you are abroad, you may not be aware of the new medical system, so it is essential to carry all emergency medicines for your child during international travel. You can take common medicines for health issues like fever, nausea, cold and cough, diarrhoea, constipation, and stomach ache for example.
Make sure you carry the prescription along with you or else you might not be allowed to carry the medicines with you.
Many countries do not allow over-the-counter medicines for many common diseases as well therefore it is crucial to carry the prescription along.
Fit to fly certificate
In most cases, before international travel, adults have to go through a medical screening process. However, kids till a certain age are exempted from the process. However, airlines sometimes ask for a fit to fly certificate in the case of children. Your paediatrician will be able to write a fit to fly certificate where they will mention the health condition of your child and that they are fit to board long-distance flights. The doctor will write that on their prescription pad for you.
Carry that along with other medical documents at the airport as you may be asked to show them at the airport.
Documents to pack for international travel for your child
Documents are one of the most important things to carry for your international travel. Knowing which documents to carry is essential. Here is a list of documents that you need to carry for your child for international travel.
- Birth certificate
- Fit to fly certificate
- Prescription for any medicine that you are carrying
- Any medical history which may be required in the future (Especially when you are relocating abroad)
Carry-On baggage packing when travelling with a toddler
Now it’s time to pack our luggage for the final journey. With a toddler, you have to be very particular about what you pack for your hand luggage or carry-on luggage. There are a lot of do’s and don’ts for carry-ons when you have an accompanying toddler. So here are some details according to my experience.
Baby food for the flight
You are allowed to carry baby food on the flight. It could be home-cooked food, canned food or formula. Any food item that you carry for your child will not be counted under the TSA liquid limits. You can also carry water for your child in flight. However, hot water will be available on the flight but for kids, it is always best to carry water along with you.
Pack emergency medicine in hand luggage
Common medicine like nausea should be handy in flight. So, make sure to carry that along with you in your carry-on baggage. If your child has some specific health issues which might trigger during the flight, you must pack them in your hand luggage so that you can reach out to them during any emergency.
My daughter at the age of 3 was suffering from asthma. She needed inhalers now and then so I packed her inhaler kit with me in the carry-on.
Keep wet wipes handy
Pack a big pouch of wet wipes when travelling with your child. You will need a lot of it during the flight to clean the surrounding areas of your child such as the aeroplane seat, seat belt, food tray toilet seat and even while changing nappies. it to clean the surfaces around you, clean your baby’s hands, clean them in the toilet and so much more.
Diaper is a must
Carry at least 5-6 diapers with you on the flight. You may need it during the flight as you may not be allowed to use the washroom every time.
In 2019 I was travelling with my child when she has outgrown diapers but still I had a few with me for an emergency. Suddenly, she frequently wanted to use the washroom, which was soon restricted. Then the diapers came to the rescue.
Carry a pram/stroller in flight
If you want, you can also carry your child’s pram on the flight with you and leave it at the flight entrance. If you have a baby or toddler travelling with you, you can carry along a pram with you till the flight door. When you reach the entrance of the flight you can leave it there with the airport assistants and they will make sure that your stroller is loaded along with your check-in luggage on the same flight.
Get some toys to beat boredom
Is there any comforting toy or a pillow or anything in that matter to which your child is attached to? Carry that along with you to comfort your child at times when they feel uneasy during a long flight. Taking a few mess-free toys along will help to keep your little one occupied.
It is always better to choose toys that do not make noise, are not battery-operated and do not have small parts. Books play an important role. Take a few colourful books which are interactive and your child will be occupied for a long.
For breastfeeding moms
It’s okay to breastfeed your baby in flight. Wear nursing clothes and carry a nursing cover for extra protection. Mostly when babies cry in flight, breastfeeding them is the most common way to comfort them and keep them calm during the flight journey.
Get set fly!
Mental preparation for a long flight is crucial. If your child is at an age where he/she can understand the trill of a flight, then prepare them by telling them exciting stories and showing them supporting visuals as well. In this way you will create a positive view of the whole journey in front of your child and your journey will start with an optimistic thought.
Let us know through comments about your personal experience on an international flight with a child. Also, feel free to mention points that are not covered here and you think its important.