Ladies and gentlemen..
I am so proud of myself for flying solo to Geneva – Switzerland with our 9-months baby! 👏🏽 Although it wasn’t a long haul flight, the challenge was real because the flight included a layover in Zürich for only 30 minutes!
I think a parent doesn’t like to fly alone with a baby, because you know .. a thousand of reasons. I researched the internet already weeks before the D-Day, found some useful stuff but didn’t really find some practical tips for „how to pack the cabin luggage and survive a crawling-hyperactive baby“. What kind of bag should I bring? What kind of clothes should I wear? Those are some questions among so many others which brought me to some sleepless nights. Also a very simple question remained unanswered before our first flight “how can you actually breastfeed a baby during the take off/landing while the baby is sitting on your lap with a seatbelt on“. Some friends told me that it should work out fine, but until the very day I couldn’t actually imagine how it should. Here’s a picture of how it did really work!
First off: if you fly alone with your baby and you get across a country border, it is very important to bring with you a pre-filled and signed consent form of the parent, who‘s not flying along! I got a draft from ADAC, but there are many other sources as well. Here‘s the link to ADAC.
Yes, the idea of flying solo with Aurélie really creeped me out already weeks before the big day! I didn’t want to miss the chance of seeing my whole family in Geneve and booked the tickets in a great excitement. Thing is, we just got back from Indonesia, which was our first long-haul flight (over 24 hours of travel duration!) with the baby. Shortly after our arrival, the German summer did a short break and left us cold-heartedly. This resulted in a rather annoying flu for Aurélie and me.. I almost cancelled our Switzerland flight because of this. But luckily both mommy and baby got well just in time for the flight.
Thank heaven Aurélie is a pretty easygoing baby and she doesn’t have any food problem at all. This way, I can save much work on food and rely on „Hipp“ baby food during our stay in Switzerland. Although you have to bear in mind, that in Switzerland baby food (and any other stuffs) cost double as expensive as they do in Germany! Geez..
Travelling within (West) Europe with a baby is actually pretty easy. I can only tell the west European side, since we haven’t been in the eastern Europe with the baby yet. You can save much space in the luggage, knowing that you can find the baby basic needs in almost all of the destination places. I usually only take so much food and diapers for the travel (and a bit more, just for worst cases.. you never know!) and buy the necessities in the destination place.
Well, I am a big fan of baby carriers. With a baby carrier, you can absolutely sure that your baby won‘t fuss. The baby is always on you and feels safe. And with a baby carrier you always have both hands free! That’s why I opted for the baby carrier (and not a buggy) for my solo flight with the baby. Our lightweight buggy (Babyzen Yoyo) was so compact, that it fit into our checked-in luggage (a 60 liter hard case Samsonite). And I was really happy with this decision! We got through all the procedures of security check and boarding so easily, almost as fast as travelling without a baby. And you don’t have to drag the extra weight of a stroller.
I won’t go on about my whole luggage check list. But I would love to share with you my cabin luggage, because there might be some mommies or daddies out there looking for a shared experience as I did (but didn’t really find) to prepare for our flight to Geneve.
Here‘s how I packed my cabin baggage and got through the security check easily:
I took ONLY a cabin trolley (one with a big main compartment and two front zipped compartments) and didn’t have any purse or any other bag with me. I put my purse inside the cabin trolley after passing through the security control and until we boarded the plane. This way I could concentrate only on the baby and the one piece of luggage.
It is very important to put all the necessities in a purse which would be inside your cabin trolley at first but you would take it out just before you board the plane. Why this way? Before boarding, you will be busy with your baby, so that it’s easier just to get ahold of ONE bag and YOUR BABY. But during the flight, it is more practical to get ahold of your important stuffs in an easy-to-reach purse (stowed underneath the seat in front of you) instead of from your cabin trolley, which would be stowed into the overhead compartment or in some small airplanes you even have to hand in the cabin trolley just before you get into the plane.
- What I put inside the purse (important stuffs for during the flight):
- Travel documents and wallet
- Tissues, baby wipes, a bib, extra set of baby clothing, a T-shirt for mommy (in case it gets wet from baby puke or whatever)
- A shawl / scarf (multifunctional! to cover the baby while nursing or to serve as an extra blanket, in case it gets cold in the plane).
- A diaper bag (we use one from „Skiphop“ with an integrated wipeable changing mat)
- Baby food, drink and liquid. Be sure to separate baby food from any other liquids (I used two different ziplock bags). When your baby already eats, it is also very important to bring some snacks. This can occupy her/him during the flight and is also good for during the period taking off and landing.
To fasten the security check, I put both ziplock bags and electrical gadgets (such as ipad or iphone) in my purse. I had the purse out of the cabin trolley before I started queuing. This would save so much time and you wouldn’t need to grab each item frantically once you‘re in turn for the security check. When you‘re done, you just need to put the single purse back into the main compartment of the luggage and put your baby back into the carrier.
You should look for a baby/family facility during the waiting time in the airport. I was very impressed with the facility in Zürich airport. It was a very roamy, clean facility for babies and children. They have a small kitchenette to prepare baby milk and food, a dining table with high chairs, some diaper changing pods and a large playing area with so many toys (and even computers!). The 1,5 hours of waiting went by very fast and Aurélie was so tired after playing there, that she slept through the whole flight to Nuremberg.
I couldn’t really believe myself, that we did manage the 5-hours travel well! Of course the most important thing is for you mommies (or daddies), to stay calm and relaxed during the whole thing. Take your time and don’t let anyone rush you. Plan some more buffering time for your check-in.. and go to the toilet first, before you take off. It was indeed not so easy, to pee in the plane toilet while holding a baby in one hand..
Have a good and safe trip!