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Long Haul Travel With A Toddler (LONDON : SINGAPORE : MELBOURNE)

We've been back from our trip for four days now. I must say, we are adjusting pretty well! I have learnt through this trip that my 16 month old is extremely resilient and adaptable. Because of this a lot of my worries about taking her on such a big trip were unnecessary. As I grew up in Melbourne and live in London long haul trips are a regular part of our life. This was the first time I had brought Baby Girl back home and I will be a lot more comfortable in the lead up to the next one. I thought I would share some info on our journey and some of my tips for anyone else considering/ worried about long haul with a little one. My biggest advice, just do it! It's not as scary as you think it will be. The worry is worse than the reality and theres nothing better than creating family memories whilst exploring the world.

The Journey

We were away from home for a month. To break up our long journey to Melbourne we decided to stop over in Singapore for a few days either side of our journey. We took 4 flights in total.

London Heathrow - Shanghai Singapore (12 hours 40 mins)
Shanghai Singapore - Tullamarine Melbourne (7 hours 30 mins)
Tullamarine Melbourne - Shanghai Singapore (7 hours 40 mins)
Shanghai Singapore - London Heathrow (14 hours 10 mins)

We stopped over in Singapore for 3 nights on the way over to Australia and two nights on the way home. Singapore is not ever a country that's been on my radar to visit but I absolutely loved it. I'm going to put together a post on what we got up to in Singapore amounts some others detailing our trip.

The Flights

We flew with Singapore Airlines. We made the booking nearly a year in advance and were able to reserve our seats straight away to guarantee we had a bassinet. Baby Girl's ticket was free as is most travel for children under 2. This meant she didn't get her own seat. There is a seatbelt attachment that I attached to my belt during take off, landing and whenever the seatbelt sign was on and they set up a bassinet in front of us. The bassinet is designed to take up to 14kg (around 30 lbs) so Baby Girl was fine weight wise but she was only just able to fit into it lengthwise and even then her legs were squished. She had a few sleeps in it but we often used the bassinet to put things in for easy access.

We hadn't thought it through very well and all of our flights were morning flights. In hindsight, next time I will book night time flights to allow Baby Girl to have longer stretches of sleep but we managed OK as it was.

To keep Baby Girl entertained I purchased loads of new bits - baby headphones, flashcards, colouring and sticker books, mini play doh pots etc. I wrapped them all up individually for her and put them in a backpack with the intention that she could unwrap one at a time and that would keep her busy for periods of time. Sadly after a mad rush to our taxi we left the backpack at home. We managed to buy some baby headphones and other little things at the airport before our flight. It turns out it was all a bit of a waste as there was far too much going on for her to be interested in them and the many snacks I had packed was a far better entertainer. I think I'll try the backpack idea again when she's a bit older but for most of our flights we had a routine going. 1. Playtime (talking, singing, walking the aisles, pointing, people watching), 2. Snack time - I had a variety of healthy snacks packed including  nibbles, yoghurt pouches and even fresh sandwiches. 3. Sleep time - praying for a long stretch. Some sleeps were in the bassinet but most she was just lying on us. We would alternate baby duties between my husband J and I, meaning at any one time the other could sleep. I even managed to squeeze in a couple of movies throughout our numerous flights. We would both try and sleep when she slept.

The meal that was provided to Baby Girl was jars of baby food. I have never fed her jars and she progressed beyond purees a long time ago so we declined the meal option for her and gave her bits of our meal in addition to her snacks. Generally the food on Singapore airlines was good. I'm never a huge fan of airline food. I get most excited about the cheese and crackers! During meal times the crew would always ask J and I for both of our meal selections and would serve one of us first and save the meal for the other as unless Baby Girl was sleeping in the bassinet we couldn't have both of our trays pulled out at one time.

I have mixed feelings about the service from the crew at Singapore airlines. There is a difference between genuine customer service and providing service because it is your job. For most of the legs I found the crew a little cold and at times the service quite rushed. In my experience, I have received a far better customer experience from some of the Middle Eastern airliners in the past. That being said, our very last and longest leg our flight attendant was fabulous. You could tell she loved her job and she was genuinely happy to help us and that makes such a difference particularly when your travelling with a little one. This wasn't a deal breaker for me and it wouldn't stop me from flying them again particularly be cause I loved our Singapore stopovers. The seats on every flight were super comfortable and there was lots of room which is a huge tick for me especially when I had to share my seat for much of the time.

Our first flight left London in the morning and reached Singapore early morning the next day. Not ideal for anyone trying to get used to an 8 hour time difference really! Baby Girl was not feeling well during this flight, she had actually lost her voice. She sounded like a mouse so even when she was crying she didn't disturb the other passengers. The flight felt difficult at the time but I think it was just because I was quite tired. We had our routine going and it was pretty uneventful.

The most difficult flight by far was Singapore to Melbourne. We didn't know it at the time but Baby Girl had hand foot and mouth disease. This is a virus that affects mostly the mouth. The poor thing had blisters on the inside of her mouth and barely ate anything for 3 days. The worst day was the day of this flight. For the 7 hour flight she cried for the first 3 hours and then slept for the last 4.

Baby Girl was much better on the 2 flights back home and with our little flight routine we all nailed it. The 14 hour Singapore to London flight was by far our best flight. We all got a good amount of sleep and we landed in London at 7pm making it perfect timing for us to get home, settle and be able to sleep again and be tired for our actual bed time.

Packing And Luggage

Singapore Airlines standard package allowance is 30kg per passenger. They offer an additional 10kg for infant passengers plus an additional 2 checked items for a pushchair, travel cot or car seat.
We checked in 2 large suitcases for J and I, a smaller one for Baby Girl's clothes and took a pushchair that we were able to take right up to the gate with us before it got put on the plane. We also had two generously sized hand luggages that we took on board as well as the general handbag, camera bags, changing bags etc. We carted around a lot of bags for a month!

We were allowed 70kg of checked bagged between all of us and when we first left London we had only reached 50kg across our 3 bags. Different airlines have different policies but Singapore Airlines  was excellent and allow you to check in as many bags as you want within your luggage allowance.s It meant that when we did loads of shopping and were spoilt with Christmas presents we were able to bring an additional bag back which was super handy.

We did a lot of moving around during our stay and having so much stuff and having to pack it up each time got very tiring but I think that's just what has to happen when you're travelling with a little one. There's so much they need!

Dealing With Jet Lag

Jet lag is always something that I struggle with so I was dreading managing this myself and having to readjust Baby Girl's routine each time. UK to Singapore time difference is currently 8 hours. UK to Australia is 11 hours, literally flipping morning to night.

Baby Girl did wake in the middle of the night during the first week. The good part is that we were both pretty in sync with when we would wake so it wasn't like the normal toddler waking up for a party at 3am dilemma because when she couldn't sleep, neither could I. Each time she would wake I wouldn't force her to go back to sleep. We would get up, I would keep the lights quite dim and we would do something quiet like put TV on or read some books. Jet lag affects your appetite too and you can often feel hungry in the middle of the night so if she wanted food I would give her breakfast (we often had days consisting of two breakfasts). We would generally be up for a couple of hours and then she would be ready to go back to sleep again.

Her day time naps were longer than normal and within reason I would just let her sleep when she was tired. As we would venture out a lot during the day she managed with just one long nap a day. Within a week she had adjusted to her new time zone and we are now on our 4th day back in London and she is nearly back to her usual routine. She slept through the night last night but woke up at 6am (she's not normally an early riser).

I find that jet lag travelling to Australia is always worse than coming back.

If you enjoy travel posts, keep checking in over the next few weeks. I will be posting some bits about what we got up to in Melbourne and Singapore and also some reviews of the hotels we stayed at.

What are your travel plans for this year? I always like to have one holiday in the pipeline to be working towards.

Kat x

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  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Loved reading this :) I am planning to travel to Canada and Japan this year!

    Creepers & Cupcakes

    1. There's nothing better than travelling. Hope your trips are amazing x

  3. Looks like you had an amazing trip! I'm planning on going to New York this year x

    1. Ooowwweeee! I love New York. Hope it's amazing x


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