To Asia and Back (Part 1): 40 Hours of Flying with a 1 Year Old

This past July, the family and I made a trip to Asia, specifically to Koh Samui and Singapore. Over the next few posts, I will share different aspects of the trip. Today for Part 1, I will focus on our first long haul flight with our son.

Traveling with a little one is no questions asked, a tough task. That is why my wife and I decided we wanted to go around the world to Asia, with our son. Before you think we are crazy for this, I have to say it turned out a lot better than expected. I won’t say it was easy but there was a lot I learned, that helped to make things go smoother. As someone who traveled a lot for business, I knew all the tips to make business travel a breeze – but now I am getting to learn how to make traveling with a kid a great experience.

Okay so I get it, I am not the first person to travel with a kid, so why am I writing this? Well it is simple. Since my trip a lot of new parents have asked a questions about “how we did it?” With that said I felt, it made sense to share a bit of what my wife and I learned. Keep in mind we did 5 flights over 2 weeks totally over 40 hours of flight time in economy.

Take advantage of the bulk heads
We all know that with a lap infant, it is easier to get the bulkhead seats, but what is even more important is that on some flights you will find 2 seat bulkheads. These seats are the jackpot for traveling with an infant. It gives you access to the window and aisle, without a window. One thing to note, bulkhead seats, have a lower width due to having trays and sometimes tv screens in the armrest; but the key here is that because of the seats, you get extra aisle space. This space is useful to stand or even make it easy to take a stroll.

Walking is not a bad thing
It will sound crazy, but on a especially long flights, like the JFK-HKG flight we took, walking is key! On a 16 hours flight, I must have spent 6-7 hours walking around with my son in hand. I have the Fitbit data to prove it! This really helped out as it kept him entertained and allowed him to stretch a bit.

Take turns eating
Let’s get to the point. Do not expect your lap infant to sit still as you try to eat off those tiny trays that popped out of the armrest. The best way to handle this is to take turns eating. And make it even easier, have one person order a special meal. Special meals are usually delivered first. When you couple this with sitting in a bulk head and walking around, it will make life THAT much easier.

Asia is very kid friendly
Our flights took us from JFK -> HKG -> USM (Koh Samui) -> SIN -> LHR -> JFK. Without a doubt, traveling through the airports in Asia with our 1 year old in stroller was a lot easier than US and LHR! What I mean by this, the staff tries to get you through lines and in many cases there are special lines for infants. This is especially true in Singapore – which has to be one of the most efficient airports I have ever visited in my life! Maybe saying Asia is kid friendly is a stretch, after all Asia is a massive continent and I am not sure Mumbai airport is this efficient – I am sure I will find out soon enough. You get the point though.

Keep that infant carrier close by
Our Ergobaby carrier was a life saver. You will come across times when you may not have access to your stroller for whatever reason. In our case, getting off the plane in Koh Samui, the stroller was sent right to baggage claim. Also, for our layover in LHR they sent our stroller straight to JFK. Having the carrier really came in handy at these moments. Running around an airport with kiddo in hand would not have been fun.

The cot is always handy
You may look at the cot and say, my kid will never sleep in there; but there is more use to the cot than you image. It is actually a great place to keep extra toys, sippy cups and things you want quick access too. The table that the cot sits on also comes in handy to keep an extra drink – though the airlines might frown upon this.

As I mentioned – these are some things, we realized along the way that really helped us out and saved our sanity. Personally, I am very glad we made the trip since it gave me a chance to experience something new with my son. In the next post, I will share a bit about the trip itself!