That Time I Took a Baby on a Plane to Australia…Throwback Thursday

I had a different post planned for today’s Throwback Thursday (which is hosted by Brittany at My Own Balance, so you should go on over and check out her link up), but then the organizer of my high school reunion posted a bunch of old photos in our Facebook group this evening, so I got all nostalgic for the ‘old country’ and dug up this ancient post to share, of the time I took a baby on a plane to Australia.

That Time I Took a Baby on a Plane to Australia - read all the way through for great tips on how to keep a baby entertained and happy on a long flight!

You see, it’s my 20th high school reunion this year (and I cannot really comprehend how that happened so fast). Bear in mind, our seasons are opposite, just like our hemispheres, so our school year ends early December and Australia has summer break right about the time we’re all bitching about the cold and snow and polar vortexes and what-not over here. That means my reunion is coming up in a few months.

We’re not going to make it back for the celebration, unfortunately – it is just ridiculously expensive. Baby T would still fly free, but Roman would be charged full fare and he’s really been slacking on the whole looking-for-a-job-to-help-with-rent department. He does seem to think he has a strong chance at a career in the construction industry, although yesterday he suggested to me we use his “power tools” (a broken water gun that’s become his electric drill and a fake thermometer he calls his spanner) to break Tanner’s crib apart in order to get the cat hiding under it (in terror of the toddler) out. I suggested shaking the cat treats bag instead and the crisis was averted.

This post is from the last time we went back, for Christmas, right before Roman turned one (so we’d sneak a trip in when we still didn’t have to pay for him). This was about the time I took an old, barely updated blog and thought, maybe I should post more regularly, so the post is pretty woeful. I have elaborated with a few stories from my present-day perspective to support the original post to make it more interesting. Enjoy!

That Time I Took a Baby on a Plane to Australia - read all the way through for great tips on how to keep a baby entertained and happy on a long flight!


I hope everyone had a great holiday! I haven’t posted for a while because we went to Australia for Roman’s first Christmas. I was so nervous about taking a baby on such a looooong flight, but was really looking forward to handing him over to grandparents so I could go work out, or run every day, free of babysitting charges!

Well, the good news is Roman was a trooper on the flight.  Despite a 3 hour delay at JFK, and another delay at LAX, we made it to Sydney with no meltdowns, just a lot of sleeping and playing en route.

Present day update: About that delay…so we were delayed getting out of JFK by about three hours, which in baby time is about 18 hours. But Roman was so good. We wandered around with him (in the Bjorn, he wasn’t walking), we ate dinner, he kept his cool and it actually worked out that when we got on the flight to LAX, it was past his bedtime and he crashed for about half of the way and we managed to entertain him for the rest of the flight. Then, we got to LA and it was late, I think about 2am our time. The captain announces that they’re going to do the quickest clean/refuel of their aviating lives and load us back on, then he and the co-pilot were going to put pedal to the metal and make up the lost time en route and he (confidently) estimated we would only end up being about half an hour late to Sydney. He was very clear to tell us, we all HAD to stay in the gate area when we arrived, which had bathrooms and power outlets and what more would we need, because TSA was no longer at LAX, so if we left the secure area, there was no way to get us back on the plane. This was all on the in-flight announcement. So everyone on that plane knew, don’t leave the gate area. 

The second photo below, of me holding Roman, was taken at the gate area of LAX, right after we were informed that one of the passengers had decided he needed to pop outside for a cigarette. They spent the next HOUR trying to get someone from TSA to come to the airport to screen him back in so he could get on the flight…to no avail. So our chance at making up time was wiped out, we all trudged back onto the plane and the captain came on the in-flight system again to let us know that when someone has to unexpectedly leave a flight, their luggage must also be located and taken off the plane. So those guys we saw pulling up on the tarmac below? They were just going to start looking for that guy’s suitcases. It was a LONG trip.

That Time I Took a Baby on a Plane to Australia - read all the way through for great tips on how to keep a baby entertained and happy on a long flight!

Back to my original post: The bad news, however, was that Fran and I both came down with a cold pretty much the same day we arrived.My advice to clients when they get colds is to continue working out if it’s just a head cold, but once it gets to your chest, all you can do is rest up. And drink tea. (The tea drinking tip is purely because I’m an Aussie and that’s pretty much my cure for anything). Well, we were chest sick immediately. Given that half my packing was workout gear, this was frustrating to say the least. Instead of being handed over to grandparents while I ran, he was handed over so I could get another hour of sleep.

We still managed to have a great trip. Christmas Day was lovely – the morning at my parents’ house, then lunch at my brother’s place:

That Time I Took a Baby on a Plane to Australia - read all the way through for great tips on how to keep a baby entertained and happy on a long flight!This is where I’m from, the Blue Mountains:

That Time I Took a Baby on a Plane to Australia - read all the way through for great tips on how to keep a baby entertained and happy on a long flight!We spent lots of time with family and I caught up with some old friends:

That Time I Took a Baby on a Plane to Australia - read all the way through for great tips on how to keep a baby entertained and happy on a long flight!

Present Day Update: I cannot believe how little Roman looks in these pictures. I also can’t believe he was 11 months old, yet Baby T at nearly 4 months has already outgrown that little fish onesie Rome is rocking. 

And we also managed a trip down to Sydney, to spend some time at the beach:

That Time I Took a Baby on a Plane to Australia - read all the way through for great tips on how to keep a baby entertained and happy on a long flight!

Present Day Update: FACT -Australian coffee is amazing. And I’ve lived in Italy and will still tell you Australian coffee is better. It was kind of lovely having an early-rising baby, because when we were down by the beach, we spent three mornings taking a walk and then just drinking coffee at a little cafe near the place we were staying, so we didn’t wake our family. Also, that’s my friend Elli in the picture at the bottom, who was my first Fit Mama Friday. I miss her so much! Our boys are about six months apart and she has a little girl, now, too.

And then the day before we left, Roman decided to start walking. 🙂

That Time I Took a Baby on a Plane to Australia - read all the way through for great tips on how to keep a baby entertained and happy on a long flight!

Present Day Update: This was a real-time oh-my-god-he’s-walking photo. One of my parents’ friends took it right as he took off. I had let go of him to see if he’d take a couple of steps, but he was way more ambitious. He’d been trying the whole time we were there to walk, but my parents’ place and my brothers’ place both have hardwood floors, so they were slippery. This was at the golf club near my mum and dad’s and was just wide-open carpeted space. He got a grip with those little feet and just ran. There was a lot of falling and giggling too, but the next day we got on the flight back home and had to take turns walking behind him up and down the aisles because all he wanted to do was walk. The great part was after three hours of this he was exhausted and slept the remaining 10 or 11 hours to LA in the little fold down bassinet, so we actually watched movies and slept and enjoyed a flight with a baby. Unbelievable, right?

I’m so happy to be back home, though, and can’t wait to train my clients again this week!

Oh, and if anyone has tips for dealing with a baby with jet lag, please let me know! I am getting desperate over here!

Present Day Update: I was desperate because we got back on a Saturday night, then Fran had to fly back to LA on Monday morning for a business trip for the entire week. So I was alone, dealing with Roman’s jet lag. He went from being a routine sleeper all the way through the night, to going to bed at 8pm, sleeping for an hour, waking screaming as if he was being murdered, then being wide awake until about 3am (I assume it was around that time he’d finally crash, because that’s when the strange silence would wake me from my fetal position on the nursery floor). It was awful.


I really was a crappy blogger. This would have been the easiest post in the world to actually offer real tips on traveling with a baby and I do often get asked for advice on taking a baby on a flight, since we did it for such a long trip. Honestly, you just have to hope you get lucky with their routine and temperament and mood on the day of travel. But now that I get this Throwback Thursday ‘do-over,’ here are some things we did that were helpful and hopefully they may help you, too.

TIPS FOR TAKING A BABY ON A PLANE

  • We planned ahead and saved some things especially for the trip. Roman had been eating solids for five months, but I’d always made all of his food. So we bought a bunch of those organic squeezy packs, as well as some puffs and snack things, all of which he hadn’t tried, as a way to use food as entertainment. Yes, that sounds bad, but guess what, it worked. You could also let them have food or snacks they wouldn’t ordinarily have. (The only caveat is to be mindful of the repercussions pumping a kid full of sugar in a confined space for a long period of time – choose those snacks wisely.)
  • In the diaper bag, we had a bunch of big ziplock bags (the freezer bag size), each with two diapers, a mini pack of wipes, a trial size cream (thank you, kind, local pharmacy!) and a plastic bag. That way, when we needed to change him, we just had to take our portable change mat and one of those little bags, not the whole diaper bag that takes up way too much space in an airplane bathroom.
  • Just like with the food, we had a few of his favorite toys with us, but we also had stockpiled a bunch of things he’s never seen before. Just little dollar store stuff (some of them were even dog chew toys, because Target was having a sale on them). Our sitter gave us a roll of painter’s tape before we left, which we didn’t end up having to break out, but her friends with a baby had sworn by it – just ripping bits off and letting baby ‘stick’ them wherever, since they peel right off. Just don’t bring anything that makes a noise. The other passengers hate you already.
  • We took turns. This only works if you only have one baby, but it was a good system. Set a timer for a certain amount of time that one parent is in charge, so the other one can attempt napping, or read, or whatever, without feeling guilty or like they should help, because when that timer goes off, SWITCH! It’s like lookout duty in an apocalyptic movie when the zombies are coming.
  • You are not beholden to your seat. Once that seatbelt light goes off, if your baby is awake and you know there’s no chance they’re going to sleep anytime soon, then entertainment can be as simple as walking them up and down the aisles, peeking them into the galley, chatting to the flight attendants at the back of the plane.
  • If you let your kid watch TV already, limit their screen time for a few weeks beforehand, so they’re jonesing for it. If your baby rarely sees the TV on, turn that puppy on. For the latter scenario, you don’t even need sound – the screen alone will entertain them for a surprising amount of time.
  • Above all, go out of your way to be super nice and friendly to the crew aboard the plane. They will then be your champions if your child gets fussy and other passengers start to roll their eyes and sigh loudly and glare as they put their ear plugs in with authority. They will bring you extra toys and snacks and coo over the baby and hold the baby while you get the bassinet set up.
  • Be prepared for the jet lag when you return (it’s almost always when you return, sometimes because of the direction you travel, but also because you’re just trying to get them back into real-life routine, not vacation-life of, oh, let’s just all nap whenever). Line up a sitter to help you out in the day if you can, so at least you can be rested for the nights. Also, talk to your pediatrician ahead of time about ways to get your baby back on track when it comes to sleeping, so you can follow their advice from the moment your plane touches down.

Have you ever been on a long flight with a baby? Got a tip to add?

Have you been to a reunion? Is that even a thing anymore in the age of Facebook?

Related: Did you love Grosse Point Blank as much as I did?

Comments

  1. We took our oldest to Australia when he was 10 months old and had a similar experience 🙂 Our youngest hasn’t been for similar reasons ($$). Even flying with the kids now, it’s all about fun snacks and entertainment!
    Susan Fishback recently posted…Running to runMy Profile

    • Carly Pizzani says:

      I think it’s a good age for a long flight like that! It was such a positive experience that we’d do it again in a heartbeat with the two of them if we had the money.

  2. Wow – you are one brave mama!!!! I wouldn’t want to get on that flight all alone, and with the boys? Never!! I was afraid to take them on a 3 hour flight to Disney when they were 4 so I give you TONS of credit!!
    Love seeing the throwback pics of Roman! It’s so sad how fast they grow. And those first steps? My favorite picture by far!!
    Allie recently posted…The Rundown – Wake-up Early and Carry a Small KnifeMy Profile

    • Carly Pizzani says:

      4-year-olds on their way to Disney has a whole lot more excitement/mania potential than a 10 month-old to Australia! I think i would be way more stressed in your situation! And I remember being relieved for you that you had lots of “support staff” for the trip to Spain!! I just can’t believe Roman was that little. I feel like he was like that in my head until the moment I saw him next to his baby brother and I realized, oh he’s a BOY now! Sniff, tear.

  3. My 10 year reunion is this year and so far I have not heard anything about scheduling any sort of event. We typically hold ours over Thanksgiving weekend as many people who have moved out of the area are home for the holiday. I think with Facebook it kind of makes the event unnecessary because you already talk to/know what everyone is up to. It’s kind of sad. I have a couple URL turned IRL friends in Australia and I would LOVE to fly out there one day but the length of the flight is so intimidating – and I don’t even have a baby to worry about! We even considered Hawaii for our honeymoon but the long flight from NYC feels super long. How fun that Roman took his first steps with your family present!
    Emilie recently posted…race recap: Citizens Bank 5kMy Profile

    • Carly Pizzani says:

      Honestly, the flight itself isn’t that bad…the tips for traveling with kids are kind of similar for yourself! Just make sure you have LOTS of entertainment and snacks and you invariably sleep some of the way anyhow. It’s really not as bad as you’d imagine. Go meet those friends in Oz! 🙂

  4. Wow! I bet that trip was amazing. All the pictures are gorgeous. I have never been to Australia. Sounds like the little guy did ok back then. You lucked out. You will have double the work next time you decide to go.
    lacey@fairytalesandfitness.com recently posted…A response to the “commitment” bloggersMy Profile

    • Carly Pizzani says:

      I know!! But I feel like the longer we leave it and the older Roman is, it actually will make it a little easier on us. You should definitely take a trip to Australia since you work in the flight industry!

  5. Oh my gosh the plastic bag thing is genius!!! I am totally doing that going forward.

    Also, were you just about ready to kill that passenger? I would have been LIVID! I was practically getting angry just reading about it.

    I love Australia so much. We are taking Cooper in November for his first birthday since Pete has a work conference in NZ. The coffee there is amazing. My in-laws always complain about the coffee in the US. 🙂

    Thanks for linking up. This was a great post!
    Britt@MyOwnBalance recently posted…Throwback Thursday: Healthy Is . . .My Profile

    • Carly Pizzani says:

      We were just so stunned that someone had done that! And it was made so crystal clear that there would be no way back onto the plane if anyone left the designated area. I remember being torn between thinking Qantas was amazing for working so hard to try to get him back on the flight regardless and also wishing at the same time they’d just immediately gone to collect his bags, since they must have known the odds of getting him back on were close to zero. And YES, the ziplock bag thing works so well! A friend of ours who travels often told us about it and it’s such a great idea. I also do it all the time for trips out and about with the boys.

  6. What? Italy, Australia? I had no idea you have lived all over the world! You are SO cool– I love traveling and Australia is one of those places I dream about visiting someday. What a great baby you have, that trip sounds brutal on a big person, but a little guy? and he was good the whole way… ahhh, so awesome!
    Lisa @ RunWiki recently posted…DIY Jacket Pull/Key Chain for RunnersMy Profile

    • Carly Pizzani says:

      Ha ha ha, no I’m just an Aussie! We travel far and for long periods of time. 🙂 Australia is a fabulous place, though, if you can get there one day with the kids, it would be an unforgettable trip for them (and you guys!). It’s funny, even now that Roman is going through such a difficult stage, he is just amazing anytime we have to travel anywhere, whether it’s subway, plane, train, whatever. It’s like you throw some form of public transportation in the mix and he becomes an angel. Weird, right?

  7. My cat hides under the crib too! We need a spanner. And that rhymes with Tanner!
    I’ve never been on a flight more than 6-7 hours – with or without kids. But if I had to do it to go home to the Blue Mountains, I would.
    Questions:
    Did Roman’s hair get lighter as he got older?
    How do you know if a cold gets to your chest? Coughing, or more?
    What do you honestly think about American coffee?

    Cassidy has traveled quite a bit and says the coffee here is dreadful. I always wonder from someone not from here, but who has access to quality NYC stuff!
    Tamara recently posted…I’ve Got a Disclosure Statement For You.My Profile

    • Carly Pizzani says:

      I always love your comments, Tamara! 🙂 Answers: Yes, his hair started lightening up around 12 months. I think it’ll end up pretty dark like mine though, because I was pretty fair as a little one and his goes dark in the winter when he doesn’t get much sun. Yes, once you’re coughing it’s in your chest. Above the neck symptoms like congestion, headache, sore throat and sneezing and you’re still good for exercise (just don’t do it in a gym where you can infect a whole bunch of people). And American coffee – let’s just say I am always VERY pleasantly surprised if I get a good cup of coffee. There are a handful of places here in Brooklyn and NYC that I know I can get a good cup every time, but then when I go to Australia and have a coffee there, I’m reminded what it could/should taste like and realize my standards have just been lowered! (I don’t want to come off as a coffee snob, but…I’m kind of a coffee snob).

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