Flying alone with baby in tow? Then you’ll know that the only thing that makes most parents more nervous than the term “flying with a baby” is this one: “I’ll be flying alone with a baby.”

“Flying alone with baby? Are you crazy?”

Of course you’re not!  In our experience, the idea of flying solo with a baby is usually worse than the reality. (And even if it’s not, the old adage: “It’s only X hours/minutes to go” helps a treat.)

To turn your solo flight into a success story, try this list:

7 tips for successfully flying solo with a baby.

1.    Pack well.

By this, we mean don’t overpack.  There’ll only be one set of hands, and at some point you’ll have to give up your trolley, your pram and most of the ways of carrying objects (human and non human), so keep things realistic. Our packing tips post should help.

2.     When it come to carry on luggage: buy a rolling backpack.

Because if there’s only one of you, sometimes it’s easier to roll your bag, and sometimes it’s easier on your back. With a rolling backpack (a small carry on size
backpack that also has wheels) things navigating an airport becomes way easier.  We should also add that if flying solo with a baby, keep this carry on down to one bag plus a small cooler with the baby’s food in it. Any more than that and you’ll drown.

3.    A baby carrier is worth its weight in gold.

When flying alone with baby onboard for the ride, unless your baby absolutely refuses a carrier like an Ergo (some do, but most are pretty happy), a spot of baby wearing will make your experience far easier.  Leave the baby in the carrier at check in, when boarding, when crossing the tarmac or getting on/off transfer buses; it all makes things far smoother.  Remember, they’ll have to be taken out of the carrier when going through security, and on take off/landing (but other times during the flight, if your child is whingey, a walk up and down the aisle in the carrier can work wonders – including to get them to sleep, assuming they’re not too excited by all there is to see.)

4.    Have low expectations on your baby sleeping during the flight.

When babies are over about six months old, going on a plane is super exciting.  Even if it’s nap time, excitement will probably trump tiredness; if you’re booking a SHORt flight at short notice (and therefore know what their current sleep times are) try to time the flight for a time they’ll be awake. Sounds odd: why wouldn’t you want them to sleep during the flight? Of course, you would, but in our experience this is not realistic. If it’s a short flight of 3 hours or less, you’re probably better off to time their sleep to happen before you leave or to happen in the car once you’ve arrived. Much more likely.

5.     Accept offers of help.

If you’re flying solo with a baby, people will offer to help you the whole time. They will offer to help with your bags (including lifting them into the overhead) and even with holding the baby while you go to the toilet, basically, lots of people will be proactively offer to give you a hand.  Say yes.  Really, say yes.

6.    If nobody offers to help: ask.

Don’t struggle with the baby in the carrier and an attempt to shove your bag into the overhead locker, that’s crazy. Instead, look around and ask a healthy, able-bodied passenger sans kids to help. They always will. Wouldn’t you?  Sure, it would be nicer if people offered, but sometimes they’re just in their own world: just ask (a far better option than struggling or, equally bad – mentally swearing at everyone who isn’t leaping up).

7.  Have the right transfers organised in advance where possible.

This isn’t the time to skimp on transfers. Have a car waiting, or take a taxi.  Public transport or slow shuttle buses are probably not your smartest option: your goal should be to get to wherever you are staying asap.  See our post on transfers for specifics.

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Aussie journalist, travel writer and founder of Sue White has always been a traveller. When her son was born, Sue knew her travel itch would still need regular scratching. But how do you travel with a baby under one and still have a good time? Is it even possible? Where do busy new parents discover practical tips to support those first few trips? To find out, Sue and her baby son travelled both Australia and Europe doing house sits and house swaps; cat sitting and car journeys; took on 24 hours flights and short domestic jaunts; travelled with friends, solo and family members; and cycled, drove, flew and train-ed around seven countries, all before his first birthday. Learn more about Sue.