What the books do not tell you about fatherhood, what I am doing about it, plus the story behind @the_littleglobetrotter Instagram account.
Recap from Monday’s post; I am a first time dad, who's life got turned upside down by the unexpected realisation that everything I thought made me a man, wasn’t so. Ever since my wife and I had our son, I have been searching for ways to disconnect myself from the daily grind of a 9 to 5 job to spend more time with my family. My career is no longer my number one priority, and I am on a journey in search of a better work-life balance. So let’s continue where we left off… I took 4 weeks off from work and booked three tickets to Bali.
You must be thinking; first time parents? On an 18 hour flight halfway across the world with a 4-week-old baby? You must be mad! I understand the reaction, however it wasn't as crazy as it sounds. My wife is Indonesian with most of her family still living in Jakarta, and we organised a last minute baptism, so my parents also flew from Malta (where I’m from) to meet us in Indonesia to fulfil their god-parent duties. As it so happens, it was also my brother-in-law’s wedding, so the timing couldn't be any more perfect and more compelling for us to just do it. All we had to do is survive the flights - sounds easy right?
This wasn't our first rodeo either, as an international couple we did a lot of flying before baby, but with baby, this is was completely new to us, so what did we do to prepare for this new adventure?
1. Be organised, pack in advance
I don’t know about you guys, but as a man, my organisation and preparation skills are under-developed (to say the least). My wife on the other hand is a multi-tasking, packing and organisation ninja. Let’s just say, if life was like Candy Crush, she’d be on level 2,065 whilst I’d be on level “still downloading the app”. So my first bit of advice is; play to your strengths. If packing was never your thing to begin with, it’s definitely not going to be your thing with a newborn in the house.
So, what to do in the meantime? Plan the trip, find out about the destination, or in my case my job was point number 2:
2. Make sure you have all the paper work in order.
It was my job to register our baby, collect birth certificate and apply for a passport. Slight complication; I had to do this within two weeks and since we’re both expats here in the UK, baby Marlow was not entitled to a British passport. So I was on the next flight out of London to Malta in order to sort out everything there.
3. Get on the phone to the Airline, and explain your travel situation.
Just like you’d ring a restaurant in advance to book the perfect table for a special occasion, get on the phone with the airline and explain your situation beforehand. Ask for a bassinet! I cannot emphasis enough how valuable this is! Being given a bassinet seat doesn’t only mean your baby has his/her own cot in the sky, but parents get to sit at the very front which means extra legroom, which basically, on a long haul flight is more valuable than gold! Also it’s ok to be a little cheeky; ask if they could block an extra seat in between your seats. We do this all the time and if the plane is not fully booked, the staff are always happy to help.
4. Book a hotel room by the airport.
We'd booked an early flight from Gatwick, which is a good 3 hours from our house. We decided to drive down, stress free a day before our flight and spent the night close to the airport. Again this proved to be invaluable, and a very good idea. The last thing you want is to already be stressed before a long flight with a new born. Thanks to our cunning plan, we were able to get to the airport in plenty of time, check-in our luggage (stroller and car seat) and have a calm, delicious breakfast. The family priority security line makes Gatwick our favourite airport to fly from, it’s just a pity it's so far from home.
In Part Three I will reveal the most important tip to make sure your future flights with a newborn are as painless and stress free as possible. See you on Friday!