If you’re flying long haul with your baby and unsure whether a stopover will be worth it or not, here’s our opinion: yes, yes, yes. And just in case you’re not clear: that’s a definite YES. On a long haul flight, even a 24-hour stopover will be enough to make a world of difference to both you and the travelling bub. It’s even more strongly advised if you are travelling solo with your baby.
There are a few principles to making a stopover successful.
During a stopover – at least, a stopover of 24 hours or less – stay on your home timezone – deal with jetlag and the change at your destination. This way everyone is far more likely to sleep and eat well.
Sleep when the baby sleeps. Do NOT be tempted to watch movies or read books. Sleep you crazy person, sleep.
Eat well – both adults and babies should try for some nourishing meals, to buffer the challenges of eating in flight.
Find a hotel as close to airport as possible (assuming you’re only staying 24 hours) and don’t bother with doing too much – frustrating, we know, when you are somewhere exciting – but remember, your goal here is sleep, rest, stretching your body and recharging for the second leg.
Here’s how one of Sue’s recent stopovers looked on a trip from Sydney (Australia) to Europe via Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates):
- Whipped through customs in 10 minutes, having arrived late at night (11pm).
- Stepped into prebooked vehicle (don’t risk taxi lines – splash out on a driver, seriously, now is not the time to economise or spend more time waiting around. Your goal is to get to the hotel as quickly as possible).
- Was driven 10 minutes to a big hotel near the airport where she ordered dinner at midnight for herself and her 10 month old.
- They played in the room from midnight till 3am before both slept for 3 hours.
- Then, she caught the start of the breakfast buffet, headed out for an hour or two playing in the baby pool, before back to a ten hour sleeping for all involved.
- By booking two nights accommodation (ie: stretched over 24hrs in total) she didn’t have to leave hours before her 3am connection; instead, she left the hotel around midnight, this time in a local taxi, for 25 per cent of the cost of getting there with a private driver (this is easy to organise via the concierge on the spot).
How to choose the best stopover accommodation.
When choosing a hotel you’ll want somewhere reasonably close to the airport (because your focus will be sleep, rest and food rather than sightseeing – save that for your destination), with room service options (because you’ll be hungry at the wrong times for their restaurants).
Ideally, breakfast will be included (because fancy hotel buffets are a great option for feeding anyone over about six months old on solids – adults too!). And a pool, of course, a lovely pool. That’s it.
No stopover and flying long haul? We highly recommend a one-off airport lounge pass. (See our post on airport lounges for more.)
Want tips for the actual long haul flight? We’ve got lots of ideas here.