Travelling with toddlers
Travelling post-pandemic is slightly more stressful than it was pre-2020, add a baby or a toddler to the mix, and the stress levels will skyrocket. Just as life with babies and toddlers is different to life pre kids (even tough now, we wouldn’t have it any other way), travelling is also different. Having said that, it is also more interesting and and way more fun, after all, we get to explore the world through their eyes.
Prior to taking our first trip as a family, I had read up on a number of blog posts regarding travelling with kids. Most of these blogs are thick on the ground and often carbon copies of each other, with every family travel blogger having his or her own take on how traveling with kids should be done.
They all have a lot of experience, and they all offer advice that works for their family on how to make it smoother or more affordable. So here is my view of what works, what worked for me and what made my life easier (and what didn’t).
My biggest fear was packing. Let’s face it, even going out for a morning/afternoon errand entails carrying half the house with us, so there I was, mind blown, trying to figure out how was I going to pack for days away.
Before I had my son, I used to travel for 4 days with just a small backpack, now, post-kids, I have more bags for just a morning out! How will I be sure that I have packed everything and that I did not miss out on anything? Will I pack enough for our stay? Thoughts which pre-mummy me never even thought of.
For our first staycation, I packed so much stuff that it really felt like we were moving out of the house, not merely going away for a few days. By the third and fourth staycation, and our trips abroad I realised that you can actually purchase most baby things if you run out of, unless you’re going to some remote place on earth, that is.
In this regard, here are my personal suggestion to how travelling with kids should go down:
Allocate space in your luggage which is solely for the child.
- Paying more for a hold luggage is much more worth it than having a hand luggage each. Toddlers will not carry their own hand luggage; REMEMBER you would have the pushchair and baby-bag as well. It is too cumbersome and too much of a hassle carrying the toddler, baby bag, and a hand luggage each family member up those plane steps (you learn from mistakes...as I did)! Ideally you only have the baby bag and another bag with you on the flight.
Most airlines will allow you 3 pieces of baby items on the flight at no extra cost, which items can be checked in.
Leave your arms as free as possible for the airport and the plane.
- I find it best to pack outfits together in separate bags. Now I know that we are all in for sustainability, so you might want to opt for a couple of the very convenient and close to ever lasting 'wet bags' which are available from many of our local reusable cloth diaper online stores such as The Cloth Nappy Co., Ikkuluriti and Bebbuxu. A slightly cheaper, yet not as environmentally friendly alternative would be plastic ziplock bags - either the ones which come with clothing online orders from Shein, Patpat or similar, or you can easily purchase packs from The Atrium - Maze Ikea section.
As a rule of thumb, I generally leave two outfits in the baby bag (in case luggage gets lost and for emergencies).
Do not pack a lot of extra outfits, I find that I am a more relaxed mama when abroad and I do not change my son’s outfits as frequently as I do when home. Plus, you can always hand wash quickly if you run out of outfits.
Do pack nappies but keep in mind that you can buy once at your destination. Also, keep in mind that you will change less frequently once out and about.
Medicines (such as calpol, melilax, cicaplast, cough syrup, nasal spray, saline water vials, mucus extractor, nappy cream etc), snacks and favourite toys go in the bag you will carry on board with you. The favourite toy will be a comfort for new surroundings but a new toy to enjoy on the plane is a good trick to keep the little one entertained for the duration of the flight.
Flight, bus or train rides, call for games and TV shows on the tablet. It keeps them occupied unless they fall asleep. Yes, screen time is frowned upon but at times it is essential. If you're not too keen on too much screen time, you can rule it out or balance it with baby/toddler activity bags. These are so conveniently age appropriate and educational according to your needs. Reach out to either Busy Bags Malta or Educatella for more information about these creative activities 🥰
A bottle or a snack or a dummy, if not all, are ideal for take-off - also ask your paediatrician if it is recommended to give a dose of paracetamol (such as Calpol) 1hr prior to the flight, my ped told me to do so...and it helped.
Side note; Airlines will allow more than 100ml of baby related items in the hand luggage/baby-bag. Yes, even a 1 litre of boiled water is allowed!!
Booking the last row means less people on the flight to disturb. Also, airhostesses are always around the back and are always nice to the little ones, waving or saying hello as they pass by (more entertainment). Easier access to the toilets is a plus of being seated in the last row.
I always carry a small tub of formula milk with me. Cows’ milk can be bought from anywhere! Do pack snacks with you, especially for little fussy eaters who will not try different brands than what they are used to.
Travel size baby toiletries are a God send, as is a small tub of travel clothes detergent and stain remover wipes.
- Email the hotel/residence from beforehand to ensure they have a kettle. Most might not have in the room but will offer you one nonetheless upon request.
My travel list includes: beach towel, bed sheets/blanket, bottle wash liquid, bottles, snacks, clothes, toiletries, facecloths/loofah, toddler cutlery, dummy (and an extra one), food bowls, milk, muslin cloth, nappies and swim nappies, medicine, pjs, swimsuit, toys, wipes, sun cream, water bottle, potty and changing mat.
- During our last trip abroad, my little one did not want to use the pushchair at all. He wanted to walk and explore. I will be investing in a locator tag going forward, as well as a safety harness. This Samsung locator tag was highly recommended to us - you can easily place this in toddler/kids jackets or in one of the tiny, seem to be purposeless pockets (apparently I have now found a good use for them) some children's cloths have :D
Do not worry about the little things - that the little one made a mess eating an ice-cream or a pizza – let them enjoy themselves and be happy. Making a mess can be educational too! Also, routines will not be followed but in all honesty who follows a routine when on holiday? We travel to explore and enjoy our time away from everyday life, our kids need that too. My final suggestion is to enjoy the holiday, make memories together, enjoy the time together and take loads of photos.