JDIM Tips: Travelling with a baby/toddler

Somewhere in Lanzarote. Photo taken by justdoitmum

Good day darling readers!
It’s been a busy few weeks with a poorly toddler. Finally, the light is so bright at the end of the tunnel! It’s amazing how they pick up all sorts of virus from nursery! I can only hope his immune system is being developed to be extremely sturdy so in future he is sickness proof!

So now that we are over the sick spell, it is time for us to start planning for a few holidays we have coming up over the next few weeks. I remember the second time we travelled with our son, he was 9 months old then. We were only flying less than 2 hours to Nice for a long weekend and we packed the whole world! I think it is safe to say we have since picked up a few tips here and there for more efficient travelling with a baby/toddler.

Here are a few tips which were useful for us. As always, feel free to share your tips as well.

1. Where are you going?

I know this sounds like a silly question. However, whether you pack the whole world because you are travelling with a child or just enough, for us, depends on where we are going. If we are having a city break, travelling to the states or to Europe, or to a country where we are staying with family members who have kids, we tend to pack more conservatively. This is because, often you find you can pop into the local supermarket to top up on essentials if you happen to run out of supplies. 

However, if you are going on an adventurous holiday or to a country you have never been to before and you don’t have family there, my rule of thumb is – I’ll rather be safe than sorry. Pack as much as you can for your baby or toddler, within reason of course.

2. Ditch the hand luggage!

I remember the first time my sister-in-laws suggested this, I looked at them like, what are they saying? How can I ditch my hand luggage? However, the last couple of trips we have taken with our son has been a lot better without hand luggage or with minimal hand-luggage. Let’s break this down a little.

Imagine you are at the airport, for the ladies, you have your handbag and a hand-luggage to wheel around. If you are travelling with your partner, he too maybe has a laptop bag, and a hand luggage to wheel about. Between the both of you, you have a child in a push-chair, who also has a baby bag with his nappies and food and toys and change of clothes in. Now tell me, how do you intend on juggling all of your luggage with a cranky toddler? Exactly, I thought so too. 

Ditch the hand-luggage or limit it to two pieces so one person can handle the luggage while another handles your kid(s). It is even more important when you are travelling alone with your kid(s). If you can get away with travelling with just your baby bag, just do it! This can obviously change when you have a child old enough to carry his own luggage. Good luck!

3. Are your kid(s) diesease proof?

Are you kids up to date with their jabs/immunisation? If for whatever reason you are anti-immunisation, I’m not even going to argue with you. Just ask yourself if the country you are going to may impose serious health risks. If the answer is yes, either change your plans or get the child the jab! I should add that the fact you are up to date with your jabs does not necessarily mean that your child will not fall ill. However, it reduces the chances of contacting anything serious. I remember the first time my son went back to Nigeria with us, I think that was the day he started being weary of going to the doctor’s surgery as he had to get three jabs in one day. Did I enjoy seeing him go through all that? No. Was I happy I had done everything in my power to make sure he was protected for his upcoming trip, yes. Better safe than sorry.

4. Snack up!

 

snacks for the little one on a recent trip

Most kids snack inbetween meals anyway. However, I find that being prepared with a variety of snacks in my son’s baby bag helps pass time and keeps him busy while waiting to board the plane / during the flights. We have never been fans of giving kids sugary snacks (except they are natural sugars). This is not to say he hasn’t had the odd one here and there but we encourage him to have snacks like breadsticks, raisins and fruits instead. He is more than happy with these. So, his baby bag is always prepared with small bowls of fruits, raisins and breadsticks snapped into two. Some kids also enjoy vegetables like carrot sticks and cucumber sticks. However, I haven’t been lucky enough to receive the OK response from my son when I tried this (I won’t give up though). 

During the flights when your child is getting restless, offer them snacks. It is always best when these are snacks they recognise, like and are used to. There is no point trying something new when you are thousands of feet in the sky.

You should also pack enough of these snacks (not necessarily fruits as I’m sure you can buy these everywhere) to last you your entire trip and the flight back home.

5. Prepare for ear popping 

Some people have issues with their ears when they fly, particularly at take off and landing. I know there have been some occassions when my ears would just feel really blocked or hurt during these periods. An adult will usually try a series of things including sucking on a sweet. As sugar is not really encouraged in kids (as it can make them over active particularly if you are trying to keep them calm during a flight), you could invest in some sugar-free sweets for kids that are old enough to have sweets. For younger kids, babies for example, you could either breastfeed them, or give them their bottle of milk during take off and landing, so that they are doing the sucking motion at this time which will help their ears if necessary. 

I’m sorry to admit that I don’t really have any tips for kids who aren’t old enough for sweets but too old for milk! Maybe when my son is at that age I will be forced to be innovative and share then!

6. Capol? Check!, Nurofen? Check! Thermometer? Check! Make sure you have travel insurance!

Kids are unpredictable. In as much as we never pray or plan for them to fall ill, you wouldn’t want to be unprepared. Pack a bottle of capol and nurofen and your thermometer just in case. If things get worse (hopefully it won’t) contact your travel insurance company to see what your medical options are before you head back home.

7. Pack for all weather

If you are going on a sunny break, pack a few long sleeve tops and trousers for the kids as often, in the evenings, it gets windy and colder than during the day. Also, you may want to go on a boat trip or something similar which usually involves cold winds.

I remember on one occasion, we went to South Africa at the beginning of their summer. The plan was to stay in Johannesburg but plans quickly changed which meant we got to spend a couple of days in Cape Town. It was equally warm however, as tourists, we found ourselves at the top of the Table Moutain, which is 1,085m above sea level, with our then 9 months old son, in his summery outfit! Of course it was colder up there. Thankfully we had all sorts of outfits in his baby bag. We quickly layered him up and wore a pair of socks for him as gloves! It was a great experience though. I can’t wait to tell him the story when he is much older.

8. Pack their favourite toy or activity

To the extent their favourite toy or activity is portable, take it with you on your trip, you won’t regret it. Our son loved his toddle bike which we took everywhere with us. When he outgrew that, he got a foldable tricycle from his uncle or Christmas which we now take anytime we travel. He loves riding on it when he gets bored during our vacations. I also pack his bath toys and a couple of books to read at bed time.

Obviously, I’m aware kids are entitled to limited luggage space when they travel. I happily sacrifice some of my own luggage space for him because I know if he is okay and happy, I too will have a lovely time.

9. Room service is your best friend 

Now, South Africa was the first trip we made with our son and I have to say we learnt a lot on that trip. I remember naively planning to have dinner out in restaurants after his bed time, thinking it will be lovely as a couple. We quickly learnt that there is nothing lovely about a cranky crying baby in a restaurant at dinner time! We soon learnt to either have dinner and ensure we are back at our hotel before 7pm, or order room service. This way, our son could also be in bed at his usual bed time.

Also, for breakfast, we find it is worth the investment paying the extra 5 pounds or whatever the equivalent is to have breakfast in our room. This is because I don’t have to worry about my son running around in the breakfast room at the hotel, or disturbing other people who are trying to eat. In the comfort of our room, he can make as much of a mess he wants, as much noise as he wants and eat at his own pace. This has absolutely worked for us and I would recommend this tip in particular for anyone who can afford it.

10. Manage your expectations

Remember that travelling as a couple or alone is completely different from travelling with a child. Children need to be entertained, children have their routine and often struggle when this changes. Children will also often get bored by activities that adults enjoy. So I encourage you to manage your expectations. Try to plan a balanced routine that both you and your kids will enjoy. Leave the more mature outings for when you travel without the kids. If you are lucky enough to be able to afford travelling with your nanny, do your mature activities while your nanny babysit your kids. However, remember you are all on holiday together as a family and so don’t go off by yourselves too often, no matter how tempting this may be!

I hope you find these tips useful!

Enjoy your holidays!

Just do it mum