Traveling with young children tends to be a very ‘delicate’ topic. I have been traveling with my now two-year-old son Mason, since he was five months old (and right through my pregnancy). What I noticed most about people’s reactions to this lifestyle was the fear of what we (my husband and I) were doing and how ‘selfish’ or ‘crazy’ we were to be doing it.
Having been brought up in a family that traveled the world with young babies, and myself now doing it on a regular basis, while still running a household, a business, a marriage etc., I can tell you it’s all just a case of mind over matter. Is it difficult? YES. But raising a child is challenging in any event, so choosing to broaden their minds and exposing them to unique experiences and different environments is far more rewarding for THEM, as well as YOU as parents. So here’s a quick guide on how to survive traveling with young children to make your next trip as easy as possible!
The best way to ensure your baby or toddler feels comfortable while traveling (especially on your first trip with them) is to make their surrounding as familiar to their comfort zone as possible. Pack their favorite toys, blankets, soothing devices and invest in an iPad or similar device that can hold their favorite TV shows and movies. Creating this familiar environment on a plane, or wherever you are, will help your child to identify where they are as a safe place. Those things can really help to distract their attention when they feel irritated from hunger or exhaustion etc.
I still nurse Mason (now two) and as it has been the absolute LIFE SAVER for our frequent travels. It’s always readily available and the best pacifier for your baby. From birth, breastfeeding is their source of comfort and survival, so it will always calm them at their times of suffering (teething, exhaustion, hunger etc). It will also calm you and give you confidence in knowing you have the ‘power’ to soothe your baby anytime and anywhere. People will stare, but honestly I have learned that my only priority is to ensure my baby is settled and happy. You can of coarse keep covered with your own clothes and slings.
3) BE PREPARED
There is no such thing as traveling light with young children so the faster you understand that the easier it will be for you. Always carry up to five times the amount of nappies and supplies you would usually go through in a day, plus at least four change of clothes if you are traveling with a newborn it is up to ten times as they are more inclined to spoil their clothes from throw up/ poo /wee etc. Pack enough wipes too, as you will use them for the entire trip not just when you are flying. Carry triple the amount of formula your baby requires, as traveling often causes disruption to their bodies and can either make them crave more or less their typical supply.
4) FOOD & FORMULA
Again bring double or triple the amount of milk you would typically expect to use, as sometimes either the brand of formula you use is not readily available where you are, or shops are out of stock or not close by. This will cause huge discomfort for you and your baby. I learned this lesson the hard way when we traveled to Sri Lanka when Mason was 8 months old and we ran out of formula. None of the stores nationwide stocked the formula brand we used. He ended up being so irritated and he wouldn’t sleep at night with the empty tummy (my milk supply was unable to satisfy his needs and he refused to eat any solid food).
It took days of trying the brands they did offer until he finally found one he would actually take (needless to say we bought a whole months supply for our 4 day trip to Maldives after). Traveling often upsets their eating routine so some milk will go to waste or more milk than usual will be needed to pacify them (so always be extra prepared). Carry food and snacks that you know they will enjoy to ensure they don’t go hungry for not liking the food available on flights or journeys.
5) PLAY & INTERACT
Play and interact with them as much as you can during the flight or wherever you are as this also helps distract them and can tire them out so they have better sleep patterns during the night. Which both mommy and baby need! We walk up and down the aisles on long haul flights to tire his legs and when we are in resorts we chase him or let him swim for hours until he simply falls straight to sleep! Not getting any sleep or being able to enjoy a trip is the top reasons for not wanting to bring babies and kids abroad.
6) TAKE ADVANTAGE OF PRIORITY BOARDING
Don’t be afraid to take advantage of priority boarding and skipping lines. Depriving yourselves of a right you and your young children deserve will only take away from your own comfort and experience! If nobody asks, then YOU approach them, as they may not have seen you or other parents with kids. Get your child settled before the rest of the passengers embark, that way your child is less likely to feel the tension of all the people around them.
7. MEDICATION & MEDICAL INSURANCE
Always be prepared for the worst and carry over the counter medicine such as Calpol, Nuerofen , insect repellent, antibacterial spray. It’s better to have things with you rather than having to go search for them at your time of need. We have learned that Mason is allergic to mosquitoes so we always carry special medication to remedy that.
Traveling with babies and children is a magical experience for the most part and even at the times where you face those difficulties the memories you create together will last forever! It is also an incredibly educational experience for your little ones, it opens their minds to different cultures and experiences in a way nothing else can. Our primary goal when I set up my own blog was to Inspire people to travel with babies/kids. It is possible and we wouldn’t change it for the world!
Have you got your own tips for travelling with children? Please share them with our readers in the comments below! Read Next > How To Plan The Perfect Babymoon