No matter if it’s your first trip with your first child, or your fifth with your fifth, traveling with children will always be daunting. From what to pack to how to get there, it’s rife with potential worries.
However, there are some tips that can help you prepare, and save you from going insane. Below, we’ve listed 10 top tips for traveling with kids. Some are for babies, some are for older children, and some are for you.
1. Just do it!
While the idea of traveling with children might be overwhelming, the most important thing to remember is: it will end. You will get there. You will survive.
2. Take it slow
You might be used to rushing off the airplane and through the airport, making use of all those secret shortcuts, but those days are over. Sit back, let everyone rush around you, and just go with the flow. You’re not in charge anymore – enjoy it.
3. Don’t overpack
Remember that almost everything can be bought abroad. It might not be the same brand, but you’ll manage. Diapers are often a concern as 100% eco and organic brands are sometimes hard to find. If you’re used to using an eco-brand, do a test run with a non-eco brand before you leave to see if your little one has any kind of reaction.
4. Hotel or vacation rental?
Hotels have perks (room service, meals, baby-sitting services, etc.), but vacation rentals mean you can make it your home – and prepare your own meals, which might be useful if your child has a special diet. It’s a personal choice, but one worth thinking about.
5. Book wisely
If you go the hotel route, take your time booking. You might have stayed there before and loved it, but think long and hard about it. Was your room up a steep hill? Were there lots of steps? What might have been paradise for just the two of you can easily be a nightmare when you’re pushing a stroller and a baby.
6. Brand ‘em and track ‘em!
If you’re worried about your child getting lost, you can brand them by writing your name and phone number on their arm. That way, if they are found, you can be contacted easily. You could also invest in a GPS tracking device. Attach it to your child’s wrist or bag, and follow along via the app.
7. Pool vs. sea
Even if you plan to stay by the beach, you might want to consider making sure there’s a pool as well. Lots of children love being in the sea, but others can’t stand it. A pool is perfect for little ones to splash around in, cool down in – and get exhausted in.
8. Baby carriage vs. stroller vs. sling
This is a common dilemma when traveling with kids and there’s no easy answer. A lot of it depends on where you’re going. Will the streets be even and paved or will there be potholes and off-roading involved? Will it be extremely humid or fairly cool? What is your child used to?
An all-around good option is a light stroller. They’re easy to travel with and can be taken right up to the gate; they can be used as a temporary bed for afternoon naps; they’re light and breathable but can also be insulated with blankets and a rain cover; and they’re good on almost all terrain.
9. Car seat or not?
Some people swear by them, others think it’s madness to bring such a large item for the short time they’ll be used. They require an extra seat on the flight, and are quite bulky, but then you’re guaranteed to have it for any kind of car ride. If you do plan to take one, it might be worth investing in a car seat/pushchair combo so you don’t have to lug even more weight around.
10. Pack wisely
Your nappy bag will count as your carry on, so make sure you’ve got everything (you might want to factor in possible delays too): baby wipes; spare pacifiers; diapers; snacks (but not full of sugar! However, it is worth bringing a few suckable sweets to help with the pressure change during take off and landing); a change of clothes; plastic bags (for diapers and in case clothes get really dirty); headphones; toys; a pillow; extra batteries or power packs; tablet/DVD player; and baby wipes. If there’s any room left for your things, fill it with baby wipes – you’ll need them.