Travelling is supposed to be fun. Innit?! But add baby to the sentence and panic attacks begin! Travelling with a baby/toddler is not short of a nightmare (if not more) for first time parents… Maybe even for not- first time parents ?
I personally kept stalling our holiday plans for almost a year since Emm was born. But then we just had to go, and i really wanted her to experience travelling. I am not a pro at this, but i have done enough research and do have my share of advice. Apart from checking if your destination is baby friendly (most are), following a few tips for smooth travel with a baby or toddler:
- Should i take the car seat? – first check if your car seat is suitable for airplane use. If it is then check with your airline if they accept your car seat brand. You have to buy a separate seat on the plane if you are taking the car seat, but trust me it’s worth the money, specially for long flights. The other option is, not getting a seat for the baby (you still have to pay some amount) and praying that the seat next to you is empty! In my opinion, taking a car seat is a brilliant idea, and increase that by tenfold if you are travelling a lot by car at your destination ( you can get fined in a lot of countries if the baby is not strapped into a car seat. If you are not taking yours, make sure you can rent one there).
- Should i take the Stroller? – yes take it with you. Specially if you have to walk a lot at your destination (it translates into mobile sleeping place for your LO). At the airport too, it will be more of a blessing (because Dubai airport ☺️). And incase it won’t fit into the overhead locker of the airplane, you will have to check it in just before you enter the plane (make sure they add the fragile sticker)
- Should i take the Rocker/bouncer/playpen? – this is more of a personal prefence and you will have to check it in with the luggage. If you think your baby cannot do without it, take it. But this is a good oppurtunity to break habits (i did not say bad, because they are not!!). Personally, i took a week off from work before the vacation and got Emm used to the bed, and i did not have to take the bouncer with me! Also check the luggage allowance of any other flights you may be taking from your destination and even from your destination to back home (you want to fill those bags with shopping now don’t you?)
- Packing the baby luggage – i advise you to pack their stuff in a separate bag (those tiny clothes are easy to loose in your clothes ?). What to pack for the destination and for the plane is listed below.
- Should i take the diaper bag? – definitely! But the contents will change a little as we pack it for the plane ride.
- If you are going for a night time flight (recommended), keep them active during the day, and try to skip a nap if you can. By the time they are in the plane, they will be too tired to run around ( tried and tested)
- Change their diaper once before boarding the plane. Because it must have already been almost 3-4 hours since the last change. Saves you from an extra trip to the scary lavatory in the plane, and if the flight is short, any trip at all!
- Don’t keep any hand carry for yourself (atleast try not to) because you will have loads of baby things to carry anyways.
- Fill up the milk bottle just before boarding or as soon as you settle down in the plane (but before take off). Feed the baby during take off and landing and it will take care of the ear pain (and the terrible crying that follows). If you are breast feeding it will be a little difficult as the baby has to be strapped in your lap (if less than 2 years) during take off and landing.
- Regardless of what your airline offers, (food, purees, snacks, blankets, headphones, in flight entertainment, etc) pack your own stuff always. The baby may not like how the purees taste, or toddlers will refuse to put on the headphones on board just because they are not familiar with them. One rule with kids (and i cannot repeat it enough times) is, be prepared for anything!!
- Diaper Bag/hand carry:
- Ipad (and charger) and headphones – any kind of gadget for that matter, that can be packed to the rim with their favorite shows, games and even books. Fully charged, in it’s protective case, with headphones (because you don’t want to annoy your fellow passengers and plus it’s not even allowed to play media without headphones on a plane). Regardless of the in flight entertainment you have, keep this life saver, because children find comfort in familiar things, aaaand you might not have a way for them to watch their favorite shows at your destination. Two birds one stone!
- Wipes, pampers, diaper rash cream – yeah, do i need to explain?
- Formula milk dispenser and bottle – keep enough milk to last the flight, as kids may sometime refuse to eat anything onboard.
- blanket/swaddle – keep 2 incase of accidents.
- sippy cup – keep ’em hydrated throughout the flight! Fill it up before boarding the plane (not from home because, airport security…)
- snacks – keep a variety. Cheerios, nuts, pretzels, crackers all do good (travelling is not an excuse to load them up with sugar! It will only make things worse for you with a sugar rush)
- books – keep atleast one if your baby is the book worm type.
- Toys – keep 2-3 small ones. But not those which have many small parts that will keep falling off here and there (also those which make weird noises are a no no). Try to keep things which will occupy them for sometime.
- pacifier – if your LO is used to a pacifier, keep 2 in the hand luggage and one in the checked in luggage (God forbid you loose one!). It is also great for popping the ears during take off and landing (no extra work!)
- sanitizer – keep a small bottle. Because airports are high traffic areas (and full of germs!)
- Change of clothes – keep atleeeeast 2 incase of poop accidents or spills.
- Bib and Spoon – for feeding them on board.
- Wash cloth – for the spills ?
- Travel cushion – to keep the LO comfy throughout the trip.
- Jacket – the airport and plane can get very cold. Keep a jacket to keep your tot warm.
- Checked-in luggage:
- Clothes and accessories – keep 3 clothes for a day, keeping in account whether you will be doing laundry at your destination or no ( you do the math now). Add beachwear and sleep wear to that. Socks, hats, bibs, belts, panties, shoes bla bla bla too. And did i mention jackets, gloves, mufflers etc if it’s cold (or snowing) at your destination?
- Wipes, diapers and formula milk – stock up if you are positive you will not get them at your destination. If you can, then no need to pack up these.
- Milk bottles – Atleast 2 bottles.
- blanket/swaddle – another in case of…
- Toiletries – because no hotel offers baby shampoo! And include the sunblock please.
- Toys and books – as many as you can accomodate ?
- First aid kit – add an antibacterial ointment, anti itch and insect repellant to it apart from the basics.
- pacifier – yes the third one!
Of course apart from all this we have the even more essentials which are the passport, ticket, travel insurance etc!
Phew! Does that make you feel tired? Well no one said being a parent was easy! But it’s worth every second isn’t it?!
Do tell me if you have anything to add the tips or the packing lists!
Disclaimer- not everything i mentioned in the post may work for your tiny tot. You know them best and mommy intuition is really a thing! Moreover, no matter what you do (or pack) there will still be meltdowns and mood swings, it does not make you a bad mom! It just means you are making memories that you will laugh at later!!