Travelling with little ones? How do you make the journey as fun, stress-free and smooth as possible? Simple – a little forward planning, a few tried and tested tips and the miles will just melt away. Whether you’re heading off on a long journey or a short hop, we’ve broken it down for you – all you need to do is relax and enjoy the ride!
PACKING FOR FLYING
- Anti bacterial wipes – avoid your littles ones falling pray to easy-to-pick-up bugs by being busy with your wipes on the fold down table on planes, or any surface they come into contact with. Add a little spritz of hand sanitiser for kids over five, but these aren’t recommended for really young children (2 and under), unless they’re alcohol free.
- Travel sickness bags – it’s difficult to know if your tot travels well so plenty of these are handy to have – quickly – to hand!
- Change of clothes – for you and your little one. Accidents do happen, so it’s better to be prepared.
- Pull ups and wipes – if you’re potty training, these are always handy as a fall back for those in transition to big boy/girl pants.
- Bonjela Junior Gel – in case teething troubles strike due to the pressure on the ears, this soothing ointment really does ease the pain.
- A dummy and milk – have milk or a drink prepared for take-off and landing as the sucking will help with pressure in the ears (you can get milk after security from the shops or most airlines are happy to assist and have milk available).
- Pay for checked in luggage – so you’re not overloaded trying to manage everything within your hand luggage. Reserve your carry-on allowance for toys and take advantage of the extra baby bag allowed on some airlines for the essentials like nappies, wipes, change of clothes etc.
- Take a lightweight pram – passport queues can be long and tricky with a wriggling little one. We were really impressed with the Pockit stroller which fits in to the overhead storage on a plane. The only down side is the pram doesn’t recline for when your little one naps.
- Take a rucksack – with lots of pockets and include a change matt and two side pockets to keep milk cool.
- Pre-book seats to take the stress out of sharing your space with someone that may not be impressed with a toddler climbing all over them!
- Some airlines allow you to book a bassinet, so do check in plenty of time, as they’re limited- as are the seats you’ll be allocated to accompany them.
- Plan for the worst – imagine the world’s biggest traffic jam, bad weather, a breakdown: it’s much more manageable if you’re prepared, with food, distractions, stop offs built into the journey time. If you can, travel at night.
- Keep little ones awake in the airport to tire them out before the flight. If you can! And talking of which…
Don’t presume they will sleep. It’s a new, noisy environment to explore so be prepared to keep them busy.
- Bring a baby carrier for babies, so the baby feels safe and snug and you have your hands free and support to hold the baby while sleeping.
- Try a pillow spray. We love This Works – there’s good science to show that lavender really does help us to nod off. Spray it on bedding before you tuck them in. Try it for a few days a home so they’re familiar with the smell. Zzzzzs will soon follow.
- Take a full size pillow, teddy and sleeping bag – when you’re not booking your seat for a six-month-plus baby, it’s a good idea to put a large pillow over you and your partner’s lap with your little one in their sleeping bag so they can get comfortable.
- Car seats are still great for toddlers on a plane. They’re a good way to make them reach the tray, see out of the window and to generally feel part of the experience. They also provide somewhere comfy to rest their heads and take a nap.
- Fly legs up – a great invention to fill the gap between your seat and the one in front of you. Fly legs up provides a flat platform for them to sleep and play on, just like their bed at home. They have more room to play with their toys too.
- If all else fails – Calpol can help with the pressure in their ears but can also make them sleepy. Just make sure you stick to the correct dose.
Food – this is the most effective distraction tool…until they get over-full, so don’t go mad! Pack their favourite things but avoid processed sugar. Fruit is great.
- Ipad/tablet – download their favourite games, songs and cartoons to keep them entertained. But playing games together is even more fun!
- Toys – providing new toys, books, shape sorters and sticker books is a great idea and, as they’re new, the excitement will be enough to distract them awhile.
- Other families – if you can, place yourself near to other families that will appreciate how difficult it can be entertaining toddler on a flight, plus your little one can make new friends.
- Move around – use the back of the plane and aisles to walk up and down to keep them busy and they will enjoy seeing some new faces too.
- DRIVE AND FERRY
Self-drive with a ferry crossing can be a really convenient way to travel as you have the space to pack as much as you’d like in your car and can take stop offs when you need too, plus the holiday can start the minute you step on to the ferry!
If the crossing is more than a couple of hours then a cabin is worth paying extra for. On some crossings with Eurocamp you can get a free day cabin too. There’s lots to keep everyone entertained on the ferry but having an enclosed space in which the children can play or nap while you put your feet up is ideal. It also provides a safe place to leave your bags instead of lugging them around and somewhere new for your little one to play or nap. Most cabins these days are en-suite so, as well as the luxury of a private toilet (especially handy for potty-training kids), you’ve got the option of a sleep, shower and change before your onward journey.
Pack a bag for the ferry so you can leave the majority of your things in the car as you won’t be able to go back to your car while you’re in transit.
However you choose to travel be prepared, stay calm and most of all – enjoy your holiday.
Do you have any tips we’ve missed? We’d love to see any you have to help our first time travellers with babies and toddlers.