Are you travelling with a baby for the first time, and in need of some advice? Or are you a new parent who wants to go away but you’re worried about the inevitable stress of the planning process and the horrors of the journey? Fear not. We’ve got a bumper post full of tips for travelling with a baby or toddler to help you with your planning!
Five years ago, we were too scared to travel with our small kids. But we took the plunge and travelled to Jordan with our 3 year old daughter and 15 month old son. We haven’t stopped since.
We just needed to take that leap – and so can you!
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Tips for travelling with babies and young toddlers
We’ve managed to get into a pretty good travelling routine with our small kids, and now that they’re used to it, they tend to take travelling in their stride. Travelling with kids, even small ones, can be very rewarding.
But as every family is different, and as we didn’t travel with our kids when they were small babies (they were both over 12 months old when we took them on their first trips) I’ve asked other family travel bloggers to give their best baby travel tips and advice!
Some of the advice given may seen contradictory, but that’s just because all kids and all families are different. What works for you might not for someone else – the thing to do is to keep trying different things until you find what works for your family!
Good luck – it’ll be worth it!
How to prepare for travelling with a baby
Careful planning of your trip when you’ve got small kids is essential! The more work you put into preparing, the smoother your trip will go (hopefully!).
This includes planning flight times, making sure you’ve packed everything you need and making sure your accommodation is suitable for babies. All this prep and planning can sound intimidating for parents new to travelling with their kids, but it generally isn’t as bad as you think it’s going to be!
Of course, don’t expect things to go perfectly. They won’t. Even the most seasoned travelling parents will have to deal with an unexpected meltdown on public transport, or travel sickness, or whatever else your toddlers can throw at you. Which, er, can be a lot.
I totally agree with the below tip, and this would be my top baby travel tip as well!
Let go of expectations
My best tip for travelling with babies and toddlers is about letting go of expectations…and accepting help. You will often read tips like, “book flights in the evenings” or buy “X or Y’ and certainly all those things can help … but they can also give us the idea that we are in control!
If you can go with the mindset that whatever will be, will be… it means that your expectations are lowered and you will be content with the outcome of the trip.
After travelling with 3 little ones I realise that having no expectations (that includes both negative and positive) it means that I am more able to go with the flow. And, in addition, if I am open minded, I am more likely to humbly accept help from others.
This is not to say don’t go unprepared, but realise that even with the best preparation things may not go to plan! And… with a clear mind, relaxed attitude… you will be less stressed, meaning your baby doesn’t pick up your vibes and freak out. Such a simple solution but so important to us!
Recommended by Ariana from World of Travels with Kids
Get your travel documents in order
OK. Your expectations duly lowered, it’s time to get into the nitty gritty of planning your trip.
It goes without saying that if you’re travelling internationally you need a passport. Make sure you apply for your baby’s passport in plenty of time. You should also check that your own passport (and those of any other travellers) are in date! Generally your passport needs to be valid for 6 months after you return.
Make sure that you know what the visa situation is for the country you are visiting, and that you’ve got the appropriate visa before you travel if necessary.
TIP: Remember to book your travel insurance too. We have had to cancel a trip due to illness (chicken pox) and we got most of our money back.
If you’re from the USA and you’re travelling domestically, then here’s a baby travel tip for you:
“If you are from the United States and aren’t traveling internationally, you don’t need to get a passport for your baby. However, I recommend getting one and selecting to get a passport card.
Many airlines require proof of age for babies that are flying as a lap child. You could take the birth certificate along for this proof, but the risk of something happening to it is great. On the other hand, a passport card serves as proof of age and who the baby is while being the size of a driver’s license. This makes it easy to keep in your wallet without concern whenever flying with a baby.
US Passports for young kids are good for 5 years and come at a discounted price compared to adult passports. It is well worth it for ease of travel!”
Contributed by Lauren from My Favourite Job Title is Mom
Plan your flight according to your baby’s nap schedule
A flight journey is the most dreaded part of traveling with a baby or toddler. Parents often wonder if their baby will enjoy the journey or be fussy and cranky throughout thereby making the journey a nightmarish experience.
One hack that has always worked when flying with a baby is that of taking a flight that coincides with the baby’s sleep schedule. Thus, it means taking night flights for longer journeys and for shorter ones, taking a flight around the usual nap time of the baby.
Even if your baby feels the initial discomfort on the flight, flying at the usual sleep-time of the baby will make him forget about it as he quietly dozes off to sleep. On longer flights, the baby will mostly stay fast asleep for the entire duration of the flight ensuring that you enjoy a pleasant flight experience!
Recommended by Vrushali from Couple of Journeys
Try to fly from a family friendly airport
If you have the option, try and find flights at family friendly times. For instance, if you are flying long haul, then a night flight can work really well, but for a short haul flight, this is going to be a nuisance as you will inevitably have a very tired and cranky baby or toddler on arrival.
When we fly long haul, we look for flights leaving around their normal bedtime, but if some are a lot later, then I find that putting them to bed at home for an hour in their PJ’s and then scooping them to put in the taxi or car at the last minute helps to give them that little bit of energy to get through queues at the airport and hanging around at the boarding gate.
I also research if there are any play areas or quiet zones depending on the time of departure. Here is an airport guide to the family facilities around the world, which may help you plan your next flight too!
Recommended by Carrie from Flying with a Baby
Make sure your accommodation is family friendly
While a lot of people will probably bring along a portable crib while travelling, another option is to share a bed. This has many advantages, including not having to drag around an extra luggage item and more space in the room (which might be convenient, as hotel rooms can be quite small).
You can choose to put your child in the middle between your partner and yourself, but we prefer to put our daughter on the side. That way we can still sleep next to each other, and she tends to swing her legs a little less in every direction. To keep it safe, we always try to push the bed against the wall, so she won’t fall out.
The possibility to move the bed is one of our ‘filters’ when we’re searching for accommodation, but in about 90% of our hotel rooms we were able to create a safe sleeping space like this.
Recommended by Babs at Travel Gear for Kids
Get everything ready in advance
Living as expats in Oman we travelled a lot and most of our flights were early in the morning. Typically we had to be at the airport at 6am or earlier. For an adult, it’s not a problem but if you add one-year-old twins into the mix, it seems to be impossible to be at the airport on time and have a sleep at night. But I found out how to deal with it.
I had everything ready earlier. The car was packed. The formula was put into the bottles (I needed just to add warm water in the morning). But the main thing was to dress the kids in the clothes they would be travelling in. That meant that in the morning I just had to change a nappy and put them into a car seat. As often as not they were still half asleep. I avoided a morning tantrum, and because they had a good sleep they were easy during the flight.
Recommended by Ania from The Travelling Twins
What to pack in your hand luggage for travelling with a baby
It can be easy to get overwhelmed when planning what to take with you if you’re travelling with a baby (just like when you’re expecting one!). I’d advise to take as little as possible.
You can buy nappies/diapers and wet wipes when you arrive so don’t bother taking two weeks’ worth with you – just make sure you have plenty for the journey and the first day or so.
You should research in advance what you’re going to do about formula and baby food in your destination. If your baby has to have special formula or food then you may just have to take enough with you but otherwise you’ll be able to buy formula and jars of baby food pretty much anywhere.
To cut down on the amount of clothes that you’ll have to take with you, try to book accommodation with a washer and dryer. It saves so much space and hassle, especially if baby is prone to nappy blowouts!
Here are some more pro packing tips for travelling with a baby:
Pack your hand luggage carefully
If you’re flying with a young baby, ensure you pack all of your essential baby-related paraphanalia in your hand luggage.
If your baby is bottle fed, take extra milk to allow for delays or spillages: you don’t want to be hemmed into a plane stuck on the tarmac with a hungry baby. Likewise with nappies: take more than you’d expect to use!
Recommended by Annabel from Smudged Postcard
Remember baby’s favourite toy
Take their favourite soft toy and their blanket. When the kids see familiar things around them, especially their favourite soft toy or blanket from their daily bedtime, it will immensely comfort them.
It may also help to take a picture of their soft toy with them at the new place and show it to them once back home. This builds their courage to try traveling again. If the kids are very young, showing them the pictures and talking about the places regularly helps build a positive image in their minds on travel.
Recommended by Priyadarshini from Glorious Sunrise
Pack for the inevitable mess
When you have babies or small toddlers some accidents can be disastrous. We are referring to situations like when they vomit without warning, stick big amounts of food on their clothes, get completely dirty or wet, excess poop in diapers and many more… babies and toddlers are restless and unpredictable, and we must anticipate the facts.
One of the best tips for travel with them is to always keep disposable bags in your purse or backpack, whether plastic or other impermeable materials. The goal is to be able to store anything that gets dirty without messing up the rest of your things. You will not always find a bin nearby and/or you may be several hours away from getting back to your hotel… so you will be grateful of being able to isolate odours and dirt for as long as necessary.
Recommended by Alejandra from Universo Viajero
Don’t forget yourself
When flying with a baby, there are lots of useful things you need to pack in your carry on bags but don’t forget one essential item for yourself – a change of clothes. I learnt very early on in our family travels to pack a spare top for myself in our cabin luggage.
After a particularly bad, in-flight vomiting episode, our baby was freshly changed, clean and sweet smelling again whilst I had to sit for the remainder of the stuffy, cramped journey in a damp, inadequately cleaned, stinking t-shirt. It was a long, uncomfortable flight for me – and for my adjacent fellow passengers!
Recommended by Sinead from Map Made Memories
Hygiene is everything
With 5 kids in our family, we’ve dialed in exactly what we need when we travel and what to leave at home!
Two things that we never travel without (even if we don’t have kids with us) is wet wipes and hand sanitizer. You never know when you’re going to end up in a gross bathroom or need to clean your airport tray table off.
On long days of traveling, wipes and hand sanitizers are great to quickly freshen kids of all ages up on the go, and if you’ve got a crawler, you know you’ll want to keep their hands and toys as clean as possible. We keep a set of wipes and sanitizer in both mine and my husbands bags so we never are without them.
The other life saver we have discovered is silicone bibs. Our babies have all been THE MESSIEST eaters, so bibs are a necessity. These bibs are extra handy because they wipe clean (since you’ve got your wet wipes, right?) and they roll up small!
Recommended by Jessica from Bring the Kids
Baby travel essentials – what else you should pack
As well as the above in your hand luggage, you’ll probably want to bring along some larger items, especially for getting around and about once you’ve arrived at your destination.
It totally depends on your family and what sort of holiday you’ll be taking as to what you need to bring. We didn’t always travel with a stroller (and once they got to about 3 we stopped bringing one altogether). But other families swear by them.
My personal top tip for travelling with a baby is to bring a baby sling or carrier. For young babies I liked the softness of a fabric sling, like a Moby Wrap, but when they got a bit bigger I preferred an ErgoBaby as you can carry on your front or on your back which is much easier with heavier kids.
Just one note when it comes to picking a structured carrier for your baby. Please make sure that the baby’s legs are held at a 90° angle to their body. This ensures baby’s weight is properly distributed. Don’t buy “crotch danglers” where the child’s legs hang down – it’s really not good for their hips.
Travel car seat
It’s hard to know what to bring when traveling with babies and toddlers, but if car or airline travel is in your plans, an FAA approved car seat is a must! It might be daunting at first to think about traveling with a car seat, but luckily car seat manufacturers have caught up with traveling families and have made some wonderful gear to make traveling with babies and toddlers so much easier!
I highly recommend purchasing a Cosco Scenera Next car seat for traveling. It is lightweight at only 9.1 pounds, compact and can be used from infants through toddlers up to 42″ tall and 40 pounds. Add a car seat cover if you plan to check it along with your baggage or a car seat trolley to carry it through the airport and you’ll be all set on your adventures!
Recommended by Chelsea from Pack More Into Life
TIP: Remember to check car seat laws in the country that you’re travelling to. Unfortunately USA car seats are not legal in Europe and vice versa. You may need to hire a car seat on arrival. An alternative to the Cosco mentioned above for readers in Europe is Maxi Cosi Axiss which fits kids from 9 months to 4 years and can be forward or rear facing.
Take a stroller or pushchair…
Travelling with a stroller or pram for babies and small toddlers allows you to get out and about during the day, without their sleeping needs getting in the way of your travel plans.
Exploring a city or town on foot is such a great way to take in your surroundings and see more of the daily life and activities of your travel location, than you otherwise would.
Plan your on-foot travel, exploration or commute so that it is in line with your child’s sleep times; depending on your child, this will free up a solid period to wander and explore without interruption.
Additionally, you can use the stroller basket to carry baby/toddler necessities and of course any goods you might pick up along the way.
Recommended by Erin from Love to Travel, Stay, Eat, Do
… but make sure it’s a travel stroller
Our top tip for travelling with a baby or small toddler is to leave the big stroller at home and take a compact travel stroller with you instead.
We have learnt from experience that hauling a full sized stroller around is no fun at all. Getting on and off the buses and trains was no fun at all and we began to dread lifting it up and down the stairs to our hotel room.
We now know that there are some amazing compact travel strollers out there that have almost all the features of the bigger versions, just in a neat and tidy package that can be taken on the plane as carry on luggage.
Recommended by Chris from More Life In Your Days
Backpack nappy bag
We travelled extensively with my daughter whilst she was young and the most important thing was always to have both hands free as much as possible. One of my biggest barriers to this was the nappy bag!
A traditional messenger style bag just did not work, I was constantly having to adjust it, not to mention the repetitive strain it caused on one shoulder. So, I switched to a backpack style nappy bag and never looked back.
As well as keeping both hands free to care for baby, backpack nappy bags have heaps of pockets so keeping all that baby gear organised is super easy. They distribute the weight evenly, which is a must for long waits at places like the airport.
Recommended by Sophie Marie from Lifestyle Queensland
Baby sleep bag or wearable blanket
We never travel without our little one’s baby sleep bag. There are so many benefits out of traveling with the sleep bag. We take it on the plane, because planes tend to either be too cold to too warm. We also always use it when we stay in hotels and resorts, because we find that their aircon’s are really cold for our little one. We have also found that not all hotels and resorts have baby blankets, so traveling with a sleep bag or blanket is essential (just in case).
Another benefit out of traveling with the sleep bag is that we actually use the sleep bag at home. So she is familiar with sleeping in the bag and it keeps some sense of the routine we would have at home when we are preparing her for nap or bed time.
Recommended by Jolene from Mum Knows Best
I am all about making life easy and when traveling with a baby that can sometimes be hard to do! Since I’ve got a few kids now, and lots of travel under my belt, I have to say that there is one travel hack that really stands out.
That hack is to bring wetbags.
If you’re not familiar with wet bags, they are nifty little things that are water resistant and washable. They come in all shapes and sizes with super cute prints!
So basically, I have a zippered, washable, water resistant bag with a handle. Which is exactly what all parents need when their kids has a leaky water bottle, dirty poop clothing or you just need some bags for organization.
I personally like to gather up the wet bags and pack one wet bag with one days worth of clothing. That way, when the babies have soiled their clothing, the dirty clothes can go right back in the wet bag and it can keep all the mess contained!
Recommended by Seely from Mouse Ear Memories
Baby sling or carrier
It is really handy that you are able to take a buggy right up to the airplane doors when boarding a flight, but on many flights, you then have to collect it on the carousel with your bags at the other end meaning carrying baby the long way through passport control.
But by using a Little Life Baby Carrier, it means that you can fill the bag compartment with all your essentials and keep it with you the entire time at the airport giving you your hands free and baby contained and happy!
Recommended by Popitha; Life and Adventures with Twins
The Osprey Poco is a good alternative if you can’t get a Little Life.
Suzi from Survey Suzi also recommends a baby carrier for using at your destination:
“A baby carrier is an absolute essential when travelling with kids up to 18 months (and a bit older) especially if you will be flying.
A stroller has its uses as well, but it’s annoying to get through airport security with a stroller. With a carrier, you can use it after take-off to walk around and calm your baby.
Depending on your destination, a baby carrier can work much better for getting around. If you will be taking public transport, it’s much easier to get up and down and or going anywhere with many stairs and not proper sidewalks.
I never travel without it!”
Getting a baby or toddler to sleep can be agonising at the best of times. Add a new stimulating environment to the mix and it can be every parents worst nightmare. Sleep aids are absolutely essential when it comes to travelling with a baby or toddler – especially for that long haul flight or road trip. Depending on the age of your baby or toddler you might be lucky to bag an extra seat, ask for a spare one at check-in if you are flying.
We’ve used both plane pal (an inflatable pillow that fills the leg room space creating a flat surface for little ones to lie down) and the JetKids BedBox to create a first class bed for our toddler! Either are great products but have different price points and the JetKids has other functions such as a suitcase come scooter. It’s made a world of difference to getting some really good sleep in on a flight.
Light fleece blankets that store away and take up little space are an ideal familiarity. We try to use ours at home all of the time so that it’s not being used only when we travel. We sometimes drape it above seats to create shade and also in any new cot or bed to settle little ones into new surroundings.
Recommended by Karen from Travel Mad Mum. Read more about flying with a baby here.
Blackout curtains and white noise machine
For us, the most important thing that made traveling with a baby enjoyable was keeping up our sleep routines from home. A well-rested baby is a happy baby and a happy baby makes a great travel companion!
Both our boys were ‘challenging’ sleepers ( to say the least!) so make sure we all got a good rest was so important on vacation. We packed these amazing travel blackout curtains as well as a noise machine to bring with us on vacation.
Our boys were much less likely to wake in the night if the room was pitch black and the noise machine really helped to drown out the noise from the hallways in our hotels. Now our boys are older and we still bring a noise machine everywhere because we are so used to falling asleep with white noise!
Recommended by Kate from Tear Free Travel
Baby travel bottles
As we already know, babies need special spoons since the small ones we use at home might be too deep and can frustrate the baby when he is not comfortable with them. Baby spoons are made of flexible plastic and are shallow, making it easier for the baby to feed himself when the time comes. They can even bite them without fear of harm.
Baby feeding bottles are the perfect combination of a little bottle and a baby spoon that are especially useful for travelling. For those babies that start taking solids or denser liquids, this allows you to save space for spoons or extra bottles when packing up. In addition, they are usually small and made out of plastic which makes them very lightweight and portable. I would advise purchasing one that is BPA free with volume marks to ensure the right quantity to feed your baby.
Recommended by Maria from Sweet Vida Home
Twin travel essentials
We’ve traveled with our twins to 17 destinations around Greece before they were 18 months old. Most were short or longer road trips, but there was one flight and one ferry involved.
My twins always nap on our walks, so I wouldn’t go anywhere without my double stroller when they were babies. When they got a bit older, we found that 2 travel strollers are a better idea for ferry rides and road trips, but we still fly with our holiday double (by britax), which is smaller than our Twin Pulsar (see pic).
Two baby carriers are also necessary. Not on road trips of course, but on our destination, as both I and my husband enjoy hiking. A carrier is mandatory in airports; you’re not always given the stroller at the airplane door. And it’s the best way to enter the ferry: while my husband is parking the car, one twin is in the stroller and I am carrying the other to enter the small ferry lifts.
When it comes to twins, more is always better!
Recommended by Anna from Dreamista
Cozigo sleep shade
The Cozigo was an absolute lifesaver when we took our 18-month-old daughter to Fiji for the first time, and I can’t wait to use it again on our next trip with our second daughter.
Getting my children to sleep while we are out and about has never been an easy task. They are both great sleepers at home, but always feel they are missing out when we are on the go. This was my biggest worry when we went travelling for the first time – I knew we would be on the go a lot and I didn’t want to end up with an over tired child!
That’s when I discovered the Cozigo and tested it out with my eldest daughter. It fits over airline bassinets and most prams and blocks out the light, making it the perfect space to sleep. It is completely breathable, and you can even unzip the sides to check on your little one while they are sleeping or to provide some extra ventilation. The best part is they fold up nice and small, so it is easy and light to bring with you each and every trip.
Recommended by Felicity from The Baby Vine
There are alternatives to the Cozigo if you can’t get it – try this similar baby sleep shade instead.
Tips on flying with a baby
Taking a flight with a baby or toddler is top of most parents’ list of Things To Dread. It needn’t be too stressful, if you’re prepared. Take a look at these tips on how to fly with a baby.
Breastfeed if possible
One of my top tips for travelling with a baby is to breastfeed if possible. If you are breastfeeding then have your baby on your lap for takeoff and landing – use a lap belt given to you by staff. If you’re not breastfeeding then a dummy or pacifier will also help baby’s ears, and you can still keep them close for comfort.
Breastfeeding helps to soothe any ear pain caused by the pressure difference during takeoff and landing, and if you’re lucky, the white noise of the engines will lull baby off to sleep. Breastfeeding will also comfort your child and helps with any upset caused by an unfamiliar environment.
It also works for toddlers and young kids, depending on how long you’re feeding for!
Breastfeeding is also super handy as it cuts down on the amount of stuff you have to bring with you, and helps avoid tired meltdowns! You can end up feeding in some ridiculous places though – I remember feeding my toddler son on a whale watching trip in Iceland!
Breastfeeding in public can be a cause for concern for some mums. Personally I always made sure I had a firm response lined up in the event anyone made a comment – luckily this never happened as nobody ever seemed to notice or care.
Some more conservative countries (especially in the Middle East) are surprisingly pro-breastfeeding and often have dedicated feeding rooms in public areas. I had no issues feeding my son in Jordan.
Catherine from Traveling with the Littles has some more advice:
“Breastfeeding on a plane may seem daunting, but it’s totally manageable with the right gear and a positive mindset.
The first thing is seat selection. I prefer the window seat while breastfeeding. The window seat will afford you the most privacy. I also like the aisle seat because you can sort of hang baby out into the aisle. You do have to watch out for the beverage cart, people walking up and down the plane, and the aisle can be one of the more public seats on the flight. However, you’ll have a bit more space on the aisle seat.
Sitting between two people is the worst option; yet, I’ve done it and lived to tell about it. If you are uncomfortable, you can let your seatmates know that you’ll be nursing so that they are not alarmed; however, this isn’t necessary.
Regarding gear, the first thing that I’d recommend is to arm yourself with a muslin blanket. Planes can get hot, and muslin is breathable so baby won’t overheat. You also want to make sure you are wearing either a nursing top/bra or shirt, so you aren’t struggling to get your shirt up.
Lastly, for smaller babies, wear them in a sling or wrap- this will make breastfeeding in a confined space a lot easier.”
Keep to your baby’s nap and snack routine
The thought of travelling on a plane, particularly long haul with young children can hugely daunting.
I travelled solo with my 8 week old first born, from New Zealand to Washington DC, and repeated this trip with an 17 month old and 3 year old. One of the best things you can do is keep to a routine for naps and sleeps.
Babies are perhaps the easiest to deal with. Maintain the same feed/wake/sleep cycle just like you do at home. They will enjoy the movement and white noise from the plane and fingers crossed, yours will be great, just like mine.
For young toddlers, if possible, book a night flight that allows them to sleep at a similar bedtime. Provide them opportunities to sleep during the day, whether it is in a stroller to the gate, or in a baby carrier in transit. (I highly recommend this)
You will find well rested children a lot easier to manage. Also keep a good supply of snacks, as with the time changes, it is easy to forget that it’s actually their “lunch/snack/dinner” time at home.
Feed in routine, sleep in routine, happy in routine?
Recommended by Jen from Backyard Travel Family
Baby travel tips for solo parents
Travelling with babies and small toddlers can be difficult when you’re a single parent, or doing it solo if your partner isn’t flying with you. It’s important to know the flying shortcuts when you’re juggling one or two little ones with just one pair of hands, instead of two!
There may be times when you have two little ones that you need to get on (or off) the plane but one or both is asleep – or perhaps even throwing a tantrum! Without a stroller this can be a real challenge, however don’t forget that airline staff are there to help you. If you need their support you only need to ask and they will carry your baby or toddler whilst you manage your other baby.
Many airlines will allow you to use your own stroller all the way to the departure gate, where staff will then take it and organise for it to be stowed in the cargo hold – they can even get it to you as soon as you alight at your destination. It is best if you enquire at the check in desk on the day to confirm if your airline will accommodate you.
Another handy tip is to ensure that you always keep your baby bag under the seat in front of you, and don’t stow it overhead. It can be very difficult to retrieve during the flight if you have your baby strapped to your front, or asleep in your arms.
Recommended by Barbara at Let’s Go Mum
Tips for keeping babies and small children amused when travelling
Etch a Sketch
When we first started flying with our baby, napping and feeding was all he cared about, so it was easy to keep him entertained. But, not so much now that he’s a toddler. Since we’re trying to avoid screen time as long as possible, keeping him occupied is sometimes difficult. So, we’ve opted for a screen of a different sort – an Etch-a-Sketch!
Magnetic drawing boards were all the rage when we were kids, right? Well, they still work great at entertaining little ones. We use the kind with a stylus instead of the classic turning knobs, so our toddler can “draw” on it more easily. It keeps him busy for insanely long stretches in-flight (and on road trips). For families looking for alternatives to screen time during long-haul travel, I always recommend magnetic drawing boards!
Recommended by Mary Beth from MB Sees
Load up that tablet
If you think parenthood is tough while you are at home, just think about the toils of traveling with kids. Long journeys with babies and toddlers can be a challenge as they can easily get easily bored and restless in tight spaces where they do not have the freedom to move.
The best way to save yourself (and other passengers) from their very loud display of dissatisfaction is to keep them busy. All it takes is a bit of preparation and making sure that you have a bag full of items that will keep them busy during your trip.
Although toys, stuffed animals, and rattles, may take your child’s attention for a while, it is better to have a series of short cartoons on your tablet as this will keep them occupied for longer periods of time. So, stock up on cartoons like Sarah & Duck and Peppa Pig and maybe throw in some toddler games on your tablet to have a quiet and peaceful trip.
Recommended by Karolina from Lazy Travel Blog
Child-friendly apps for smartphones
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll know that a tablet or a smartphone is a lifesaver on an airplane. Even having 15 minutes of distraction can buy any parent some sanity in a high-stress situation.
Some good apps for either Android or iPhone are Baby Zoo Piano, Even Monsters Get Sick, Endless ABC, and Baby Phone. And of course, bring some kid-friendly headphones to keep the sound to themselves.
If your child doesn’t like headphones, you can control the volume so that the whole world doesn’t have to listen to kid music. There are also several ways to do this. For Android apps, search for “Volume Limiter” (there are dozens). Or on an iPhone or iPad, in the Settings, look for “restrictions.”
Set this all up before your flight, and you’ll be flying happy!
Recommended by Justine from Latitude 41
Snacks, snacks and more snacks
If you’ve ever had to deal with a baby screaming or young toddler throwing a tantrum because they’re hungry, you know why snacks are important during travel. A fed child is a happy child!
When it comes to snacks while traveling, we always recommend to bring more snacks than you think you need. You never know if your flight is going to be delayed or you’re going to be out sightseeing longer than planned.
Aside from the obvious of satisfying hunger, snacks can also help to keep a small child occupied and entertained while traveling.
While flying with a baby or young toddler, we like smaller snacks like Cheerios and puffs for babies or Goldfish and raisins for a young toddler. Instead of handing your child a whole bag of snacks, you can hand them one by one to spread out the time they’re occupied eating during a long flight.
We also love fruit and vegetable pouches for travel, since they’re an easy way to help your baby or young toddler to get proper nutrition on-the-go during travel.
Recommended by Amanda from Toddling Traveler
Change it up
Traveling with babies and infants isn’t easy. They get restless, tired and even bored. Traveling with a bag of toys and trinkets that can be rotated is a great way to keep them occupied.
When we go on trips, we always make sure to stash a bag of mixed toys and trinkets in our reliable diaper backpack. When our infant gets bored with one toy, we are prepared with the next.
We typically have items such as stickers, tape, a bell, Water Wow, a lock and even a small remote control. Rotating toys have been a lifesaver on our numerous trips worldwide.
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Tips for making the most of your trip with babies in tow
You’ve done all the planning and the first major part of the trip – the journey – is over. You’ve arrived – now what?
Read on to find out exactly how to make sure you actually enjoy your family trip!
Go with the flow
Our top tip for travelling with a baby is to go with the flow – your baby’s that is! Rather than try to structure and plan everything, relax and find a daily rhythm. Be flexible and adjust to your baby’s moods and needs. Maybe at home, you stick rigidly to a routine but the chances are in the new environment things will go topsy-turvy.
Instead, let go a little. We’ve had some of our best moments when we’ve relaxed. In Florence, we were up at 6 am with the little one. Instead of lounging around, we got up and out and had the city to ourselves before the tour buses arrived.
Rather than planning nap times, we explored places on foot with our babies (in a stroller or a sling) until the movement finally lulled them to sleep. Then we’d take the opportunity to duck into a cafe, bar or museum for some ‘grown-up’ time. The more flexibility you have, the more you’ll enjoy your holiday.
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Stay longer in each place
Now we are traveling with our baby, we are trying to stay longer in each place than we used to. This is our top tip as you don’t have to be on the road too often, which is what we find the most tiring about travelling with kids.
In addition you won’t have to carry your backpacks and your baby at the same time when you are staying in one place; you can just have a small daily backpack.
The other great thing when staying longer in one place is that you often get discounts on your accommodation. It’s usually around 20% cheaper! We have several ways to stay longer in one place without having to pay too much: Airbnb, Housesitting, couchsurfing or Workaway.
The first two options give you more comfort without much contact with the locals. The last two give you less comfort but it’s great for your kids to be in contact with locals. Airbnb can be affordable in lot of places of the world, the other three are for free!
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Check the location of your accommodation
Stay close to public transport to avoid bringing your car seat if you are not renting a car.
Even if you bring a car seat for the flight, it is going to be a pain to use at your destination. Have you ever tried to install a car seat in a taxi on a busy street with a line of cars honking at you? Not fun.
If you are staying in a city with decent public transportation, take advantage! Look for places to stay that are within a short walk of a subway or light rail station. You can usually get to all the major attractions via the public transport, and not worry about hauling a car seat or risk going without.
And if you weren’t planning to use the car seat on the plane anyway, then this is a double-win. Just leave it at home!
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Plan some downtime into your itinerary
As soon as you start to travel with a baby or toddler in tow you need to change your itinerary to include more down time and some activities that are more child friendly.
This could be as simple as finding attractions like museums that have hands on areas for children. I have found the best thing is to find local parks and play areas in the destination we are visiting and break up our day with some downtime here.
Spending a snack break or lunch somewhere your child can be as rowdy and explorative as they like gives both you and them a break from the pressures you can both feel in most tourist attractions and lets everyone recharge for more exploring.
It’s easy to search for these areas before your visit and find ones that fit in with the other places you want to explore on your trip.
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Plan your activities around your kids’ schedules
Babies and small toddlers tend to have very specific schedules, especially when it comes to nap/bedtimes and eating. Keeping to that schedule can mean the difference between a fun time for all and a total meltdown.
That’s why its so important to communicate their schedule with any other adults traveling in the group. That way, everyone is making decisions about activities, meals, etc. based on the little one’s schedule.
For example, if the baby needs to nurse at 10am, booking the museum entry for 9:50am may not be the best. Or if the toddler naps from noon to 3pm, that might be the perfect time to do the walking tour while they snooze in the carrier.
You can have a little flexibility, but if you keep their schedule in mind, it makes for a better time for all!
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Keep it simple for one-day trips by car
I love to travel and we obviously traveled with our son since he was a toddler. In fact, we took the first trip when he was three weeks old. It was a one-day trip to the mountains – and the beginning of numerous adventures together.
Looking back, I realize that the most important thing we learned is that we need to keep it simple! This means not taking the entire house with us. We discovered what we really need and use.
During a one-day car trip you need to take: a blanket to change the baby, diapers, an extra set of clothes, and food (water + bottle + formula, if you can’t breastfeed as it was my case, for medical reasons). At first, we used the car seat to carry the baby – then a foldable stroller – and that was it!
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Remember to stop frequently if travelling by car
When traveling with a newborn baby something that many parents may not be aware of is the need to make frequent stops and to take the baby out of the car seat. It is important to unbuckle the baby and allow them to stretch out. Walk around a bit. Get some fresh air. Take a break before being buckled back in to continue the travels.
It is important to remember to stop every 1-2 hours when traveling with a newborn and to fully remove them from the car seat during this break. The angle of the car seat and position the baby is laying in while traveling in the car seat can potentially cause the baby’s airway to be blocked. It is crucial to make those frequent stops in order to make sure your baby remains safe and sound.
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I hope that these tips for travelling with a baby have helped with your family travel planning!
Have you travelled with a baby or small children? Did I miss anything out? Let me know in the comments, and I’ll add it to the post!