My husband and I love to travel and when we decided to have kids we also decided (perhaps foolishly) that we want to continue with traveling. Our oldest, who just turned 3, has been on a dozen or so flying trips and our 4 month old son just took his first flight last week. This is always a hot topic so I thought I would share what works for us!
- The key to this is early prep. I put an empty laundry basket in each child's room and fill it with various things as I think of them and then make a list of things to pack the morning of the trip (toothbrushes, baby monitor etc).
- Bring enough essential supplies in your carry on to last the day. For example, bring enough diapers to last you an entire day, enough sippies/bottles (although these can be washed) and enough baby food for the day. You never know when you could be sitting waiting for a delayed flight.
- If possible order essentials for the entirety of your trip (diapers, wipes, baby food) online and have them sent ahead to your destination. You don't need to waste valuable packing space with these things. It is hard to find smaller quantities of items on Amazon so I've used BRU and Target. This works especially well if you are visiting family or friends!
- If ordering ahead isn't possible we head out to a store to get things either on the way to our accommodations or head out the next morning if we get in late.
At the Airport:
- Babywear if possible: When we had one child I would always wear her until about 18 months. The only time we used the stroller in the airport and gate checked it was when traveling internationally. This was because we knew there would be a longer line at customs on the other end of the flight. Now we use the carseat on the plane and we have the Brica carseat roller as shown in the photo. It is so easy to wheel her through the airport and she loves it! The babywearing role goes to my son now. The stroller we own has it's own bag that you could purchase separately and even came with a replacement warranty if it was damaged by the airline.
- What we check at the counter for babygear: An infant carseat in a backpack bag, the stroller in the stroller bag and pack and play. We have extra pack and plays stashed at my in-laws that we frequently fly to also so we don't always have to bring that. The carseat backpack is great because you can also throw blankets, a few toys and diapers in the carseat once it's in the bag.
- Use backpacks: They make a great diaper bag and carry on, especially when babywearing (well at least for front wearing) they can help to balance you out!
On the plane:
- Electronics! Yes, I said it! Now that my oldest one can be entertained with a device I let her use it. She doesn't get a lot of time on my phone or Ipad so it's a special treat.
- Stickers: When she was younger I would buy name tag stickers and stick them to my shirt, she would spend forever trying to peel them off. I have also brought holiday window gel clings and stuck them on the window
- Let them pack a bag: My daughter brings her own small backpack with toys/crayons she has picked out to play with.
- Bag of tricks: Add a few never before seen toys from the dollar bins at Target to her backpack! I once heard to add a new toy for every planned hour of the trip and give a new toy each hour.
- Little Ears: I usually try to feed during take off. As they get older I found those travel babyfood pouches work well. The swallowing motion with eating will help their ears 'pop'. During landing if they are awake I offer a pacifier and it seems to work just fine. If the kids are sleeping I don't wake them up to do this and they seem to be fine.
- Both of my children have been on a routine and we try to keep it the same when traveling. When they are babies I just wear them on the plane and they have always fallen asleep in the sling at the appropriate naptime.
- For flights over 2 hours we get economy plus seats. We do this for several reasons: 1) my husband is quite tall and has a hard time fitting in normal seats 2) It is harder for my toddler to kick the seat in front of them 3) When babywearing in a regular seat I can't put the lap tray down, and if the person in front of me reclines, forget it!
At our destination:
- Thankfully our kids have also adapted pretty easily to time changes. We have never gone over a 3 hour change however. I just try to stick to the normal wake up time to get them adjusted if traveling east. If traveling west I put the kids to bed at the new hour or push it as long as they will stay awake happily. Often times being on vacation they are distracted enough to be able to happily stay awake longer.
- If your trip is short you can just stay on your normal time zone and not try to adjust to the new time zone
- I swear by the Snooze Shade. They help keep the light out. My kids both have blackout curtains and will wake up early if they don't have them. They also help so that your kids don't feel afraid in unfamiliar surroundings when in their pack and plays.
Other helpful items and tips:
- We have gotten a lot of use out of our totseat travel fabric high chair. It is great for travel, going to a friend's house or just to a coffee shop that might not have high chairs.
- We used this go pod for a span of time too. It was great to have a place to set the baby where they would be happy when we were eating, especially once they were on the move, this was safe! We have also used this as a high chair for feeding.
- A blow up bath tub is a great way to taken an infant bath tub with you. We have this duck one.
- We have used a couple of baby rental sites in the past. You can rent anything from cribs, high chairs, swings, baths, strollers and beach toys!
What are you tips and tricks when traveling with very young children?