Ok, I’ll admit it… sometimes I’ve actually had nightmares about travelling with my kids. It’s not that they’re not capable of behaving, it’s just that they’re toddlers and toddlers can be unpredictable! Often it’s not them I’m worried about - it’s me! What if I forget something? Something important like their food, a change of clothes or worse - an actual child!
I’ve been left in a cold sweat after dreams of running through the airport terminal in my baby food stained clothing, eyes in the direction I’m going, clinging to the bags for dear life whilst Coco sits patiently on the seat I just accidentally left her on.
Over time I’ve found that there are ways to ease my travel panics. I’m going to share these with you now to hopefully help you cope with a long journey with your little ones.
A kid-friendly travel suitcase
If your toddler is able to carry a small bag, invest in a really awesome kids case that they will
love to carry themselves! If you’re solo with the kids it can be hard to carry everything yourself,
so giving them their own mini case to hold can be a great idea.
Fun cases I’ve come across include the Trunki Ride-On suitcase, the MiniMax that lets them
strap their favourite teddy to the front, or these personalised adorable penguin ones . Just make sure you keep an eye on it!
A soft blanket
A soft or favourite blanket is super versatile. It’s comforting, warm and can be used as a pillow or sitting mat.
Pre-prepared kids entertainment
I personally never like to give the kids free reign on my iphone or ipad… unless we’re travelling!
I make sure all their favourite shows are pre-downloaded and that my devices are fully charged.
Whipping this out when they’re starting to get a bit cranky can be a lifesaver.
I know, AS IF you’d leave for a trip with the kids and no snacks?! This is just to say to take more
than you think you’ll need. I always pack favourite snacks. Things like cold pizza, ginger biscuits
(good for travel sickness too), strawberries, carrot sticks and chocolate. I stick it all in a tupperware so it’s less likely to make a mess or melt in my bag!
Comforter or dummy
If you’re going to be travelling on a plane, these are great for toddlers or babies to suck to stop ear discomfort during takeoff and landing.
Disposable babygrow or sleepsuits
If the drive or flight is long and there are limited facilities available, buy a cheap multipack of babygrows or sleepsuits on amazon or ebay (you can get them for around 50p each). Pack a few in your bag so if your baby has an accident, instead of trying to wash the soiled, smelly clothing; just pop it in the bin and put on a fresh one.
Travel sickness remedies
Remember being told that sitting on a newspaper when you’re in the car stops you feeling sick?
Well I’m pretty sure this isn’t scientifically proven but it worked for me when I was a kid.
Also, try any kind of drink or food that gets you to burp as burping can really alleviate the feeling of sickness. Chewable digestive tablets (available in different flavours), a fizzy drink like coke or ginger beer is good, or a relaxing peppermint tea.
If you’re breast or bottle feeding the recommended time to do this, if possible, is during takeoff and landing. It not only helps your baby’s ears from potentially hurting, but it gives them something to concentrate on other than the movement of the aircraft or feeling nervous. Getting your kids excited!
If your toddlers are excited about getting on the plane or the car, they’re way less likely to be frightened, irritable or upset when the journey is taking place. Try using books with train, car or plane characters depending on how you’re travelling. Give the mode of transport a friendly first name (so they feel a personal connection to it) and help them think of it as a fun adventure!
Hand out notes or a goody bag
I think most parents with babies or toddlers get nervous that their child will annoy everyone (ourselves included) during the journey. Loud wailing in small spaces is never fun, unfortunately sometimes you just can’t control it. We’ve all been guilty of being irritated by crying kids before we were parents!
To introduce your family to the other passengers before the journey, you could try handing out a small but thoughtful pack (like a small, clear sandwich bag) with some useful stuff if your baby does cry. Stick in some earplugs, hard boiled sweets and a note introducing yourself and your child. I saw an idea for a cute note reading:
“ Hi, my name is (name of child/children) and we’re on our first ever flight today! I’ll try to be on
my best behaviour but I’d like to apologise in advance if I lose my cool, get scared or my ears
hurt. My mum and dad packed this back with some goodies that might help if that happens!
Hope you have a great flight! ”
Although it’s not for everyone and I totally get that, (you should never feel pressured to give anything out just because you’ve got kids) for me it breaks the ice a bit and makes me feel a bit more comfortable if things do get loud!
Get a window seat
If you get your little one a seat right by the window then they’ve got something to lean on when they want to sleep that’s not just your shoulder. Also, if they’re smaller and need a feed you can just turn your body to the window and get on with things in your own private corner!
Bags with compartments means less rummaging around in the crumbs at the bottom of your tote bag.
Toddler sized earphones are useful as they can help sooth your little one off to sleep with nice music, an audio book or their favourite program or film. It also helps stop them from being woken by loud noises or plane/train announcements.
Everyone’s feet can expand on flights! Choosing a nice soft shoe with a non slip bottom means your toddler's feet won’t hurt if they do swell a bit during the journey.
Wearing flip flops means you won’t have to faff around taking your shoes off and on when you go through security at the airport. Pack some socks or thin slippers in your bag for the flight if your feet get cold.
Obviously I couldn’t miss this one out. If your little one is teething, don’t forget to pack their favourite Matchstick Monkey teething toy!
If your toddler has trouble getting to sleep without a night light, bring a small, portable one. It’s nicer than having to sleep with the bedside light on in your hotel room.
Sand free towels
I’m not sure if you’re aware of this but you can buy towels that sand doesn’t stick to! If your toddler likes to run naked all over the beach then drying them off with a sandy towel can be painful and difficult. Try Sandusa or Tesalate. They fold up small so they’re also easy to pop in your bag.
Sand free beach mat
Ok, you’re going to the beach so have to expect to get sandy. If you can’t bear the thought of your child’s teether, food, bottle and everything else they own getting covered then a sand free mat could help.
If your baby or toddler doesn’t adapt well to bedtime changes or you’re determined to stick to a routine, try making it seem as much like home as possible. Make the bed up like their one at home and get the hotel room dark and cool before popping them in it.
Don’t wear jewellry or a belt or anything else you you need to take off before going through security at the airport.
Some people hate the idea of using reins but I can completely imagine how useful they would be on a journey, especially if you’re travelling through a busy place with lots of luggage and a toddler to watch.
To account for random movement of transport when travelling, take a spill proof beaker for your little one.
If you’ve got your toddler by the hand and a backpack on your back, stick the essentials like your passport, phone and boarding card in your bumbag for super easy access. You can actually get cool pretty ones these days, honestly!
It’s sometimes so much easier to have your things in a backpack so you can have two hands to deal with your toddler!
You’ve probably realised by now that wet wipes can be extremely handy. Half or quarter of a pack should be enough for one long journey.
They are all my tips for now, although I’m sure I’ll think of a few more to add in later. If you’ve got any amazing travelling with toddler tips then I’d love to hear about them!