Top Tips for Travelling with Little people!
Getting to and from the supermarket a monumental challenge? Starting to wonder how on earth you are ever going to transport you, your partner, your children AND the kitchen sink to lie looking fabulous next to a sparkling pool?
Before the arrival of tiny people in your life you may well have looked at parents and rolled your eyes as they dealt with temper tantrums, lost teddies and poonamis, and thought to yourself, “God, when I have children it will never be like that!” Yet here you are! Staring down the barrel of a week away with no idea how you will not be the one falling apart in the airport terminal. Worry not… this the travel blog to beat all travel blogs!
Our top tips will guide you through the airport, onto the plane, into your transfer vehicle and help you avoid the stresses of hotel check-in, sunburn and tired tantrums!
We’ve put together some top tips on travelling with your little one. We’ve also had a good look around and tried out some products to see what's available to make your getaway as smooth as possible. You’ll find links to our favourites throughout this article.
Getting to the Airport.
One of the first decisions we make if needing to fly to our destination is how will you get to the airport. With everything being much more expensive nowadays cost is often a factor. However, there are a few things that may be worth spending a little extra on at this very first part of your journey.
Is it worth considering taking a train or coach? Both of these options allow you to be able to entertain you little one on the journey rather than listening to, “are we nearly there yet?” If you are travelling with a baby, train or coach travel may be more convenient when thinking about baby’s feeding schedule?
If you are driving to the airport, in my experience it was worth the extra to book the parking that was nearest the terminal building. This cuts out an extra journey on a shuttle bus which, if you are arriving in the early hours and it is raining, can make for a miserable start to your holibobs!
Don't find yourself without wheels
Once at the airport you want to minimise the amount of time you have to spend with your little one in your arms or balancing on your hip. Whether you are jetting off to warmer climbs or looking forward to a staycation, having a reliable and compact pushchair can really be a life-saver. Having brought my little ones up quite some time ago, I am amazed at how technology has advanced and what brilliant options are now available to make life so much easier. And, with the fancy technology now being used you actually don’t need to be parted from your pushchair like you did in years gone by.
The reality is you are unlikely to want (or need) to take your everyday travel system with you on your vacation. Even if you’re not worried about it getting lost or damaged in transit, you’ll probably thank yourself if you invest in a lighter weight and more compact model which you can easily take with you whether you’re travelling by plane, train or car.
At this year’s Baby Shows I was lucky enough to be able to try out some of the latest travel buggies and, these two came up top; Suitable from 6 months, both the Joolz Aer+ and Leclerc Baby Influencer Air fold down neatly with one click of a button making are great choices great for air travel. They are cabin-approved so you can actually take the pushchair on the plane and store it in the overhead compartment.
Having travelled on my own with a two year old to Argentina, I can tell you I would have given my right arm to have a stroller that could be put up and down with one hand! Amazing! Almost makes me want to have another baby!
Think about all the things you need in your nappy bag
As well as packing your life away in your hold luggage, if you are travelling with a baby or toddler you will want a well stocked nappy bag. Make sure you have at least a couple of changes of clothes for each child “just in case”. It is also worth packing a spare top for yourself. Nothing worse than travelling covered in baby sick!
Airports always seem to me to be the dirtiest place on the planet so you will want to make sure you have plenty of handy wipes in every spare pocket. WaterWipes® have always been a favourite of mine. They are suitable for a newborn and only contain two ingredients, 99.9% water and a drop of fruit extract, so they are really kind to baby’s sensitive skin. I’d make sure you have packets in your case as you are going to be reaching for them throughout your holiday!
Let your little one pack a bag
My kids always found packing for holidays really exciting! I on the other hand absolutely hated the stress of it! Trunki cases are great fun for little ones and not only allow them to zoom around they are also the perfect size for them to pack their travel essentials such as snacks, toys and books. Dudley the Dinosaur from Trunki is so cute and is cabin approved so all your little entertainment tricks can be stored inside. And, for those travelling with little ones that maybe won’t want to sit quietly in their stroller watching the world go by these zoom around cases are perfect.
Keeping the kids entertained while at 36,000 feet
Games and Activities
There is literally nothing worse than being that parent that has a screaming child feeling the hot stares of annoyed passengers around you. First up, breathe! The reality is that most of those travellers behind you have either been there or are just thanking the Lord that, for once, it is not their child that is having a melt down! Sometimes, even with the best laid plans and entertainment tricks up your sleeve, your little one will just not want to play ball so, keep in mind, although it feels like an eternity until landing…this too will pass!
Nothing to do with entertainment but comfort for most of us is key. You can actually get various different products like blow up foot rests or hammocks so they can sit comfortably. Have a look on Amazon for some ideas and let me know how you get on. Do we think that maybe our kids have it easier than we did? I never had anything like this for my kids and I haven’t actually tried these products but they do look kind of cool!
Anyway, on to keeping them busy…
We all need a plan up our sleeve to help things run as smoothly as possible. Here are a few little tricks for keeping your headstrong off-spring entertained and remaining the apple of your eye at 36,000 feet!
First up Bingo! Prepare a holiday bingo sheet for them that literally starts as you leave your front door to when you land back down in Blighty. This is great for keeping them looking at the world around them as they travel. There are lots of these that you can purchase but also have a look on Pinterest for free downloadables!
Not into arts and crafts yourself! Not to worry - it didn’t make me a bad parent! There are lots of great books and toys that you can pick up to help keep them busy. Looking just like a book, the clever Magnetibook from Jonad is actually a nifty little smart board full of themed magnets for masterpiece creation. There are also lots of different themes to choose from including crazy faces, animals and the alphabet. Keep in mind that every dropped magnet will see you crawling around one the floor with your ass in the air but I love these books and think it’s worth the sacrifice.
There seems to be an abundance of great ideas for distracting toddlers on the go but less available for babies. I found the Infantino Go Gaga Elephant Activity Mirror which is perfect for keeping them distracted on long car journeys or in their pram. With lots of colours and textures to stimulate their senses, your little one will enjoy exploring the different elements and catching a glimpse of themselves in the mirror.
Sometimes you may just need some quiet time - especially if your flight or drive is particularly long. I really love the idea of audio books. Having teenagers now living with the long term effects of constant screen time I have purposely not put film or screen games as an option as I am now hankering back to a more simple time. However, I do love a good story so see no harm in audible books. When looking for the right fit for this I wanted something that didn’t have to have a phone or screen attached and found Tonies. OMG it is so cool! Each story comes with its own associated character, the box is tumble proof and the headphones are also kid friendly so won't damage their ears. The box can be used on the go - you can even buy a carry bag for all the little characters. These can also be stored in the car organiser to minimise them getting lost. I really love this product as it can give you a break on a long journey and encourages your little one to use their imagination rather than staring at a screen.
Don’t forget you don’t actually need to buy anything to pass the time. Old fashioned games such as i-spy or simon says can help to pass on 10 minutes here and there and a good old fashioned pen and paper allows you to play nought and crosses or hangman with your older children.
Another great idea is to gather a number of small treat items and wrap them up individually in coloured paper like presents. Don’t give them to your child all at once but stagger the gifts throughout the journey – wait until the novelty of the previous one seems to be wearing off but don’t leave it until they’ve really lost their patience. Unwrapping the presents is a great game in itself and good practice for their fine motor skills plus they can also play with the wrapping paper. You could also include a favourite snack in one of the gifts.
How to keep your little ones safe when in cars abroad is a common topic and not one that always has an easy solution.
It is worth remembering that different countries have different rules regarding car seat use so it is worth checking out what the situation is before you head off on your travels so that you are not left trying to sort things out after a long journey.
If your baby is very young you may feel that the safest option is to take your seat with you. If you are taking your car seat with you purely for use in cars, many airline carriers will allow you to put your car seat in the hold. There is also the option of using the seat whilst on the aircraft. However, in both these cases you will need to check with your individual airline and also, if you are going to use it on board, you will likely need to book and pay for the extra seat and also need to make sure that your seat meets the airlines specifications.
For children that little bit older there are some really great products on the market that you can easily take with you. Trunki really came up trumps for us on the travel products for kids. Not only do they have their trademark suitcase but they also do a great range of portable travel seats. Their BoostAPak doubles as a backpack and is a ECE44.04 approved car seat suitable for children under 135cm weighing between 15 and 36kg.
Travelling on foot
Sometimes you just want to travel as lightly as possible. Especially if you are walking around a market being sold all sorts of rubbish you really don’t need! For lots of people a baby carrier is the perfect answer to this. I never got on too well with the carriers that I had as I struggled with my back and also with getting the bloody things on and off! However, Mr Keithy loved the ones that we had and my cousin Sophie has a two year old and swears by her Osprey Europe Poco Plus Child Carrier. Ideal for hiking through the countryside or sightseeing along narrow city streets. It has an integrated sunshade and rain cover so you don’t need to worry about the weather and there are handy zipped pockets to store your essentials. My God-daughter sits in her’s quite happily watching the world go by! However, do be careful when turning around in crowded places wearing this one as you may well take out two or three locals!
For smaller babies I think the BabyBjorn Harmony Baby Carrier, is really lovely. I tried it on at a recent Baby Show and it is really easy to put on and take off and is super soft for small babies and will help to keep your baby in a safe position, and protect their developing hips. Another added bonus for travelling is that it is easily folded up and packed into your case.
Little legs can get tired too
Don’t forget that your older kids may well get tired too. We often walk a lot further than usual on days out and holidays and even children who usually walk everywhere can struggle. Consider getting a buggy board. They attach to most pushchairs and prams and give your older child the option of riding along on the board when they are tired of walking. Easier and more fun (for both of you) than carrying them. Lascal boards come in a range of exciting designs and colours. You may also want to consider taking a stroller for them too as doing so may mean you are able to sit out a little longer in the evening if they have somewhere they can fall asleep.
Choose your accommodation wisely
Your past vacations may well have included fine dining and jaunts to local vineyards but now may be the right time to have a little rethink! It is all very well booking into a chic hotel with velvet sofas and piano bars but do you really want to be treading on eggshells or trying to calm your toddler down because there isn’t a chicken nugget in sight? Probably not! Time to look at more family friendly hang outs. Remember happy children = happy parents!
When booking it really is a good idea to book with a reputable site or agent. The last thing you want to do is turn up in foreign climbs and find that your hotel was bulldozed last year. From experience I would also advise looking at past recommendations from friends or family. Or at the very least, ask yourself if your friends like the same sort of holiday that you do!
When booking where you are going to be staying, ask yourself what you need from the area around you. Many large hotels are often in the middle of nowhere so, if you like to have a wander around towns and churches you may want to choose accommodation that is nearer the town.
Time spent having a good look at reviews will likely be time well spent. Once you have read a few of these you can get pretty good at spotting both genuine feedback and comments left from people that would complain at the arrival lounge of heaven! However, once you have booked your accommodation remember that continuing to read reviews before you go can leave you feeling just a little bit anxious!
If your baby is still under the age of one you will need to find out if your accommodation can provide sterilisers and are able to cater to any mealtime requirements as well as considering if you may want to take your own blackout blind if sleep routine may be a problem.
If you are hoping for lots of activities to keep your little ones entertained whilst you enjoy a good book by the pool, take time to check out the age limits for kids clubs and activities. Also, if you are staying in a hotel make sure they run a nightly mini-disco. Some of your most treasured memories of your little ones on holiday will be at the Mini-Disco!
Keeping sensitive skin safe in the sun
We all know that sun safety is really important, however, even writing this article has found me wandering around a bit of a minefield trying to find out what the official guidance is, especially for babies under 6 months of age.
Many of us enjoy travelling to somewhere where blue skies are guaranteed; however, cloudless blue skies often come with soaring temperatures so, what is the guidance and how do you keep your little ones as safe as possible so that everyone can enjoy the sunshine and splashing in the pool.
Guidance on suncream
NHS guidance states that: “Babies less than 6 months old should be kept out of direct sunlight.” I have struggled to find advice regarding sunscreen on babies under 6 months of age from the NHS and many other online articles state sunscreen shouldn’t be used before 6 months due to the potential for babies to ingest it.
However, the American Academy of Dermatology states: “if shade and adequate clothing are not available, parents may apply a menial amount of broad-spectrum, water resistant sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 to their child’s skin.”
The Association goes on to advise that any sunscreens used on babies should contain titanium dioxide or zinc oxide as they are less likely to irritate a baby’s sensitive skin.
In conclusion my thoughts are that, in the main, babies should be kept out of direct sunlight, however, there are times that this is just not possible. With this in mind I recently asked our Instagram followers which they used. The three most popular were; La Roche-Posay, Babo Botanicals and Childs Farm. All of these suggestions are dermatologist approved.
Additional sun safety
Aside from sunscreen there are some other options to protect your baby’s delicate skin. For all things water “sun, fun and safety”, check out Splash About. These guys have you covered on every aspect of water safety accessories. These super cool all in one suits offer UPF50+ protection and can be worn both in and out of the water.
It is also worth considering the time of day you are out in the sunshine. Avoid going out during the hottest time of the day – 11am to 3pm – if you can. It won’t always be possible to stick to shady areas so make sure you have a good sunshade for your pram or pushchair.
We often forget that babies struggle with the brightness of the sun in their eyes so you may want to consider getting your little one a cool pair of shades. Sunnies for Kids sell fantastic sunglasses which provide 100% UVA and UVB protection and they are built to withstand your robust baby’s lack of care with flexible frames and shatter-resistant lenses so they should survive being played, dropped and sat on!
Don't cover your pram with a towel
Nap times are still likely to happen when at the beach or pool so keep in mind that draping a blanket or towel over your little one’s pushchair is quite dangerous as it can reduce the airflow and there is a risk your baby or toddler could overheat. SnoozeShade makes air-permeable sunshades for your buggy or car seat which block out 99% of the sun’s UV rays and help keep baby cool during nap times. I also love the BabyMoov Pop Up Pen which provides SPF50 protection during nap times and a removable mosquito mesh.
Be a good girl guide
Fortunately, we have never had any major incidents whilst but have heard many horror stories about people being stranded abroad without insurance. It really isn’t worth it so do make sure you are all fully insured should anything happen.
What we did have our fair share of was cuts and scrapes. I’d love to say that I was that fully prepared mother that could whip up a plaster or cool pack, but alas I was more focused on making sure we had homemade biscuits and tea bags packed! So, don’t be a bad mother like me! Pick up a little first aid kit. It will save valuable “Happy Hour” time trudging to the hotel first aid office! Little Life have a great little pack that has everything you need from nappy sacks to “little star” stickers! It doesn’t have “Mother of the Year” badges but, hey ho! you can’t have everything!
Time to dive in
Although there are an abundance of cute videos online demonstrating babies ability to swim from a very young age, we really do need to make sure they have got suitable safety gear on whenever they are near the pool or sea. Another gold star for the guys at Splash About here! As well as selling lots of great fun items such as floats and inflatables you can also purchase a Swim Vest which offer buoyancy in the water and are ideal for travelling as they are quite compact to pop into swim bags and suitcases.
Keep an eye on what your young adventurer is doing - our lovely Sophie here in the Let’s Talk Birth and Baby office once put armbands on her feet and jumped in the pool when no one was looking! Just as well I love her to bits and jumped in to retrieve those little bobbing feet!
Beware of the dreaded "Poonami"
Before you checkout from Splash About you will also want to ensure you are protected against accidents in the pool. To finish off your water prep you need to consider the dreaded “Poonami” You really do not want your baby to be responsible for the floater in the pool and the subsequent evacuation! The Happy Nappy is a reusable swim nappy that protects against poop leaks!
As well as for the aforementioned “Poonami” If you are headed to the beach you are very quickly going to need those wipes to use on sandy hands and faces! I was always really careful to make sure my kids were well protected in the sun and at the beach but they still felt their skin was a little more sensitive on holiday. Probably due to the constant sun cream and wiping off sand from hands and faces! WaterWipes® will save the day again here! They are also certified as ‘Microbiome-friendly’ making them ideal for use on sensitive skin of babies. Throw a few packets in both your suitcase and hand luggage just to be on the safe side.
Make sure everyone gets some sleep on holiday
One of the hardest parts of going away is making sure your little one gets a good night’s sleep. If they won’t settle, you’ll be in for a disturbed night too and then you’ll all be exhausted and struggling to enjoy your holiday.
Comfort is key
Investing in a good travel cot before you go means you know your baby or toddler has somewhere comfortable to sleep. We used to call our travel cot “A Divorce In A Bag!” such was the challenge to put it up and down. Practice using it a few times at home first so you know exactly how to assemble it and so it isn’t a completely new environment for your child on their first night away from home. That said, the LittleLife Arc 2 Travel Cot is lightweight and packs away into an easy to carry rucksack weighing 2.5kg. When testing in the office it really was easy to put up and down. I would still get your little one used to using it before your trip though. The Infantino Fold and Go mat is also a perfect size to place inside the cot for some added comfort during naps and comes with lots of wake time fun too! I found play mats like this to be so useful when you just wanted somewhere to pop them down - so great for travel when you never know where the next clean surface will be found!
Routine - There really is no right or wrong
The decision as to whether you want to try to stick rigidly to your normal routine really is up to you. All I can tell you is what we did and, basically, that was we just went with the flow of things. From memory this pretty much followed what my parents did. I have memories of falling asleep at hotel tables and, in all honesty, it really never did me any harm.
One ritual we did always stick to was encouraging them both to have a lie down late afternoon in anticipation of a later than usual bedtime. Don’t get me wrong, I do have memories of walking round and round trying to get my 18 month old toddler off to sleep in Lindos square but they are actually quite fond memories. Holidays for me were when routine went out of the window. I also don’t remember having any major struggles returning to the norm once home.
That said, a jet-lagged baby is no joke. Vacations with an hour or two difference in time are usually easily managed. Dropping into a completely different time zone and you will probably benefit from giving a little more careful consideration to how best to manage the disruption to sleep. One suggestion is to start to make some subtle adjustments in the right direction a couple of weeks before your trip. Start by moving your baby’s sleep schedule 20 minutes in the direction that it needs to go and wake them up 20 minutes earlier than usual. Once you have reached your new timezone sleep experts recommend switching to the new time immediately.
Keep going with potty training
If you are in the middle of potty training when you are due to go on holiday, this is one routine I would try to keep going. Summer is an idea time to potty train so no need to stop because you are on holiday. The Potette Plus is a compact, lightweight travel potty which is ideal for taking away with you and comes with a handy storage bag. It can be used as a standalone potty with disposable liners or as a seat which you can add to public toilets. Start using it at home before you travel so it feels familiar to your child and they are happy to sit on it.
Baby wipes are a parenting must-have in so many situations so make sure you take some with you on your travels. If you’re going abroad, you won’t always be able to find the same brands so if you have a certain type of disposable wipe you like and which you know won’t irritate your baby’s skin, make sure you pack enough to last the trip.
You could also consider using reusable wipes too. Kit & Kin Magic Salve and Reusable Wipes are great for the planet and a useful addition to your changing bag. The salve is a blend of botanical extracts and natural oils which will soothe and moisturise your baby’s skin – especially useful after a day on a sandy beach. The reusable wipes can be used time and again – just add water and pop them in the washing machine when you return home.
One of my favourite memories of holidays as a little girl is that my Dad always used to take me on the first day of a holiday to choose an inflatable for the pool. I remember everything from a little yellow boat to a giant black and white whale. We never brought them home but always gifted them to a chosen family just starting their holidays. Although, I always remember feeling sad to be going home, I also remember looking forward to picking who would be the lucky recipient of my much loved inflatable friend!
Grandma’s biscuits! I had a wonderful relationship with my Gran and always missed her when we went away. However, she always used to make a box full of her amazing biscuits for us to take with us. After long days at the beach, my mum would get us showered and hair washed and tuck us up for our enforced late afternoon nap. I would always lie down on the bed, feeling the slight tingle of the sun on my skin and nibble away at one of Gran’s biscuits. I can’t tell you how many times I woke up with the half eaten biscuit waiting for me to gobble up before the excitement of another evening out.
Although they are considered pretty old hat nowadays, Grandparents, Aunties and Uncles do still love getting a postcard from loved ones on holiday. Even if they arrive after you have returned, your kids will love seeing the notes they wrote whilst on the beach pinned to the fridge in Grandma's kitchen!
What will your holiday traditions be?
Want to buy our favourite products? Links are below:
1. Joolz Aer+ Cabin Approved Buggy - Joolz
2. Trunki Kids Suitcase - Trunki
4. Baby Bjorn Harmony Baby Carrier - Baby Bjorn
5. WaterWipes - WaterWipes
6. Osprey Child Carrier - Osprey
7. Plane Pal - Keep Em Quiet
8. Buggy Board - Cheeky Rascals
9. Kids Sunglasses - Sunnies for Kids
10. Infantino Playmat - Argos
11. Nappy Cream & Disposable Wipes - Kit & Kin
12. Swim Vest - Splash About
13. Portable Potty - Cheeky Rascals
14. Pushchair Sun Shade - SnoozeShade
15. Magnetic Books - Kidly
16. Trunki BoostApak- Trunki
17. Family First Aid Kit - Little Life
18. Suncream - Childs Farm
19. Suncream - La Roche Posay
20. Suncream - Babo Botanicals
21. Swim Nappy - Splash About
22. Tonies Story Box - Bambinista
23. Travel Cot - Little Life
We really hope you have found this article useful and that you have many happy holidays to come.
Disclaimer: Just to let you know, whilst we may receive payment or gifts from brands featuring on this website Let's Talk Birth and Baby will only ever signpost to trusted brands or products that we have physically seen and like.