Looking forward to a nice relaxing holiday with your baby or toddler? You’re not living in dream land. There are lots of ways to enjoy a holiday with small children by your side - the key is a little bit of organisation and a lot of prepared expectations.
Let us walk you through some tried and tested tips to make your family travel experience memorable, for all the right reasons.
Planning your holiday with babies and toddlers in tow
If you’re feeling a little overwhelmed by the whole taking-babies-on-holiday thing, you’re not alone. There are a lot of items on the travel checklist. Remember when pre-reading the cocktail menu was your top priority?
Even though your list is going to look a little different (and much longer) this time around, you’ll still have a chance to get to the cocktail menu - as soon as you iron out a few details.
What age is best to travel with a baby on a plane?
This question is a bit - how long is a piece of string? And the reality is that the right time to fly with a baby is whenever it works for your family. It’s worth noting though, that while kids are under 23 months, they fly for free.
Some may choose to head away while bub is younger, before their baby is eating solid food and when they’re doing a good chunk of sleeping during the day - but alternatively, an older kid might have a more flexible schedule. Some people want to avoid the early walking/crawling stage on a plane but if we have learned anything from the past few years, you have to take opportunities while you can! You know yourself and your bub best, so if you think it will be fine, it probably will be.
There are benefits and downfalls to travelling at every age and with every bub, so we don’t think you should get too bogged down in this detail. Also, while they’re under 11 kgs or 18 months, you can book a bassinet, which will make a long-haul experience a lot easier for everyone involved.
Before you leave on your trip
Like most things in parenting, the more prep you do before an adventure, the easier said adventure will be. Spontaneity is (probably) not your friend…for now. So while you’re in the planning stage of your family friendly holiday, here are some things you may want to think about.
What to do when booking your flight
We already mentioned booking a bassinet - this is a great tool if you can manage to snag one on your flight, ask about that when you’re booking.
Also make sure to check out the options for;
- priority check-in
- preordering children’s meals
- in-flight entertainment
We asked Fely Irvine, Australian actress, singer and dancer about her tips for child-friendly travelling and she suggested that it’s always smart to, “check to see if your airline of choice allows 2 free check-in baby items, if travelling with travel cot or car seat.”
It turns out many airlines will have baggage allowances for infants meaning you can check car seats, strollers and other baby-related paraphernalia. Just let them know at the time of booking that you’re flying with a baby and you may be surprised at your options.
Insurance? Read the fine print
Choosing the right insurance is so important when you’re travelling with a baby or toddler, especially if you’re headed somewhere that has limited hospital resources. Read the fine print, check out medi-vac options and make sure that if you or your child needs to be transferred somewhere in a medical emergency, you’re not going to be out-of-pocket.
Or if, you know, your toddler decides to throw your phone into a toilet - which is much more likely to happen.
Get your documents and media in order
Before you leave, scan all of your important documents and save them to your devices in case of a lost or stolen bag. Make sure to make them available offline because… internet.
Backing up all of your devices before you leave might also be a good idea. While you’re at it, download some media to watch when you have no reception. Most streaming apps have a ‘make available offline setting which will allow your kids (and you) to have access to movies, TV and music wherever you are.
What to pack when travelling with your baby
Basically, your baby needs food, *nappies and you.
It sounds simplistic, but so many of the things we buy for our babies are good-to-haves, not need-to-haves.
Fely did stress that a light pram that can lay flat is worth its weight in gold though, she refers to her Bugaboo butterfly stroller as ‘her best friend’ during their travels. “It easily folded up into overhead storage and helped us with nap time and mobility in the airport. The undercarriage space meant I didn't have to carry anything on the whole trip,” she said.
And of course, don’t forget;
- the favourite snuggle toy
- a steriliser + any other feeding necessities (check with your airline about specifics of breast milk/formula etc.)
- wet wipes
- and any medication needed and a syringe, measuring cup or dropper to administer them. (Don’t forget a prescription for anything that’s not over-the-counter)
When it comes to how much baby food and milk you can travel with, it’s important to check the restrictions before you fly. Some carriers require liquid in 100ml (or smaller) bags and others have more relaxed requirements.
*Just a little FYI, if you're travelling in Australia, Comfy Koalas can deliver nappies to you - which saves precious suitcase space. Also, that way you won’t have to settle for inferior plastic nappies (rash - incoming!) when you run out. Existing customers can update their address and next shipment date easily in the Customer Portal.
What to pack when travelling with your toddler
Toddlers. Right?! Depending on what way the wind is blowing, they will either NEED every item of clothing they own or insist on wearing nothing but an Elsa costume for the entire time you’re away. So we recommend, you just go with it. One day you’ll treasure those tulle-clad beach pics.
On a more practical note, try to pack toddler travel essentials that serve double duty - for example, instead of clothes + PJs, just pack comfy clothing that can double as pyjamas, and then they have twice the outfit options for the same suitcase space. Also, the added bonus is that they’ll already be dressed for the day as soon as they get out of bed.
A good silicone bowl with a lid can be used for snacks, in a microwave or for sandcastles. Rubber water shoes can be worn just about anywhere and sarongs make great wraps, covers and slings.
If they refuse to drink out of anything except that ONE drink bottle, make sure to pack it too, just make sure it’s empty when you board your flight.
And of course, if you choose to bring a pram, it can be a portable-nap-spot, a packhorse and a restraining device - kidding, sort of.
Just make sure you don’t forget;
- wet wipes
- the favourite snuggle toy
- and any medication needed.
How to pack
We know, strange subheading, but hear us out.
In your carry on
Luggage goes missing all the time, it’s much more common than you would think. So, this is why you’re going to want to pack all of your essentials in your cabin luggage or day pack. We are talking about medication, chargers, toiletries and a change of clothes in that bag.
But also, think about the first 24 hours of the holiday. Are you going to a resort? If so, chuck everyone’s swimmers/goggles/floaties etc. in. That way you can sit by the pool in comfort while you wait for your baggage to find you.
Pack by category, not person
This hack is handy if you’re travelling with more than one child. As cute as tiny suitcases organised by-person are, it can be a lot more convenient to pack by category. All the toiletries should be together (obvious) but also, it makes sense to pack all the PJs (plus nappies) together, all the outerwear together, everyone’s ‘nice’ outfits together, and so on.
Tips for on the plane with bub
You're going to want to save these ones...
Breastfeeding/formula powder and baby food
Even if your flight is just a short one, we recommend having everything you need to feed bub for a few days. Things go missing and you won’t always have access to washing facilities. If you plan to take breast milk on the plane, check your airline’s rules around liquid, some have restrictions.
Air pressure & baby
Sometimes the pressure can get to your baby’s ears, it’s a good idea to have something to suck on like a bottle, a dummy or a nipple. Keeping them hydrated can also help with sore ears.
Familiarise yourself with the change facilities on the plane before you need them. And no matter how inoffensive you believe your child’s ‘smells’ to be, never change a number 2 (or 3) at your seat. It’s just not cool.
Great aeroplane toys are silent ones. Anything that’s mess-free and can be reused over and over - like a sticker book - is your friend. And you can never have too many snacks.
As tempting as it can be, try not to keep your child awake to get their body clock ready. You’ll probably end up with a cranky, overtired child. Just offer them a safe space for sleep and be prepared to watch Bluey at 3 am. Good luck. May the universe be with you.
Don’t forget to shop our best performing eco nappies.
Need more travel hacks to keep you sane?
- It’s a great idea to call your bank before you leave. This will give them a heads up as to what’s ‘suspicious’ activity, and what’s just jet-lag-spending.
- Hotel room nap time? The hangers with the clips on them (for hanging pants and skirts) can be used to fasten curtains together for a darker space.
- Pack a multi-board so you can charge everything in one place.
- Leave some room in your suitcase. You’ll read a lot of articles encouraging you to vacuum pack stuff - we can’t stress enough how unhelpful this tactic is. If you pack to 70% capacity, it will be easier to find things, easier to fit souvenirs in, and your suitcase won’t erupt every time you open a zipper. Wiggle room is your friend.
Have a question?
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