Last week I wrote about where to go on holidays with babies and toddlers and this week I want to share a bunch of ways to make travelling and holidays with babies and toddlers run more smoothly.
Try one of them, try all of them, add your own suggestions in the comments!
Allow Some Time Before And After
Say you finish work on Friday, maybe pre-children-you could have been on a flight on Saturday morning, or even Friday night! But packing and cleaning and organising takes so much more time with a baby, so to avoid stress consider departing for your holiday on Sunday instead. Give yourself a little extra time for the inevitable dramas that arise when young children are around.
Plus jetlag with kids is a whole new ball game, so give yourselves an extra day or two to recover after your holiday, before starting school or work again.
Get A Cleaner Before And After
You know all those little jobs that you need to do before you leave your house empty for a week or two? Like putting out the bins, emptying the fridge and making sure there aren’t any dirty cloth nappies in the laundry bucket… When you’ve got a baby the time you have to do these tasks is about slim to none, so get someone else to help you.
If you can, arrange for a cleaner to give your house a once over right after you leave, and maybe even change your bed sheets for you!
Likewise when returning. Nothing says ‘welcome home’ like five suitcases full of dirty clothes. So get someone else to do the laundry, either at your hotel before you leave, or use a service like Laundromat when you get back.
Little Cases With Wheels
I know you can get fancy kids ones, but any case with wheels is great fun for kids. My nearly-two-year-old has a 'Thomas' case on wheels that we got from the op shop for just a few dollars, check out how much he LOVES it! >> Click the image to see a short clip :)
My older children (aged 5 and 8) now just have regular cabin baggage sized cases with wheels, rather than special kids ones. All three of my children now carry their own cases whenever we travel (milestone!) and I find having their own wheeled case is a great way of motivating them to walk and take responsibility for their things.
But even if your baby is too young to carry their own case it’s a good idea to pack them their own bag to make everything really accessible in case of a snack emergency or a nappy explosion.
These are obviously great for aeroplane trips, but they are also great for long car drives or other kinds of travel. I’ve given you a list of ideas of what to pack inside these cases below.
Pack More Nappies Than You Can Imagine
You really can’t pack enough, trust me, I know from experience! Pack double what you think you’ll need in case of delays or diarrhoea. Also, pack them in a few separate bags in case any of your bags go missing.
And Loads Of Wet Wipes Too!
Pack heaps of wet wipes for nappy changes, but also for mopping up milk, spilled food, baby spews and all the other fun stuff that children bring along for the journey. Take a few packs, maybe one in each case so they are easy to find when you really need them. Cloth nappy squares or muslin squares are really handy too.
Pack A Change Of Clothes
Pack a full change of clothes for each child in their bag plus some warm gear if there is any possibility of it getting cold. This may sound quite obvious, but I have forgotten at times!
Pack All The Snacks
If your baby is still exclusively breastfed you can jump for joy (although you probably don’t have the energy to pare right now)!! It’s sooo much easier to travel with all the snacks your baby needs packed literally inside your boobs.
If you have a baby who is on solid food then you’ll be familiar with the joys of constant snacking and constant cleaning up. I usually try and avoid plastic-wrapped snacks, but travel is the one time I indulge my kids in all those individually wrapped treats that we don’t usually have at home. Fruit twists, cheese sticks, boxes of sultanas and bags of popcorn are all popular with my children on long trips.
Pack a stash each in their own travel bag for the car or plane, and keep a secret stash in your bag for emergencies. Because there’s always snack emergencies when you’ve got small children.
I pack a small water bottle per child, plus a larger one in my bag for top-ups. Many airports will let you through security with water if you are travelling with a baby, so it’s always worth asking.
For babies or toddlers, we love those mini travel sized Etch A Sketch boards, and often pack some miniature animals or cars. Sticker books are also great for smaller children.
For bigger kids cards or 'Uno' is loads of fun, as long as you have the time/energy to play with them. Activity or colouring books can provide hours of entertainment with a small pack of crayons or pencils with an eraser and sharpener. Surprisingly we’ve often found blank notebooks are more popular than activity/colouring books!
Consider getting your toddler/child good quality children’s headphones. They fit better than adult or earbud headphones and protect your children’s ears with volume control. They also protect your sanity so you don’t have to listen to the wiggles on repeat for 6 hours. Check the size carefully because if your child is under four it can be hard to find headphones small enough.
My kids love travelling by aeroplane cause they know they get to watch unlimited movies!
But if you want to curb the screen time audiobooks are a great alternative, and we use these a lot when travelling, especially in the car. Harry Potter audiobooks go on for hours and hours and the whole family (myself included) loves listening.
Two of my favourite apps are like libraries for ebooks and audiobooks called Libby and Borrowbox. Download the app, log in with your library card and download some audiobooks before you leave. Check with your local library in case they are associated with some other virtual library system instead.
Don't Forget Your Own Clothes, Snacks etc.
How many times have you spent hours meticulously planning everything for every member of your family for every possible eventuality, only to forget to pack your own freaking jumper? So go through this list for you too - what snacks, clothes, entertainment etc do you need to get yourself to your holiday destination with your sanity intact?
Organise Food For Your Arrival
Arriving in a new place with small children can be tiring and overwhelming. Meltdowns are likely, and even more likely if small (or big) people are hungry. If your children are fussy eaters or sensitive to change it might help to have some familiar food for the first night, so they aren’t dealing with too many changes all at once.
For example, when we go camping I usually pack a packet of pasta, a jar of pesto and some washed and chopped broccoli. All we need to do for dinner when we arrive is boil some water and my kids get some comfort food to ease the transition.
Depending on what kind of travel you are doing, before you leave you could book a restaurant, suss out the room service menu or order online shopping so that you know you can eat as soon as you get to your destination. Some hotels will even stock your fridge and pantry for you before you arrive.
That’s all for now! Hit me up in the comments, what tips have you got for travelling with small children?