Earlier this year we ventured on our first overseas trip as a family of 4 (with a newborn and toddler in toe!) And I was inundated with questions. So with the upcoming summer holidays, whether you’re driving up the coast or taking a long haul flight, I thought I'd share my top tips and tricks to survive travel with small humans to save you some time, money, and a bit of sanity.
The more often you travel with your kids, the more prepared you will feel, but that doesn’t mean new challenges won’t appear. Tips for surviving the flight:
- Plan ahead for a baby safe car-seat for the ride to and from the airport (or hire a baby car-seat friendly taxi service).
- Call ahead to ask the airline for a bassinet for your baby. These are allocated for the youngest kids on the plane, but it doesn’t hurt to request one ahead of time.
- Check to see if your travel pram is allowed to be brought on the plane. Having this could make it easier for your bub to sleep in the airport.
- Wear your baby in a carrier around the airport so you have your hands free for your luggage, but encourage your older children to walk around the airport and help push the luggage to get a bit of energy out before sitting on the plane.
- Bring an inflatable cushion for under your toddlers legs (makes it easier for them to sleep!)
- Pack LOTS of snacks. The more options you have to offer, the better. Our toddler bowls with lids are perfect for travel.
- Feed or offer a dummy to your baby during take off and landing to help equalise their ears. For toddlers, give them a food to suck on or a water bottle to drink.
- Set up your backpack so that nappies, wipes, and a change of clothes are easily accessible. Bonus tip: pack a couple of spare sets of clothes for the adults in your hand luggage too...just in case of a poonami at 30,000ft.
- Have entertainment in the form of toys (nothing with lots of pieces), their favourite books, colouring activities, stickers and post-its, etc.
- Tuck them in with their sleeping bag or comforter so they feel at home on the plane. Creating a cozy, secure space can make them feel more relaxed.
- Bonus tip: if you are going for a road trip, bring Catchy with you!
Be prepared, but also be ready to adjust your expectations as the flight goes on. Spoiler: things will probably not go to plan, and that is okay. You may have to do a lot of walking up and down the aisle, or apologise to the person sitting in front of your toddler, but everyone will forget about it as soon as they exit the plane. Even you. You’ve got this.
So, you’ve survived the flight and now want to thrive on your family holiday, which can seem daunting. I won’t pretend a family holiday is as relaxing as a pre-kid holiday, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy yourself. Sharing a few more tips for thriving (okay trying) during the holiday:
- Adjust your expectations. A holiday with kids will not look like a holiday pre-kids. Your sightseeing will be mostly local parks. Your romantic nights out might be early family dinners.
- BYO bowls. Bring your own bowls or tupperware so you can save food from the breakfast buffets for when your child wants a snack just after it closes! We love to bring our toddler bowls with lids, and pack some sandwiches and fresh fruit and veg for during the day.
- Maintain your sleep routine as much as you can. Bring along their white-noise, favourite blanket, a night light, etc so they feel as comfortable in a strange space as they’re able to. Don’t be too hard on yourself if this is extremely challenging.
- Enjoy! Our children learn to differentiate between holiday and home norms. If they have pizza and ice cream on the menu most days on holiday, it doesn’t mean they will expect the same when they get home. Have the ice cream.
- Prepare for things to not go as planned. (Sounds like bad advice, right?) You can be prepared with your toddler plates with lids, your snacks for the day, your smock bib to protect their cute outfits, etc, and you will still face challenges you weren’t prepared for. That’s okay. Your kids will be tired, you will be tired, and maybe you’ll reminisce about those kid-free travel days, but know you are creating new memories now you will one day reminisce on too. Go with the flow as much as you can and enjoy the moments.
You’ll only do this trip with your kids at this exact age once. Make memories.