We’re all going on a summer holiday… sounds good, doesn’t it? Unless you’re the parents travelling with a baby, in which case the very phrase can strike fear into the heart!
Travelling with a baby doesn’t have to be a nightmare, however you do need to plan ahead. With a little foresight and preparation, getting away with a baby or even a toddler can be a relaxing break. My husband is English, and we’ve travelled back and forth to Europe with our children at least half a dozen times (I’ve done it at least twice on my own with a baby and a toddler), not to mention the annual Queensland summer holiday to my family. I think it’s safe to say that plane, train or automobile, we’ve been there, seen it, done it. So, here’s my top tips for travelling with a baby:
- Plan ahead! Start making lists and packing at least a week ahead. Gone are the days when you can throw stuff into a bag at the last minute. Get yourself a list of what you need for a normal outing with your baby or toddler, and make sure that you have plenty of supplies.
- When you’ve got your everyday list together, then add the ‘disaster’ items! If you’re on a plane, or on a long car journey – trust me, things will go wrong. I’ve had the poo disasters, I’ve had the gastro baby, I’ve had the airline lose all our luggage (including the pram!). So you’ll need extra clothes in case of the poo blowout, you’ll need a change of clothes for you, you’ll want way more nappies than you think you’ll possibly need, and you’ll definitely want extra food for all of you.
- If you’re travelling by plane with your baby or toddler, you’ll want all of this gear in your hand luggage. If you’re going by car, make sure that all of this stuff is at the top of the suitcase pile, so that you can grab it easily if you have to pull over.
- The good news is that all of this hand luggage means that you can keep the rest of the luggage to a minimum so that you’re not struggling with huge bags and a pram.
- If you can, get your usual brand of nappies delivered ahead of time to your destination. So much easier than taking all the nappies you need, and less hassle than trying to find them when you get there.
- I highly recommend travelling with a baby carrier if you have a baby. It’s much easier getting through customs, and onto the plane if you are hands free. If you’re travelling by car, you can stash the baby carrier somewhere handy much more easily than you can with a stroller.
- If you’re travelling by car, plan the journey so that you know where you’ll be stopping for breaks along the way and keeping to your routine as much as possible. If you’re going to need to stop for meals, I’d recommend packing some to take with you so that you have something familiar and don’t face a highway service station tantrum (I may have the only child in the world who will not eat fast food – try feeding that one on a 20 hour car journey if you haven’t planned ahead!). Plan meals in parks for fresh air and a bit of a leg stretch for the whole family.
- To amuse and distract children on a long journey, whether it’s by plane or car, buy a few new toys to play with. They’ll get extra entertainment mileage simply because of the novelty of the new toy. When they’re sick of one, you can pull out another.
- For car journeys, try taking talking books and music to listen to on the way. For plane journeys, load up that ipad with favourite TV shows!
- Removable window shades for a long car journey will save you the discomfort of a four hour drive with the sun beating straight in on your baby or toddler (or even you!). At a pinch, you can use a muslin or blanket trapped in the window.
Travelling with a baby or toddler really comes down to one thing – getting organised ahead of the journey. So plan, plan, plan – pack extras for the actual journey, and then when you get there, don’t forget to enjoy yourselves!
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