Top 10 Tips For Traveling With Kids Or Babies
Going on a vacation, especially with babies or toddlers, can sound a little intimidating but trust me, it is easily doable and you will have fun! Karma had been to 10 countries by the time she was 2.5 years and has done a ton of domestic travel as well. All these trips included a lot of budget flights, affordable accommodation and some smart planning.
But before I start with the tips, lets bust some myths around traveling with kids first. If you don’t have time to read through the whole thing, just watch the video above. It covers the basics of all the myths and tips.
Traveling With Kids: Myths
It’s difficult to travel with little babies.
Guys, you got this all wrong! Small babies are the easiest to travel with. They can’t talk, walk or move. Feeding them requires only breastmilk or formula. If they get cranky, sleepy or start crying, just pop in the boob or the bottle. If your baby has started solids; mashed fruits and veggies is all the food you will need. You can just strap on your baby on a stroller or a carrier and comfortably do tons of sightseeing with food and diaper breaks.
Small kids wont remember these places, so why bother?
Believe it or not, exposure to new places or environments leads to a lot of mental and physical development in even small kids. They realise they’re in a new place! Their attitude and personalities widen, their vocabulary builds up and the stimulation from new sights even aids physical development. We have first hand seen these changes with Karma after every vacation.
How will we manage all the work & tantrums?
Parenting together is the name of the game! As parents, you have to team up and manage the work accordingly. I will be discussing this in detail in my tips. And as far as the tantrums are concerned, handle them the same way you handle them at home. You will laugh about the same tantrums later! 😉
Now, lets get down to the tips for traveling with kids or babies.
Traveling With Kids: Top 10 Tips
1. Pack Light
A simple rule to cut down the number of clothes you will be packing by half is – All tops match all bottoms. This will not only lead to carrying lesser items but give you a variety of outfits too. Carry clothes that can be layered and layer down or up depending upon weather conditions. Carrying clothes that can be washed over a sink especially for long trips can make life even easier during travel. I highly recommend packing cubes. They help you organise, compartmentalise and you overall pack smarter. Avoid taking brand new clothes on vacations as you have not tried and tested combinations with them often and they will hardly get used. Carry only travel sized toiletries and wear your heaviest shoes and jackets on flights.
2. Plan Hand Luggage
Other than your laptop or tablets, you will probably also carry some baby food, munchies or medicines in your hand luggage when you are traveling with kids. Even though food and liquids above 100 ml are not allowed for adults, airlines give leeway for small kids and you can carry bigger quantities. However, all these will have to be taken out for checking at security. To avoid wasting time hunting for where everything is, keep it all together in one handbag, diaper bag or lunch bag. I swear by zip locks and use them to organise medicine and lotion bottles. And I keep Karma’s milk, medicines and any other liquids in one bag that I just open up and pack before and after security. It’ll save you tons of time and peace of mind.
3. Diapers/Essentials Bag
Keep your basic essentials like wipes, a couple of diapers and munchies in your diaper bag. In case of food spill or any other accident, you can do a quick change on the spot without opening up your cabin bag. In flights, my diaper bag was at my feet the whole time for easy access. I also pack Disposable Changing Mats as they are convenient and hygienic to use especially while traveling and I don’t have to worry about cleaning or washing the mats. All other extra essentials go in the cabin luggage which is stored in the overhead compartment. But essentially, we don’t have to open a big bag every time I need to wipe Karma’s hands or change a diaper. I also recommend packing a play bag for toddlers with small toys like dinky cars. Toddlers do entertain themselves when they feel like they are a part of the experience too.
4. Get-Out Check List
Make a check list a few days before of all items (not just bags) you need to carry when you finally leave home for your vacation. The reason I say items and not bags is because you might count 3 bags and in the hurry of leaving, forget your baby carrier or the kids’ food or something else. Therefore, make a list on your phone that includes your luggage, small bags or anything you or your kids wanna carry, all documentation like passports, tickets and tick things off the list as you leave the house.
We actually forgot our folded GB Pockit Stroller on the side of the road in Amsterdam as we were loading our bags into a cab to get to the train station in record time. We were running late, counted all our bags and forgot to load the stroller since we did not count it as a separate item.
5. Pre-Divided Duties
Decide beforehand what your partner will be in charge of and what will you manage. For example, once out of the cab, I handle Karma, diaper bag, stroller and maybe an extra hand luggage if there is one. Karan pushes the big suitcases, one hand luggage and laptop bag that also has all our passports, IDs and any other documentation in one pouch. At security, he takes the laptop bags and other hand luggage while I take Karma, diaper bag and stroller. When Karma was a baby, then I would hold Karma and Karan would take the stroller through security as well. Now, she’s older and knows the drill well, so I can manage the stroller too. That way neither of us is frazzled and we know exactly what we are in charge of. Similarly, we do shifts on flights for feeding, playing and naps.
6. Convenient Child Gear
Out of your stroller, car seat and your travel cot, all airlines across the world allow you to check-in any 2 out of these 3 items free of cost and their weight is not included in your check-in weight allowance. So feel free to bring them along.
We always carry our stroller along with us and strollers can be taken up till the flight entrance. Strollers and carriers will have to go through security but they are really handy to have so your hands are free and you can carry other stuff too. Plus, you don’t get overtired by carrying your child around in case they’re sleepy or cranky.
7. Feed While Take-Off & Landing
If you have a baby, then breast or bottle feed your baby during take-off and landing to save them from painful ear-popping. If you have a toddler or older child, then give them water or milk or even lollipops or biscuits so they keep swallowing and their ears don’t hurt. But here’s another important point – Don’t make the rookie mistake of bringing out the bottle or the lollipop as soon as the plane starts moving. We have all done it and before you know it, it’s another 20 mins before actual take off and tummy is full! :p Wait till the plane is racing down the runway and pop that bottle in!
8. Keep It Simple
Plan your days and don’t schedule very early morning starts. Choose 5 out of the 10 things you really want to do and ditch the rest. Target only one big must-see agenda in one day and maybe club some small ones that fall in the way. Don’t aim to do too much in one day and plan for food and rest breaks as well.
For example, on our trip to New York; on Central Park Zoo day, Karma and I only visited the main and petting zoo and nothing else. After we got done, Karma played at a mini park there itself for another hour and then we headed back. However, on Grand Central Station day, we also did Madison Square Park, Bryant Park and Broadway since each place took only 30 minutes to an hour and I could walk to each one of them with food breaks.
9. Food & Accommodation
We highly recommend booking air bnb because you have access to space, a kitchen and a washing machine. Plus you get options in all budget ranges. You can cook easy meals like breakfast and even pack food for your kids. However, I do wanna add that even though it would be ideal to give your child healthy homemade food on vacation as well, a holiday with kids is the apt time to throw the rule book out the window. Buy cereals, food jars, squeeze food tubes and snack bars as they are convenient and easy to feed while you’re out and about.
It’s important to be safe while traveling with kids and there are two aspects I want to cover here.
Be safe by twinning – Not only does twinning result in adorable vacation photos, it’s also a great safety measure. If by chance, you lose your child in a crowded place, you can literally just tell people to spot a kid wearing the same clothes or colours as you. No digging for pictures, no descriptions, no remembering faces – It’s the fastest way to get a crowd to locate someone.
Get a local sim – International roaming can be expensive but it’s important to always have network and stay connected while you are traveling with kids. Hence, I recommend buying a local sim so you always have a working phone in case of emergencies and data so you can use google maps for navigation. So do get a local sim for your phone with a data plan for not just convenience but safety as well.
I hope you found these tips for traveling with kids useful and will start planning your next family holiday no matter how old your child is. Remember, flight tickets for kids under 2 years of age cost just 10% of your ticket. So ideally, the best time to plan your most expensive trip is before your child turns two. 😉
Happy Travels Everyone!
This post is a part of Teddyy India’s #TeddyyTrip campaign. However, all the views, opinions and tips shared are my own. We are a family that loves to travel and hope these tips encourage all parents out there to explore the world with their tots in tow! 🙂