Travelling with babies is not something my husband and I have shied away from. In fact, we have traveled more with our daughters than when it was just the two of us (shocking I know). Nothing beats making new memories and experiencing a new destination through your child’s eyes.
That’s not to say that planes, trains and automobiles are easy with babies (or toddlers). We have learned some very valuable lessons during our travels with our children, during both the infant and toddler stage.
If you’re gearing up to travel with your child (or children), below are some tried, tested and true tips that are worth packing in your suitcase:
Travel cubes. So simple and yet, soooo crucial. I remember our first trip with our eldest daughter as if it was yesterday. I recall looking at all of her tiny clothes and adding up all of her miniature sized necessities and wanted to puke. That’s when I discovered travel cubes. They are super affordable and each set consists of various cubes of various sizes. They are perfect for adult clothing and toiletries BUT they are a life saver when it comes to mini sized clothing.
When taking the plane, train or bus, contact the transport company directly and let them know that you are travelling with an infant(s). In my experience, airlines are pretty straight forward when it comes to travelling with an infant. When under the age of two, your baby can accompany you on your lap and after that, they’re tiny butts take up a seat just like everyone else.
When we travelled to Toronto with our eldest daughter, we took the train. I contacted the company we travelled with directly because I had a question, and they ended up bumping us up to a 4-seater cabin (free of charge and we had it all to ourselves).
Get familiar with the airport you will be at and locate nursing stations in advance. Even though I had a good relationship with breastfeeding, I was always nervous when it came to our daughters nursing in public. I could care less about showing the world my lady bitts but nursing in public always made me nervous because it was so uncomfortable for me.
I never knew that being larger chested would make breastfeeding challenging at times. I almost always needed a nursing pillow or some sort of support to put my daughters on and I could literally only breastfeed in the football position. To help beat my nursing jitters when travelling by plane, I looked up the airports we would be at and located their nursing rooms. This way, I knew a safe place existed in advance and I was able to locate them quickly on the map.
Pack for delays. Even the most exotic vacations are not immune to the hiccups that can sometimes occur when travelling. In December 2018, we traveled to Punta Cana with our daughters (they were both under the age of 2 and that story in itself deserves its own blog post). On our way back home, we were hit with a major flight delay. Just hearing the word “delay” sent actual shock waves through my body. Luckily, we were prepared and we had packed our carry-on luggage with absolutely everything we could possibly need. Extra diapers, snacks, bottles, formula, you name it.
Bring bottle liners. This was a huge game changer for us when travelling to Dominican Republic. Because the water isn’t safe to drink down in DR, we had to wash our youngest daughter’s bottles with bottled water. Not fun. Bottle liners are one use only, come pre-sterilized and they prevent the formula from actually going inside the bottle. That meant that we were only stuck washing a few pieces with bottled water because our bottles managed to stay clean and dry thanks to those liners.
Encourage your baby to nurse, bottle-feed or suck on their pacifier during takeoff and landing. Everything about babies are small, and the tiny tubes in their ears are no exception. The pressure we all feel in our ears during takeoff and landing, is known to be more painful for infants. The act of swallowing helps their ears equalize, so encourage them to do so and try not to sweat profusely if they cry.
Master the art of distraction with your toddler. It is a known fact that toddlers can’t sit still for long. It is also a known fact that travelling consists of sitting for an extended period of time, and this can mean war. The best way to avoid battle with your toddler, is to keep them distracted. We always pack a small sized school bag full of snacks, toys and books for our girls. Toys such as reusable stickers, crayon travel kit and doodle board go a looong way and aren’t a mess to clean up. Of course when all else fails, pre-downloaded content on Netflix or Disney Plus will actually save your sanity.
When in doubt, use the baby carrier. Airlines are usually really great when it comes to travelling with strollers and car seats. We have always used our stroller right up to the gate and that has allowed navigating the airport to be much easier. There were times that wearing our youngest daughter helped immensely. When we landed in Punta Cana, I strapped our youngest to my chest right away. It made getting our luggage easier because our toddler had major steam to burn off, and when our stroller was hauled into the airport shuttle, my hands were free. I also manage to feed her the bottle while she chilled on my chest.
Don’t forget the nasal aspirator. Seriously, don’t. Crying on planes is bound to happen and even during long road trips in the car, tear shed is always expected. That means mucus. If the universe is really not on your side and your little people catch a cold, you will be forever grateful that you had the power to suck the mucus straight out of their face. Trust me. Also, don’t forget the filters.
Bring the grandparents along for the ride. We have traveled with both of our mothers and without fail, their presence means that we have help with the girls. The one time we didn’t travel with our parents, we went to an all inclusive. Although we had a great time (and hard time) in Punta Cana, we couldn’t enjoy the nightlife or really, any life after 8pm. We made the most of it but travelling with grandparents can help with these kinds of situations. My most fond memories of going on vacation were always the times I traveled with my extended family.
As exciting as travelling with your littles can be, it can also be HELLA stressful. Do you have tips and tricks for travelling with babies and toddlers?