With a toddler and a baby on the way, clients frequently ask me for advice on how to travel with littles. Because I travel for a living, I believe that setting expectations is essential. To begin, keep in mind that family travel days aren’t always easy, but the memories are well worth it.Second, go into this family time with the mindset that you’re going on a ‘trip,’ not a ‘vacation.’
These two things will put you in the right frame of mind to power through the unpredictability of travel and focus on the positive. Talk through your WHY for this trip with your travel partners. Is it to create memories of a lifetime? A milestone occasion? Whatever it may be, keep your why top of mind during the chaos of getting there.
Now onto the items that make traveling with littles less of a headache:
- Slumberpod: Essentially a tent used to create a sleeping area for your child, but it has a bottomless design that allows it to fit over a crib. Room sharing with your littles? This gives them their own space, and you yours. You’ll spend less time tiptoeing around the room if you include their favorite sound machine and blanket. Most hotels provide cribs, so everyone can sleep peacefully.
- Portable Sound Machine: I loved it so much that I bought two! I keep it in my diaper bag at all times to help my babies sleep on the road while still allowing us to talk in the front seat. Turn it on during the flight to signal to your babe that it’s time for a nap, and keep it ready in the room.
- Collapsible Wagon: Put anything and everything in this small wagon. My kids prefer to be held or walk through the airport most of the time, which I prefer so they can burn off some energy! Everything else can be thrown in the wagon, giving you a free hand to hold while navigating the airport crowds or streamlining the check-in process. Also, very useful for a beach trip. The days of simply bringing sunglasses and a towel to your cabana are long gone. Carry all of the kids’ pool toys and snacks to your sandy destination in one trip!
- FLYAWAY Kids Bed: Basically first class for your toddler. This is a blow-up mattress that also fills the legroom space to create a flat and soft bed that blows up in under 90 seconds with a quiet pump. Consider not having to remain as still as a statue so your children can sleep across your lap. When a bed with bumpers covers the legroom, no more dropped snacks and toys. It’s certainly a luxury, but if you’re a frequent-flyer, it is well worth the investment. Another option is the JetKids Stokke BedBox that serves two purposes as a ride-on suitcase and in-flight bed.
- Car Seat Gate Check Bag: So, chances are you’ll need a carseat once you arrive at your destination, and while you can rent one, I frequently prefer to travel with our Uppababy Stroller and Car Seat attachment. I check both of these at the gate and strongly advise you get a stroller/car seat gate check bag to keep these items clean. Having these bags allows us to take the wheels off our stroller for transport to avoid any possible damage.
Essentials with Littles
While the above will elevate your travel experience, here’s a quick packing check-list for items I’ve learned through experience should always make it in your carry-on:
- Crib Sheets (hotels may provide but nice to have your own for the plane or in case one gets dirty
- Disinfecting wipes (my favorites for kids are trip wipes and boogie wipes)
- Ziplock bags (empty ones for dirty/wet clothes)
Keep all of your important documents in one place. You’ll need your passports and boarding passes, but don’t forget any necessary visas and a pen for filling out arrival cards. If you’re traveling alone with young children, bring a copy of your children’s birth certificates, as well as a copy of your marriage certificate or significant other’s passport.
Some countries are very strict about children traveling and will require a letter from the non-traveling parent stating that they are aware of the trip. When dealing with immigration authorities, it is always better to be safe than sorry.
Traveling teaches children to be adaptable and to embrace new experiences. Sure, their schedule may be thrown off, but you’re setting a great example of how to arrive prepared and enjoy the journey!