The first flight our son took was a 2 months old. Before my maternity leave ran out, I decided we should make the most of my time off and take a trip to somewhere that we had wanted to go for a while – to Sicily. After that we have just kept traveling with him, and each time we learn a little more, and adapt to him getting a little bit older. Here are our top 10 tips for traveling with children aged 0-2.
1) Pack light and free one persons hands to look after the child(ren)
Blame it on having met backpacking, but we like to travel light. Traveling with our son hasn’t changed this, in fact it has made us stricter on it. Two adults and a child means that one adult has to have their hands free for the child(ren), and the other has to arrange all the luggage.
We have got it down to a fine art and travel with one 55cm cabin bag for Liam, and another that we share. This we can manage for up to a 2 week long trip. Give it a go next time 🙂
2) Be prepared
We were anything other than prepared travellers before we had Liam. We found a hotel on arrival, and had only the barest idea of what our travel plans would be. After having him though, this has changed, to make it easier. We book our hotels ahead, we make a rough plan of what we want to do when we get there, and we pack a few essentials we never considered before.
These are the things that we never leave home without:
- Enough nappies for the trip – we count them out, and add a couple of spares. If you get stuck you can always buy them where you are, but they might not be the ones you are used to.
- Baby wipes – but easy to get more at any 7 Eleven / supermarket
- A simple thermometer (in case a fever occurs)
- Baby paracetamol
- Enough formula (if used) to last the trip – measure out into a smaller plastic container
- A Sistema 21652 Klip It Lunch Plus To-Go Container (Assorted Colors Sold Separately)“>small plastic container for carrying snacks during day trips – easier than trying to find something with a grumpy child
- A AirBnB has also made things easier:
For the Netherlands and Belgium: Weekend Hotel
For Europe: Red Apple Apartments
For New Zealand holiday home rentals: Book A Bach
7) Take a favorite cuddly toy with you
Going on holiday is both exciting and unsettling for children. Helping them to settle into their new “home” through taking a familiar soft toy can help smoothen out the transition. I think most children have one soft toy that they are particularly fond of, and just because you are packing light doesn’t mean that the favorite friend has to be left at home. Liam carries bear with him on the plane, and sleeps with him when we are away. It is his one constant wherever we stay and it seems to help him adapt to being away from home easily.
8) Pack more smaller toys rather than a couple of big ones
Small children get bored and need stimulation, regardless of where you are staying. Taking one big toy takes a lot of room in the luggage, but does not allow for swapping toys to keep the stimulation active. We had a play mat during Liam’f first year, but instead of taking the whole mat with us when we travelled, we unhooked the stimulus toys attached to it and took them with us. The baby wrap doubled up as a play mat, and a bunch of stimulus toys kept him entertained for quite a while. We could also take them in the push chair with us as we explored the city. They key is to think about the multi-functionality of the toys when you are choosing them.
9) Shop for food at local markets
Shopping at local markets and cooking at the apartment can be a great way to get a taste of where you are but still make the trip a little easier while your child is small. This is especially true in Europe, but also holds for some Asian cities where exotic fruits in particular can be picked up as great snacks or after meal treats.
10) Relax and let them fall asleep in the push chair while you explore the city
Small children are incredibly adaptable, if you let them be. We have met a lot of parents who are really worried about being home in time for the scheduled naps of their children, and this we also did when we were at home. But when we were on a city trip, we let him fall asleep in the push chair and kept exploring the city while he slept. This was easiest in the first 6 months when he had a basinet style stroller, but even after this, we would tip the seat of the pushchair as far back as it went and he would sleep happily as we walked. Stopping walking was sometimes a trigger for him to wake again though, so we did get very fit in the process.
Make the most of the flexibility of them not yet being at school
Traveling with a small child can be a challenge, and takes a little more planning than traveling without them, but it doesn’t have to mean that you stay at home and wait for them to get bigger. While they are young enough to not yet be at school means that you are not yet stuck to traveling in school holidays and you can make the most of cheaper out of school holiday fares. Need any more excuses to take them away with you?