With travel restrictions continuing to ease, more parents are navigating the challenges of travelling with children. We’ve teamed up with Stokke® & Charlotte Stirling-Reed, leading Baby and Child Nutritionist and Stokke® to offer parents top tips for travel after lockdown.
Prep some snacks
I don’t know about you, but my kids can be distracted from any situation with some good snack options. When travelling it’s difficult to always know what foods will be available to offer to babies/toddlers, so try to take multiple snacks – ones that take a fair bit of time to eat and don’t make them all messy – like rice cakes, a pot of peas/sweetcorn, oatcakes, bananas, sandwich quarters, and plain pasta.
Think carefully when packing toys
Ultimately you don’t want to take huge numbers of toys away with you. I recommend a small selection of new, favourite and old toys that they haven’t seen in a while. Be selective and take ones that easily pack away into small boxes or bags. Some good examples include bags of magnetic fruits, pull along animals, travel playdoh, water pens and a box of squeaky pretend eggs. The new JetKids™ by Stokke® Limited Edition BedBox™, Golden Olive is also a winner. It’s an entertainment device, hand luggage, and a toddler bed all in one. It’s also ideal for speeding through the airport, as your little ones can roll along on it.
Take food staples that your baby loves to tide them over and to have emergency resources
This might be a bag of oats for porridge, some Weetabix, oatcakes, crackers, breadsticks, peanut butter, a tin of beans, specific pasta sauces – whatever they love and eat pretty well at home. These are all easy to pack and last a long time when you’re there too. You can also stock up on a few pouches before you leave too, which can be handy in an emergency situation. Just make sure that your baby actually likes them before you pack lots.
Take a stroller and a baby carrier
This is important to allow for flexibility. You can check the stroller in when you get to the airport straight away or use it to carry hand luggage, whichever you need the most. A baby carrier can help you to have more flexibility with where you go (especially if you’re not sure of your destination), speed up travel time significantly, and strollers can be fab for nap time on-the-go. Take ones which have UVB-safe covers so you can shade baby from the sun or keep some of the light out too.
Be savvy with your hand luggage
Have a bag for your travel documents, food and drinks – all the things you need to access quickly. Have one bag for your kids’ toys and spare clothes – little ones will enjoy helping you to pack (and pull along) their things in the JetKids™ by Stokke® Limited Edition BedBox™, Golden Olive. Have a separate bag for parents’ books, chargers and entertainment (likely story!) and a nappy bag with blankets and all the usual nappy necessities. Take some spare clothes for you too – a friend of mine once had to do the whole flight covered in poo.
Make a fully comprehensive packing list and save it for each time you travel
Packing for travelling with a baby/kids is chaos. There is often so much that you need to bring. Packing light is ideal, so avoid packing those ‘just in case’ items and remember that most places you go will have the things you really need like nappies, clothes and medical supplies. Remember you can always wash clothes in the sink if you need to. Having a really detailed list can be really helpful – check online for examples or ask friends. Make sure you’ve got everything packed away in your bags and no unnecessary extras – it can really help to feel calm and avoid over-packing.
Utilise the airport shops
If you’re worried about packing lots, why not try a click and collect order that you can pick up once you’ve arrived at the airport. It won’t count towards your luggage and you don’t need to worry about packing things like water, food, sun cream, cosmetics, shampoo etc before you arrive.
Plan and plan again, but also don’t expect it to go to plan
I remember encouraging my whole family to book a night flight to go to Hong Kong because, of course, my baby would sleep the whole way… We arranged everything around the night flights and when it came to it he didn’t sleep a wink for the whole 11 hour journey – until the plane touched down on the ground in Hong Kong. We then carried a sleeping baby over our shoulder through the chaotic busy airport with all of our luggage. So basically, get your plans in order so you feel better and less stressed, but try not to have expectations about exactly how it will go!
Get your bubba a brand new passport
It might sound obvious, but sometimes little (important) things like this can be easy to forget. It’s such a momentous occasion getting their first portrait, but remember you may have to wait a little bit for it to arrive. I love baby passports and seeing their chubby round little faces looking like they are in a police line-up.
Call ahead first
It’s not something everyone does, but if you’re travelling by plane and/or staying at a hotel it can really help to reassure you to just give them a phone call and ask any questions you have about bringing your baby. Will they have equipment needed to sterilise? Do they offer a travel cot? What food is on offer for young babies? Most places/airlines will be happy to help and it could save you serious space when you’re packing too. Try to do your research and get in touch beforehand – this is always my number one tip.
Show up early
If you’re travelling with a baby, avoid rushing. It’s just not pleasant or practical to rush when you have young kids. Also getting to the airport or the hotel early might give you a little extra time to pick up bits you need, to re-sort luggage, to deal with nappy changes and, even better, to ask if the good seats are available – sometimes it’s first come, first serve.
Check menus online in advance
If you’re going to be eating out, try to do some research before you get there to find restaurants that serve foods that your little one is likely to eat. Lots of places have menus available online so you can check this out before you arrive.
When eating out, ask
On holiday the best thing you can do is to ask! Download a translator app on your phone and then try to feel confident to ask the staff to make appropriate meals for your baby. Ask for them to leave out added salt or sugar, or ask for plain veggies without butter, and with dressing on the side. Sides are also always my go-to option with a baby and then sharing bits of meals between you all. Try to learn a few key words from the language before you go so you can ask some simple questions or give them some important info (no nuts, small portions etc). I find most places are super accommodating when it comes to feeding babies and have never had a problem with asking for no salt to be added.
Keep baby hydrated
When babies are out of their routine it can affect their appetite. Sometimes lack of sleep, jetlag or even the sheer amount of distraction of being somewhere new can impact how much they are likely to eat. Try to keep offering meals regularly, keep them well hydrated, and give them a few days to settle into it.
When it comes to routine it’s obviously going to be somewhat off when you’re going on holiday. Try to stick to something vaguely similar to what you have at home. If you can, time the plane journey for nap time. Travel accessories like the new limited edition, Golden Olive, JetKids™ by Stokke® BedBox™ allow your child to rest comfortably or to sleep during long and short trips. Keeping to naps and evening sleep times might just save you having an overtired and over-groggy baby. Remember however that things aren’t always going to go to plan, so try and prep for the best, but don’t expect baby to stick to exactly their normal routine.
Try not to take it too seriously
I know this is easier said than done (I’m a panicker about travelling too) but remember that the outbursts, the refusals to sleep, the crying on the plane, the hyperactivity, etc will end at some point. They will stop whatever they’re doing and soon the flight/trip/moment will be just a memory – sometimes the chaotic times make the best memories too. Remember that they are babies/kids and you can’t control everything they do, so try to take a relaxed approach to each day on holiday, as much as you can.