Many parents put plans for big travel adventures on hold until their children are past the toddler stage. High energy toddlers who are prone to meltdowns and over-tiredness are definitely not the easiest travel companions. But long haul flights, going on a ferry or train journey, or travelling by car with young kids doesn’t have to be a nightmare. Read on for our top tips…
Booking a long haul flight with a toddler…
Long haul flights with little ones in tow can be much easier with a few handy flying tips. On most airlines, infants under two are permitted to fly on your lap. This will either be free or cost less than booking their own seat. If you’re lucky enough to have a spare seat next to you on your long haul flight, you should be able to use it. However, we would always recommend booking a separate seat for your little one if you are able to. Even if they don’t sit in it the whole time, having the extra space will make you all more comfortable and you’ll hopefully be able to get a few hours sleep.
If your toddler has their own seat, you are also more likely to be able to spread out across the row. A window seat will be exciting for little ones to look out of at take off and having the aisle seat is handy in case you need to make a swift exit for an emergency nappy change. You won’t need to worry about other passengers too!
Booking an overnight flight is also a smart move. Choosing a night flight that coincides with your little one’s bedtime or nap schedule gives you the highest chance of them sleeping for the entire flight or a large part of the journey at least!
What should you pack in your carry-on luggage?
When you’re travelling with young kids, you’ll need easy access to travel essentials. Firstly, pack a bag for you. This should contain all of your travel documents, drinks and snacks, a book or iPad (in the hope your toddler falls asleep!), and any medications and toiletries you’ll need. Put nappy change items in this bag too and a change of clothes for you. Then if there are any accidents, you won’t have to spend the journey covered in sick, poo, or food!
Then pack a separate bag for your little one. We love the JetKids™ by Stokke® Bedbox™. The clever ride-on suitcase turns any seat into a bed, to make travelling more comfortable. If you’re flying, make sure you double check with your airline that the Bedbox™ is approved. If you’re travelling by car, your little one will of course need to sit in a toddler car seat and wear a seat belt.
The Bedbox™ has plenty of space to store all of your little one’s travel essentials. Pack their favourite snacks and plenty of water. If you’re flying, flight attendants will be able to help you with preparing baby milk and making sure that any in-flight meals and airplane snacks are suitable for them.
Activities are also essential to keep your toddler entertained. We’d recommend a mixture of their favourite toys, such as a teddy or comforter they need to go to sleep, and some new and exciting treats. We like to take sticker and colouring books and activity packs and also a tablet. Whatever your thoughts on screen time, cartoons are a handy back up plan if all else fails!
Don’t forget to take a change of clothes and a warm blanket in your hand luggage. If you’re headed somewhere sunny, having easy access to lightweight clothes and a sunhat is also a good idea.
What should you put in the hold?
Firstly, let’s talk about buggies. Bringing your stroller on holiday is a good idea, especially if you’re planning to do a lot of sightseeing as they are an easy place for little ones to nap on the move. Many lightweight buggies are compact enough to be stored in the overhead locker, but we would recommend that you put your stroller in the hold. It might be handy to have your buggy when you go through check in, but it will take up a lot of storage space on the plane that you could be using for all of your other essentials. If you check your stroller in, most airlines will have it waiting for you when you get off the plane anyway. Bring your baby carrier and put your little one in it when you go through airport security on the way out.
In your main luggage, make sure you take enough clothes for your trip and a few extra outfits. Don’t overpack though, as you can always wash items in the sink if you need to. We like to pack a few baby food items in our main case as well. Pouches can be handy to have in an emergency situation! Toiletries such as shampoo can go in your suitcase too, and don’t forget a first aid kit and sunscreen and insect repellent if you’re going to a hot country.
It’s also a good idea to call the place you are staying before you leave and find out what equipment they have for toddlers. You might need to book big items such as a highchair in advance, but it will save you from having to take things you don’t need.
Do I need to pack a toddler travel cot?
Many parents like to take their own travel cot on holiday as they worry that their little one won’t sleep well in an unfamiliar bed. Travel cots tend to be fairly bulky though and even if they are lightweight, they can be awkward to carry when you have other luggage – not to mention a toddler to grapple!
The new JetKids™ by Stokke® CloudSleeper™ is an award-winning travel bed that’s small enough to fit inside your backpack, hand luggage, or the Bedbox™. It has an integrated pump, allowing it to inflate in less than a minute. Suitable for little ones aged three and up, what we love most about the CloudSleeper™ is that it really is like sleeping on a cloud. It helps to regulate your little one’s body temperature and it has a breathable and comfortable air mesh cover with a water repellant bottom. It also has full-length side bumpers so you won’t need to worry about your little one rolling out of bed.
With the help of a clever compressible packing cube, the CloudSleeper™ folds up super small and is much easier to carry than a travel cot. It can also be used way beyond the toddler stage, with a maximum user weight of 68kg / 150lbs.
Our top tip? Have a ‘living room sleep over’ before you go to get your little one used to sleeping on it. When you arrive on holiday, they’ll be so excited to use their CloudSleeper™, everyone will have a much more restful night.
Don’t forget passports and travel insurance…
It may sound obvious but don’t forget to make sure everyone’s passport is in date and you have the correct travel insurance. It’s surprising how easy it can be to forget, especially when you have so many other things to organise.
If it’s the first time you are travelling abroad with your little one you’ll need to apply for a new passport. This can take a few weeks to come through from the passport office, so make sure you allow enough time. Travel insurance is also very important when you’re travelling with toddlers. Medical bills can be very expensive abroad and if your little one feels unwell you won’t want to take any chances.
Staycations with toddlers…
If you’re planning a staycation this year instead of travelling abroad, many of the same tips apply. Packing a bag with lots of snacks and toys is the secret to keeping your little one entertained on long journeys. Try to have a new activity for every half an hour as a distraction tool!
The JetKids™ by Stokke® CloudSleeper™ is also ideal for sleepovers at the grandparents’, slumber parties and glamping trips. The compressible packing cube makes it easy to transport wherever you’re going and it folds up so small you’ll even be able to put it in your backpack when you need to travel light.
Finally, preparation is really the key to a successful trip with toddlers – wherever you’re going. You won’t be able to control everything that happens though, so just remember to go with the flow and have fun! Making family memories is the most important thing.