4 BEST TIPS TO KEEP YOUR SANITY TRAVELING WITH CHILDREN
Updated: Mar 29, 2021
When I had my 1st child I thought my life as I knew it would be over, I agonized about my love of travel and the freedoms that I had before starting a family. It actually depressed me a little at the time because so much of who I am revolves around connecting with different people, learning about their cultures and exploring their beautiful countries. Then I came to terms with officially settling down with children and attained some level of peace with it. But thats when I suddenly began to think... why can’t I do the things I like to do just because I have a family now? I know others that travel with young children all over the world to visit family, take family vacations and even reinvent themselves all the while with 2 or more children in tow. Then I thought -well, they are doing just fine now aren't they!
I'm telling you this because it was in this moment I questioned what people had led me to believe my whole life, that everything belongs in a box, you know, that getting married means you're going to grow lazy and bitter with each other, that settling down means you need your whole life to revolve around your children etc. etc. these things are only true if you allow them to be and if you aren't being true to who you are. Well, after some talking to friends that had first hand experience on this matter I realized as long as we could afford it and could plan it properly there was no limit to the places we could go with young children. My first trip was when my 1st son was 8 months old and that was the trip that taught me the most about what it’s like traveling with children.
So here are a few quick tips for traveling with small children....
1. Pay Attention to Timeframes
Make it easy on yourself when traveling with young children! Pay attention to layover times, flight times and plan accordingly. I once thought that the shortest amount of time needed for a layover in Charles de Gaulle airport on our way to the Middle East was ideal, that cutting our 16 hour trip down to 14 hours made sense to me. I thought getting to our final destination as quickly as possible was my best bet, and well, I was wrong. For us having more than 2 hours would have been best because it took us so long to navigate to our next terminal and the baby needed to be fed, changed and comforted before getting back onto a cramped cabin. So think logistics, and your babys normal schedule and plan from there.
2. Pack EVERYTHING...
And then accept you probably forget something :). You will need a lot of things to care for small children on a trip! Did you remember to pack: Diapers, wipes, breast pump, formula, cloths and shoes for both warm and cold weather, snacks, toys, bottles, sip cups, extra bags, blankets, the favorite pillow, pacifiers....? Pack everything and then pack more in your carry on!
NEED A GO-TO PACKING LIST FOR ALL OCCASIONS, CHECK THIS OUT
3. Call the Airline and Hotel
The airlines do have guidelines for infant and toddler travel such as how to request a bassinet, what size strollers will be allowed on the vessel and if your child will need a carseat as well as what type of carseat is acceptable upon the aircraft. This should be done as soon as possible. I recommend you call or go online and chose your seats to be located close to a bathroom and changing table and if you need a bassinet request to sit right at the bulkhead on the plane near an aisle. The hotel is an important call as you will see below in my 4th recommendation - even if you plan on bringing a play pen or portable crib I would recommend requesting a crib in advance since you don't want to be surprised like I did when you arrive that they request advanced notice YIKES! I slept with my 8 month old infant in a "baby tent" on the bed (don't worry it was secure with a wall on one side and I basically stayed up all night to make sure he was safe and breathing!) So no sleep for me - but plenty of sleep for my baby which meant he was up bright and early :)
4. Research where you can obtain basic necessities.
Find out how to solve basic problems while abroad, if you run out of diapers what brand is comparable or the best to buy overseas? If you need formula or any basic necessities where is the local market or pharmacy? This can also be done while making your call to the hotel if they have a concierge, if not you should look it up yourself online and once you get there make a quick visit to see what they have and if the staff speaks english (provided you don't speak the language of course). I once got an ear infection from being at a high altitude on a trip and had no idea what to do, the country I was in called the medicine that I needed by a different name and if I had thought in advance to find out where I could get into a local pharmacy it would have made things a lot easier for me.