We’ve just got back from a week in Portugal which was absolutely glorious. I’ll admit I was a little terrified about travelling with kids. We’d generally been pretty lucky when we’d travelled with our toddler but adding in a baby to the mix I assumed was a recipe for a very stressful trip. There were some tricky moments, but all in all it was a great trip, and there were a few things we did which worked really well to make it fun and take out the stress, and a few things we didn’t do which had the opposite effect so I thought I’d share my thoughts on travelling with kids with you.
- Be organised – it sounds so obvious, but with every trip in the past we’ve failed at this and ended up packing til the wee hours the night before leaving, or running round like headless chickens the morning of so this time we were determined for it to be different. So we started packing basically a week before we left, making piles of stuff to take and making sure everything was washed and ready to go. We also did that annoying stuff which you forget about the night before like cleaning out the fridge. Boring but worth it.
- Give more thought to packing your carry-on than your main luggage. I’m usually a chuck it all in the bag sort of person but not this time. I carefully selected outfits for the baby, and bagged them individually. It sounds a little OCD but it really worked, it meant each time we changed her we just needed the nappy stuff and a little sealable plastic bag, which was easy to find, and if the outfit didn’t survive we had something to store it in. This proved so helpful as both on the way there and back we had exploding nappy situations. On a plane that’s no fun so whatever makes it easier.
- Pack spare clothes for you as well as the baby for the flight. Both me and my husband ended up needing a change of top at some point.
- Novelty is key for a toddler – I can’t remember where I heard it, but someone gave me the advice to wrap small pressies for older kids for a flight and let them open one an hour to keep them entertained. This is genius! Our flight was only 3 hours so we didn’t go to those lengths (totally would for a long flight), but we did keep some bits back, and drip fed them to him, not just for the flight but for the holiday too – things like sticker books and colouring. Remember to save some for the flight back too.
- If you’re hiring a car, sign up to any loyalty scheme the company you’re hiring through offers. You often don’t even have to pay, and it literally saved us probably an hour of queuing at the airport which when you’re already past bedtime and everyone is ratty is worth its weight in gold!
- Large muslins are a lifesaver – my faves are Mama Rules
- Give older kids some holiday spending money – it gives them a bit of independence and lets them pick something they want to keep them entertained.
- Email the hotel you’re staying in to secure any equipment you need for the kids ahead of time. Some people can travel with just hand luggage even when they have children and wing it a bit but we’re not those people and that’s ok. So before we went we emailed the hotel to check they had what we needed (bed safety rails, high chair etc etc) and they were great about it. Gave us some peace of mind – there nothing worse than a wriggly toddler falling out of bed every night.
- You’ll probably fall out with your partner over something (probably silly) at some point while you’re travelling – accept that and agree to move on quickly and you’ll be all good. Ours was during turbulence, when I had baby poo seeping through my top!
- If you want a decent nights sleep invest in a good travel cot – our Nuna one isn’t exactly compact so it’s travel status is questionable but it’s brilliant and even has a bassinet which sits higher in the bed for when babies are little.
- If you’re breastfeeding try and time the feeds with take off and landing. It’s the one time the baby needs to be constrained so it’s well worth having something for them to do in that time. We stupidly decided my husband should have her to give me a break on take-off and it was a disaster, we had to swap mid take-off which isn’t ideal.
- Take a sling on the flight – easier than carrying baby, and so useful when they need to nap
- Use the iPad if you have one, or your phone if not – stock it up with stuff the older ones love or they’ve not seen before and a couple of games or apps too. We try and manage screen time quite carefully but when it comes to flights that all goes out the window, and the toddler loved having his own headphones and feeling like a grown up.
They’re the main things that we found. What are your tips for travelling with kids??