Five Tips for Stress-free Travel with Littles

Five Tips for Stress-free Travel with Littles

Travel can be stressful, especially if you have little ones in tow. When I told people I was taking my two-year-old to Spain for a week, everyone told me I was crazy! Why go through all that hassle and expense for a trip that he won’t even remember when he gets older? He may not remember, but I will cherish the memories that my family made in Barcelona for the rest of my life! I can’t say that I wasn’t anxious about the trip. I worried that my son would have a huge melt-down on the 8 hour flight or that I would have to suffer the wrath of a jet-lagged, sleep deprived, moody toddler, but to my surprise he adjusted to the time difference better than I did. Traveling with children doesn’t have to be hard, and here are a few tips to make it a little easier.  

For the airport…

Wearing babies in carriers through the airport is great, but there’s something better — cutting to the front of security and customs lines, a perk reserved for stroller rolling parents. I purchased a lightweight and inexpensive stroller for the trip, and it made lines in the airport and naptimes on the go much less stressful. You want your child to be comfortable, so make sure the stroller you choose reclines and has a sun visor. You’ll have to plane-side check your stroller, so bring a bag to protect it from getting dirty or damaged — wrapping the stroller in two black garbage bags does the trick!

For the plane…

If you’re renting a car at your destination, you can rent a car seat too, but I prefer bringing my own on the plane. Not only is sitting in a car seat while flying safer for your little one, but it also keeps thFive Tips for Stress-free Travel with Littlesem contained! Toddlers can easily unbuckle airplane seatbelts, so I had peace of mind knowing my son was safely buckled during the flight. Plus, he couldn’t mess with the tray table throughout the entire flight! My car seat is heavy and not ideal for hauling through the airport, so I purchased a compatible rolling cart that worked great! The only drawback to having a toddler in a forward facing car seat is it puts them at the perfect height to kick the seat in front of them. If anyone knows any tips to prevent that from happening, I’m all ears! Speaking of ears, make sure your baby or toddler is drinking or sucking on a pacifier on takeoff and landing —  it’s the best way to help their little ears adjust to the pressure.

Bring an arsenal of activities and snacks for the ride! Flights with little kids are all about survival, so hand over the iPad, buy activity books with stickers (puffy stickers are the BEST for little hands), and keep an emergency stash of suckers. If a meltdown does happen, don’t sweat it! I’ve found that for the most part other passengers are really understanding and helpful! Do your best to keep calm and get creative with distractions!    

For the suitcase…

IMG_3581I’m a big believer in only traveling with carry-on bags because losing luggage is a quick way to start a vacation out on a sour note. Kids require so much extra stuff which makes packing everything that you need in minimal space tricky, but it is possible! If your little one is still wearing diapers, only bring enough diapers for the day of travel and buy a pack when you get to your destination. Wear bulky items like boots, tennis shoes, and jackets on the plane to free up space in your bag. We purchased space saver bags to compress the air out of our clothes, and I didn’t feel limited at all with my clothing options. That being said, don’t be afraid to wear the same thing twice, especially if you have access to a washing machine! Small accessories like a scarf or a chunky necklace can completely change the look of an outfit. If you do decide to check your bags, be sure to pack extra clothes for yourself and your child in your carry on bag! I flew alone with my son when he was four months old, and I checked my bag so I wouldn’t have to juggle a baby and my luggage. About ten minutes into a four hour flight, my son threw up all over me! Of course, I packed a change of clothes for him in the diaper bag, but I had nothing for me! That was a lesson quickly learned!    

For the accommodations…

Sites like AirBnb, Home Away, and Vacation Rentals by Owner are making it easier to find rentals all over the world. Not only is traveling this way usually cheaper than staying in a hotel, but having access to things like a kitchen and a washer and dryer is a game changer when traveling with kids. We found an apartment in Spain with a toddler bedroom complete with toys and books. It couldn’t have been more perfect! I tucked my son in for his early bedtime, and my husband and I were able to stay up in the living room and enjoy each other’s company over a glass bottle of wine without having to be quiet in a dark hotel room.

While you’re tDSC07514here…

Be flexible with your schedule, and try not to pack too many things into one day! If kids are
anything, it’s unpredictable so don’t be too rigid with your itinerary. Take a break from sightseeing and play on a playground, or find a pretty place to sit and have a picnic. Don’t forget to document your trip so you can show them pictures of your adventures when they get older.

What are your tips for traveling with children?


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