We like to fly! I married a man with an eternal travel bug and after many years of flying for work personally it just felt natural that having kids wouldn’t change what we love to do as a couple.
Plenty of people hate the idea of travelling with kids and don’t get me wrong, it’s not all peachy, but, you can make it work and once you get to your destination it’s so worth the tiresome transit hours. Forget sipping champagne with your feet up and someone serving you at your beck and call – that kind of flying doesn’t exist with kids and if it does someone needs to let me know the secret, but I have 5 essential items which will make travel a lot easier for a trip where you plan to take the ankle biters.
1. Be prepared for your flight
On the flight you need to know that things may not go to plan; delays, accidents and even lost baggage – so pack your hand luggage with:
-Multiple outfit changes for the kids (and one for you).
-Bottles & formula (if required).
-Back up dummies (pacifiers) and chew toys, they will end up on the floor, stuck between seats or magically disappearing so I urge you to pack plenty.
-Nappies – on one flight one of my girls had an unseasonable number of soiled nappies and thankfully I hid a few extra in my hand luggage as every last one was required (and the change of clothes for us both).
-Blanket or wrap, something that can cover bubs if they sleep and also cover the pram if you have them sleeping during transit or whilst waiting at the terminal.
2. Invest in a travel pram
The single best purchase I’ve made for travelling. There are two prams on the market that fold up and can be stored in overhead luggage on most aircraf; the Mountain Buggy Nano and the Yo Yo Zen. I needed one quickly before flying solo with my youngest and wasn’t able to find the Yo Yo Zen however I got my hands on a Nano and it’s been brilliant. You can check in your luggage and walk about the airport whilst your bub sleeps. Delayed flights? At least your child can be comfortable. I have a bad back and lugging a heavy child about an airport for hours waiting for international flights meant I spent more time complaining of back pain during and post holiday. This has made a drastic difference to enjoyment at airports and once you reach your destination. A small pram is easier on small footpaths, for jumping on and off public transport and in and out of cabs.
3. Distraction is the key
Do I need to remind you that a child’s attention span lasts no more than a few minutes (if you’re lucky) whilst they are under three? In which case a bag full of distractions is necessary. Age appropriate treats, toys, books, games etc are highly recommended. I recommend you scope out a cheap store and find a bunch of disposable trinkets for your trip, as in things that if lost of left behind on your flight won’t break any hearts. I head to Daiso (a store where everything is $2.80) and pile up on crayons, pads, toys, small dress ups, puzzles, cars, building blocks and books. Each of these items gets pulled out of the distraction bag slowly throughout the trip (when required) and helps keep my girls interested and amused. This also gives you a bunch of toys you can carry about on your trip to continue to entertain whilst you are away.
4. Bring a travel cot
I realise this isn’t a popular choice with many parents that already see how much they are lugging about on their holiday but here I will provide you with my reasons for giving it a go.
No one loves familiarity like a baby. If you have a portacot that you use regularly at the grandparent’s house or for catchups at friend’s places then it will become a place the baby recognises, it will smell like their own and offer some comfort when in a new environment.
Seriously it comes down to the question, ‘would you let your dog sleep on that?’. We have travelled a fair amount and stayed in our share of lovely and shabby. Some are Airbnb which I am a huge fan of, however when the place offers to provide a cot be very wary of what condition it may be in. In some instances my babes would have been better off sleeping on a yoga mat on the floor instead of the protruding poles, floppy mattresses and sometimes manky smells coming from the cots provided and hence they have spent the holiday sharing a bed with us (not so relaxing for us).
Most airlines allow you bring a travel cot, pram and even car seat free of charge onto your flight so besides transit to and from the airport they are reasonably easy to manage when they are lightweight.
When looking to purchase a travel cot be sure to ask what size and weight the cot folds up to. Some look amazing when set up in the shop with plenty of add on bits and gadgets but don’t forget you have to lug this thing around everywhere on your trip so keep it simple (and light)!
5. Make smart choices with your accommodation
I stand by Airbnb as being one of the best kept secrets for accommodation both in Oz and worldwide. When you have a baby and need to do things like bath, sterilise, heat up or even cook small meals for them there is nothing better than finding apartments, houses etc that have all the creature comforts of home and multiple rooms. Keep bubs in separate rooms, have a lounge room to sprawl toys about and have a proper bath to bath your kids in, not to mention a washing machine to do a few loads of food/spew/poo ridden clothes. I rarely travel any other way since discovering Airbnb on my honeymoon in Spain 4 years ago.
Finally, don’t expect to get as much done in a day with kids, but do enjoy what you can do. If they are napping take a tour of a museum or enjoy a glass of wine at a bar on the sidewalk. Try takeaway options where you travel when dinner time becomes too difficult to be out with kids going wild. Remember that people all around the world love kids and the experience of travel is not only incredible for you but a wonderful learning experience for your children.
By Cat Sanz
gfmum is a lifestyle blog about motherhood, food, travel, style and exceptional coffee and wine.