I knew before becoming a mother that I wanted to travel with my kid(s). I think it’s so important to be able to show and expose kids to different cultures, traditions, languages, and environments.
Cole is now 2 and a half (33 months) and has since traveled with us to 7 different destinations on a combination of long and short-haul trips, as well as various UK staycations.
We took Cole on his first trip when he was just 1 month old, which was a spontaneous weekend away in Oxfordshire. At the time, I seem to remember being really anxious and thinking we had lost the plot. First-time parents with a 1-month-old, miles away from our home comforts and in a hotel with a crying baby (nervous face).
I remember packing for this trip was a mission:
We packed the perfect prep machine, our steam sterilising unit, washing up liquid, washing up brush, 5 bottles, a bottle warmer, clothes for every season, a range of different medications… Are you started to get the drift now? Basically, we pretty much packed the whole contents of Cole’s nursery.
When I look back now at the holiday we took 2 months ago to Mauritius for 10 days and compare that to the 2 nights staycation – or even our first holiday away to Cape Verde when Cole was 3 months – I realise how much we’ve learned along the way.
So, I thought I’d share some tips with you that I’ve found works for us and has made for a reasonably smooth trip.
1. Lightweight pram — on our first holiday with Cole we took our Stokke Xplory pram. Big mistake. Our pram arrived back in the UK a battered mess. Also, the hassle of collapsing and putting it together is just not worth it. A great recommendation for a durable lightweight pram is the Babyzen YoYo, which fits comfortably in the overhead cabin for most airlines and collapses effortlessly.
2. Travel Cot – on our first holiday we took our travel cot. Unbeknownst to us, the hotel would actually provide this. You’ll find most hotels and Airbnbs will provide this automatically. You can always phone ahead to double-check, or even request if not. I always take Cole’s blanket and pillow, just so he has something familiar with him.
3. Car seat – We’ve found it so much easier pre-booking transportation at the other end. That way, once you land, you either have a driver to help with your luggage or simply jump in your hire car and off you go.
Make sure at the time of booking you state that a car seat is needed.
4. Transportation to the airport in the UK – before Cole we use to pre-book a taxi to and from the airport. Now we use valet parking at the airport. Drop your car off with the valet team and your car will be ready and waiting for you upon your return. No-fuss, no waiting away, and no hassle. Make sure that you book via the airport’s official airport parking.
5. Make use of the family assistance section at the airport.
6. Invest in a sling – When Cole was younger this was a lifesaver. Being able to walk the length of the airport and still have the ability to carry your luggage with ease helps enormously.
7. Make sure you pack a truckload of snacks – This can work a treat for bribing and keeping the little one occupied.
8. Toys – Before we travel, I put together an activity pack. Nothing fancy, I get little trinkets off Amazon. Cars, Play-Doh, alphabet/number cards, Etch A Sketch pad, colouring pad, etc. I hide these away from Cole until travel day. Each hour, to stop him from getting bored and causing mischief, he gets rewarded with a different toy/book. Remember, the key is to keep this a surprise as this will add to the excitement and make them more likely to indulge in the activity.
9. Screen Time – I’m all for screen time while traveling; anything to keep my little one occupied and the tantrums at bay. Tantrums in a small confined space are not pleasant. The BBC kids IPlayer app is brilliant as you can preload all of your favourite shows and watch at your leisure.
10. Once Cole became more mobile, a pram was not enough for walking around the airport as he wanted to walk/run around. This can become really hectic when you have to check-in, go through security, etc. We found the Trunki Ride-On Suitcase worked a real treat, especially for tired little legs. The Trunki comes in a variety of animal and vehicles. Get your little one to pick their own – that way, you know they’re more inclined to use it.
11. Snooze shade — This is a universal-fit sunshade and blackout blind for prams, pushchairs, infant car seats, and travel cots. Plus, it has UV protection to protect from the sun. This is great for naps whilst out and about.
12. Spare clothes – You just never know with babies and toddlers, do you?
Traveling with Cole when he was a baby and was still formula-fed required a couple of extra items. They are as followed:
• Milton wipes/Milton dummy steriliser and tablets — a portable steriliser for on the go
• Microwave steriliser bags or cold water steriliser bags
• Washing up liquid and bottle brush
• Nappy bags (some hotels will provide you with a nappy bin)
• If staying at a hotel, you can always request a kettle to make up the feeds
Cole had a milk intolerance and was prescribed formula up until he was weaned. So we always made sure that we had more than enough to see us through our holidays.
These are our essentials, of course along with nappies/wipes (remember you can always top up while out there), suitable clothing, sun protection, and swim toys.
And lastly, please remember to enjoy the moment making memories with your family and try not to pay attention to the grump’ that you may encounter. You’ll find that they’re the minority, so don’t let them ruin the experience for you.
I hope my little round-up is helpful.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
This blog post was written by Grace Trowbridge, founder of SW Mummy
You can follow Grace on Instagram at: @southwest_mummy