My husband and I have always been keen travellers with a strong dislike for wasting time at our destination by hanging around at the baggage carousel waiting for a suitcase that is inevitably either last or missing. As a result, the vast majority of our travels both internationally and domestically have been with hand luggage only.
Of course, since having our baby there has been an expectation that all this must change. Babies apparently need a lot of paraphernalia, parents that are stressed from juggling man sized suitcases and in the case of toddlers, an awkwardly shaped trunk that the aforementioned stressed parents must drag through the airport.
As frequent travellers (our daughter had racked up more than 20 flights before turning 1 – yes, I’m trying to offset our carbon emissions), I often watch the heavily laden parents with screaming babies and grumpy toddlers at airports and wonder at why they do it to themselves. No wonder many people prefer to not travel with kids!
However, having just returned from almost 3 weeks away travelling sans husband with nothing more than a nappy bag and a single carry on sized suitcase to cater for both my daughter and I, I’m delighted to again note that travelling with kids doesn’t require the spouting of tentacles. In fact, I don’t even travel with a stroller!
My set up is simple. Daughter sits comfortably in either a sling or the Ergo carrier on my back, leaving both my arms free to tow our small suitcase and easily access any required documentation out of the nappy bag. She is very happy to sit up and smile at the world and I never have to worry that she may disappear. Once our second child arrives, this set up will continue to work as our older daughter can sit very happily in the Ergo backpack while her little sibling sits up front in a sling.
If you’re one of those heavily laden parents that hates travelling with your kids, or just want a few tips on making plane travel simpler, check out my list below.
- Only take what is absolutely necessary – versatile clothing, rolled and packed neatly to avoid unnecessary work. This goes for adults and children.
- Keep the nappy bag as light and organised as possible. Passports and wallets should be accessible in seconds.
- Nappies can be purchased at the destination (even if you use cloth nappies at home like we do, disposables are invaluable when travelling).
- Invest in a good sling / baby carrier and ensure that both you and your child are comfortable with it before you leave home. Personally I highly recommend the Ergo (no, this is not an affiliate link – just personal experience) as it is light and flexible enough to be stuffed into the nappy bag when not in use. I also always travel with a ring sling, much easier for pulling bub in and out as you pass through security and it doubles as a nursing cover.
- Leave the pram at home. Your baby will be more secure in a carrier, you will have less to juggle and if you find that you really need a pram at your destination consider hiring.
- Breastfeed! Obviously, not an option with older kids but for infants and toddlers, it is an absolute life saver. No worrying about little ears popping (and the accompanying screaming), no major crisis if the airport doesn’t have good baby care facilities, no lugging bottles, sanitisers etc and an instant pacifying option in the event that your child does get grumpy.
- Limit toys. I travel with a small mystery bag (made of a 1kg recycled cloth rice bag with zip) that contains a home-made photo flip book, a car / truck of some description and one or two other small toys. Utilise whatever you have to hand – laminated safety instruction booklets provide hours of entertainment.
- Avoid highly processed food options. A tin of tuna, some crackers, a small amount of cheese and some raisins / sultanas will entertain a child for ages and stops you having to purchase unhealthy airport foods at insane prices.
Most of all, enjoy your travels and the special memories that you’ll create as a family!