- Travelling with kids is tough, there’s no escaping that. But with the right products and supplies, it can be pretty seamless – and even fun.
- Seasoned travellers recommend bringing things like a lightweight stroller, a diaper bag that holds the essentials in an organised way, and milk and formula that’s easy to prepare.
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Some people say going anywhere with babies is a trip, not a vacation. But I reject that notion. We took our daughter on her very first road trip when she was just 5 months old, and it was a 16-hour car ride to Disney World. Although the days of travelling with just a carry-on came to an abrupt and full stop at that moment, it was still a good time – yes, even for us.
Sure, there are the endless packing questions when it comes to taking a baby away: Should I buy my tot a ticket, or hold her on my lap on the flight? How do I keep her entertained? How do I keep the milk cold? How do I warm the milk up? What if there’s a blowout diaper when we’re on the road? Will he sleep or scream the entire trip?
But don’t let those concerns keep you from taking your baby to a spot you’ve had on your list or to visit family for the holidays. I’ve combined my experience travelling with a baby in tow with that of veteran travelling families to help you get from point A to point B with as few tantrum interruptions as possible.
Bring a light stroller that folds up with ease.
Your favourite stroller for cruising through the park on a lazy Sunday or the one you use for stocking up on groceries might not be practical when you’re travelling. When we embarked on our big road trip, our 18-pound Britax B-Agile stroller took up a big chunk of the space in the car. In hindsight, a travel stroller would have been much more useful.
If you’re planning on flying, the Babyzen YoYo stroller is a no-brainer. It folds easily with one hand, fits over your shoulder like a yoga mat and is small enough to go in the overhead compartment of an aeroplane. An older child can even ride along, if you attach a board to the back.
The Colugo Compact Stroller is another lightweight option, and at $US285, it costs about half the price of the YoYo. Keep in mind,the Colugo does not fit overhead and it is not compatible with infant car seats.
Understandably, you might not want to drop a few hundred bucks on a travel stroller, especially when you’re already paying to go away. No-frills umbrella strollers, like the Summer Infant 3Dmini and the Disney Baby Winnie the Pooh Umbrella Stroller, are just as useful.
Invest in a compact travel car seat.
Of course, you’ll need a car seat when you travel with your baby, but the one you normally use might weigh you down when you’re heading out of town, especially if you’re flying. The best travel car seats are the ones that are safe, lightweight, and compact.
Looking for something that will save you even more hassle and space? The Doona Car Seat and Stroller is your one-stop shop. The Doona is an FAA-approved car seat, and has a built in stroller. This means you just grab the seat off the plane or out of your vehicle and pull up the handle to transform the device into a stroller in seconds.
If you decide to splurge on the YoYo stroller – and your baby is under 32 pounds- you’ll want to get a compatible infant car seat, like the Nuna Pipa Lite. But you’ll also need to buy car seat adapters – small clips that attach the seat to the stroller.
Pack a diaper bag that lets you reach for what you need in seconds.
Having a big backpack that holds every little thing – from Purell to baby wipes to mummy’s personal candy stash – is like being prepared for battle. It leaves both hands accessible and, in an instant, you can swoop in and wipe up the baby’s spit up or quickly replace a pacifier that your baby threw into the next aisle.
A lot of mums swear by the Skip Hop Forma, and for good reason. It’s big enough to carry everything you need and has plenty of pockets, so every item has its own designated spot. The insulated packing cube will keep bottles cool. This bag also comes with a changing pad, so you can breeze right past our next item on the list. (This section also doubles as a laptop holder.)
Another favourite among parents is the Land’s End Do-It-All Diaper Bag Backpack. It has ample inner and outer pockets, and comes with stroller straps with clips. If you’re looking for a more upscale option that screams jet-setter, consider getting Itzy Ritzy’s “Boss” diaper backpack, which is vegan and has 17 pockets in total.
The HaloVa is smaller than the other options, but it’s still big enough to fit diapers, wipes, extra clothes, toys, bibs, and other absolute necessities, without feeling like you’re carrying all the equipment for a hockey team. The $US30 price tag makes it pretty attractive too.
Keep things sanitary with a portable changing pad.
While it’s always nice to come across a changing table while travelling, it might also be the most contaminated surface on which you’ll put your baby, so a portable changing pad is a must. Plus, there will likely be plenty of times that you’ll have no choice but to wipe your baby on the grass, the back of the car, the floor of a bathroom, a bench in the middle of Animal Kingdom: All the places I’ve whipped out my changing pad when my daughter had a dirty diaper.
A solid changing pad can also function as a mini diaper bag. The Lekebaby portable changing pad is perfect for this purpose. It includes an outer pocket, a mesh inner pocket, and a waterproof inner pocket to hold diapers and wipes and Butt Paste. It also has a convenient carrying handle.
If you’re looking for something more compact, the Comfy Cubs Portable Changing Pad is your best bet.
Use sanitizing products to help keep you and your baby healthy.
Nothing will derail a trip more quickly than having to care for a sick child, which is why you should travel with sanitizing wipes and hand sanitizer – and a lof it.
Seasoned travellers know to wipe down the tray table at their seat (and maybe even the seat itself and the seatbelt), which can be the dirtiest spots on the plane. If you don’t have a changing pad, make sure to clean the changing table in the bathroom too. I always bring a generous amount Babyganics Sanitizing Wipes, but any brand should do.
Since you never know what your baby is going to get their hands on when you’re on the road, also make sure to pack some Hello Bello Hand Sanitizer Spray. It’s my favourite option because it doesn’t leave our hands feeling dry and it actually smells good.
Bring bottles and cups that don’t leak and have protective tops.
The best travel bottle or sippy cup should check two crucial boxes: First, it shouldn’t leak. Second, it needs a mechanism that keeps the nipple clean.
The Tommee Tippee Bottles are great for these very reasons. Liquid rarely drips out and they come with a cover to put over the nipple when it’s not being used. If your child is older than 6 months – and is able to drink from a straw – the Thermos Funtainer is an excellent option. It’s also my daughter’s go-to water bottle. I love that it’s stainless steel, because it keeps her drinks extra cold, and well, because it’s not plastic
I appreciate the Yeti Rambler Jr. stainless steel bottle for this reason too. The $US30 price point is on the higher end, but it’s a worthwhile investment considering the double-wall vacuum insulation will keep your child’s drink cold for hours and because it’s made from healthy materials.
The Take n Toss Variety Pack is an affordable, and efficient option if you’re looking to stock up on an entire dining set. For $US9, you get colourful snack containers, and cutlery, plus covers you can mix and match for the sippy cups.
As a bonus: If your baby prefers his milk heated up, a travel bottle warmer can be helpful, too.
Serve milk and formula with as little hassle as possible.
Preparing formula or figuring out how to keep regular milk cold when you’re on-the-go for multiple hours is one of the biggest travel challenges for parents.
The Similac bottles are already measured out and mixed with water. So just pop them open and serve. The Enfamil packs are also already measured out, so just pour the mixture into a bottle, add water and give it to your baby. You won’t be saving money with this method – single serving bottles can cost more than three times as much as powder from a can. But you might just save your sanity.
For babies who are drinking cow’s milk, there’s no need to pack a cumbersome cooler. Just purchase single-serving milk containers of Natrel whole milk or Horizon organic whole milk, which don’t need to be refrigerated until opened.
Bring childproof snacks to limit your baby’s mess.
On a regular day, I don’t use single-serve baby food pouches, since they’re pretty pricey and wasteful. But when we’re travelling, I stock up on them because they’re so convenient for feeding when we’re on the move.
If your baby is anything like mine, she probably enjoys squeezing the pureed plums and apples everywhere more so than getting it into her actual mouth. Luckily there’s a solution for that – the ChooMee pouch toppers. These silicone tops create a seal that stops the puree from spilling out everywhere when your baby squeezes the pouch with all her might.
If you want to minimise trash – and save money – you’ll just need to do a little bit of prep before your trip. Mash up some bananas, sweet potatoes and peas and fill up your own reusable travel pouches. Parents love the WeeSprout Double Zipper Reusable Pouch and the Squooshi Reusable Pouches.
Having endless and varied snacks on hand is crucial, even just for a short jaunt. But how do you keep your kids from dumping pretzels and cheerios all over the floor of the car or on the passenger in front of them on the flight? Parents rave about Munchie Mug for holding solid snacks for older babies. It has a soft fabric covering with a slit in the middle that keeps food from pouring out. But it still allows kids to access snacks when they want them.
Stock up on entertainment options, and ration them out.
Keeping babies busy – especially the ones who can’t yet sit still long enough to watch an episode of “Paw Patrol” – can be pretty challenging when your little one is confined to a seat for hours at a time.
When we venture long distances, I make sure to pack a lot of toys and books that I know are sure bets to keep my daughter content. But I also bring a few new items, which I ration out along the way that can get her even more excited to unwrap and discover.
My daughter’s usually pretty content playing with the First 100 Animals Sticker Book, a quiet book , and Water Wow activity books. A fresh box of crayons will also go a long way, too. For younger babies, try an interactive sensory book, visually stimulating high contrast cards, and a comforting toy that can double as a teether. When all else fails, just settle in and sing “Head, Shoulders Knees and Toes” for as long as it keeps your baby giggling.
Make sure to buy these items in advance, so you don’t get stuck paying airport prices (no thanks, $US12 sticker book). For toddlers and older kids, give out points for good behaviour that lead to earning the fun things you packed, which may just keep your kid from kicking the back of the seat of the person in front of them.
Choose comfort over chic, when it comes to dressing your baby.
Put your child in clothing you know they feel comfortable in and pack another set (or maybe even two, for emergencies). Save the cute stuff for the photo ops for when you actually land.
Make sure to also have some extra layers on hand, since planes tend to get cold. If you’re travelling to a different climate, bring stuff that suits the weather at your destination.
Keeping your baby’s feet covered and warm is crucial too. A sock or bootie that can’t fall off a baby’s feet hasn’t been invented yet, but Zutano cotton baby booties and these knee high socks actually stand a chance.
Bring products that will make sleep easier.
Put a baby in a car or on a train or plane, and the motion might just soothe them right to bed. Or, the unfamiliar environment coupled with all the cool buttons to push and windows to look out of may keep them up for hours, elicit mean looks from strangers, and cause you to question why you ever left the house in the first place.
For naps on the go, the MyBaby Soundspa is great because it can clip right to your stroller or car seat, and may help your baby fall into a sound slumber. There’s not much on the market other than that. So, if that fails, just stick with thoughts and prayers.
Bonus tip: Ship diapers, wipes, and other necessities to your destination
No room in your luggage for diapers, wipes, and other baby essentials? Order them online and have them shipped to your destination. They will be there waiting for you when you arrive, and you won’t have to worry about them putting your suitcase at the overweight mark.
- Read more:
- Italy now requires car seat alarms to prevent hot-car deaths in children, and the US may follow suit
- Doctors say the best time to fly while pregnant is your second trimester, but you can fly late into your third trimester too
- There’s evidence that high levels of screen time in preschoolers may hinder brain development
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