Adjusting to travelling with infants can be challenging but it is also extremely rewarding; it not only proves that you still have what it takes to get out and see the world, but it is also great to have your children exposed to new people, places and activities.
Here are a few helpful hints that we discovered on the road with a tot.
1. Airline Inclusions for Baby Luggage
If you are flying to your destination, check with your airline when you book to see what allowances they make for baby luggage. Many airlines will often allow you to take several additional baby items that do not count towards your overall baggage weight; such as ports cots, prams and car seats. This helps to make things a little bit less stressful when it comes to packing and squeezing everything in.
After you drop your bags and go through security at the airport, some airports also have small strollers you can borrow to take to the gate and leave with the staff there. Ask the staff at check-in if these are available and from where you can collect them.
Airline staff are also normally very helpful when they see you flying with an infant and often offer you extra pillows and colouring sets etc once onboard. Some airlines also offer a meal for infants (we have not had the pleasure of testing this as yet).
for further information.
2. Plane Cots
If you are flying internationally with an infant under 2, it is a good idea to make sure you book one of the aeroplane cots, but if your child is no longer a sedentary newborn, just don’t count on the fact that this cot will enable you to sit back and relax for the entire flight. The cot isn’t very deep, so if your child is standing, you will need to keep an eye on them at all times as they will not be able to stand in this cot. If you are lucky enough to get your child to sleep prior to placing them in the cot, don’t forget you must also be aware that every time the seatbelt light pops on, they have to be removed from the cot and placed within the seatbelt extension on your lap; a sometimes tedious task fraught with the danger of waking the child mid wrangling. However, despite all this, a cot is very useful in providing you with that extra bit of room whilst in the air.
3. Porta Cots
A good, light porta cot can be very handy for any long distance travelling. Whilst many hotels have the option of hiring a cot with the room, if you want the flexibility of where to stay, bringing your own baby bed will help. There are many porta cots on the market, but keep in mind how easy they are to assemble and carry because many are so large they require a bag all of their own.
For a cot that is light, versatile and can be carried on the back of a pram, if needed, try the Phil and Ted’s Lightweight Traveller.
This cot takes only a few minutes to assemble and can easily be packed into luggage (along with a baby backpack and spare nappies etc) and at only 3.2 kg it won’t weigh you down.
4. Portable High Chair
A nice-to-have when travelling with infants, is their own portable high chair that can easily be packed flat into their nappy bag and pulled out for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Not all restaurants or cafes are able to provide a separate seat for baby, so rather than have to eat with baby on your lap everytime you eat, a portable high chair can be a useful accessory.
Have a look at
5. Baby Backpacks
The roads and footpaths of some places can often be an obstacle course for pedestrians; with uneven pavements, large curbs and roadside stalls. If you also want to go out of the city to go hiking or visit more out of the way tourist sights, keep in mind that many of these places don’t always have smooth paths and you may have to navigate stairs and crowds of people. Dependent on your strength and your planned activities, it may be worthwhile considering bringing a baby backpack instead of a pram. With built in rain jackets, sun shelters and storage compartments, you can keep everything you need in one place; but it is also important to remember that the more you pack in, the more you have to carry.
There are a few decent baby backpacks on the market, but as with any backpack don’t forget that you could be wearing it all day, so it is important that it fits properly and is comfortable. Check out
6. Stroller Hire
If you do go down the baby backpack route and decide not to bring a stroller and are worried that your child won’t get the opportunity to nap during the day, or you simply want to give your back a rest, investigate whether or not the place you are heading to hires out strollers. Many large shopping malls as well as zoos and popular tourist attractions do have some form of stroller hire. Strollers can also be hired for the day or week from some baby stores and small businesses.
7. Choosing Accommodation
When you only needed a place to crash for the night, your choice of accommodation may not have been that important. However, now that you have a little one in tow, it can pay to give just a little bit more thought about where you sleep for the night. However, this doesn’t mean you have to automatically ditch the hostel for the five star resort with kid’s club.
Hostels in fact can actually be well suited to travelling with children. The shared kitchen means that meals and snacks can be easily prepared and communal lounge areas can provide children with good social interaction and nice distractions. Sometimes hostels also have breakfast included in the cost of the stay, with simple foods like milk, cereal, bread and cheese perfect for small children and leftovers making handing snacks for throughout the day.Whilst dorm rooms and share bathrooms can always be managed, they are not ideal, especially when your toddler or baby is still waking throughout the night. It is a better idea to book a private room with its own ensuite. Also keep in mind the size of the room you book, to make sure that it will fit a small port cot and the extra luggage your toddler is going to need.
Finally, keep in mind the distance of the accommodation from the main transport routes, convenience stores (for milk and snacks) and places that you want to see. It is worthwhile shelling out a few extra dollars for a more centralised place, particularly when you factor in that you may have to return to your room several times a day for sleep breaks. If you are travelling with a small infant who is still sleeping twice during the day, there may only be a small window of opportunity to sightsee after you have factored in sleeping and eating. As such, a more centralised location is essential in maximising your days away.
8. Travel Meals
There are many websites which provide ideas on the various snacks packs you can create for travelling children, with everything from fishing tackle boxes kitted out in dried fruit, cheese cubes and crackers to recipes for dried fruit balls and healthy muffins. If your little one is new to trying food and has to have separate meals prepared, consider the facilities you will have in your accommodation and what will be located close by. Having breakfast before you go out can help save on time if you are especially time poor and cereal, such as weetbix, packed in small zip locked bags can be useful no matter where you are staying, as can stocking up on cheese, yoghurt and fresh bread, which can be eaten at any time of the day. If you’ve only got access to boiling water, dried cous cous is another handy staple that can be cooked in a hotel mug if needed.
9. Tupperware containers
Tupperware containers can be invaluable on the road, helping you to save that leftover rice from lunch, carry around some dried fruit snacks, or double up as a plate. A couple of different sized containers in your luggage will never go astray.
10. Fresh doesn’t always mean fresh.
You may be faced with an abundance of fresh full cream milk varieties at home, but don’t assume that full cream fresh milk is as easy to locate everywhere you go. In some places, like around South East Asia, milk is often imported and it is common to find UHT milk in the fridge that is marketed as ‘fresh milk’, as well as double pasteurised milk that is imported from Australia. The following website provides a helpful explanation of the different milk brands sold in Singapore http://singaporebaby.com/milk-brands-singapore-every-parent-needs-know/ and if you are still confused, just be sure to read the label and check the expiry dates – if milk expires 6 months from now, it is safe to assume it’s probably not fresh.
What have you found to be helpful when travelling with infants and small children? Please share your tips in the comments below.