Traveling with Kids - Tips & Tricks
Updated: Sep 30, 2019
Guest Author: Resourceful Rubies
Do your summer travel plans include flying with babies or toddlers? Are you frantically trying to research everything you need to do before your big trip? We've got some trusted tips and tricks from a very seasoned mother who has traveled with two little ones all over the world!
We are the ‘have baby, will travel’ family. Our daughter was 6 months old when we took her on her first airplane ride, and it wasn’t a domestic flight to grandma’s house… we thought we’d just bite the bullet and travel to Africa with her. Now, nearly 8 years later, she has been on some 60+ individual flights and we’ve thrown an international adoption in the mix, so we now have two daughters we travel with. At this point, there isn’t a flight on the planet I couldn’t handle. I’ve breastfed in the air, warmed bottles, fed and changed babies, walked the aisles with toddlers, made blanket tents to help baby sleep, flown with a child who was adopted only 2 weeks before and had never flown, been vomited on in the international transit area for passengers going through security, been asked to drink my kid’s breastmilk or juice in foreign airports, been patted down by TSA, checked for explosives, and flown with a sick baby. If you have questions about traveling with kids, I’m your go-to woman.
“Travel Tips” should be my middle name. I’m an Enneagram type 1, so I’m about to give you the black & white on what my favorite travel tips are. There’s certainly many ways to do it, but us Type 1’s like to research and strive for perfection. If I can travel with my OCD/Type A tendencies, then you can too!
Backpack for hands free - Who needs to be tripping over rolling luggage or getting neck pain from a heavy carry-on strap? Check the list below for my favorite travel backpacks!(https://amzn.to/2Rvkb9z)
Lightweight stroller/pram -- (for up to 4 years) - Don’t pack the bulky, heavy duty one. Leave it at home. Infant: (https://amzn.to/2Xtq0tA); Child: (https://amzn.to/2J5sB3n)
Wear baby -- Ergo carrier is my favorite. No back pain for this mama! I’ve strapped them on up to age 2-3. I often forego the stroller and just baby-wear. (https://amzn.to/2Y6VkuV)
Extra clothes in the carry-on -- Everyone is going to need a change – you never know when a spill, blow-out diaper or vomit will leave you feeling disgusting. Pajamas are great for the flight.
Media -- Download shows from Netflix and Amazon Prime to your tablet(s) - Crucial for the airport layovers and flights without in-seat entertainment. (https://amzn.to/2IFAnSJ)
Headphones -- Noise cancelling for mom/dad and volume controlled for kids. Download a white noise app & take turns being ‘on-duty’ with the kids while the other gets some sleep. Kids: (https://amzn.to/2N7vSog); Adults: (https://amzn.to/2XutnQQ)
Toys -- Inexpensive toys for baby: something you don’t care to lose and that entertains – check out the Amazon list below or bring an empty bottle/cup with clothes pins, cotton balls, etc. (https://amzn.to/2NbNLCg) (https://amzn.to/2N9rjtt)
Keep a schedule -- For littles – naps, feeding, bedtime, etc. should be the same as at home for the long flight. For big kids – let them do their thing, but turn off the entertainment at some point so they won’t arrive like zombies.
Limit your carry-on luggage -- Especially if you have a little one – the pram, backpack, baby carrier, etc. all have to be juggled. Big kids – if they want to bring a wheelie, they need to be in charge of it, but we’re huge fans of the backpack which stows easily under the seat and allows easier access than a wheelie which goes in the overhead bin. Bring a small soft bag or gallon Ziploc to put absolute necessities in and you can easily pull it out quickly.
Snacks -- Some airlines have excellent in-flight snacks, while others serve you nearly inedible items. Bring your child’s favorite snacks unless you’ve flown the airline before and know what they offer. (https://amzn.to/2XwThDu) (https://amzn.to/2N4PvgC)
Pre-board -- There are various thoughts about whether you board when they offer families to board ahead of their assigned zones or not. You know your kids. If you need to stroll them around the terminal and keep them engaged, then wait to be the last people on. For us, we like to pre-board and have the extra time to get the kids settled, pull out their necessities, start the entertainment, and settle in – you’ll also have the most access to overhead bins if you pre-board.
Power Bank / Extra battery charger -- Some airlines have plugs on the seat back or under your seat so you can charge your tablets/devices, but not all of them work. Bring a small extra battery charger. (https://amzn.to/2FqZlmY)
Child safety harness for ages 2-3 and up -- Lap-belts are available for under two’s for take-off and landing, but over two years they need to be in their own seat. This harness is FAA approved and was a life-saver with my child who needed to stay seated. (https://amzn.to/2NbFtKE)
Toddler leash/back-pack -- This is a life-saver if you have a child who wanders off and will save you from having a heart attack when you turn around to find Jr. is no where in sight in a busy airport. (https://amzn.to/2N96ZIW)
Portable car booster seats -- If you have a child over 4 and 40 lbs, then you can get a portable booster seat called MiFold. We only use these for short trips and taxi rides. If you plan to be on the road a lot, then bring a more substantial booster seat. (https://amzn.to/2RABiXA)
Car-seat Bag Protector -- Hands down the best bag on the market is the JC Childress. (https://amzn.to/2LbwuXm) I recommend checking it with your luggage at the counter and not lugging it around to the gate to be gate-checked. This bag will protect your car seat and turns into a backpack for more juggling when you are trying to leave the baggage claim.
Inflatable foot rest -- Has helped our daughters stretch out and sleep much better. (https://amzn.to/2IE51vD) Be sure to check with your airline - some do not allow these.
First Aid Kit & Medicine bag -- I keep a med bag in our carry-on and a larger one in the checked luggage. With international travel and language barriers, the last thing you want to do is try to figure out how to get a bandage or some ibuprofen. Dramamine Kids, Benadryl, Tylenol, Motrin and Pedialyte are non-negotiable. (https://amzn.to/2N9ewXW)
My other top tips include knowing the airline rating, looking at seat diagrams to choose seats away from the lavatory and galley, and including a transit hotel or day room into a long layover. Some airlines even offer free stop-overs which we usually do with making our ‘round-the-globe’ trip between Africa and North America annually.
My favorite comprehensive packing lists are found here:
The travel with kids blogs: www.minitime.com ; http://havebabywilltravel.com/; http://www.deliciousbaby.com/travel/family-travel-tips/
Finally, when you’re crossing multiple time zones there are some important tips:
Article on Fighting Jet Lag - https://tinyurl.com/y6qjdnjf
Airline Rankings Page Sky Trax - https://skytraxratings.com/
Seat Guru - http://www.seatguru.com/
Sleeping in Airports - https://www.sleepinginairports.net/
Amazon Travel with Kids List:
*Amazon link are affiliate links*
About the Author:
This blog post is in collaboration with with Resourceful Rubies. Amanda is an American expat living in Botswana for over 5 years. She made her first trip overseas to Albania at the age of 19 and has since been looking for ways to travel and experience as many parts of the world as possible. Amanda is a retired registered nurse and stay-at-home mom to two girls. She is passionate about sharing her travel experiences with others so that traveling the globe isn't so daunting. She calls her information tidbits, "resourceful rubies", and you can visit her personal blog for some of these rubies. She also blogs for Botswana Family Gems as a local content expert in Gaborone, Botswana where she and her family currently reside.
Photo - credit Christopher Visuals