I would say we’re a well-traveled family. Travelling is engrained in our lifestyle. Trust me, there’s been plenty of times during my skiing career when I’ve just wanted to be home in my own bed, but I can’t imagine not wanting to travel. Not wanting to explore this beautiful world we live in.
A lot of people think they need to get their travelling ‘out of the way’ before they have kids and that travelling with kids is just ‘too hard’ and not an enjoyable experience. Well, I disagree. We’ve taken Kai on some incredible adventures ever since he was born and he is a different kid because of those experiences. He’s worldly.
We love travelling and with half our family living in Finland and with friends scattered all over the world, travel is just what we do and will continue to do for a very long time.
So, a lot of people ask me for tips before travelling with infants and toddlers and how to prepare for travel in general. It can be daunting for first timers. Nobody wants to have their kid screaming on an airplane (myself included). But stressing about that will be your downfall. I’ve had some shocker travel days with and without Kai, but you can’t control those things. They are what they are.
We first travelled with Kai when he was 6 weeks old. We didn’t test him out with a short domestic flight. Nope. We travelled pretty much as far as you can go – Finland, to meet the relatives. Since then, Kai has been a very frequent flyer following me all around the world to training camps and competitions. He’s a champion traveller but he’s also really used to it and knows what to expect.
Here’s a few travel tips I hope you find useful from your young bubs to non-stop-on-the-go toddlers. Remember, just pack essentials. You can stock up on everything you need OS.
1. Pack enough nappies and wipes for the flight. Account for blow-ups (I mean the poopy kind) and delays. You can normally grab some extras in the airport pharmacy if need be.
- On flights to Europe or over 24hrs, take 10-12 nappies.
- On flights to North America you’ll need about 8 (west coast) and 10 (east coast)
- You’ll be right if you factor a nappy for every 2hrs of travel. 4-6 nappies/day for bubs over the age of 1. Sometimes we had plenty left over, but at times we were right on.
2. Baby Bjorn – or other infant carrier. These are super handy when your baby is really little and allows you to have your hands free to carry bags, go shopping etc. In the first 3 months we travelled with a handy bassinet that we’d insert into our pram.
3. Bibs and burp ‘n’ vomit towel for young bubs breastfeeding or on formula. Saves you a few outfit changes! Infant Panadol/Neurofen. We rarely needed this and Kai hated it but it’s good to have. One time Kai head butted the tray table and split his lip open coming back from Hawaii. Hubby Lauri was flying alone…poor thing. It was a hellish flight, but he eventually got some Panadol into Kai and it helped settle him.
4. Pram. We opted for the Mountain Buggy Swift because it’s narrow, easy to maneuver in tight spaces and relatively lightweight. It’s also good on snow and rough surfaces (like the cobble stone streets of Europe). Prams or strollers are a must on long haul flights because you can check them in at the gate, which is important if you have layovers or your bub is asleep. Then you can pick them up at the gate when you get off the flight and stash your baby bag in it.
5. Drinks & snacks. Our favourite airplane snacks are popcorn, fruit ‘n’ nut mix and rye crackers. When Kai was first on solids I travelled with avocados, which Kai loved and still loves. Sometimes I’d mix it with a tin of tuna. Instant oatmeal is also a good one in case your child sleeps through brekkie. After breast-feeding, Kai went straight to cows milk, which you can always get on board flights and the attendants will warm it up for you if needed. A water bottle is also a must to keep hydrated. When Kai was moved to predominantly solids, we just gave him airplane food so just make sure one is included in their booking if they’re under two.
6. Bib – Since Kai has been on solids we’ve always used the silicone bibs with the scoop instead of cloth bibs. They catch falling food and are basic to wash and travel with. That way, you only need one!
7. Spare clothes for bub and parents – We had a funny incident on our very first flight with Kai to Finland. Kai had done #2’s so I took him into the airplane toilet to change him. As soon as I lifted his little legs, out shot a projectile poo (the bright yellow kind). Lauri was with me (3 of us cramped in the pokey toilet) and somehow he did a Matrix move and dodged the bullet. Me? Not so lucky. It hit me straight in the guts and splattered all over the wall and floor. I sent Lauri out to fetch my spare top and to tell the flight attendants that they should ‘seal off the area’ like a crime scene…. It was going to take a while to clean up the horrible mess but luckily, I managed. Point of the story – take spare clothes.
8. Hooter hider – I never formula fed, so I wouldn’t have a clue about how much formula to take plus bottles, sterilizers etc. However, I breast fed for 13 months and travelled with a breast-feeding apron – I call it my ‘hooter hider’. Fantastic things especially if you fall asleep feeding your bub during the flight. The last thing you want is people gawking at your bosom whilst you’re passed out, mouth open and catching flies. Plus, some people are funny about breast-feeding in public so I found it handy to take in restaurants, public places etc.
9. Baby wraps or blankets. These are good to have on you, no so much on the flight because they are provided, but when you’re cruising around on holiday and bub is asleep in the pram.
10. Kiddy headphones and entertainment – Ipad mini, favourite book, sketch pad, small trucks and cars. Kai loves his headphones and started really using them and becoming interested in watching shows at around age 2. You’ll find that you just rotate through activities on the flight to keep them occupied and stimulated. There’s some really great educational games that you can load up on your Ipad and Kai loves those. Now that he’s 3, he’s got his favourites and will watch them over and over. We also take his drawing pad, a couple of pocket books and cars or trucks. That, plus the occasional walk up and down the aisle and chatting with the flight attendants keeps him happy. I found the period when Kai turned 1 and was starting to walk was the most difficult time to travel. All he wanted to do was get up and cruise around and was too little to be occupied with a show, book or favourite toy. Not much you can do really and just have to go with it until it’s sleep time.
11. Choose night flights. I always found night flights much easier because you basically put them to bed and they’ll sleep most of the way. Flying from AUS to North America was always more difficult because they were during the day. 14.5 hours with a bub/toddler is a long time to keep up the entertainment, so if you can, pick a night flight.
12. Try and nap when your bub is sleeping. Take the sleep when you can get it, especially on long travel days. It’s tempting to want to enjoy a good flick or a book but if you’re feeling drowsy, take a kip especially if you’ve got a long day ahead.
13. Book a bassinet seat in advance. Bassinet seats are the best. We were amazed at how well Kai slept in them. Each airline has different regulations on the max kg’s your bub is allowed to be, but they range from 10-12kg. Make sure you ring up the airline or confirm the bassinet with your travel agent because they are limited and get snatched up quickly especially in peak holiday periods.
* NOTE: When there’s turbulence, you’ll need to take the baby out of the bassinet, which is annoying especially if they’re sleeping, but they make you do it.
14. Choose you bags wisely. Make sure your bags are efficient, have easy access and fit what you need in them. We travel with a nappy bag which has over time converted to Kai’s bag, but I also take a wheelie bag (for my mac and other personal items) that converts into a back pack. That way if you need extra hands free, you can use it as a back pack.
Things you can do without:
High chair – most restaurants/hotels have them.
Car Seat – you can rent them with your car rental.
Baby cot – Hotels supply them, just request it in your booking.
I hope these tips are helpful and I hope you experience many great moments of sharing this wonderful world with your little ones. xxx