Tips for travelling with a toddler
Although I’ve ‘successfully’ flown to New Zealand and back with George, he was the tender age of six months old where feeding and sleeping were his two main priorities. Fast-forward eighteen months, and we realised a long distance flight with an energetic toddler was going to be quite a different ball game. We’re certainly not travel pros, but there were a few things we did for both the flight and our stay in Mauritius that made us share the odd high five and commend our efforts at ‘parenting’ (/ensuring some peace, quiet and chill time for Mum & Dad).
Tips for the flight
Sam (a.k.a. Father of the Year) had a brilliant idea to pick up some toddler headphones at the airport. At £16 they are one of the soundest investments we’ve made as parents. They worked an absolute treat. It bought us at least three hours in half hour bursts of calm on the plane, distracting George from wanting to play with the tray table over and over again. The plane had a pre-school channel on the entertainment system which helped us hit the jackpot, and the fact that we give George a bit of TV in the weekends now and then means he certainly has a taste for it. No variety of toys can keep a toddler’s attention for as long as an episode of Peppa Pig. Fact.
Taking a night flight
We naively hoped that taking a night flight would mean George would sleep for the majority of it. While George was very well behaved, he didn’t fall asleep until 4am UK time, with two hours left before we landed. Luckily Sam & I were running on pre-holiday-excitement-adrenalin. What eventually helped to get George down was the same rituals we have at home - putting him in his PJs & sleeping bag and asking the stewardess to fill his bottle with warm milk. We were kicking ourselves for not trying it sooner.
Our go-to travel bag(s)
We pride ourselves on not being those parents slinging oversized nappy bags and sacks full of toys onto the plane. Our favourite bag for George since he was born has been this Storksak Charlie Backpack. It fits everything we need, and Sam & I are equally happy wearing it. It’s probably been the best-used single item we’ve ever bought. It means we get on most flights with only two backpacks - one for us, and one for him.
If you’re travelling with a stroller that needs to go into the hold for the flight, I strongly recommend purchasing a buggy bag (this is the one we have) to give it a bit of protection. Most airlines throw the strollers in with only the tag on them, and they end up looking scuffed and seriously unloved at the other end. Although we still get a few bumps and scrapes, it’s better than nothing and is so easy to travel with.
Picking your destination
We really haven’t travelled enough here for me to feel like an expert, but we ended up choosing Mauritius as a) we wanted some winter sun but more importantly b) we didn’t want to jump timezones for just a week’s holiday.
While we tend to favour self-catering options when we’re in Europe, for this trip we pushed the boat out a little bit and headed to a resort (Lux Belle Mare) which was exceptionally geared for kids & honeymooners alike. Think separate adults-only beach & restaurants, but a kid’s club & shallow toddler pool at the same time. With George in our room rather than his own space to sleep, we always go for a room with a balcony so we can slip outside for the evenings and enjoy room service & a nightcap without having to whisper. We lucked out with the resort too, as food for under 3’s is free.
Like our weekends, we also try to carve out time for either Sam or I to have moments to ourselves on holiday. I scooted to the gym one morning, Sam spent time by the pool while I stayed with a napping George and we both made use of the spa. It definitely helped to boost our holiday vibes.
Bring what you know
While we try not to bring everything and the kitchen sink with us when we travel, I do always make sure that I have the key baby medicines & remedies I know and use with George. George came down with chicken pox while we were in Mauritius, and while we could get everything we needed from the local pharmacy, I can imagine being somewhere more remote and panicking because we might not be able to understand languages on packaging. When we took him to Tulum last year we spent several days trying to find a local formula he would drink as we ran out of our usual choice while on holiday. With temperatures high and an eight-month-old George not wanting to drink we became rather stressed out about him getting dehydrated. Both experiences have taught me to always take those essentials on holiday.
We will largely be sticking to Europe next year travel-wise, but have two long-haul trips coming up already in the calendar. I’d love any tips from fellow parents!
With Love, Kate
P.S Check out my earlier travelling-with-a-baby post here, from when George was a proper baby.