Now, the husband and I have been avid travellers - it's one of the things that brought us together in the first place. Back in the days, we loved to go on spur-of-the-moment, impulsive, sudden trips, which are seldom possible now with the LO, not that we didn't try. But has the addition been a deterrent to our wanderlust? Nope! Much to the chagrin of her Nan, we have taken the LO to various places - she has been travelling since she was a baby (her first trip to India was when she was 3 months old!). She is now a pro at travelling by car, bus, train, on boats, and is cool as a cucumber on flights, both short and long ones, and that comes with a bit of list-making and pre-planning.
So, here I am, doing what I love doing - making a checklist of all the things I carry (and you should too!) to make your journeys much more fun and much less taxing!
One word of advice though: travelling with an infant and travelling with a toddler are NOT the same. So, forget it if you think an overnight flight would be a good idea.
Check all the charges and regulations of the transport service: Different rails and airlines have different regulations and charges, so it's best to check these in advance rather than be surprised right before boarding.
Try a backpack for hand luggage: Stating the obvious, this gives you the luxury of remaining hands-free and you know why that's a good idea.
Check-in early: trust me on this one. A couple of missed flights and trains later, I can promise you, better spend a good few hours waiting than the alternative.
Look for wheelchair/pram access: Most places have a designated entry/exit or aisle for families with a wheelchair or pram and this has helped us skip queues at numerous airports and train stations. It is a hit-and-miss, depending on the country you are in, but always worth a shot.
Ask for any spare seats at check-in: Your toddler is too big for a bassinet and she most probably won't even want to lie down in one anymore. For those airlines where it isn't imperative to book a seat for your toddler yet, it's always a good idea to enquire about a spare seat, so the little one can stretch a little and you don't feel cooped up either.
Have your liquids ready for inspection: The husband is extremely particular about this one and gets everything zip-locked at home so we don't struggle at the airport. All the LO's and our medicines and her milk and juice are kept handy so we can get them out quickly at security checks
Keep your travel docs handy: fiddling with your passport, passes and other docs when in a queue is never a good idea, and especially so with a toddler, so keep things in easily accessible pouches or pockets
Tire the LO out at the airport: When we have the time, we let the little one have a ball at the airport. Most airports have kids' play areas which keep them occupied for quite some time. These days, she loves to run around so the husband and I take turns to take her around, so when we board the flight, she is tired enough to want a nibble and a nap. Win!
Try and board early: This gives you ample time to stow your stuff comfortably, acclimatise the LO with the new surroundings, settle in and make friends with the crew.
Keep your wet wipes handy: There will always be a spill here and an accident there, so keep those boon of parenting wipes ready at hand. Always. As should you keep some nappies (if not potty trained yet) and an extra set of clothes for the LO ready in your bag. I tend to keep an extra set for myself too, just in case.
Entertainment for the journey: Depending on the duration and mode of transport, we tend to pack things to keep her occupied as much as possible. We are not too keen on offering the kid much screen time, so her little stash includes: crayons, plain paper, puzzles, stickers, books and other bric-a-bracs. Some flights offer such toddler kits too as freebies and I say, take those even if you bring your own. A new bag to explore will keep them busy for a good amount of time.
Ask the cabin crew for help: It takes a village to raise a child, so don't hesitate to ask the crew for help. My experience is they almost always are happy to comply with an extra blanket, some hot water or warm milk.
Book or order in-flight kids' meals: If not for nutritional reasons, this at least gives them something to explore and nibble and be busy with , so you don't have to constantly worry about keeping them entertained.
Carry their favourite snacks and food: For most of our travels, short or long-haul, I carry the LO's favourite snacks with me. Things like raisins, fruity bars, cereals and juice in small pouches and some fruits are always a hit.
Carry familiar comforts: The LO has a few stuffed toys she is extremely fond of and each gets a turn during her travels. We keep a few others stashed too, just in case and also carry a blankie she has used since she was a baby that helps her settle better when trying to take a nap.
Go for natural remedies: Dry nose and skin is a common problem with baby Z during flights so we keep some moisturisers and petroleum jelly with us and keep her well hydrated through the trip. Try to make your LO sip on their favourite drink during take-off and landing to avoid blocked ears.
Take care of yourself: Take turns to look after the LO if you're travelling with a partner. If not, try taking care of yourself still. Keep hydrated, move those legs as much as possible and take a nap when you can... or as I do, order a glass of wine, watch a movie, read a book and relax. You need some downtime too!
This is the best advice I can offer having taken Zuri on close to 20 flights already. The most draining part has always been the amount of energy you have to put into the entertainment. What I learnt is we rarely have any tears or tantrums on board if we make the necessary effort. Right, back to my duvet and planning my trip now!
Do you have some tried and tested tips and tricks in your arsenal? If so, let me know - I would love to try that out too!
Until next time,