14 Sanity-Saving Tips For Traveling With Babies & Young Children

Think your adventurous days are over now that you have kids? Nonsense! This globetrotting mom of three helps you become a footloose and fancy-free family.

A mother traveling with her baby and toddlers while using the Clek Liing Infant Car seat

Some have called us clinically insane, but my husband and I recently travelled across the world with three children under the age of four. When you factor in the two flights (one of which was 14 hours!), the layover and the car trips on either end, it took us more than 24 hours to get from our home in Australia to my hometown in Canada. And you know what? It wasn’t that bad. Honest.

We had an arsenal of tricks up our sleeves to entertain, distract and cajole our three-year-old and 15-month-old twins – and we learned a few more along the way. Hopefully, the wisdom we’ve gained will help your vacation go smoothly too.

You can thank me when you’re reclining by the pool with a cocktail in hand (and small children splashing you, but let’s leave that out of the fantasy).

 

#1 Request a bassinet or purchase extra leg room on your flight

 

My kids have always been over the weight limit for bassinets when we’ve flown, but I hear they’re a lifesaver when you’re traveling with an infant. Check your airline’s rules before you buy your tickets because each carrier has different height, weight and age limits for their bassinets, and many require that you request one at the time of booking. Another option is to spend a little more on seats with extra leg room. They saved our sanity because we were able to put our twins on the floor when they became too wiggly and to stretch out our legs when they fell asleep on us.

 

#2 Leave your house an hour earlier than you think

 

Calculate how long you think it’ll take to get to the airport, factor in killer traffic jams and tsunamis, and then tack on another hour. “But I don’t want to wake up at 4am!” I hear you say. DO IT. We got there in plenty of time, but there was some issue with our tickets and we ended up dashing for the plane once they’d finally sorted it out.

 

#3 Wrap surprises to open on the plane

 

Wrap a bunch of small presents in crinkly paper. Whenever your little ones start to complain, whip out a new gift and let them unwrap it slowly. The wrapping stretches out the process, and for the young ones the paper is often more entertaining than what’s inside! If you have several kids, color-code their wrapping paper and place each set of gifts in a separate Ziploc bag that will be easy to grab when you have your hands full.

 

#4 Bring pillows and baby carriers onboard

 

Forget those fairy-sized plane pillows – bring one full-sized pillow per child so they can sleep comfortably on you or in their seat. Feather pillows are a great choice because they roll up into a tight package that can be secured with a belt. If you have a baby, bring their carrier too. When our overtired twins wouldn’t settle, we strapped them to us and paced the aisles until they fell asleep.

 

#5 Pack LOTS of snacks

 

Bored kids are ravenous kids. Bring snacks for an army: granola bars, fruit, crackers and anything else your kids love. (A few treats won’t hurt!) We had an entire carry-on bag devoted to food and we devoured it all. Also, don’t be shy to ask the airline staff for snacks in-between meals.

 

#6 Treat flight attendants like royalty

 

The flight attendants went above and beyond the call of duty to assist us, but I don’t think it hurt that we were super-nice to them even when we were frazzled and exhausted. The same goes for the people sitting near you – they don’t have to be understanding, but they probably will be if you acknowledge them. As soon as I boarded, I joked, “Poor you! I wouldn’t want to be sitting next to us!” which broke the ice.

 

#7 Load up the iPad and let them watch all.of.the.plane.movies

 

My twins don’t normally care for screens because they have each other to play with, so I tried to train them to play on the iPad and watch movies before we left. I know, Bad Mom, but these were extenuating circumstances. A long-haul flight is NOT the time to worry about screen time – you’re in survival mode plain and simple. You can run for Mother of the Year when you get home.

 

#8 Bring your sense of humor

 

Before I had kids, I met a family of six dancing near the bathrooms on a long-haul flight. I was in awe. How could those parents have so much fun while juggling four kids?! I get it now. I often tell my kids, “You can’t cry when you’re laughing” and tickle them until they stop complaining. My husband and I used that and a ton of other tricks to make them forget their exhaustion and boredom during that 14-hour flight. The high-fives and praise we received from other passengers as we got off the plane made it all worthwhile.

 

#9 Pack all your kids’ creature comforts

 

When you’re packing, prioritize your children’s favorite teddies, blankets, snugglies and sleeping bags so they feel comforted when they’re sleeping in strange beds. You can always buy more clothes, but you can’t replace Mr. Snuggles.

 

#10 Use white noise

 

White noise is THE BUSINESS. You can buy a white noise machine online or at a baby store, or download a white noise app on your device. Choose from a variety of sounds – radio static to ocean waves – that will drown out other noises and help your little ones sleep in new environments. The other things babies love is the Baby Shusher! This genius device mimics the noise they hear in utero!

 

#11 Stick to your bedtime routine

 

Even if your kids don’t feel sleepy, their regular “sleep cues” (dinner, bath, sleep bag, story, bottle, white noise, bed) will indicate that it’s bedtime and help them get to sleep. But if the time difference is significant, don’t expect them to go to bed when they’d normally be getting up for the day. Put them to bed a few hours later than usual the first night, and then a little earlier each night after that until they’re back on schedule.

 

#12 Accept that you’ll have to play at 3am

 

If there’s a 14-hour time difference like there was for us, it should take about a week for your kids to fully adjust (sorry!). Smaller time differences should only take a few days. Instead of fighting the process, play quietly with them for a couple of hours when they wake up in the middle of the night. Tag-team with your partner (one hour on, one hour off or alternate nights) and keep the lights dim to avoid stimulating them. As soon as they seem tired, put them back to bed. After three nights or so, their awake time will slowly diminish until it disappears.

 

#13 Let your hair down

 

Once you’ve all gotten over the jetlag, it’s time to start enjoying your holiday. Let go of routine a little – it won’t hurt your kids to stay up late some nights and it’ll do you so much good to break free from the shackles of your regular modus operandi. Have a cocktail! Dance the night away with your kids! Everyone will benefit from letting loose.

 

#14 Plan your return trip carefully

 

You had a wonderful vacation and you feel relaxed. Hooray! But now is NOT the time to drop the ball. Stock up on new surprises and snacks for the plane ride home, and plan a buffer of two or three days before anyone has to go to school or work. It might seem like wasted vacation time, but you’ll be thankful when you don’t have to face the school run with Jetlag Face.

 

Our Top Kids Travel Product Picks

 

Nuna CUDL in Caviar

 

Want a bonus sanity-saving tip? PACK WISELY!

My packing list always includes:

  • Reusable snack containers, water bottle, and cutlery
  • Wet wipes
  • A backpack diaper bag (You need your hands free!)
  • A baby/ toddler carrier
  • An infant car seat and/or toddler car seat
  • Travel stroller (Get one that can fit in the plane’s overhead compartment)
  • Extra PJs and a sleep bag for the plane
  • Pillows (Especially if you’re holding a baby on your lap.)
  • White noise machine
  • Plane-friendly toys
  • Pack and play
  • Travel toothpaste & toothbrush (A quick brush on a long haul flight will borderline feel as good as a shower!)
  • Travel lotions and balms

Scroll down to see my picks for each!

All Tot Safety Tested and approved, you can rest assured knowing the below products are free of harmful chemicals such as phthalates, PVC, BPA + BPS, formaldehyde and heavy metals.

 

The Tot On The Go Feeding

 

The Tot On-The-Go Feeding Set

 

Expert Tips, Snack Ideas + Feeding Essentials

Exclusive

$119

BUY NOW

 

 

Jem and Bea Eco Backpack

 

Jem & Bea Jamie Eco Diaper Bag Backpack

 

$245

Available in more colors

BUY NOW

 

 

Nook Niche Feeding Pillow in SeaGlass

 

Nook Niche Organic Pillow

 

Ranging from $119 to $129

Available in more colors

BUY NOW

 

 

HART + LAND Bamboo Baby Sleep Bag

 

HART + LAND Bamboo Sleep Bag – Organic Dots

 

$36

EXCLUSIVE

BUY NOW

 

 

Mushie Swaddle Blanket Organic Cotton - Roman Green

 

Mushie Organic Cotton Swaddle

 

$17.99

Available in more colors

BUY NOW

 

 

Kyte BABY Lovey with Removable Wooden Teething Ring - Lovey Storm

 

Kyte BABY Lovey with Removable Wooden Teething Ring

 

$17.99

Available in more colors

BUY NOW

 

 

Wee Gallery Peekabook Pets Activity Pad

 

Wee Gallery Peekaboo Pet Activity Pad

 

$38.95

BUY NOW

 

 

PlanToys Shape Sorter

 

PlanToys Shape Sorter

 

$15

BUY NOW

 

 

Jaq Jaq Bird Bored Boards - Game Boards

 

Jaq Jaq Bird Bored Boards – Game Boards

 

$29.99

BUY NOW

 

 

Habbi Habbi Book of Careers, Volume 1 + Reading Wand - Spanish

 

Habbi Habbi Learning Language Books Starter Set + Wand – Spanish

 

$99

EXCLUSIVE

Also available in Chinese

BUY NOW

 

 

 

Baby Susher Baby Shusher

 

Baby Shusher Noise Machine

 

$34.99

BUY NOW

 

 

Nuna Sena Aire Mini Travel Crib in Champagne

Nuna Sena Aire Mini Travel Crib

 

Available in more colors

$249.95

BUY NOW

 

 

Nuna CUDL Olive

Nuna CUDL Carrier

 

$219.95

Available in more colors

BUY NOW

 

 

Babyzen Yoyo2 Aqua Stroller with Black Frame

 

Babyzen Yoyo2 Aqua Stroller with White Frame

Babyzen Aqua YOYO 2 Stroller

 

$549.98

Available in more colors

BUY NOW

 

 

Clek Liing Thunder

 

Clek 2020 Liing Infant Car Seat

 

$419.99

Compatible w/ the Babyzen YOYO 2

Available in more colors

BUY NOW

 

 

 

WAYB Pico Car Seat Ocean

WAYB Pico Ultralight Travel Car Seat 

 

Available in more colors

$320

BUY NOW

 

 

Risewell Travel Kit

 

RiseWell Natural Toothpaste Travel Kit

$15

BUY NOW

 

 

Erbaviva Baby Travel Set

 

Erbaviva Baby Travel Set

 

$24

Body Wash / Lotion / Lip & Cheek Balm

BUY NOW

 

 

 

Alex + Nova Organic Cotton Reusable Face Mask - Pink, White and Blue

 

Alex + Nova Organic Cotton Reusable Face Mask

 

$20

Available in more colors

Ages 2 and up

BUY NOW

 

 

Continue exploring