Long Distance Travel With Toddlers: What You Need
Taking kids across the country or abroad can be daunting. It can also be life changing. Tot Mama of two and American expat, Summer Land, shares her tips for travelling and exploring the world with toddlers.
As an American living in Australia with two kids under five, I’ve had A LOT of practice traveling internationally with babies and toddlers. Being able to see my friends and family and watching my kids explore the world around them makes the 31 hour door-to-door adventure totally necessary. Here are some of the things I’ve learned along the way.
If you’re flying:
Rule #1: Accept that it’s going to be hard and prepare to work your butt off. You’re going to be singing songs, playing “Ride A Little Horsey” and naming inanimate objects for HOURS.
Rule #2: Come prepared.
Whether you need to pace an airport or go for a stroll up and down the aisle, this will keep your hands free to help your two or three year old while en route. Strollers can also be lifesavers. Even if your kid doesn’t want to ride – you can push your luggage around. The gb Pockit Plus Stroller is the best choice because it folds up so small, can be stowed in overhead and can also be used with a carseat!
I also recommend bringing more outfits than you think you’ll need. When my daughter, Daisy, was 11 months old we had an unexpected 10 hour layover at LAX and she wanted to do nothing but CRAWL. The knees of her special travel outfit were black from all the grime on the floor! On that note – also bring a bag for dirty clothes, a bag for garbage, wet wipes, natural hand sanitizer and be sure to wash everyone’s hands at every opportunity. There’s nothing worse than sick kids while traveling.
Before you go – make sure you’re all up to date on your immunizations and everyone is healthy. It’s helpful to pack a thermometer and any other first aid items you might use for a rough night at home.
I may be a worrywart, but I always arrive for an international flight at least 3 hours early. With the airlines we fly, we’re not always guaranteed a bassinet seat until check-in and even though your baby may not want to be in it – you’re going to want the extra storage space and to be near the other moms and dads. These people are your tribe. So are the flight attendants. They want your baby to be quiet as much as you do so don’t be afraid to ask for a bottle to be warmed up or if they have a banana left over from first class. (Unless you’re in first class and then may I suggest gifting your banana to the toddler in Row 59C?)
When it comes to boarding – I never rush to get on and settled. I use this time to let my kids run off some energy. I also like to talk about what to expect on the plane. If you’re potty training – getting up can be difficult so I’m going to go ahead and just own that I put my toddlers in pull-ups throughout the flight. However, I still ask them if they need to go and encourage them to try.
If your kids are a bit older, they may have an attention span for the inflight entertainment or a tablet. Some parents may worry about the screen light keeping them awake, buy my kids seem to sleep okay. (This also gives me a solid hour to eat my meal in peace!)
If you’re looking for other forms of entertainment, you can’t go wrong with crafts and books. Just remember – try to do things that are easy to contain and don’t cause a mess. (PS Best news ever – I found out that crayon comes off a plane wall with a baby wipe! Woo hoo!)
What I pack for long haul overnight flights for babies –
- 1 x outfit for going to the airport
- 2 x pajamas for on the plane
- 1 outfit for getting off the flight
- 1 x jacket
- 2 x blankets/ wraps
- 1 x carrier
- 2 x bottles/ cups
- 2 x snack containers
- 1 x stroller
- 1 x backpack diaper bag
As long as you and your tot can stay clean, dry and entertained – you’ll be fine. The only thing that will make your heaven a hell is if you don’t have enough food and drinks. Re-Play makes fantastic snack stacks and these will save your life during a mid-flight tantrum.
If you’re driving:
You’re probably going to need the same amount of supplies, but luckily you’ll be able to access your bags much more easily if you accidentally forget to pack something in your diaper bag. Again, outfit changes are a must, food needs to be ever flowing and entertainment is going to need to get creative.
Once you get there:
If you’re going somewhere without all the same amenities of your tot’s nursery, I suggest bringing items you know will make your life easier. i.e. Sleep aids and strollers. Packing your crib and large double stroller is usually not an option, which is why I always bring our Dockatot Grand Dock, Nook Sleep Systems Pebble Pillow Jr. and the gb Pockit Stroller Plus. These items are easy to travel with and make it easier for our kids to transition to grandma’s house or a hotel room.
Products I LOVE to travel with: