When my son arrived 14 months ago, a lot changed—especially when it came to travelling. No longer were we able to be carefree, light, “pack at the last minute” travellers. Whether we were headed on a quick flight or a few-hours’ drive, we now had to account for our tiny human and all the stuff he came with.
Family travel during the holiday season can be particularly daunting. It’s normal to feel a bit overwhelmed when faced with unpredictable weather, long lines and the need to pack bulkier clothing. But have no fear, fellow parents! Take things one step at a time, smile in the face of the unexpected, and keep a few of these additional family-travel tips in mind.
It’s a tough to strike a balance between packing too much and too little. Maneuvering through an airport can be tricky so you don’t want to be waylaid with a lot of additional gear. But delays happen, babies and toddlers get hungry—and you’d be remiss not accounting for potential diaper blowouts. Make sure you have enough diapers and wipes to get you through a flight and a delay without bringing a whole box. Packs snacks, extra clothes (for you and baby) and a few toys to entertain your little one. Also keep a bottle or pacifier on-hand for take-off and landing. That change in air pressure can be uncomfortable for little ears. It’s true, packing for baby may mean sacrificing a few of your own “extras,” but the trade off in peace-of-mind is worth it.
I try and bring favourite books and toys on airplanes or car rides. Often, I try to introduce a new toy at the start of a journey. This usually keeps my son’s attention a tad longer than a toy he’s used to. As he gets older, I’ve started visiting my local dollar store to pick-up new toys, books, and even stickers and crayons. This is a cost-effective way of adding new, fun things for him play with, so that I can focus on getting us to our destination quickly and safely.
During the holidays, parents’ hands are often full, you’re likely in a hurry, and there are people everywhere. I don’t leave home without my must-have travel stroller, the Bugaboo Bee5. My family uses it no matter where we roam—whether we’re on a trip to Ottawa or a weekend in New York City. It’s light and comfy, and its easy one-piece fold makes it simple to gate check or load on a train. The under-seat basket holds all our carry-ons, and my son can enjoy taking in the scenery and waving at passersby. We’ve customized our Bee5, picking colours for the canopy and fabric seat that we can change according to the season. Not only does it look good, but we can navigate crowds quickly, store our bags and keep our little one happy.
A hungry baby is a cranky baby, and a cranky baby means a grumpy mummy and daddy. I always make sure I have a travel cup and portable snacks for my son. PC organics has a great line of cereal bars, rice husks and fruit snacks for ages four-months to toddler. They’re easy to open, not too messy and small enough for my son’s little hands. I also keep some baby fruit and veg pouches in my bag so I know that wherever we are, I always have a meal for my little man. Eating keeps him happy but also entertained.
Most importantly, enjoy and embrace your time traveling, exploring and discovering with your little ones this holiday season. They are seeing many things for the first time and it’s an amazing experience to rediscover the world—especially if it’s a snow-blanketed and colourfully illuminatred one—through their eyes. Spending time together and creating memories is priceless. It won’t be long until your children all grown up and you’ll be wishing for more family travelling adventures together.
Natalie Preddie is a freelance journalist and mom who’s exploring her favourite destinations with little one in tow. She shares her adventures on her travel and leisure blog, and on Instagram @_nattyp.