Photo Credit: Photo courtesy of Tara
This Traveling Mom Schools Us On How To Travel With Small Kids
Tara is a busy mom and wife living in Maryland. She has mastered the art of traveling, both domestic and international, with her 3-year old daughter in tow. She began traveling with her daughter when she was only a few months old. Tara has since traveled solo to parts of Asia and Africa with her daughter. Tara will soon welcome her second child.
We spoke with her about how she plans for and manages travel with her young daughter.
Travel Noire: What do you do to prepare in advance for travel with your daughter?
Tara: Depending on where we are venturing, I will focus on three core things to prepare: general packing, sleep prep, and food prep. When it comes to packing for a 7 to 10-day trip, my essentials include 3-4 interchangeable outfits in the carry-on and enough diapers and wipes for three days. This helped when traveling overseas with limited access to facilities or handling unexpected delays, even illness.
For sleep and breastfeeding, I packed two muslin blankets. My favorite travel item is probably the Ergo baby carrier. This was useful during the flight, running between gates, and definitely while exploring around town. It is also a great portable nap and breastfeeding zone and keeps your hands free. I placed key documents like my passports in the main pocket of the carrier, small toys for long lines, small sized snacks, and my cell phone in it. I probably could travel with just those essentials and one carry-on bag for a short trip. My go-to snacks and food supplies are puffs, crackers, and any squeezable pouches, which are so much easier to manage than spoons and baby food jars. Some airlines have baby food onboard, so I recommend that you inquire about it before the flight.
Key things for preparing: Create a list of items that are must-haves for during the flight or layovers. Double check that items not easily available at your destination/accommodations are included in your pack list. Many hotels offer playpens or cribs. Pack using easy-to-maneuver luggage. Once all packed up, test that you can adequately maneuver with all items you will be traveling with, including any checked luggage.
TN: What advice can you give to keep kids occupied on longer flights?
Tara: My first line of defense is to entertain with toys and books. Early in the flight, I then shift into snacks. My favorite, and I am fairly sure my little ones’s favorite too, is to walk around the airplane. I try and stay towards the galley areas to minimize others needing access to the aisle. We also spend quite a bit of time in the bathroom with diaper changes. This is a great time for the little ones to play in the mirror and to feel refreshed. My last line of defense is relying on electronics. I first encourage my little one to utilize the in-flight entertainment, and if that doesn’t last, I might take out an iPad or similar device. I’ve also used these devices when I need to be hands-free to eat, fill out arrival forms, etc.
TN: What do you do during layovers or flight delays?
Tara: I let the baby run free, when appropriate. We have fun looking at airplanes, visiting shops, and finding any kid-friendly play areas. If I didn’t do a mid-flight change of clothes, I will also get the baby refreshed. If it’s a long layover with another long flight ahead, I do my best to keep the little one awake and hold any sleep for the flight. If you are fortunate to have a membership to an airline club, these sometimes have kid-friendly spaces too. My other go-to item is the toddler harness.
TN: What other tips/advice can you give to our audience for traveling with small children?
Tara: If you are traveling alone, it can be done. Go for it! Just plan ahead. Make sure that you will have systems in place for when you do arrive.
- Many countries will have diapers and wipes for sale (sometimes at a premium and rarely at the airport). Though if your child has any sensitivities, you will want to be mindful of this and pack accordingly.
- If your little one becomes ill while traveling (this happened to me several times): You may want to check that your health providers have a 24hr helpline or doctor/nurse on call.
- You can travel through security with baby food and drink/breast milk, it just needs to be checked by TSA so plan ample time for this.
- Many hotels will have laundry service, but you can always wash baby items in the sink. Make sure you pack soaps that are suitable for your baby.
- Do not pack more than you can safely carry with your child.
If your circumstances doesn’t get you out of the country, you can still take some of these tips for domestic and local trips. No matter the size of my journey, I bring my baby, Ergo carrier, and we go.