Travelling with babies
Make the most of travelling with your baby – it is probably the only time that you get to dictate where you go! It is true that parents have more anxieties when they travel with babies, because babies cannot tell you when they are too hot, too cold or have a stomach ache. You can, however, plan for most occasions if you take the right equipment and tune in to your baby’s hungry, tired or bored signals.
Babies require a fair amount of stuff/equipment, but try to take as little as possible. You can always check with your destination in advance, the baby equipment they provide.
Take enough nappies, but remember that you can buy more at your end destination. Remember wet wipes for nappy changes and cleaning up, and a waterproof change mat if you have space. Plastic bags for dirty nappies, wipes, food and clothing always come in handy.
Remember to take bottles, a tea or baby spoon and a plastic dish. Take the buggy and/or a baby carrier backpack. You might also want to take some bedding depending on where you are going, such as a cotton sheet or a warm blanket. Other options are cotton sleeping bags for warmer climates to protect them from draughts and mosquitoes or a woollen sleeping bag if you are going to cooler climates.
Choose toys that don’t have small pieces – these pieces inevitably always drop to the floor of the plane, car or train. Make a list of the things that you need to take. Hang on to this list throughout your holiday as it helps with packing up and the return journey.
Travelling with toddlers
Toddlers can be a challenge to travel with – they have lots of energy and not much patience. At this stage, they will also be trying to do everything themselves and getting frustrated when they are not allowed to. They do, however bring a fresh interest to any journey and destination, and they can give you a chance to see the world from a different perspective.
Remember to make a checklist and take it with you. Toddlers can sometimes be fussy eaters, with many likes and dislikes so be prepared and take food, snacks and water.
Bring a daypack that a toddler can carry on their own – it can help them to feel involved. You could also take along your toddler’s blanket or pillowcase to make the journey and the places you visit more familiar. It is also a good idea to take waterproof bedding for toddlers – even if they are potty trained they can sometimes have the occasional accident.
Travelling with older children can be a real pleasure – the trip becomes a group effort. Older children can sometimes become bored quite easily, but it is always an interesting experience as they form their own impressions and tell you what they are experiencing. Children at this age are clearer about what they enjoy and what they don’t, which makes it easier to plan for the journey.
Remember to make a checklist and take it with you. Children can take their own daypacks with a book, colouring books, paper and pencils. Pack a few toys but don’t overdo it. Take food, snacks and water. You can take anything from bananas, apples, rice cakes, raisins, dried fruit and sandwiches.
You could also take along your young child’s blanket or pillowcase to make the journey and the places you visit more familiar.
Travelling with teenagers
Teenagers are at an age where you can really involve them in the planning of your journey. They are also much more able to entertain themselves than younger children. You might even find that you enjoy the same things and that the trip takes a special place in their memories.
They may choose to take their electrical devices, so ensure there is a charger for them to use. Ask them to pack a journey bag for themselves with drink and snacks.
And don’t forget the essentials
Plan for travel sickness and have plastic bags, medication and a clean set of clothes handy. Also pack medication, such as child paracetamol, rehydration fluid and anything you might need for travel sickness, especially if you are unfamiliar with the local medicines. It can also help to think of the journey as an adventure in itself, and not just the means to get to your destination. To this end there are many fun ways that children can keep themselves busy on the journey – they can:
- Collect things (stamps, postcards, shells, souvenirs) along the way and glue them into a journal.
- Draw maps and pictures of what they see and maybe even write down the things they liked best.
- Take photographs – a disposable camera is a fun cheap alternative.
- Record sounds they hear or talk into a voice recorder if they are too tired to write.
Remember that every journey is different. There are, however, quite a few things that overlap whether you travel by air, car or train and every journey completed is practice and experience gained for your next journey. Spread the entertainment out, i.e. don’t give them all their toys at once! Otherwise you might run out of ideas within the first hour. It is also wise not to pack any special blankets and toys in your main suitcase – rather take them with you on your journey, so that they are available.