Are you travelling with a baby for the first time and in need of some advice? Or are you a new parent worried about the stress of the planning the trip and the journey? Whether you’re preparing for a day trip or going on holiday, travelling with your baby can present some unique challenges.
Carefully planning a trip when you’ve got small children is essential! The more work you put into preparing, the smoother your trip will go (hopefully!)
Here are a few tips from My Buggy My Car that we hope will help you and your baby have a safe and happy journey.
Get Your Travel Documents in Order
If you’re travelling internationally you need a passport and so does your baby. Make sure you apply for your little ones passport in plenty of time. The government website https://www.gov.uk/apply-renew-passport indicates that it can 3 weeks for a passport to be provided. You should also check that your own passport (and those of any other travellers) are in date!
It’s also recommended to make sure that you and your family are covered by some travel insurance. That way, you won’t be left out of pocket if anything unexpected happens while you’re away. The right insurance will cover any medical expenses as well as any costs incurred. Flight delays, hotel problems, lost luggage or valuables can all be expensive (and frustrating) events. Having experienced being stranded because of a hurricane, we really came to appreciate the insurance company when we got home!
How do I keep my baby settled and comfortable?
Dress your baby in a few soft layers which are easy to put on and take off. This means you can make sure your baby isn’t too hot or too cold. A vest and sleepsuit may be more comfortable and practical than dressing your baby in jeans or tights.
If you’re driving a long distance, your baby will need regular breaks, fresh air, and a change of scene. Looking up a few service stations and the distances between each, before you leave can help you plan your trip. This can help ensure you aren’t risking a cranky little one by driving too far in one go… and let’s face it, driving with a whining child in the back is nowhere near the top of anyone’s wish list… no matter how much you love them!
When flying, consider taking your baby for a walk up and down the cabin periodically. If they’re able to stand or walk on their own, then a stretch of legs could be a welcome relief for them (and you!)
If you are travelling by car, make sure your baby car seat is properly installed. Consider buying some removable window shades to keep the sun off them. Babies especially can get warm in their car seats and toddlers can be frustrated with the sun in their eyes.
If you have air conditioning (or you’re travelling on a plane) consider having a blanket to hand – whilst you may welcome a cool breeze at a very young age, your little one isn’t able to regulate their temperature as easily.
Keeping them fed and watered
Consider packing enough food, snack and drinks in case you’re delayed on your journey. Ready-made pouches can be a godsend when travelling, but don’t forget muslin cloths, baby wipes and spoons too.
If you’re flying and your baby is being breast or formula fed then it’s worth knowing that you’re allowed to take enough baby food, baby milk and sterilised water for the journey. There is no legal limit to how much you can take on board or in the hold. The following government website is worth checking for more details: https://www.gov.uk/hand-luggage-restrictions/baby-food-and-baby-milk
A new or a favourite toy, game or book can be a welcome distraction and reduce boredom on any journey. Tablets, music or portable DVD players also come into their own when travelling long distances with a baby or toddler. Even if you have strong views on screen-time for your little one, you may find yourself bending the rules as you approach the 4th traffic jam of your journey and the immortal “are we nearly there yet” gets muttered for the 12th time!
If you’re flying, your airline may offer some in-flight entertainment. It obviously differs from plane-to-plane, but most airlines have a webpage that details current films and tv shows available onboard. Check that there will be something suitable for your little one to engage with.
Even if you can tolerate a few cries from your little one, your fellow passengers will be grateful if you’re able to keep them to a minimum (which is easier said than done, we know!)
** Top Tip – Visit Google and start a search with “inflight entertainment” followed by the name of your airline and you’ll normally find a webpage showing the current inflight offerings.
Do I need to take a buggy?
It depends what you are planning to do on your break as to whether you need to take a buggy.
If your baby is under 6 months old consider taking your travel system or pram with a carrycot (as opposed to a stroller or pushchair). It is recommended that babies under 6 months lie flat.
If your baby is over 6 months then you have more options. It may be better to take a lightweight stroller that has a compact fold as it will take up less room in your car, on a plane or on public transport.
An alternative for all ages could be to take a baby sling or carrier and leave your pushchair at home. Baby slings and carriers enable you to move around easily, navigate stairs, and generally be faster and more nimble.
If you’re travelling by car and choose to take a buggy, make sure that it will fit in your car boot using our online tools at https://www.mybuggymycar.com/
If you’re flying then it’s worth contacting your airline before you travel. They’ll be able to offer the most up to date advice on the size of buggy allowed, whether it needs to go in the hold or can be taken into the cabin and whether it counts towards your baggage allowance. This article from Which? contains some great pointers.
Book a destination that is family-friendly
If you’re booking a holiday, try and choose a destination that’s likely to be family-friendly. A beach holiday, a family campsite, holiday park or similar can all offer child-friendly accommodation and entertainment. Unless you’re booking a private villa, you may find you enjoy your break more if you’re not the only family with young children; who hasn’t felt the stress or fear that your little one might decide to scream in the middle of a more formal event or setting!? Ensure your accommodation can cater for children. A couples retreat might not be the best option for a family holiday (for you or the other guests!)
Babies and toddlers do not like lots of changes and will struggle to adapt, settle, or sleep if you keep moving around on holiday. If you can, choose one destination and a simple way of getting there – it will make for a more enjoyable trip.
Check before you travel to make sure that your accommodation has a suitable bed or cot available. After a tiring day of travelling, to arrive at your hotel only to find nowhere for your baby to sleep is a nightmare, to say the least. If you know there isn’t one available you may wish to consider taking a Travel Cot or blowup mattress.
Think about other facilities you might need such as a high chair or baby bath. Again, check with your destination before booking. If there are none available, consider if you really need to take one. For example, consider if you would be comfortable sitting your baby on your knee or in their stroller to feed them? If there is no baby-bath could you wash your baby in the sink, or perhaps shower with them.
If you are weening, breastfeeding or bottle feeding you will need to think about whether you have access to kitchen facilities such as a kettle or fridge, perhaps a steriliser if using bottles and somewhere to wash up.
Many family-friendly locations have done the thinking for you, but it’s worth a call or email to them before you go so there are no surprises.
Travel as light as you can
Babies really don’t need as much as we’ve been led to believe they do (curse those marketing people!). After a couple of trips, you’ll start to recognise the things you can ditch versus those you can’t live without.
The lighter you travel, the easier your journey will be. There’s nothing more exhausting than hauling a load of luggage around that you don’t actually need.
Think about where you are travelling to and how you are getting there. If you are moving around and catching public transport travelling light is even more important.
If you’re flying it’s worth thinking about how you’re going to get to your accommodation when you land. Will you hire a car? If so, do you need to pre-book car seats or will you take one with you? Will your buggy fit in the hire-car boot? You can, of course, use our online tools at https://www.mybuggymycar.com/ if you know what make and model your hire car will be!
If you’re off on holiday and travelling by car, it can be very easy to overpack.
Of course, it can be entertaining to watch your other half try and fit the majority of your baby equipment in your car boot… but trust us, it’ll end in an argument when they realise they’ve forgotten to put that one last critical bag in.
Write yourself a list of absolute “must-haves” and try to resist the temptation for the “just in case” items. You’ll generally find most places on planet earth have shops, food and the ability to raise functioning humans… we’re sure you’ll cope!
It can be easier said than done but try letting go of expectations of what you’re going to do on your holiday. You are more likely to have a good time if you’re able to “go with the flow” – after all, when was the last time your little one did anything to plan!? Accept that if they have a routine at home, it’s going to change while you’re away.
We hope these tips help you make the most of your trip. Take opportunities when they arise but of course, always put your child’s needs first. If you can do this, you are all more likely to have a superb trip to remember!