It doesn’t matter whether it’s your first trip with your first child, or your fifth trip with your five children: traveling with a child is always special. What to put in the suitcase? How to get to this place? Questions among many others that you will necessarily ask yourself.
Here are a few tips to help you prepare and keep your family vacation from becoming a nightmare. We have listed 25 key points to remember when traveling with a child. Some are for babies, others for older children. And still, others are for you.
1. Get Started!
Even if the idea of traveling with a child may seem completely crazy, tell yourself that you will get there, that you will survive, and even that you will enjoy it!
2. Go Easy
Maybe you used to rush out of the plane, and out of the airport, jump in a taxi or take these secret shortcuts to go faster, but those days are over. Sit back and take the time, let the others run around you, go easy!
3. Don’t Overload Yourself
Remember that you will find almost everything at your destination, yes, even abroad. Ok, you probably won’t buy your favorite brands, but you will get by, don’t worry! Ecological layers are sometimes difficult to find, however. Take a test at home with a classic brand to make sure your little one is not allergic.
4. Hotel or Vacation Rental?
The hotel is great because it offers a whole bunch of services like cleaning, restaurant, babysitting, etc. But the advantage of a vacation rental is that it feels like home, you can cook there which can be convenient for children. It is a personal choice to take the time to think about.
5. Book Smart
If you choose a hotel, take your time before booking. You may have stayed at this property before and loved it, but think about it. Was your room upstairs with no elevator? Were there many steps? What was a paradise for two may be a nightmare with a child and a stroller!
6. Mark Them and Track Them Down!
If you are worried that your children will get lost, you can sew labels on their clothes with your names and phone number. This way, the person who finds them will be able to contact you easily. Investing in a GPS is also a good idea. Attach it to your child’s wrist or bag and follow it via an app on your smartphone.
7. Swimming Pool or Sea?
Even if you choose a seaside destination, make sure there is also a swimming pool. Many children love the sea, but your little one may not be. The swimming pool is ideal for the little ones, to refresh, wade, and let off steam.
8. Stroller or Baby Carrier?
A classic dilemma when traveling with children, and there is no universal answer. It all really depends on where you are planning to go. Will the streets be paved or difficult to pass? Will it be hot and humid? What is your child used to?
The right compromise seems to be to take a light stroller. They are ideal for traveling and can sometimes even be accepted as hand luggage. They can be used as an extra bed for the afternoon nap and roll on most terrains.
9. Car Seat or Not?
Some swear by them, others think that it is completely crazy to walk around with something so cumbersome for the short time they will use it. They require an additional seat on the plane, and are rather bulky but on the other hand allow you to install your child in any rental car. If you plan to take some, prefer to take a model that fits on the stroller, like the cozy, it will always be that.
10. Pack Your Bags
The diaper bag will count as hand luggage, be sure to put everything you need: diapers and wipes, spare clothes, cookies … A little sugar water or fruit juice can also help withstand the pressure during takeoff and landing. Diaper bags, toys, headphones, a tablet, and extra batteries.
11. Baby Food
Many airports allow you to take milk and baby food in containers larger than 100 ml. They may be opened and checked, but in conditions that prevent contamination. However, check with the airports you are going to frequent, just in case.
12. Plan Your Flights Well
Try to book your flights at bedtime. Evening flights are often more expensive, but traveling with a sleeping child is still easier. For everyone ! And if you have connections, make sure there is enough time between flights, you don’t want to run through an unknown airport with your children!
Try to make the trip part of your vacation as much as possible. Take your time and take advantage of a stopover to relax, refresh, eat a bite, a toy, and prepare for the next flight. And don’t forget that to find the cheapest flight, it is advisable to book 53 days in advance.
13. Research Your Destination
If you are breastfeeding, it might be useful to check on Google whether or not it is possible to breastfeed in public where you are going. It is possible in most countries, but in some, it is better to hide. And in case you have any doubts about it, you just have to just ask.
14. Find Out!
It is valid before and during the trip. Does your baby need a visa? What vaccine do you and your child need? Do you need to take medicines, such as those for malaria? You might as well avoid unpleasant surprises!
15. What Seat on the Plane?
Some companies will not give you a choice when traveling with a child: you will be placed where there are extra oxygen masks. However, this is not the case for all companies, do not hesitate to ask the question at the time of booking and to think before choosing your location.
Sitting in the back of the plane means you will disturb fewer people. You can get up, use the kitchen, and have the toilet nearby. Be aware, however, that the seats do not always recline and that the place may be noisier.
In the middle, you can use the seats located in front of the partitions and therefore have more room for the legs, but also for playing. Not to mention the possibility of having a pelvis if the company offers it. However, in that case, you will have to give up storage under the seat in front of you.
The front is identical to the rear, except for the kitchen which is generally smaller and more often occupied. Another point to think about and which depends on the age of the child is: porthole or hallway? Is it better to be stuck or be able to move easily?
You could do some kind of dress rehearsal: pack your bags and go to the airport, or as far as you can. The airports are big and noisy, your child could be taken aback the first time, so it’s a matter of getting them used to it. You could also plan to go on weekends, with a domestic flight, to see how your child supports this type of trip.
17. Low-cost Flight, Interesting?
This may have been the case when traveling as a couple, but now that you are with your family, remember that low-cost flights often land at secondary airports, which means that additional travel time will be required to reach your destination. It might be worth it to avoid the low cost and pay a little more for more comfort and tranquility (not to mention the fact that the price difference is often minimal when you have to add the cost of transporting the secondary airport in the city center)
18. Register Online
Try to reduce the time spent in queues once at the airport. Remember to check-in online, all you have to do is check-in your luggage and go through security. There is often a “family” area at the security level, take advantage of it!
19. Get Ahead
Reduce the time in the queues, yes. Run, no. Leave your home well ahead of time, and if you arrive too early at the airport, there are often play areas where you can exhaust your children before the flight. The less energy they have once in the air, the quieter you will be!
20. What Could Go Wrong?
Think before you go about what could go wrong and what the solutions would be. In case you miss your flight for example. Anticipating and preparing mentally makes it possible to better manage situations and avoid crises!
21. Explain the Trip
If your child is flying for the first time, discuss this with them. Tell him what’s going to happen, and when it’s going to happen, when to fasten his seatbelt, why, etc. Most children think that flying is great, so take advantage and encourage him to do so. It is an adventure after all!
22. Prepare, But Not Too Much
Ok, your kids need to be prepared, but your trip doesn’t have to be fully regulated. Rather than booking for a dozen excursions, list them, or save them in an app.
23. Passenger Assistance
Find out if your company or the airport offers passenger assistance. This is not the case everywhere, but most will help you as much as possible, from boarding to arrival. If you are traveling with more than one child, or alone with a child, or if you are completely panicked, these services could save your life!
24. Stay Calm
If your child chooses the worst time to turn into a screaming monster, take a deep breath, and try to stay calm.
25. Take Advantage
Prepare in advance, pack your bags, and remember that the trip is part of the vacation. Also, think that everything will be fine and that you are supposed to have fun!