I have lots of friends who have travelled Europe with me, who then went home to start a family.  The travel bug still bites even when the babies arrive.  Here are the tips they find indispensable when travelling with little ones.

 

Sara:

It depends on the age of the children and their routines, but I prefer to fly really early so the kids can sleep on the flight. Make sure the child drinks or sucks on a dummy on take off and landing so their ears pop, and bring snacks, drinks and toys. If the child likes any songs/videos bring them on your phone. If on a long flight, include songs/videos on an iPad, laptop, play station and anything else to make sure there’s enough battery life between all of them to last the whole flight. I also bring colouring books and crayons. My kids love that.

It’s also wise to bring a baby carrier as you leave the buggy at the entrance of the plane and you need to carry the baby and any hand luggage and coats all the way to baggage collection.

When children are little and two can fit in a single bed, sometimes you can have a triple room instead of a family room. We have done that many times in Spain and UK. We always put the mattress on the floor as our youngest does fall out of bed all the time.

 

Christine:

We recently spent 3 weeks travelling around the states with our 10 month old and took our own 3 kg Phil and Ted’s travel cot. It meant we had a clean bed for him everywhere we went and didn’t have to pay exorbitant charges for a dirty cot to eventually be brought to our room, long after bub needed to go to sleep. I second the baby carrier – a good one such as a Boba (wrap that holds baby close to your body) to look after your back.

Bring Grandma! Awesome nighttime babysitter and the holiday opportunity of a lifetime for her, if she’s not confident travelling overseas on her own! We also booked flights that meant our little one got a good sleep before or just as we commenced our long flight. Cheap quiet toys for travel were great too. If they got lost it wasn’t a big worry

 

Steven:

It helps if they’re old enough to understand what’s happening. My daughter is two now (I know, what?!) and we are currently travelling the USA. Eight months ago she struggled on flights, but now she loves it.

Karla:

I find you always make friends with fellow parent flyers while hanging out exercising children in the aisles. It makes for a more interesting flight. Make a note with the airline before you fly that your kid has food allergies (my kid actually does), it means they get their special meal served first!

Emma:

We do every thing from camping, to flights to weekends away. Having only one 6 yr old child makes it easier.

Make them responsible for some things. Hugo has to pack his toy bag and undies. He helps pack his bag and he has a small suitcase on 4 wheels that he can push / pull along, as well as a backpack. They are his responsibility. He also checks that his stuff is packed when we are checking out; yet to lose anything!

Pack clothing in packing cubes, there is no digging in suitcases! Everything fits in orderly.

Pack snack foods: a small container & small slip lock bags work best. We might visit a supermarket early on for nuts, fruit, crackers; then he munches as he wants with no I am hungry comments. The bags go into his backpack along with s couple of small water bottles. I also found staying in hotels that offer a free breakfast mean being able to make a sneaky sandwich, or cut-up fruit to pack for the day.

The cut up fruit proved to be invaluable when we where on a very early flight from Vanuatu. The hotel had supplied a muffin pasty style breakfast, but we filled his container with fruit. Once we got to the airport, there was a one hour check in time, due to lots of others trying get on the same flight, as it was the last commercial flight before cyclone Pam’s arrival. Hugo was happily munching and sharing his fruit with others, while I was stressing.

Give the kids a camera. Maybe he is  the proud producer of a 5 minute video of a fly walking across the table, but we have photos of things I didn’t pick up on.

Involve them in the planning. When we check in to our hotel, we check out the tourist information and Hugo will pick an activity that we will do. The result is that you visit places you might never think about, like a tank museum. For finding accommodation, TripAdvisor & Expedia are pretty good with comments. The hotel location we chose depends on where we are and planned must do activities!

Small toys to keep them entertained, in cars, trains and planes. iPods are great, but also playing Eye-spy means you look around and take in more of your surroundings. Bring sticker books and maze books that can be replaced along the way.

Plan down time. Visit the park, pool play and RV watching occasionally. I also will make use of kids clubs. Travelling as a single parent, you can then interact with other adults. If it’s an activity that’s craft based, they want parents to join in.

 

Hanna:

Boob or bottle on take off, esp landing. Pack a small pack to entertain the kids: books, drawing, electronic devices etc. & pack food & drinks – I used lollies & chips! I know it sounds unhealthy, but it’s only for the flight and it worked also talk to the children about ‘plane etiquette’ before the flight & keep reinforcing it!

Nadine:

We made a point of planning a schedule that included something fun for our boy. If it wasn’t a big adventurous day like Legoland or Disneyland, we made sure we found a local park or playground to balance out the fun factor of the travel schedule.

We also looked for hotels that had lobby play areas or positioned near parks or playgrounds. The lobby play areas were great! It helped adults have breakfast or a cup of coffee in peace, while my son played and made new friends, in eye’s view.

As much as food cuisine is exciting to experiment with when in a new country, keep food as familiar as possible for kids. We found being able to stay somewhere where we could cook our own meals every few days while travelling really helped.

 

 

Sarah:

We travel regularly now with children – we loved travelling before kids and didn’t let them stop us, we now include them! We are heading to NYC, DC and Florida in 2 weeks.
My biggest tip is start when they are young so it becomes familiar.
Tips for flights: allow your normal rules to go! Accept that there will be lots of screen time – iPads or in-flight TV, lots of snacks and don’t forget something to remind them of home/bed. We always take one favourite blanket and teddy each on the plane.
A spare change of clothes for all of you comes in handy too, as you never know who might start feeling sick or not make it to the toilet in time!

Heath:

We don’t use hotels any more. We camp. Normally at caravan parks with children’s activities , playgrounds and pools. To keep the kids entertained on the drive there the have a few Dvds to watch. When we go out for dinner we chose family friendly restaurants and leagues clubs that generally have a playground. The kids run riot then come back and eat, then go play again. Our next trip will be hard as we may hit a Disneyland somewhere, or try and do a family friendly trip elsewhere. I am missing the freedom of no kids but I would never give them up. They are now my life even tho they suck every little of energy and patience out of me.

**You can easily rent a car and camp throughout Europe.  Western campsites are very well equipped and family friendly. (notably: France, Germany, Holland, Austria and Switzerland). 

Julie:

I haven’t taken the plunge of travelling with our toddler yet, but I’ve had a lot of people tell me not to take your good stroller/pram as they have a pretty good chance of getting wrecked on the flight. So buy a nice light cheapie, or even better, buy one when you get there.

Kate:

Pack a change of clothes or two on the flight, in case of mess or illness. Bring your own plastic bags as some airlines have no sick bags on board and it might be too late before they can find anything suitable. Pack baby wipes for any messes. Peppermint essential oil is good for nausea too. Pack a couple of snacks just in case. Make sure you have in-flight entertainment for them.

Book an infant their own seat if you can afford it. For night flights, pack their pyjamas and teddies. Make sure you know how to get to your hotel at the destination. Give older kids some local currency of their own so the learn about different money. Get them the local travel pass when you arrive. Always pack water and a snack on day trips.

Accommodation with kids can be tricky as they go to bed before you do. We try for two room accommodation – we found an awesome family suite at the YMCA Hong Kong for example. It costs more, but was worth it. In Australia we stay in cabins in caravan parks as they have two bedrooms. Apartments and holiday houses can be good too, for the right price. I search on Stayz website for apartments and houses. My kids love travel whether by plane or car.

When driving, we make lots of stops in parks and playgrounds to keep active and limit it to 500 kms per day. We do activities they would enjoy at the destination. We found a bike hire place and 15 km bike path in Hong Kong and the kids loved that experience. Our kids enjoy being immersed in a different culture. It creates a sense of adventure. Researching the destination and looking for child centred activities on the internet, really helps plan the trip.                                                                                       

McDonald make a good cheap breakfast anywhere in the world and have coffee for the parents. You can also get good local food at supermarkets for lunches and dinners.

Don’t keep them up late every night or they will get exhausted. Try to work around their timetable as much as possible. A decent sleep makes all the difference.

Make sure you discuss how to stick together in a big city and what to do if they got lost. Keep your eyes on them and hold hands in crowded areas.

 

Jenny:

You and/or your children wear bright florescent runners/trainers. It makes it easy to spot each other in a crowd if you get momentarily separated.

**I imagine you could wear florescent socks for the same effect.

John:

Our son, not even 5 years old, has been to many countries now. One tip we found, was upon checking in, ask for seats at the back of the plane, and see if they can block out an extra seat, so the little one can sleep. Also get in early and ask for kids meals on the plane. Also for small kids in hotels, a fold out cot is better to prevent them falling out of bed and it’s lower to the ground. Just a few tricks we have learnt.

Scot:

Leave them at home, its adult play time.