As a seasoned traveller, my wanderlust runs deep (from backpacking to business travel, I have circled the globe numerous times). Now as a mother of two, I am passionate about cultivating and passing along that love of travel to my children by placing an importance on collecting experiences, not things.
Our first son, Atticus, was conceived in Australia and when my husband and I found out we were expecting, we hatched a master plan to spend a paternity leave travelling Central and South America with our new babe. It was an unbelievable experience to have as new parents. We had the opportunity to expose Atticus to new cultures, cuisines, and customs, while we got to practice this whole parenting thing together as a team (in some foreign lands no less).
Fast forward five years and we’ve added another little boy (Archer Phineas) to our growing clan and have been on many more adventures together. Some of our most treasured memories have been made while on the road as a family. Below are some of our top tips for travelling with tots in tow. Is it easy? Hell no! But damn straight it’s rewarding.
- Getting There: Whether you are flying, driving or riding the rail, we operate on the same rule of thumb – a day of travel means there is a no rules – rule. Your ultimate goal is to arrive at your destination alive and sane. With that in mind, our philosophy is ‘anything goes’. Our normal rules about screen time, junk food and schedules go out the window. Whatever it takes – until we arrive at our final destination. Then it’s back to business!
- Purchase an international SIM card so you can stay connected via text and data without spending a fortune on international roaming fees. You can use it to find a local park, paediatrician or just to read restaurant reviews to ensure that adorable local bistro you spied will be welcoming/accommodating to children.
- I have a ‘bag-within-a-bag‘ theory. Some people call them packing cubes – but whatever you call them, they work like a dream! This way each category has a home base and you don’t have to rifle through everything in order to find your sunscreen/ski goggles, etc…You could also use the various sized cloth bags that come with shoes or purse purchases. Think of them like dresser drawers – organize them by family member or by category and then simply remove them from your suitcase, place them in a drawer at your destination and voila!
- Pack snacks, more snacks and back up snacks. This makes us sound like a family of gluttons but guess what? Snacking on nutritious food is not only for sustenance, it is also an activity that can kill time while on the road or in the air. Some of our favourite foods-on-the-go are dried fruit and nuts, crispy seaweed (you can buy it in packages so it feels like junk food), berries, veggie sticks, rice crackers with pumpkin butter or avocados. As long as you cut your snack fruit and veg up and put them in containers you should be allowed to bring it through customs – but always declare it just in case!
- Splurge on the best gear – our obvious choice of stroller is the Babyzen YOYO +. So much more than just a travel stroller, it has changed our mobility game! Not only is it ideal for public transportation and air/train travel, weighing less than 13 lbs and folding up small enough to fit in an overhead compartment. It also handles like a dream, fits in narrow passageways and elevators plus it delivers in the tetras-trunk packing department. For a family on the move, this could be the only stroller you need to buy.
- While hotel living is a wonderful treat, sometimes it can be more relaxing to rent a house or apartment. That way you can maintain your routines around sleeping and mealtime. We love browsing Kid & Coe for all the amazing kid-friendly properties across the globe. It’s so nice to feel like a local while visiting a new city plus having access to the homeowners baby/kid gear makes it easy to pack light. I liken it to the ultimate play date where the host isn’t around to share the toys with and you get to stay for an extended period of time. Win win!
- Survival kit: These are some of the items I never leave home without when travelling with tots:
– A lint roller comes in handy for picking up crumbs left in your airline seat or at restaurants, and also takes care of glitter, Cheerios and any other droppings a toddler leaves in his or her wake.
– Make a distract-a-bag: Fill a toddler-size backpack with special snacks (packets of dried seeds, dried fruit, cereal), a water bottle (flimsy airline cups are forever being knocked over), toys they haven’t seen in a while, simple crafts or colouring projects and a few new toys. When they get to the brink of a breakdown or just need a new distraction, pull something else out of the bag.
- Keep your itinerary light & loose: The less expectation and pressure you place on yourself and your travelling tot(s), the more flexible you can be in the moment. Toddlers require routine and as a general rule, we try to keep things like naps, mealtime and bedtime similar to an ordinary day at home. When we’re on the road we usually only plan one activity per day (this might be an excursion, an activity or a museum visit). If we can add in something else, by all means we will, but if the natives start getting restless, breakdowns are inevitable – and this we prefer to avoid at all costs!