…or…How to take the stress out of traveling with kids.
The prospect of traveling with small children can be enough to put even the most seasoned of travellers off the idea of long haul flights.
After three kids each and several trips back and forth to New Zealand and more, both Cat and I are seasoned travellers and mothers, who’ve picked up a trick or two along the way to make travelling with kids a bit easier.
“Stick to the mantra: “Less is more, LESS IS MORE!”, because when you’re halfway through the airport, you don’t want to juggle more than you need to!
I break into sweat at the memory of lugging a pram, a 2.5year old and a 6 month old through the airport halfway to New Zealand, with an impractical change bag, way too many clothes, nappies, wet wipes etc. etc.”,
“We’ve learnt the hard way, and now our advice is to leave it all behind and take only what you deem absolutely essential. Obviously, travel has become much easier for us now that our children are older, more independent and see flying as an opportunity to watch as many movies as they can back to back.”
Here are our absolute Top Tips for travelling with and packing for kids:
Carry On Counts
If you’re more organised than us, buying new sticker books or colouring in books in advance is a great start of the holiday treat, or you could just pick them up at the airport. The new adult colouring in books for mindfulness might even tempt older kids away from their movies and electronic devices.
Paw paw cream, Eight Hour cream or something similar for dry cheeks, bottoms and for that dehydrating aircon, it’s particularly tough on little ones’ skin
Wet wipes no need to say more!
Nappies and changes of clothes, we always allowed for one nappy for every 2-3 hours of flying plus a couple of babygrows…no need for fancy outfits! Now that our kids are older, they wear Smalls underneath and if going very long distance I always take fresh pants and socks for everyone. Even me!
Keep a small stash of chewy sweets in your bag for the inevitable popping ears on the way up and down
Taking drinks on board can be a bit trickier these days, but there’s no limit on how much food you can take with you. A small but perfectly formed supply of your kids’ favourite snacks is a winner all ‘round, if your kids are anything like ours or have allergies, they’re bound not to like the airline’s food! A friend of ours swears by a supply of those wrapped brioches in her kids’ carry on so they can tuck in when they feel like it.
For long haul flights, pack a nice soft pair of kids sized head phones. There’s nothing worse than spending the flight trying to prop a too big, uncomfortable pair of earphones
Pop a few balloons into your hand luggage. If you’re stuck waiting at the gate, there’s normally some space to run around. Blow up a balloon or two and let the kids have some fun. You can save the electronic devices for once you’re on the ‘plane and stuck in a seat. Once you’re called to the gate, you can either pop the balloons or pass on to other bored-looking kids!
Make sure your carry on bag isn’t too big or heavy and won’t land you at the physio for months afterwards! Once your kids are old enough, make sure they have their own backpacks which are easy to carry – we have recently given them each a Penny Skateboard Backpack – they are “cool” enough and have lots of useful pockets and fit on their backs really well, and mine!
And, if I had my baby time again, I would definitely get a Tiba + Marl leather baby bag; stylish, hands-free and good for the Dads! In fact I’m coveting one of their retro bum bags currently!
In Flight Comfort
Wearing comfortable layers whilst on a flight is a given nowadays. When Cat travelled to New Zealand with her three daughters earlier this year, she figured out dealing with travelling from one climate to another simply by dressing in layers, “The kids took one outfit each to travel in, dressed head to toe in Smalls, I knew they would be comfortable, and happy, taking them from the icy cold UK winter right through to toasty warm New Zealand and all the air conditioning in between! Total travel happiness.”
Pack Like A Pro
Pack Smart – My mother-in-law introduced me to a range of awesome packing cells, which you can get in lots of different sizes…. OK I’m a confessed packing nerd, but they are amazing for holidays with lots of people to muster. Instead of a bag full of chaos, you pull each child’s cells out which contain all their clothes – one for tops, one for pants, one for trousers etc.…it’s a game changer!
Get the basics right – As a rule, allow one t-shirt per two days you are away and max one trousers/shorts for the same time …just try and make outfits out of what you’ve packed so you can see one pair of shorts goes with several tops and so on. I promise you that even then, you won’t use it all. Add in two pairs of Pjs…. maximum, now that we have Smalls we just take one pair since they don’t smell, but we do take clean pants for each day!! Then you only need a couple of pairs of shoes: flip flops + trainers for summer or trainers + snow boots for skiing…it’s not a fashion show and all everyone wants is to get there, relax and not spend hours unpacking and repacking!!
Safety First – Always pack a basic travel first aid kit. I always end up using mine…particularly on a summer holiday! Someone always stubs a toe within the first hour of arrival
Use a Smalls sheepy bag tag to lock your bag (thread it through the loops on your zips) and identify it from all the other black wheelie bags rotating their way around the conveyor belt.
If travelling from winter to warmer climes, our advice is to leave the winter coats at home, brave those few steps from the car/train to the airport with a few layers that will be useful inflight and on your holiday like a pashmina and some Smalls! If that’s a step too far for you, then once you’re at the airport shove it into your luggage so it gets checked in and you can retrieve it at the other end when you collect your bags.
Packing for skiing can be complicated, but Smalls’ EJ has managed to get it down to a fine art, allowing for a base-layer set and normal cotton t-shirt for every two days of holiday, plus going out clothes, plus PJs and a couple of fleeces. Since we created Smalls, I’m struggling to pack properly because we don’t NEEEED all the “stuff” that we used to, now I sometimes overpack! My kids wear one Smalls base-layer set for the whole week…day and night. It seemed quite weird to begin with, but our merino is so soft and snuggly the kids are comfortable and it’s naturally antibacterial so never gets smelly
Don’t get too carried away getting stressed about going on a flight, I pack the night before we go and it takes a couple of hours. If you forget something, or if your child is a nightmare on the flight (we’ve all been there) it’s only for a short time… focus on the finish line, your eagerly awaited holiday!
Love EJ x