Luke and I have traveled extensively before our kiddos came to join the party, often traveling with just a backpack and/or carry-on luggage. As you can imagine, that all changed with now two boys in tow. Ultimately we still try to travel with just carry-on and gate-checked luggage, however we know that this is not always possible.
In the last year or so, however, we’ve started to learn a little more about what works for us and what doesn’t. We’re still learning new tips and tricks along the way, but for now, we’re happy to share a few items that we have found helpful:
We bought this Baby Jogger City Tour stroller when we took Micah to Asia last year. It packs up super small - it can even fit in the overhead bin on the plane. The case it comes with also has backpack straps so that you can carry it hands-free when not in use.
This was a new discovery for me, and I am in love! The Shrunks Toddler Bed was a breeze to set up and packs up super small. It only took ⅓ out of our carry-on suitcase! I much prefer this over pack n’ plays because it fits into our luggage and is one less item to lug around. The best part? It also comes with its own travel pump!
We recently discovered the Boppy ComfyFit Baby Carrier. It is made of stretchy yoga pants-like fabric, has a supportive waist belt, and packs super small. My favourite carrier (after having tried several types) is for sure the Ergo, however I find that it is a little clunky to travel with. So for travel days, we are going to go with the Boppy. 😀
We travel to visit Luke’s family quite often and we’re grateful for loving grandparents who bought their own car seat so that we wouldn’t have to drag ours around whenever we visit. (If you can convince your family to do the same, we recommend this!) 😉
When we traveled to the Philippines, we did as the locals do: no car seats! Micah sat on laps and was passed from one family member to another during a 12-hour road trip. For future trips, we plan on renting car seats upon arrival.
If we’re only gone for 2-3 days, I pack my own baby soap, lotion and toothpaste because you can’t really buy these in that small a quantity. However, any longer than those 3 days, I’d just buy the essentials locally.
As for meals, Micah is at an age now where he's usually okay eating off our plates during meals. On travel days, I still pack some formula for him and then just give him store-bought homo milk the rest of the days. I like using these disposable bottles and liners when traveling because that reduces the need for washing bottles.
Documenting your trip:
I used to travel with a couple of notebooks, a polaroid, travel-themed stickers, several rolls of washi tape and even a travel watercolour kit. As you guessed, this is no longer part of my packing list now with kids in tow. Most often Luke and I use our phones to capture memories. We also love using our Fuji x100T camera.
A few travel tips when flying long haul with kids:
Keep ‘em busy.
A quick trip to the dollar store never hurt nobody. Stickers, tattoos, colouring books, etc. Anything small and distracting. Don’t bring it all out at once -- stagger new, exciting surprises throughout the trip.
Screen time helps.
I know some parents have staunch rules about screen time, but sometimes a few minutes of the Wiggles go a long way. Try to get headphones too so that no one else needs to listen to all the kiddy songs.
Ask for a bassinet.
If you’re flying with an infant under one year old, some airlines provide bassinets that attach onto the plane so that baby can sleep a little more comfortably. It also doubles as a fun little play area for when baby is awake. Phone your airline ahead of time and ask if they have this service available.
The bonus is that you’ll be seated in the bulkhead section because this is where the bassinet needs to be attached. Lucky for us, for our 10-hour flight back from Taipei to Vancouver, we had an entire row to ourselves. This perk was available for us for our Asia trip (Micah was 8 months old), but not for our New York trip (Micah was 11 months old), so best to connect with your airline to see if it’s possible.
Use your stroller as a buggy in the airport.
If your kids can walk, ask them to walk. Not only will it burn off energy (with high hopes of them falling asleep in-flight!), it allows your arms/back a little bit of reprieve.
Pack your own car seat and stroller bags.
You can get these for cheap on Amazon so that you won’t have to rely on whether or not the airline will provide those ultra-large bags to house your stuff.