Traveling with a child does not have to be difficult at all. All you need to do is prepare yourself well. If you do it right, your family trip will be a great adventure for both you and your little explorer! Basing on our example, we started our journeys in small steps - at first, we went out of town for a few days and gradually expanded the time and distance. These first small expeditions allowed us to observe what is important for us and our daughter, what things are necessary and what things aren’t, and eventually, what is most important, when it is worth to mobilize all our strength and when we should let it go.
So far, our biggest expeditions with Laura, 11 months old at the time, was Bali and Singapore and then USA and Mexico at age 2. We have never flown with our daughter before, so we had to take the risk of a long flight right away. We managed to survive it very well, but I will describe it in the next lines. Check out my list of simple but effective hints on how to travel with your child without getting tired.
Travel during your child's nap time
Try to choose a time of flight or other means of transport, so that it takes place while your child is usually taking a nap. It is also a good idea to travel at night. In our case, it was the best solution to take the evening flight to Singapore. Our daughter fell asleep before the plane took off and we had a very peaceful flight. It was hard for me to believe how smooth it went.
It's also important to follow your child's mealtime schedule and, as far as possible, adapt to your everyday habits. For children, the routine is really important and gives them a sense of security. For us, parents, it allows us to control our journey, at least a little bit.
Just be prepared
It is always better to be prepared for different circumstances because you never know what will happen during the journey. There are some basics, such as packing food and drink. It is really helpful to take your child's favorite snacks with you. Your “must-have” is such a supply of food that will allow you to meet the needs of the child, even during an extended journey. It is well known that there are flight delays, car breakdowns, etc. It is also worth packing an extra T-shirt for change, in the case your child gets dirty.
A good bag is crucial
Basing on my personal experience, I can recommend a large capacious bag with many compartments or just a backpack. The backpack is more comfortable, gives you freedom of movement and free hands.
Thanks to such mat you can swaddle your child in any situation, even in the car. What is important, changing mats available in public toilets usually are not clean, so I strongly recommend you to use your own mat.
Always have a baby blanket with you
No matter the weather, even if it's a hot day, you should have a blanket (even a thin one) with you. Perhaps it is going to be cold in the airplane or in air-conditioned shopping malls. Even if your child falls asleep, it is always nice to wrap her in a nice blanket. When we were in Singapore (where was really hot) and Laura fell asleep outside in a stroller and woke up in a heavily air-conditioned restaurant - a thin blanket turned out to be irreplaceable, because even covering just the baby’s shoulders can be a great help.
Try to keep baby busy
It is obvious that children get bored quickly, and then they become grumpy. So it's worth taking your baby’s favorite toys with you or something new, which will interest the child. Sound books or books with interactive elements worked well in the case of our nearly one-year-old Laura. In addition, small mascots that can fit in hand luggage. During the flight, Laura was interested in almost everything - from a disposable cup through seatbelts to co-passengers, what was a nice surprise for me. Thanks to her interests in the surroundings, the entertainment during shorter flights was provided without any of our efforts. For older children, I recommend magnetic puzzles, which can be placed on a small board, as well as coloring books, stickers, play doh and of course books.
A tablet can be also helpful in some cases. Remember to download your child’s favorite games, music, and cartoons before leaving.
How to deal with earache during the flight
Parents are very concerned that during take-off and landing their children are exposed to earache due to changes in pressure. It often leads to tears and irritability in toddlers. That is why you should make sure that your child has something to swallow. In the case of infants, it is best to breast feed or give her some water to drink. If the child does not want to drink, you can give her a soother or a snack.
Snacks, snacks, and more snacks
Snacks are not only important for satisfying hunger, but they can also be an attraction while traveling. A good example is when you give your child a lollipop, which she doesn’t get on a daily basis. Imagine what a joy it will be for your child when she can have her favorite candy. I also recommend cookies (e.g. in the shape of animals) packed in small bags. It is also good to bring some fruit with you. For packing I would avoid large boxes, it is worth repacking snacks into small bags or boxes to save space in the bag.
I hope the above tips will help you and make you less stressed when traveling with your child, because a stressed parent means a stressed child. Try to relax, because you are going on a trip together, which will be an unforgettable adventure. Probably not everything will go according to your plan, but the most important thing is a positive attitude. Off you go!