Those days in transit… The days with endless hours in airports, in flights, at bus stations, immigrations etc. The days you wish you had a timemachine to transfer you from home to the destination within the glimpse of an eye…
Well, some may feel that way, but honestly, I don’t. I love transit days and I always have. It’s the process I love. Knowing that I’m moving from A to B and that hundreds of other people are also moving. Where are they going? What is their story? I find it fascinating and enjoyable to move. Even with my 2-year old as a travel companion.
During this trip we have had aprox. 24 days in transit so far (during the past 7 months). That makes it almost an entire month with either busses, flights, shuttles or boats every single day. And I’m not talking about a little bus trip to the beach here, I’m talking moving with luggage, stoller, kid, husband , backpacks and all…
And so far they have all been great. Every single one of them. Honestly, they have.
I know that not many people feel the same way, so I thought I’d share my 8 best tips for travelling with a toddler, because great travel days are actually possible.
Here we go:
Tip #1 Always underpack
This is the most important tip for a successful day in transit. Waiting in line, walking from one terminal to another, changing busses, getting into taxis, rental cars you name it. It’s all a piece of cake if you don’t carry 100 kilos with you. Seriously, unless you are a fashion blogger and need three different outfits a day for your shoots, then nobody needs to carry 23 kilos of luggage per person. Pack ligt, re-use your clothes, buy a light weight towel, leave the flat iron for the hair at home (you won’t use it for your salty beach hair anyway) and try to travel with hand luggage only. We have just been 10 days in Guatemala (read about it here) with hand luggage only and it was amazing. So so so easy and comfortable!
Tip #2 Plan well
Good flight deals are often the early morning flights. “Great offer to Barcelona only 55€ at 6 a.m.”. Sure a nice deal is great, but if the nice deal includes waking up my family at 3 a.m. in order to be at the airport 2 hours prior to departure, then the money saved are wasted.
Try to plan flights, busses etc during the kid’s naptime. Then the transfer is more pleasant for everyone. Try not to mix up the routines too much by traveling super early or super late.
And plan well, so you arrive to the airport, station or whatever other place you’re departing from hours in advance. Once you’re there and have passed security you can relax, play with the kid, eat or whatever you feel like. Just never stress through. It isn’t fun for no one if changing a diaper is a question of arriving late to the flight or not.
And change your mindset about waiting time from “we’re just waiting here at the airport” to “we’re enjoying these hours till our flight departs at the airport playground – could as well have been in a park”.
Tip #3 Bring snacks. Lots of snacks
If kids are cranky, they are either tired or hungry. At least 90% of the time. So having food on hand is the most important thing when travelling with kids (in my opinion). Cucumber sticks, red pepper, crackers, berries, raisins (those small packages where the child spends 20 minutes just getting them all out, are brilliant when travelling). We almost always bring a chocolate milk for those last 30 minutes when he starts getting bored or annoyed. That’s the life saver.
Tip #4 research for food options in advance
“Oh, I’m sure we’ll just find something to eat there…” Does this sound familiar? Years back it would have been me, but now I always check the food options beforehand. A crabby sandwich from a vending machine at a bus station can really make a good day bad, so I like to be prepared. Is there somewhere we can eat lunch/dinner or is it better to bring sandwiches from home? Not having planned the meals with kids is a first class ticket to hell.
Tip #5 Prep well for security
Security in the airports… this is where you spot the pro-travellers and the newbies.
We always pack all electronic devices and liquids in one bag, so when we arrive, we only have to open that one bag. I have seen families pulling out iPads, liquids, laptops from five different backpacks, making sure that everyone else was in line for a great deal of time (and those tiny humans crying “don’t take my iPaaaad…”). When traveling with small kids, then collect everything that need to be pulled out in one bag, so there’s no stress about opening every family member’s bag. Once you’re through security hand everyone their respective iPads, liquids etc again.
10 days in Guatemala with hand luggage only. We carry a backpack each (Lasse’s is a maximum cabin size from Tortuga Backpacks and mine is a small regular backpack). I carry our jackets in the bag on my arm. This is one of the crucial tips when travelling with a toddler; down-sizing!
Tip #6 Buy/rent a bring-to-the gate stroller
When travelling with a toddler, then forget everything about bringing your deluxe stroller from home. Invest in a small travel buggy that can be taken to the gate. It is a million times more convenient to have your child in a stroller than in your arms/holding hands.
We traveled with a Baby Jogger City Mini GT the first couple of months and I would not recommend it. It is a great stroller and is brilliant during the day (much better than the smaller ones), but for travel days it was so annoying having to detach all parts, pack it in the respective travel bag and check it in. An umbrella stroller is way better. We bought one second hand a couple of months ago and regret we didn’t do it earlier. We have the Chicco Liteway and are very happy with it, though I also believe that the popular Babyzen Yoyo is a great option.
Tip #7 Make sure all electronics are fully charged
Doh, this is obvious, and even so I forget it a lot of times. Nothing more frustrating than having your boarding cards on a phone that’s about to run out of battery. Or having your 2-year old watching YouTube knowing that he’ll be upset a few minutes later when battery runs out. I am bad a remembering this, but luckily my husband always makes sure that everything is fully charged for our days on the road.
Tip #8 Watch your attitude
We all know that children find comfort in their parents. How are we feeling? Or at least, what are we expressing? Stress, nervous or all chilled? Show that you are all comfy and don’t stress. One of the best tips when travelling with a toddler, is simply that you decide that you’ll have a great time travelling. Say to yourself that the three hours on the plane will be nice (even if they turn out the opposite, just get into it with a positive mind). Embrace it and let your child know that he/she is about to have an exciting day by bus, plane, car, train.
And remember that practice makes perfect. First couple of times might not be fun, but the more you travel, the better you get at it. Like everything else in life 🙂