If you’re taking your children with you for the first time, you should know this: traveling with children can make your journey more stressful than exciting, especially with little ones. Just imagine a toddler who doesn’t want to be strapped into his seat, screaming for a way out throughout your 5-hour plane ride. Or you run out of formula on the final hour of your journey and your baby won’t stop crying.
The good news is, you can always be prepared. Here are things to bring with you to make traveling with toddlers less scary than it sounds:
Basic supplies and back-ups. Take along anything you would typically bring in your diaper bag, plus some extras: Baby wipes, diapers, pacifiers, feeding bottles, formula, snacks, baby food, drink supplies, change of clothes, medicines, plastic bags – and bring more than you would normally take if you were just out for a day trip. Even if it’s just for a short plane ride, you never know when you might need extras.
Entertainment items and activities. One of the toughest challenges when traveling with children is keeping them entertained. An iPad or a smartphone with pre-downloaded children’s videos and apps is our favorite item. Make sure it’s fully charged, and bring a charger or power bank and headphones so your kids won’t disturb other passengers. Other alternative items are sticker sets, coloring pads and pens, small board books (ideally the interactive ones), and new toys that aren’t bulky.
Travel gear and equipment. Depending on the age of your children, it’s a good idea to take the following: a baby carrier or sling (my personal life-saver), an all-around light stroller (especially a compact one that you can store on the plane’s luggage cabin), and a car seat or pushchair combo (if your destination country is strict about this and you don’t want to rent one).
Additional optional items. Depending on your needs, you can also bring the following: breastfeeding wrap; portable travel potty; your kids’ favorite toy or blanket (and bring extras in case it gets really cold on board); baby sleeping bag; travel bottle sterilizer; and a small cool bag or insulated bag to store baby food.
One important thing to remember is that while you can come prepared, you can’t fully control everything. So, if disaster strikes, just take a deep breath and don’t let it ruin your precious family trip!
JK Legaspi is a freelance writer and mom of two toddlers. She also runs the blog empoweredmomsathome.com.