After spending more than 200 nights away from home since becoming parents just a few years ago, we have come to realize that we actually don’t need much in the way of travel-specific gear. What we recommend is that you consider choosing gear that will serve you well not only in your day to day life, but also in your travels.
GETTING SOME REST
For parents of young children, there isn’t much that ranks higher than getting a good night of sleep and often the key for our own sleep, is getting those kids to sleep.
- Creating a consistent sleep environment is the key to success so we recommend using the same travel bed every time your child is sleeping away from home whether its at grandmas or halfway around the world. Knowing its a fairly big ticket item and that we intended to travel as much as possible with our kids, we spent hours upon hours researching travel cribs and portacots when I was pregnant. The Pack n Play would be far too bulky and other pod-style alternatives seemed on the small side and therefore too time-limited. Then we found our winner. Marketed as “the only travel crib that’s lighter than the baby” the Traveller by Phil & Teds lives up to all its claims. It weights 6lbs compared and we even invested in a second one once our second daughter arrived since our oldest was still using it at 3.5 years old!
- Have an older kiddo? We recommend The Shrunks Inflatable Travel Beds. They fold up small, are fairly quick to inflate and don’t take up much space.
- Whether you are at home or off adventuring, sound machines equal sound sleep. We have tried many options over the years from apps, to the Sleep Sheep and even just bringing our sound machine from home with us. Each one had something that didn’t quite work for us whether it was timer-restrictions or incompatibility with international voltage (even when used with a converter). So, after a few years of trial and error, we finally found our top solution. The Marpac Rohm White Noise Sound Machine. The Marpac Rohm has a continuous mode so it will run all night, is super small but still has great volume, and will support international voltage when plugged into an adaptor.
Bonus Travel Sleep Tips:
- Try and recreate the home sleep environment to the best of your ability. We always bring along sleepsacks, sound machines and one stuffed animal for comfort.
- If you are going to allow kids to sleep with a stuffed animal, strategically encourage one that is small and compact so that it is easily brought along on all your travels without requiring much additional space. Teeny Ty Beanie Babies are our personal favourites!
Being properly equipped to get around comfortably and conveniently with your kids during your travels is non-negotiable for us. Take it from the people who went against their better judgement and brought the umbrella stroller with them to Greece and had all 4 tires fall apart after only 24 hours. You don’t want to cut corners in this department.
- For us, a travel stroller needs to do more than simply be a spot to rest tired little legs and move children between destinations. Our top pick is the Phil & Teds Sport Stroller – an active inline stroller that is extremely light, narrow and can convert to a double stroller if needed. It can be used for family jogs, holds up in rough terrain and has a good deal of stowage capacity for anything we want to carry around during the day. Make sure to invest in the sun and rain covers that fold up small and ensure your kiddos are protected from the elements. Yes, its a bit bigger than the conventionally promoted “travel strollers” but for us, the convenience of having a stroller that meets our needs when we travel outweighs any inconvenience.
- In our experience, the most versatile and functional type of baby carrier for travel is a soft and structured carrier. There are a number of options available but our favourite is the LÍLLÉbaby Ergo Complete. It is washable, has lumbar support, a sun cover and a long life-span. We have used ours from the time our babes were infants all the way through the toddler years.
- Want to preserve the lifespan of your carrier even longer, invest in some reversible “suck pads” which cover the parts of your carrier that babe is most likely to put in their mouth. Not only does it protect your investment, it also means that you can ensure your baby isn’t putting “overhead cabin” or “muddy trunk” in their mouth.
- The recommended (and safest) in-flight seating option for babies and toddlers is to purchase a seat for your child and to install and use a car seat. However, this is not always feasible. At times, cost is an issue. Other times, it may not make sense to bring a car seat if it will only been used on the flight and you will be relying entirely on public transit for your trip and moving locations often.
- An alternative if your child is over a year old and weighs between 22 and 44lbs, is the CARES Kid Fly Safe Harness. We have used the harness several times and have had good experiences with it. The harness helps to keep your child in place, is an added layer of safety, and helps reduce the temptation to undo their seatbelt.
Traveling is amazing. Traveling with your kids is amazing. It can also be stressful, overwhelming and exhausting. Cut yourself some slack and invest in some travel items that will keep you organized, entertain the kiddos and most certainly save your sanity when you need it most.
- We all know the inner germaphobe that emerges from within each of us when our precious babes throw their pacifier or toys onto a dirty floor. Soother clips and toy cords will be reduce the chance that your babes pacifier will end up on the airplane floor or on any surface in a public washroom.
- Whether you are traveling with kids or not, packing cubes are a great way to keep your luggage organized. But when you are responsible for packing for your whole family, moving to a new destination every few days or just trying to catch an early morning flight, packing cubes are going to be your best friend. We recommend the Gonex Compression Cubes. They come in a variety of colours (so each family member can have their own colour for even more organizational greatness) and help compress your items to save space.
- Designate a small backpack that is filled with activities specific to that kid. Choose something that is small enough for your toddler to carry and that you can easily throw in the stroller if your kid doesn’t want to carry it anymore. We use these fun backpacks from Skip Hop. They are sturdy and can surprisingly fit quite a few items. Each time we travel, we fill the backpack with a combination of new activities, books or toys with old favourites. Having a small, designated space for all of your child’s books and activities keeps things organized and gives your child a sense of ownership over their items.
Entertaining the minis
- Screen time for the tiny humans is always controversial full of opposing views and tolerance levels. Our recommendation is whatever your rules are for home, you ditch those on travel days. Just like us grown ups like to relax and watch a movie or two on a long flight, so do our kids. For our oldest, we invested in an Amazon Fire HD Kids Edition which comes pre-loaded with Amazon Freetime featuring countless age-appropriate games, stories and videos. Add that to Netflix and other streaming options, your kiddo will be entertained for hours.
- For toddlers and young children who are watching movies on the plane or playing games on a tablet, cozyphones are a game-changer for one very important reason. These headband style and decibel controlled headphones stay in place on your kids head. What does this mean? You don’t need to adjust them for your child every 5 minutes. Your child can even lay down comfortably while wearing them. The fun characters and designs are an added bonus.
- To ensure that your baby or toddler will always have a safe and clean space to sit during meals, bring a portable high chair with you. We always travel with a fabric seat cover style high chair because it is light and folds up small and can be used from the time baby can sit up into toddlerhood.
- I’m a strong proponent of fed is best but boy does being a formula feeding mama complicate things when you are traveling. Formula feeding adds on a whole extra layer of equipment and logistics to think about and was arguably one of the things I stressed about the most before we started traveling with our kids. Check out our post for formula feeding parents here.
- If you are looking for a handy resource on breastfeeding during your travels check out this great post by Travel Mad Mum where she covers topics like clothing suggestions, looking after your nips and respecting other cultures.
The list may seem long, but what you will find is there aren’t many items that we don’t put to use in our day to day lives as well, making the investment even more worthwhile.