I have been giving some serious thought lately to what we really need to take on holiday when we are travelling with babies and kids. I think it’s mainly been playing on my mind because we are heading off on our main yearly holiday in a few weeks, but also because I have been getting quite a few emails from people asking me for tips and advice about what to take, how to cope on the plane, how to schedule naps etc (all really genuine and valid concerns that we have as parents, because let’s face it – we’ve spent all this money we want to feel de-stressed not more stressed and we want our kids to come away from the whole thing with a positive memory of travel and holidays).
So I decided that I would put together a new series to help people cope with travelling with children at various stages and what I recommend taking on holiday with you (for the plane but also for actual holiday too). Travelling with babies and kids really isn’t as bad as people make you think (we all have those parent friends who have never been further than wales but insist that travelling on a plane is a terror right?).
Holidays with babies: Infants and Babies up to a year:
This is probably the stage where you need to take the most, but it still isn’t as much as you think.
For the plane:
- Nappies – best advice take more nappies that you expect to need on the plane. If you usually would take 4 nappies with you on a day trip, take 8. This guarantees that if you are stuck overnight somewhere or delayed and you have checked your luggage in your have enough. The problem is if you are flying through the night and the shops are closed there will be few places to replenish. Don’t go mad though!
- Lansinoh nipple cream or vaseline – for little ones lips. Planes are drying places, and this can be really helpful – if you are breast feeding the chances are you will need to carry something like this in your bag anyway, so just apply it every couple of hours. This can also replace your usual nappy cream. No more than that but remember it needs to be under 100ml.
- A beaker for water – You will always be given water on a plane but they don’t have bottles and beakers readily available not every flight, so the best thing to do is take your baby’s preferred pre-sterilised beaker and ask for it to be filled with water.
- Pre-made bottles for bottle fed babies – If you are travelling with a bottle fed baby then you are allowed to take pre-made baby formula. While liquids are restricted this doesn’t include what you need for your infant on a plane journey so expressed breast milk, formula, cow’s milk and water in a bottle to make a feed are all exempt from the restrictions. I would honestly recommend the disposable pre-made bottles, that way you aren’t carrying lots of things in transfers etc you can just throw them away. If you want to make your own bottles the cabin crew are obliged to heat/warm a bottle for you, or provide you with boiled water, however this can be a little dangerous if you have baby on your knee. A little tip too: When you are taking off, feed baby.
- Baby food – Again the restrictions placed on airlines taking food and liquids onto planes doesn’t apply here hooray! I took all of Toby’s baby food with us on holiday when he was 6 months old because I didn’t know what would be out there and didn’t want to risk it. I always, always recommend pouches over jars, even if you have to take two. They are lighter, they are less likely to leak and they are more readily disposed of.
- A change of clothes for baby and you – make it something really simple, like a bodysuit and shorts for baby, or a sleep suit, but keep it simple. Again for you something that folds small and is easy to take on and off – maybe a maxi dress or slip dress. Don’t go crazy. This is just for emergencies in case baby is sick or spills something on you.
- Muslin squares – At least two or three. They are amazing things really, the act as blankets, bibs, burp cloths, wipes… pretty much everything!
- Wipes – I don’t need to explain that one do I?
- Portable change mat – This really only applies if you tend to use a portable change mat when you change your baby out and about. If not don’t bother, but they are hardly big so I wouldn’t worry about taking one if you need to.
- Simple toys or tech – see my post here for more advice on this one. Babies under 1 really don’t need much if anything.
- A sleep bag – you know the gro bags that you can get pretty much anywhere? One of those is a fab idea when travelling with a baby. Planes can be cold so this will guarantee to keep them warm while affording a comfort of home.
- Colic medicine – if you carry something like infacol then do make sure you have it to hand on the plane, especially if baby is due to feed.
For the holiday:
- Nappies – yes, you do need to take nappies, not 1000’s but at least one of the larger packets. I can honestly say that when I took Toby on holiday for the first time at 6 months old I had had bad experiences with switching up his brand of nappies, so I didn’t want to take the risk of having to use several different brands. I filled the bottom of my suitcase with exactly 70 nappies. Yes, 70. That saw us through 6 nappy changes every day for the 10 day holiday, plus 2 days either side. Did I need them all? Nope. The first thing sold in the store opposite our complex was pampers nappies. They were however 25€ for a small pack so in a way I saved us a small fortune. Nappies are light and if you will feel less stressed pack them in your case – 6 per day is the rule, although you will use less because of swim nappies.
- Swim nappies – again you can get them in pretty much every tourist place in the world, however they are costly! A few packs will see you through most of the holiday (young babies may need more).
- Swimwear – I know for babies you quite frequently have the in just a nappy on holiday however it really does depend on where you are going to be sat and what you are doing. If you are by the pool in the sun you genuinely do need a rash vet or body suit. Sunuva are one of my favourite brands and start their sets from 6-12 months, however if you are looking for a younger child you can find from birth sets from most places including my favourite Splash about. These sets protect your baby from the UV rays of the sun and you can’t do without.
- Sun hat – you cant get these in every corner of the world, but if you take one with you, you are well prepared.
- Sunglasses – when we took Toby on holiday for the first time people laughed and thought it was hilarious that this baby had sunglasses on, however babies are just as likely (if not more likely) to get a headache or eye damage from exposure to the sun. For small babies I love Baby Banz, they strap around the back of baby’s head and cover the whole eye are to keep them well protected. Once Toby got used to having them on, he really wasn’t fussed at all!
- Clothes – don’t go mad with clothes! Baby won’t be in them that often, usually preferring swimwear or just a nappy especially if you are going somewhere hot. Try taking 3-4 little outfits for each week you are away. Sleepwear is another one I get asked about all of the time. For young babies take a sleep suit and leave off the body suit depending on the temperature of the room, for older babies the same kind of PJ’s you would use at home during summer. 2-3 pairs is more than enough. Always take a cardigan for evenings, travelling and returning home.
- A pushchair or baby carrier – I always take a pushchair with me, always. I also don’t check it in but use it as my extra free item (which most airlines give you) for travelling with baby. If you are a frequent user of baby carriers and slings you might prefer to take that instead, I really don’t see the need for taking both! You can also rent pushchairs from most resorts now, although you might not want to risk it if you want a specific style or if you are hygiene concerned.
- Floats, pool toys and beach toys – Floats are something that people seem to get really panicked about – you don’t need to! If you want to take a baby seat then do so, though you can buy them at every resort I’ve ever known, so don’t panic if you can’t get it in the case, or if you forget. You do not need armbands if you have a baby seat. Pool and beach toys are great fun too, though again for an infant you can buy them at your resort.
- Sun canopy – do you need one? No. Will a crawler stay under one when they are awake? No. However they are very useful if you want to sit in the sun and baby drops off and you want them to be shaded. If you have a baby that isn’t crawling then it may be useful but I would suggest putting it in the category of ‘Might take one but we don’t need it’.
- A medi-kit – I have written a separate post about medi-kits and holidays because I am a bit obsessive about medi-kits. You can take a look at the post here. Essentially each child is different, but you need to make sure that you take whatever your baby needs or may need so that includes things like nappy cream, diyoralyte for infants, calpol/ibuprofen (3months+) teething gels or powders and any relevant medication your child has been prescribed by a doctor i.e asthma inhalers etc.
- Baby food – If you have a young baby who is new to weaning you may not be confident that your hotel, complex or resort will have the kind of food they will eat. Most places do sell baby food, however if it would make you feel better there are so many ways to take your own food. Firstly, baby is classed as a passenger on a flight so gets their own luggage allowance, you can pack food pouches and cereals in a relatively small suitcase, or if you don’t want to go to the hassle of doing that you can use boots online service that will send out however much baby food you require to wherever you require in the world. When we went away I did think I was probably being a touch neurotic taking a suitcase of baby food (I had 108 pouches) however, when we go to the hotel there was no bananas to mash, no option of pureed food and no baby food on site. There was a shop opposite but again it was very expensive to get the standard brand we are used to in the UK and US. Go with your comfort level and trust your knowledge of your baby.
That’s it! Those are my top tips and are what we take on holiday when we travelled with Toby as a really small baby. If you have any tips you would like to share or experiences that you want to tell me about then please do, I’d love to hear from you!