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Travelling abroad with a toddler

Thursday 26 October 2023

Let’s face it, travelling abroad as adults without children can be stressful enough – from packing, to making sure you’ve done everything in the house. From getting to the airport on time and getting through security without your bag being checked because you forgot to take your perfume out! Throw children into the mix and it can be some parents’ worst nightmare.

It’s all in the prep

Last month I went abroad to Cyprus for a family holiday for 10 days but I genuinely feel like I spent the 10 months beforehand mentally preparing for it. My little boy is 21 months old and travelling with him compared to when he was 9 months old – when he wasn’t even crawling – is a totally different experience to having a toddler who runs. Everywhere. 

I’m also currently pregnant and at numerous times throughout the holiday I would say to my husband, “how on earth are we going to do this with another child in tow?” But then I saw families with two, three, four children, and that shut me up straight away!

A different kind of holiday

No doubt you will hear people say that once you have kids, holidays are never the same again. I wish I could tell you that they are wrong, but boy are they right! My expectation of a holiday is coming back feeling relaxed and rejuvenated. I came back feeling exhausted! But then I remembered that holidays are not just about me anymore, they are about spending time with family, watching your children have the best time experiencing new things and new places. 

Yes, from a selfish point of view I would have loved to have been able to sit on a sun lounger for the whole 10 days and read a book from front to back whilst sipping on a cold piña colada – but then that’s what retired life is for right!? Until then I will learn to embrace the chaos because making memories on holiday with your little ones is priceless.  

It was a different holiday for me but it fills me with joy knowing that my little boy had the best time.  

My top tips

Anyone who knew me (pre-kids) would describe me as organised. I always packed WAY too much for holiday, always packed “just in case” items, and on numerous holidays with girl friends they would openly tell me that they haven’t packed toiletries because they would know that I have packed everything.

When you’re travelling with children, you can’t be selfish and pack 10 pairs of shoes, half a case of hair products and an outfit for every night. You have to think practically. Which is why I wanted to put together the below guide in case it helps someone else out there enjoy a holiday which is that little bit less stressful when travelling with small children. 

On the plane

  • Seat: Babies travel free if they are under 2 and do not require a seat. However, I would personally say that if you can afford to pay for a seat for them, it will be the best money you have ever spent. To try and keep a child on your lap during a flight isn’t easy. It also means you get their baggage allowance too – win win!
  • Foot rest: We bought a blow up foot rest which you place in the footwell of the child’s seat. This means that they can basically lie down on their own seat and avoids them dropping everything on the floor too. It was about £10 and such a great gadget for travel.  
  • Chicco pocket highchair: When we travelled last year we also took a fold up high chair which fitted nicely in our carry on case. This meant that during the flight our little boy could sit up and have a tray in front of him and it kept him secure in his seat.  
  • Ear defenders: We used them last year but didn’t feel the need to use them this year. They are worth taking just in case.  
  • Take off/landing: On take off and landing the pressure can really hurt little ones’ ears so it’s advised that you feed them during his time. Last year I was breastfeeding so I breastfed on take off/landing but this year we just made sure he was drinking or sucking on his little comforter and it seemed to do the trick as well.  
  • SNACKS: Lots of them! Never under estimate how many snacks you need.
  • Stroller: We have a fold up stroller which folds down and fits in the overhead locker – money worth spent I would say.
  • Toys: Don’t pack anything small that you’ll be searching the plane floor for if they drop it. We took fidget spinners which we stuck to the window and we also bought a busy board which helped.  

Off the plane

  • Sling/ carrier: if your little one will still go in their carrier it is definitely worth taking it. It means that you can be a bit more hands free. Plus babies/toddlers like being on your level and not in a pram some of the time, so it saves you having to take turns in carrying them in your arms.  
  • Car seat: Last year we took our car seat with us but this year we didn’t as you’ll find if you call ahead to your hotel they can arrange for a taxi with a car seat for you. It only cost us an additional 5 Euros for the car seat.  
  • Portable white noise: If your child is used to white noise to help them fall asleep, then a portable machine is a must-have. You can attach it to your pram and away you go.  
  • Snoozeshade: Hands down one of the best things I have ever bought (not just for holiday), so it’s a must for when you are abroad to help little ones sleep during the day in the pram or at night if you are out for dinner.  
  • Pram fan: Great for keeping baby cool in the pram, especially when they nap. 

Hopefully the above makes your lives a little easier and a little less stressful. 

About the author

Louise King

Franchise owner and instructor at Basking Babies Brentwood & Billericay.


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