Travelling with young children is an adventure in itself. But with a relaxed attitude and a bit of organisation you’ll be a pro at it in no time. Here are a few tips for travelling with babies and toddlers to set the pace to this new kind of travel.
1. Change your expectations
Yes, you can go ahead and book your next flight, there’s no question about it. Yes, get excited about all the new places and things you will discover at your destination. But please do not write a 2 page list for all the things you’ll get up to each day. The key is to focus on quality over quantity and don’t try to see as much as you can as this would most likely mean dragging your little one around…we all know how that ends.
2. Be flexible
It’s great to have a plan but with children it’s even greater to be flexible. Prior to having Javi whenever we traveled we would just go hard, trying to explore as much as possible. In Argentina we backpacked and did overnight bus trips as well as a week long road trip. In Oahu, Hawaii we even hitchhiked a ride in the back of a local’s car! These would have been a much different trips with two little ones.
Now although we still relatively get to do a lot, we are prepared to change plans if needed and it doesn’t phase us. Going with the understanding that sometimes you might not make it to a sight or replacing that intriguing museum with a playground is key. And you know what? It’s okay! Amazing actually. I never knew how much joy I would get out of watching my kid enjoy himself.
3. Babywear & toddlerwear
I know I have mentioned this time and time again but I can’t stress it enough. Having a carrier has been an absolute godsend for both the baby and toddler stages in our traveling journeys. On our trip to Japan Javi was only 15 months old and we did not even consider bringing a pram or stroller with us. Crazy, right?
Not really! Javi would get to potter around at different locations and he was at an age where he could sit on a chair or walk around to give us a break if needed. Then when he got tired or needed a cuddle up he’d go. This means we avoided tantrums and crankiness due to him being tired as he got to nap in the carrier. He got to be close to mummy and daddy instead and we got to see some amazing sights.
4. Bring nappies, wipes and know where you can get more
Every country is different when it comes to the availability and cost of disposable nappies and wipes. Try and get an idea of this before you travel or find where to get them as soon as you get to your destination. For example, in Bali or Phuket this was no issue with them being available from any 7/11 or the like. However in Osaka we ran into trouble.
While in Osaka we lost count of how many nappies we had until there was only one left (the one Javi was wearing). We assumed that the decently sized supermarket on the corner stocked them. Unconcerned, we walked down the street to the supermarket only to discover nappies were nowhere to be found! We then marched down to the subway station as I recalled having previously walked past a few chemists. In Australia you can find many brands stocked at the chemist. Just not in Japan’s chemists as we later found out.
At this point we started to get nervous as it was already dark and surely stores would be closing soon. We had to walk for another 15 minutes to a shopping centre and asked for help in the first store we saw. They sold make-up. We were clearly desperate!
Now did you know that not everyone in Japan speaks English. Shocking right? Trying to explain to some nice young ladies that sold make up that we needed nappies was no easy task. Our message wasn’t getting through until we frantically picked up our toddler to show them what we meant. Quickly, they made a call for us and they sent us to Toys R Us. Another 10 minute walk.
At this stage we realize Javi is in need of a nappy change…the smelly kind! We finally make it to Toys R Us, aka nappy heaven, and get ourselves nappies just a few minutes shy of closing time. Phewww!!
5. It’s all about the needs!
Toddlers and adults alike are bound to get cranky if they are not getting their needs met. Plenty of rest, mandatory stops for meals and snacks, staying hydrated and time to just be are all things that are easy to bypass when on the go. However, ensuring each member of the family is looked after will improve the chances of everyone having a great time and, of course, you remaining sane.
Most importantly, have fun and make time to connect with each other! Travelling is not about the journey but about the experiences you have with the people you love. And trust me, getting out there with the little ones is all worth it!
Do you have any tips for travelling with babies and toddlers? Please share them in the comments section.
Also check out our travel tips for Asia with a toddler and a baby.