Travelling With Little Ones

by Kellie Campbell - Sleep Consultant, Sleep Tight Babies

Travelling with a little one/s can be an extremely difficult and stressful time, especially when trying to get them to rest or have nap. 

These tips can help make travel as smooth as possible. Whether that be a long car trip, short haul or long-haul flight. 

Your little one will pick up on all your feelings and emotions so try to stay calm, be prepared and enjoy the journey.

Checklist The first thing is to make a checklist with everything you will need for your trip, do this a few weeks before your trip, so you can add to it, if you remember things you might have forgotten. I have a Note Maker App on my phone and as I’m packing our bags I highlight off things as I pack them, so I don’t miss anything. 

I also have a list with things that I will need to use up until the day we are going and pack these before we are about to leave. Having the checklist handy helps me get these last-minute items in our bags, without forgetting anything.

Be Prepared Preparation is the key to helping the family remain calm when travelling. Make sure you give yourself more then enough time to get to the airport if flying and arrive 40mins earlier then required. This gives you enough time if something doesn’t go to plan, its better to arrive early and feel more relaxed then to be rushing not knowing if you will make the flight. Bring the sling/baby carrier for every part of your journey, to keep your hands free for the many tasks required. 

Feeding/Meals - Make sure you pack enough bottles, food and snacks for your little one/s to last the trip and extra in case you are delayed, or things don’t go to plan. I also recommend keeping their meal times as close as possible to your usual routine at home if it’s a short trip and if it’s a long-haul trip to move their meal times to coincide with new meal times at your destinations. Consider long lasting snacks, like sugar free pops and rusks. 

Carry On Luggage – Ensure you pack more outfits/nappies/wipes then you anticipate to use, as we know accidents will occur when we haven’t brought enough spare clothes. B-Box makes a fantastic travel wallet for wipes and nappies. Make sure you pack warm clothes too, as planes can be quite chilly. 

If you are breastfeeding, its handy to have clothing on that’s easy to breastfeed in, without giving your dignity away. Pack a few outfits for yourself, as there is nothing worse than having to wear dirty clothes for a long trip. Bring a plastic bag for all dirty linen. 

An essential in your carry-on luggage is to have your little one’s comfort item or blankie, Id also bring a spare in case it gets dirty or lost. 

Pack enough activities for them to do, small toys, colouring in pencils etc. Consider a new book on their favourite topic just before the plane takes off. Magnetic drawing boards can offer a mess free creative experience. 


Some More Tips for Easier Travel.....

  • Some airlines provide bassinets for your little one to sleep on, makes sure you enquire with your airline as early as possible as they can book out pretty quick. Cozi-Go also offer an amazing breathable, darkening cover compatible with all airline bassisnets.  It will block out light and noise. 
  • Plane Pal has desgined a clever boost insert for a regular airline seat, which allows your little one to stretch out and often lie flat, for a more comfortable sleep. 
  • For babies, infants and toddlers I suggest to either give them a breastfeed/bottle/dummy/sippy cup on take-off and landing as this will help their small ears adjust due to the pressure changes. The sucking reflex helps equalise the pressure in the middle ear. For older children yawning, sucking on a lolly, having a drink of water will assist to help equalise their ears.
  • Bring pain relief, and any other medication that may be required, especially for asthma sufferers. Consider some natural therapy for relaxation like an essential oil roll-on, which mixes 5-10 drops of essential oil, with 10ml of carrier oil, and can be applied to wrists, chest and temples during the flight. The Sensitive Child blend has lavender, chamomile, vetiver, and sweet orange - perfect for reducing anxiety and stress, and calming the mind and body. 
  • Explain to your little ones what’s happening, your expectations and even role playing before your trip at home so they are prepared and know what to expect. 
  • Enlist the help of flight attendants.  They are accustomed to working with young families, and can offer comfort and support if required. 
  • If it’s a long-haul fight book during their night time sleep, or if it’s a long car drive leave after their bedtime routine and try as much as possible to stick to your routine at home. If your little one has white noise when they sleep, invest in getting a portable one you can use on the flight, like the Homedics Sound Spa Portable.
  • Ipads are a great investment to use on long drives and flights, but make sure you can use the apps with no internet. You can practice turning your Ipad on flight mode a few days prior to your trip and see if they will work. Moderate the Ipad use, so you are not causing too much blue light stimulation. The 40-20 rule works well - 40 minutes of a show or movie or game, then 20 minutes of a walk through the cabin, toilet/snack break, and a snuggle with you.
  • Make your little one rehydrates regularly on the trip, particularly on longer flights to counteract the dry air on board.
  • You will find jetlag is worst when you go forward in time (east), then west.
  • Make sure you check with your airline for their rules and regulations for flying and what you can bring on their flight.

Happy, safe travels and may your experience bring many treasured memories.