This is this time of the year again! Summer and its travel. I know how stressful it can be to prepare our suitcases, especially if you have to fly with a toddler.
My stress went through the roof when I had to pack my carry-on for my first trip with El Mini Monster, he was 5 month old, Vancouver-Marseilles, something like 24 hours in planes and airports. What if I run out of milk or diapers, thousands of feet in the air? Naturally, I had packed way too much and decided to do some research to pack more efficiently on my next trips. I know I am not the only parent in this situation so I have decided to share some of my experiences and tips; tips, that I have read and tips that fellow parents have given me.
First of all, you need to find the right carry-on, roomy enough to carry the essentials and convenient. Remember, you are traveling with a little human being who will get tired, bored and will certainly want you to carry him at some point. If he is not yet walking, invest in or borrow a baby carrier. They are very comfy for your back and leaves both your hands free to find your passport and boarding pass that you put away for the third time, forgetting that you had to show identification to 5 different person!
For me, the right carry-on is a travel bag with a shoulder strap. I have tried the rolling suitcase, and, although it is convenient to stroll through the airport, I found it very inconvenient to take out of the overhead compartment and rummage through. It is way easier to tuck the bag under your seat or put it on your lap to open it every 5 minutes. The reason for the strap is pretty obvious, think screaming, tired toddler who refuses to take another step.
Another thing I cannot travel without are pouches. They can be zip bags, cosmetic bags, whatever you like, and they help keeping your mess organized. You can keep your snacks in one, diapers and wipes in another, toys… They will save you time and embarrassment when your bored little angel will decide he wants to play with the white car, no, not the red one, he said the white!
Talking of zip bags, I like to take some extra ones or little plastic bags to wrap dirty diapers before I throw them in the trash. I like to think of it as my way of making flight attendants’ work a little bit easier. Do I need to remind you the smell that comes out of your trash, since you’ve become parents?
Now that you have the carry-on, you need to pick what to put in it. Here is my list:
– Diapers and wipes, that’s a given if your toddler is not potty-trained yet. I recommend you also take a changing pad or a receiving blanket to cover the changing table. Never assume it was cleaned before you used it.
– Bottles, milk* (I prefer the powder because of the lack of space) and snacks, plenty of them. A full toddler is usually a happy one. Carry fruits or veggies that are easy to eat, or remember to prepare them beforehand. Now, TSA is usually very arranging with parents traveling with kids, but always check with your airline or airport. For example, I had to taste every single bottle and jar of food I had on a connection in London.
– One or two change of clothes for your child, think spilled apple sauce or leaky diaper AND ONE FOR YOU. Why? Do you really want to spend the rest of you flight with vomit on your tee, or poo on your pair of jeans (true story 😦 defective diaper during take off, I will pass you the details…).
– Toys, books and tablets, smartphone or laptop. You want your little bundle of joy to be entertained. If you do not do it for your own sake, do it for your neighbours. Make sure you tested the apps and the videos before, making sure that your kid likes them and to prevent a major meltdown when you will realize that this app needs an internet connection or that Angel despises Cars and wants to watch The Jungle Book (that you forgot to transfer on your device…)
– New toys. I haven’t try this trick yet but I am quite certain it works wonder. Children love novelty, and they love gift! See how they can play for hours with this new lego set they just got? Granted, it lasts only a few hours and then they move on but, hey, that’s what we need! You don’t need to rob a toy store, 2-3 inexpensive new toys and books should do the trick!
– A magazine or a book FOR YOU! (especially on domestic or short-haul flights as they don’t have the entertainment system). This particular one is based on my own experience. During my last trip, El Mini Monster decided to sleep for 2 hours straight, and because I could not have imagine that happening, I hadn’t brought anything to keep myself busy! And the airline magazine sucked! I was so bored that I contemplated waking my little angel…
Of course, this list is far from being the perfect one but it kind of works for me. Do not hesitate to add your comments and share your tips.
Have a wonderful trip if you are traveling!
* if you do not breastfeed