By Rachel Kelly Davis
As soon as I have a kid, I’m going to park myself in a country until he’s old enough to travel.” These were the words uttered about five years ago by a friend who probably didn’t realize she would be expecting the following year. Who can blame her? The idea of traveling with kids can be daunting. After all, we’ve seen and heard crying babies and toddler tantrums in many hotels and airports. Why would we want to deal with that ourselves?
But truth be told, traveling with a baby or toddler is much easier than what some of you might think. Here, some ideas to help you out:
1 Fly red-eye with baby
If you’re up for a long flight, it helps to choose the red-eye. Red-eye flights depart late at night and arrive early the next morning. Not only are red-eye flights often cheaper, the entire travel experience might actually be easier. You can put your baby to bed as soon as you board the plane or even before you board. If your baby is a good sleeper, he will wake up at your destination. Red-eye flights can also help in the sense that you won’t spend too much time getting to the airport and to the departure gate because a later check-in means less traffic on the road and shorter lines at the terminal.
2 Bring toys and books
Your child’s favorite toy is your best travel buddy. Not only can it keep him occupied, it can also make him feel more at ease, adding a sense of comfort to his travel experience. Be ready for him to get bored with his toy though, and bring a couple of backups along. Books and board games can keep him occupied during long wait periods.
3 Book directly with the hotel
Traveling with a baby will cost you more so finding good deals without sacrificing safety and comfort is important. A number of hotels offer special deals when you book with them directly. Let them know how long you are staying and that you are traveling with a baby.
4 Ask for a quiet room
When you book directly with the hotel, request for a quiet room and explain why. This is especially important if you are traveling during peak seasons, and the hotel will be full. There is nothing more frustrating than just having put your baby down for the night, and have noisy hotel guests or music wake him up.
5 Bring duct tape
Use duct tape to baby-proof a hotel room or the guest room of a relative’s home. Tape up the sockets, double tape table corners, and keep low cabinet and cupboard handles locked!
6 Use the hotel mini-fridge
Children can be very specific about the food they eat. When you get to your hotel, call room service and ask for some dishes and cutlery. Next, empty the mini-fridge and fill it with food that your baby can eat. This can make mealtimes so much easier. Just be sure to put the original contents of the fridge back before you leave. While you’re making use of the fridge, feel free to fill it up with some of your own snacks as well.
7 Use your own detergent
If you can do laundry at your destination, bring some of your own detergent with you. Like bringing his favorite toy, the familiar smell will help give your baby a sense of security. If his clothes and blankets still smell the same, he is less likely to be fussy over his new surroundings.
8 Order one thing for the both of you
When eating out, scan the menu for something that both you and your child can eat. This is assuming that he is already on solids. This can help save you both time and money. It saves time because you only have one dish to cut up and consume. It saves money because, let’s face it, most kids can’t eat a full adult serving of anything, and you should probably be eating more vegetables anyway.
9 Ask for help
Airplane and hotel staff can be your second, third, or fourth set of hands. Do not hesitate to ask them for help when you need to go to the plane lavatory or check in at the front desk. If your child is friendly and doesn’t mind being left with a playful crew member, ask for the help you need.
10 Don’t do it alone
Whenever possible, try not to be the only adult in your travel party. Having a family member or a friend who can help you watch your child, carry bags, and attend to check ins and transfers can be one of your biggest lifesavers. Do yourself a favor and invite someone along!
Rachel Kelly Davis is a writer who suffers from occasional bouts of wanderlust. She has been in both print and online publishing since 2005, cultivating her various passions, including travel, sustainability, and responsible entrepreneurship. Presently, she is the Culture Curator and EIC of Homegrown, an online magazine that aims to support startup businesses and entrepreneurs in the Philippines, while also pursuing personal writing projects. Find her on Instagram (@arkaydee) or Twitter (@rache_tweets).