Travelling with babies younger than 8 months can be easier than travelling with a toddler!
It does, however, require more planning with regard to formula, food, sterilizing, travel systems and an array of other things. Planes are easier to handle with younger babies also as they can sleep (in bassinets on long haul flights) and do not need to move around as much. Toddlers need a lot of stimulation to get through even a short flight, unless you plan to fly at night or during nap time.
For long haul flights it is easier for toddlers to have their own seats although this is expensive. You will also need to stock up on distractions for during the flight. City breaks with toddlers are not always easy and can be exhausting, but they can also be very rewarding and fun. You get to watch your child learn about the world and experience new food, culture and playgrounds! Here are some tips to help you survive:
- Even the most relaxed toddlers will need to be out of their strollers for a good portion of the day to crawl around and stretch their legs. The best thing to do is plan each day carefully and to make sure that you incorporate some toddler friendly activities into your itinerary. If you want to visit museums, shop or have a nice long lunch, try to do this while your toddler naps and then find a play ground or park to let your little one run around after he or she wakes.
- Focus each day on specific areas. All this planning sounds dull but it will honestly lead you to having a better trip unless you know your destination city well and can find all the good places to take toddlers easily. Try to stick to specific areas each day that allow you to walk around thus minimising the need for public transport. This will reduce the stress of having to negotiate bus and train stations a few times a day. A sling (baby carrier) or fold up/ backpack stroller will make public transport more manageable. or Hop on/ hop off city tours are also a great option. Usually these buses are stroller accessible and you will be able to wheel your stroller on board and hop off at your destination without having to think about turnstiles, steps and ticket machines.
- Find out where the best parks, playgrounds, soft play areas and toddler friendly restaurants are (many European cities have baby and toddler friendly cafes with play areas and baby or children’s menus) before you head out for the day. Ask at your hotel or do a quick Google search. That way you will be able to take your child there easily and without having to think about it while out and about in an unfamiliar city where you may not speak the language.
- If you are travelling with another adult, think about taking turns to visit less toddler friendly attractions that you really want to see such as galleries and museums. Even an hour a day could allow you to see some of the things on your list of must sees.
- Pack as lightly as possible for your trip and buy what you can at your destination for example, nappies and wipes. Anything you need will be available in supermarkets and pharmacies in larger cities.
- If you are crossing time zones, try to get your child oriented as soon as possible.
- Finally, relax, enjoy yourself and be adaptable! Every day might not go to plan but even if you don’t get to do everything you want, you can do it the next day or the next time you visit.
Provided by Susan Doyle, founder of Kinder Travel Guide, which provides information and advice to parents travelling with children under the age of four. Log on to Kinder Travel Guide for lots of great tips and top destinations for young families both home and abroad.