I’m back from my blogging/digital sabbatical. Went a week longer than I expected. Putting a lot of my spare time into The Minimalist Mom’s Guide to Baby’s First Year but I should be writing here more regularly now. Need to. Have some wardrobe switch over and paring down to work on for fall and we have a few flat organization/furniture moving projects in mind. September is a great time for starting new routines and getting things done. I’ll be working on both in the next month. Hope you had a great August!
Traveling with small children is daunting. Vomit, airport fits, the challenge of flights with an under two baby-in-arms, mid-flight diaper changes and entertaining or soothing young people can seem like more hassle than travel is worth.
Oh, and lugging a lot of stuff. Who wants to throw their back out carrying 20 pounds of baby and dragging a stroller filled with carry-ons and toys through the airport. There is also the stress of being “those people” with the screaming baby or the toddler kicking the seat back of a stranger. Fun.
Despite the extra work of traveling with a young child, we’re doing it. Living overseas is a great opportunity for us to see a lot of Europe for less money, and with less jet lag, than when we were living in Canada. So we’ll grin and bear it when our kid has a tired/hungry/bored meltdown on a flight or in an airport.
We’ve also found that despite notes from many parents to the contrary, we don’t need to pack loads of stuff for our toddler. You can be prepared and still pack light. And the benefits of less luggage are many fold. If you bring less stuff you can:
- take advantage of budget airlines. It cost the three of us just under 300 GBP (around 500 USD) to fly round trip to Dublin. While Henry flew “in-arms” there was still a 20 GBP charge + taxes for him each way. Budget airlines reward travelers that pack light. If you can’t cut down on your luggage you’ll end up paying a lot more money to fly.
- get more time on the ground by not checking bags. We had to check a bag this trip to accommodate Chris bringing his work laptop. But everything else we packed could have easily fit into two carry-ons. No checked bags means you aren’t waiting at a luggage carousel for bags and losing time exploring.
- save money with public transport. We used a Dublin City express bus to get from the airport into the city. It was dirt cheap and easy for us to take because we could easily move all of our luggage ourselves.
- less stress. When you’re tired from travel or an early morning flight, you are more likely to snap at your partner, and have less patience with your child, when your bags are heavy. The heavier the bags, the more frustrated you are going to be when you face the inevitable delays associated with finding hotels and catching flights.
Henry’s travel wardrobe is in the picture above. Here is what we packed him for a 4 night, 5 day trip:
- hooded sweatshirt
- one pair of shoes
- two pairs of socks
- one pair jeans, one pair pants
- three long sleeve tees, one short sleeved tee
- one long sleeved dri-fit onesie
No pajamas were packed. We didn’t bring along an extra pair of shoes or a second jacket or a third pair of pants. Henry wore the jeans, one pair of socks, the shoes, hooded sweatshirt and a long sleeved top on the fight. For pajamas he wore the babylegs with the dri-fit onesie. By the final day the dri-fit onesie was the last clean item so he wore it as a shirt. Yes, his clothes got messy and yes, I did some spot cleaning of the jeans to get another day out of them. But it wasn’t much work and well worth it to pack light.
Other Henry items we packed:
- collapsible stroller
- Ergo baby carrier
- three small toys that fit in my carry-on
- one board book
- diapers and wipes
- sippy cup *might ditch this on another trip of this length. Henry drinks water or milk from a cup at meals and can easily drink from our water bottles.
No booster seat for meals, or big toys or multiple books or toddler dishes, or even a bib. No car seat needed as we took public transportation. We ended up getting hotel breakfast comped (sweet!) and they had a high chair. Henry ate off a regular side plate, used a teaspoon to eat his yogort and I tucked a napkin into his shirt to keep it, mostly, clean. I also didn’t bother packing over the counter medications for any of us. If it was needed we could easily find a Pharmacy in Dublin (for long trips in non-English speaking countries I do pack a small case of medications).
Henry is at an interesting stage for mobility. He can actually walk quite a bit, and wants to, but he isn’t great at taking direction on where to walk or holding our hands. In Dublin we let him roam in safe areas and then put him in the stroller for longer walks. The carrier was great for him to nap in while we were on the bus and I also wore him in it during the Guinness Store House Tour so we could skip the elevators and take the stairs. I think in another six months we could just bring the stroller or the carrier and save some space.
I’m facing a me and child trans-Atlantic trip this month and the Dublin trip gave me confidence that I don’t need to bring lots of stuff. It did not, however, assuage my fears about flights with my almost two year-old in-arms. The flight to Dublin was 30 minutes and Henry made us work to keep him entertained for it. My trip back to Canada for a wedding will mean an eight hour flight each way. The plane also doesn’t have in-seat entertainment. Meaning no TV. So I will bring a few more toys and books than the Dublin trip.
I’ve done long flights with Henry before but it was when he was much smaller, less mobile and slept more. In fact, I would say under six months is a great time to fly with a baby. The white noise of being in flight helps them sleep and they don’t need a lot of entertaining. If you have a newborn and are thinking of planning a trip do it. It’s a great window to start traveling as a family.
Those are my tips and ideas on travel and traveling light with a toddler. What are yours? I would love some entertainment ideas for flights that don’t require packing a lot of stuff. Like bring a pen and make a puppet out of a sick bag.
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