We’ve done a fair bit of travelling with the sproglets and pride ourselves on packing lightly (looking after small human beings is enough of a responsibility without having to look after a load of luggage) so I thought I’d do a quick post on the items that have been worth their weight in gold in our backpacks over the years. Again, this is a list that I know I’ll be checking back on before every trip, so thank you dear readers again for encouraging me to write content that (hopefully) both you and I will continue to find helpful.
1. Probably my all time essential item for travelling with children is a baby carrier. Whether you use it for carting your little one about in the airport, striding up and down the airplane aisle in the middle of the night when they resolutely won’t sleep in the tiny basinet, easing a tired toddler’s legs (we have a specific toddler carrier too), keeping them off the ground when say, rabid dogs might be lurking, or simply strapping them to you during mildly dangerous transport situations (ie. when a car doesn’t have belts or sides, or during a boat ride), a baby carrier is an absolute essential when traveling. My current carrier of choice is the Connecta baby carrier – they have a specific range for petite women, the carriers themselves are extremely light weight and non bulky and the ‘apron’ style of them make them super easy to put on. With two children, we tend to travel with one single buggy and two carriers – we find this combination works really well and just when Jack wants a run around, Sonny could do with stretching out / my back could do with a rest so we pop him in instead.
2. Travelling with a baby vs with a toddler brings very different challenges and nowhere more so than when it comes to sleeping. When travelling you of course never really quite know what you’re going to get when you turn up to new accommodation when it comes to kids sleeping arrangements; we’ve been faced with cots with no mattresses (just the bars), mattresses made of wood, at one hostel they made us a bed out of a piece of hardwood lying about, Sam has had to fashion a bed out of pillows and a mattress for Jack…suffice to say, it’s a bit of a gamble. So now that Jack sleeps in a bed at home which has a small bed rail, I was a little concerned about what we’d do when away – should we put him back in a cot in case he falls out? Then a friend tipped me off about the inflatable Shrunks bed rail – a long, blow up piece of plastic that slips underneath the bed sheet and acts as a guard, and when deflated is really tiny. We will be using this piece of kit for years to come, for all the kids I am sure. It means it doesn’t matter if your child’s bed is on a perilous hard stone floor, they won’t be falling out and crucially, allows mum and dad to get some sleep without fear of a bump in the night.
3. Like it or not, you can’t get away from the fact that kids love screens. And when you’re travelling, more than ever, some down time for all parties is really important – when you have to vacate your room in 20 minutes and need to pack, or for when jetlag kicks in and kids can’t sleep til 3 am or just to allow parents to have a glass of wine in peace on the balcony. To this end, I really recommend some sort of screen – an old phone or a second hand tablet for example. And if you/they’re using an ipad or iphone, don’t forget to use a sturdy case (ours had a cracked screen within days) and to enable the guided access feature to stop them running riot on your phone and phoning your friend’s mum at 3am.
4. To continue on the technology theme, one of our absolute essentials when traveling is a mini speaker which we connect to a phone. We use this to play lullabies that the kids know at night to get them off to sleep – this familiarity is, I think, so important. We also use a speaker to play nursery rhymes to entertain the kids and also of course just to play some of our favourite tunes once they are asleep or to bring some calm (thank you, Nick Mulvey) or joy to a morning.
5. I never go anywhere abroad without a tub of coconut oil which can be used as a moisturiser, nappy rash cream, to ease mosquito bites, sun burn or just to slap on you when you’re feeling a little dehydrated. A real essential.
Other things I’d recommend: (6) earplugs and eyemask – crucial to drown out that drilling that happens to be going on when everyone needs an afternoon nap, (7) a portable cloth high chair like this one, (8), an extension lead – just saves the worry of leaving adaptors in sockets and with various devices, it sort of makes sense, (9) some clothes detergent – helps avoid stained clothes which is important if you’ve packed lightly and don’t have an endless supply of clean t-shirts, (10) a water bottle for refilling water – no one wants to keep buying plastic and spending unnecessary money.
I hope you found my list helpful. I’d love to know which items are your must haves on your trips away? Let me know in the comments below what you just couldn’t do without on your travels.
As ever, thank you for reading,