Are we there yet?!
Travelling can be a challenge, and an even more so when your baby’s along for the ride. If you’re planning on travelling somewhere this Christmas (or at any time of the year) check out these tips that we’ve put together. Please note that these are general tips, and it’s important to check specific coach and train company or airline specifications depending on your travelling situation.
- Make sure the car seat is put in properly (over half of car seats are fitted incorrectly), facing the rear on the back seat of the car, and make sure you are following the car seat laws.
- Try to make sure all your luggage is packed in the boot so that your baby is safe from things falling on them.
- Hopefully the movement of the car will soothe your baby to sleep, but if not then make sure you have a few books or toys to keep them entertained.
- Map out services or any other rest stops – the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents advises that you take a break of at least 15 minutes for every 2 hours of driving. It also allows you to change nappies and give feeds more comfortably.
- If it’s sunny, try using a window shade to keep them comfortable.
- Depending on the age of your baby and when they sleep (check out our blog post on sleep in their first year), it may be easier to drive at night as they will sleep through a lot of it – but make sure whoever’s driving is well rested.
- Try baby massage if they’re having to sit in the car seat for a while.
- Remember to adjust the temperature or your baby accordingly. If you have the heating on, it may be cozy for you but your baby might get too warm if they are bundled up nicely, or too cold if you’re blasting the air con. Remember to dress them in layers that can easily be added or removed, take a blanket and keep them hydrated. Check out The Lullaby Trust’s recommendations for the safest room temperature for babies, which you may be able to transfer to your car.
- Most airlines allow babies to travel from just two days old, although it is much safer from around 3 months when they are less fragile and their immune system is more developed.
- Babies will need their own passports when travelling abroad, as well as their own visas (where necessary).
- Make sure they’re covered on travel insurance.
- Get a luggage tag for your buggy at check in. You can normally use it until you get to the plane door where it will be put into the hold.
- Baby food restrictions aren’t the same as other liquids. You can carry larger amounts of milk and sterilised water, but they still need to be in a clear, re-sealable plastic bag.
- Look out for priority lines and helpful staff: they may help you to skip queues, or even have special priority lines for families.
- Try to feed during take-off and landing to help with ear popping.
- When in the air, try to change it up a bit by walking around with them, or letting them lay down and kick their feet.
- Request front row seats (especially for long flights) – inform the airline you’re travelling with a baby and they may be able to provide you with a bulkhead seat and bassinet. Check out this guide for weights and measurements, information on how to book and more.
- Planes can make you dehydrated, so make sure you and your baby are drinking plenty of water.
- Try booking train tickets in advance and treating yourself to first class (advance first class tickets can be cheaper than normal on-the-day tickets). This can provide you with a bit more space, peace and privacy.
- Travel lightly – depending on station sizes and where you’re going, you may have to carry/push/lift a lot, so make sure you have everything you need, but don’t overdo it.
- Space for pushchairs is generally limited and they’ll need to be folded away – a baby carrier may be easier.
- For coaches, children under 3 travel for free (National Express and Megabus), but if you bring a car seat you’ll need to book an additional seat. National Express advise that you’ll have to fit the car seat yourself, so keep that in mind.
- Just like when travelling by car, make sure you’re taking your baby out for a stretch if it’s a long journey.
- Unlike trains, coaches have space underneath for more luggage, so it may be a better option if you need to take a lot of things with you.
- Check if there’s a cot wherever you’re staying.
- Pack familiar things to settle your baby in unfamiliar settings, such as their blanket, night light and a few toys.
- Pack a separate small bag with easy access to important things (bottles, nappies, wipes, etc.).
- Try to stick to your normal bedtime routine as much as possible.
- Double check you have the essentials: nappies, bibs, bottles, breast pump, sunscreen, wipes, nappy rash cream, medication.
- Take a change of clothes for the journey for both you and your baby – there are bound to be spillages before you get to your destination.
- Check what vaccinations are needed. It’s important to note that some children may be too young for some vaccinations. Many vaccinations are included in their routine ones, but it’s important to discuss what they need with your medical practitioner. The NHS has more information on areas of the world that may need to be avoided when travelling with young children.
Don’t feel as though you have to run out to the shops to buy travel specific products to be able to take a trip with your baby. We’ve just put together some products you might consider if you’re looking for something new, or need something that might make your trip a little bit easier.
If you buy a new product, you should use it before travelling, to test that it works how it should for you and that your little one is comfortable with it.
A baby sling or carrier
A baby sling or carrier is great for keeping your baby close and for making them feel secure while travelling in unfamiliar environments. It also makes carrying them easier while keeping your hands free. Close Parent have a lovely selection of carriers which are designed to be safe and comfortable for both parent and baby, and allow for discreet breastfeeding. The Soohu Sling by We Made Me is easily resizable and has extra padding. Or if you’re going to be outside for some of your journey, Bundle Bean have a fleece-lined waterproof sling cover which can be great for the winter.
A travel system or easy to fold pushchair
A full travel system can be very helpful (if you have the space) as you can change what you need depending on where you’re going – and if you have a car seat that fits into a pushchair, your baby can be moved around without disturbing them too much. Sleep is very important for babies, so anything that keeps from disturbing their normal routine while travelling is a plus.
There are many different travel systems, so take a look and find one that’s right for you. Some great ones include Ickle Bubba’s range, which are lightweight, easy to fold and stylish. Or the Stokke Xplory which allows you to position your baby higher up so they can look you directly in the eye, which is great for bonding and their development.
A folding pushchair can be practical when travelling by plane or train, and are generally smaller than travel systems, so can fit in the car easier. Many find that a separate light stroller that folds well is more convenient, but you should think about how much time your baby will be spending in it and how much time you will spend pushing it around.
A travel cot
If you’re going somewhere where there won’t be a cot available, you may need to take your own so that your baby can be safe and comfortable. The Spacecot from Hippychick is very lightweight and easy to use – it folds up in 3 seconds without you even needing to bend over! Or the Joie Excursion Change & Bounce Travel Cot, which is compact and easy to store, and also has extra features – a bouncy seat, night light, toys, a vibration mode, and a portable changing unit that can be placed on top – a great combination product for when you’re away from home.
Other cool accessories
- A blackout shade for your baby’s buggy or car seat so that their normal sleep routine doesn’t get disturbed too much; Snoozeshade offer them for prams, car seats and cots!
- A sun pod, canopy, umbrella or small portable fan if you’re going somewhere hot.
- Travel bottle sterilisers or pre-sterilised bottle liners. Or why not try something like the Yoomi self-warming bottle which allows you to heat milk to a safe temperature wherever you are, while retaining the milk’s essential nutrients.
- If you plan on eating out lots but have worries about where your baby will sit, the Totseat converts almost any chair into a highchair. It’s machine washable and squishes down into a little travel pouch – amazing!
- For travel safety, Clippasafe have a number of products, such as a mirror to see your baby in the back of the car, a baby neck supporter, a waterproof seat protector, and more.
We hope this has been helpful and given you some ideas for your next trip with your little one. Let us know if you have any other travel tips to share in the comments below. Safe travels!