22 tips for efficient travel with your baby or toddlers

travel with toddler
Things do change when you start traveling with a baby or toddler (of age group 6 months – 3 years). You have to plan meticulously and think ahead. You have to select your place of stay wisely. There are numerous other things, which if thought through, would make your travel with your little one a breeze. We learnt these slowly, some through our own experiences, some through other experts in the area. Here goes our list:

Start with road trips & weekend getaways

  • Keep the travel duration short with breaks possible. Prefer destinations accessible by a road trip of max 6 hours using your own vehicle or a hired cab, wherein you can stop in between to take snack breaks or just stroll around getting out of the vehicle. Road trips have these big benefit that you can stop where you want. If your child is becoming too wary because of confinement in the car, you can take a short stop anywhere. You are your own boss – you control the temperature, speed, and the entire atmosphere of your vehicle, you can adjust it as per your child’s comfort.
  • Start with shorter trips of 2-3 days duration, that would cause less disruption in your kid’s routine, even if he or she is upset about the change, not eating or sleeping properly, it can be manageable for 2-3 days.
  • The smaller the kids are, the more is the luggage that you have to pack with them. A road trip on your own vehicle or a hired vehicle gives the flexibility of carrying more luggage than you would were you flying to a distant place.

Choose shortest possible means of communication

  • If it’s a farther destination, prefer flights than trains if possible. They would be of short duration. In a maximum of 3 hours flight you can reach to most parts of your country.
  • You should try to reach ahead for checking in and other formalities, that would give you and the baby adequate time to rest, relax and nurse if required, before on boarding. When we fly to our native, there is only one direct flight that takes 4 hrs and is scheduled at 6 in the morning. This means we have to reach quiet early at the airport, we have to carry our baby while she is still asleep. So, we prefer to reach early and check-in. Then, when she wakes up, we get plenty of time to get her freshened up and fed before the flight.

Stock up on baby food and snacks

  • If the baby is formula fed, keep a good stock of the formula (we would keep some extra), just in case you don’t find it at your destination – babies have a great sense of taste and they might not like an alternative to the formula they are used to.
  • If the child is between age group 1-2 years, carry some ready to eat organic food that you can mix with hot water and feed on the fly, anywhere, anytime. At 2+, you can give them a portion of anything healthy that you choose for yourself, as long as you are sure of the hygiene.
  • You would easily get fruits, curd, bread etc. at your destination. Buy some fresh stock when you reach, cut pieces of fruits and pack in tiny tupperware when you head out to a day long trip. Carry some ready to eat small portions of curd and use it as a dip or feed it directly. When we went to Goa with our daughter, she was recovering from a stomach flu. On her ped’s suggestion, we stocked up lots of packaged curd & buttermilk. We bought bananas on reaching Goa. The resort had bread in breakfast and rice available in lunch & dinner time, it made for her perfect BRAT diet.
  • Carry a hot water thermos with you and keep it replenished all the time, it would help prepare formula, ready to eat food or even wash the tupperware.

Keep the diaper bag & changing set handy all the time

  • Keep adequate supply of diapers, wet wipes, rash creams and other toiletries that the baby uses on a regular basis. So, you toddler changing setneed not carry your whole luggage to the washroom or baby care unit each time you have to wash and clean the baby. It also helps keep organized. We pack a small organizer bag with baby diaper, wipe and a small towel. It helps a lot.
  • Whenever on the drive, keep 1-2 set of changing dresses ready for your child, accessible without having to open the whole luggage. This time we went to Mysore, we had kept 2 extra set of dress for her in our backpack. By the time we reached back home from the tour, she had ended up wearing all the dresses. She spoilt the one she was wearing when having lunch. She soiled the second one in Brindavan Gardens. Then she threw up on our way back and we finally changed her in the third one.

Don’t forget the vitamins and medicines

  • Most important : pack all the essential medicines for the baby , even if it’s a very short trip. it will keep you relieved in case a sudden bout of cold or stomach upset hits the baby due to weather change. Also keep your pediatric’s number handy and couple of recent prescriptions with you, just in case you would need to contact them.

Choose kid friendly stay options

  • Say no no to tree houses, jungle lodges etc. until they are properly equipped with mosquito repellants, and treated free of germs and insects. I won’t take the risk until my child grows a little. Keep a herbal mosquito repellant cream with you. For beach destinations, keep herbal sunscreen for the baby.
  • Make sure basic amenities like electric kettle are present in the room you have chosen to stay in. If not, ask the hotel if they would be able to provide for adequate supply of hot water for the baby’s needs. Also ask for the facility to wash baby milk bottles or dishes. It’s great if they can let you in the kitchen to do the same. Some resorts and hotels might as well let you cook special meals for your baby or do the same as per your instructions, its a great relief to find such places. You can as well choose a homestay with equipped kitchen. We chose a homestay on our trip to Shimla. The host actually allowed us to use his kitchen and prepare special meals for our baby. Now we feel we would prefer a homestay when we travel with her next.
  • If your child is 18 months or more, look for places of stay that have adequate space for him or her to explore the grounds. A big lawn, a children’s play area or a small zoo or pet corner in the hotel premises would add to their excitement. This was our reason to choose Beleza by the beach in Goa where they had a lawn, a children’t play area, private access to beach and a toddler’s swimming pool – all under their premises.

Plan ahead

  • Make ahead a list of baby travel essentials and pack everything including their water sipper, milk bottles or any lunch boxes that they are specially fond of, for a little older one you can keep a couple of their favorite toys and bedtime books with you. They are moody and temperamental, their favorites keep changing as well as their habits every few months. When we were flying with our girl to Shimla, she was very fond of her doll, she carried it all through the journey. She won’t sleep without her. So, despite a good amount of luggage, we had no choice but to carry her dolly with us. However, now she has outgrown that doll. Had we gone on that trip leaving the doll behind, we all would have been miserable each day and night!!

Be flexible

  • It looks lucrative to go for guided tours or readymade packaged tours, particularly when traveling with a small one. You already have so much on your hands with the baby’s huge packing list and other everyday things. It would be great if someone else took care of the travel arrangements. Yes, you can go for one, but ensure that it is flexible. Don’t go for a travel package that is hectic, wherein you need to keep running from one site to another all through the day, or which requires day long site seeing. Add a buffer of at least 30% time to what you would have allocated for your travel, were you not going with a toddler. When we went to Kodaikanal, we could have easily covered the whole place in max 2 days. But we had a baby with us so we rather chose to stay for 3 days and take things slow. We started early morning and drove for 6+ hours. She slept through most part of the journey but still a car is not a crib, she was definitely tired by the time we reached our resort. So, we decided to have lunch and rest for the day. She had a good amount of rest and was better prepared for the next day of site seeing.

Let them be

  • Kids do understand the needs of their body (perhaps better than we do). A journey is a change for them as much as it is for us. Don’t expect them to immediately fall into a routine or follow the same eating, sleeping and playing patterns that they are used to at home. They might eat less when they are traveling long distances – it happens with us too. We kept feeding our little one on one day trip until she threw up at night because her stomach couldn’t digest as usual. The journey had slowed down the digestion. We regretted not being able to read the signs. Sometimes they might not sleep as usual, particularly the day you travel and have reached the destination. Let them be. They will slowly adopt to the change.

Pack efficiently

  • Kids and babies this age often require lots of things on a daily basis and most of them are essentials which means you can’t leave them behind even if you are traveling for a couple of days. As such, your best bet is to be organized with your packing. Digging through your bag to get hold of that tiny dress (or socks!) every time is the last thing that you would want to do. Travel organizers have helped us tremendously in traveling with our little one.

toddler packing

Choose the destination wisely

  • Toddlers love it when they have lots of space to play. Stay at a place which has considerable lawn space for your toddler to stroll. Head to a beach destination where the climate is not too hot, they would love to dig into the sand even if left to do so all through the day. Also, beach destinations require lighter packing of cloths.
  • Don’t choose extreme destinations. We put our Leh & Laddakh trip on hold, because it is at so much altitude, it might be difficult for baby to breathe in the lack of oxygen. Similarly, at this stage, we don’t consider destinations too remote so that medical facilities or other amenities that the kid would need are way too far. Avoid extreme climatic conditions – too hot? too cold? too much rains? May not be suitable for the baby. Choose moderate climate and you all would be happy with the baby.

Choose kid friendly sites

  • When making a note of what grounds you want to cover once you are at your destination, do prefer your kid’s choice. Earlier, we never used to include zoo in our site seeing list. But now, it almost tops the list. In fact, we went to Mysore (~3 hrs drive from Bangalore) so that our kid would enjoy into the Mysore zoo. Spend more time in places where you see them enjoying. It can be as simple as a small open field or the beach.
Babies this age are normally happy as long as they are surrounded by people they know and they get what they want. Until they are really uncomfortable – the weather doesn’t suit or the food is a complete disaster, they would welcome and enjoy their trip…so get ready for your next journey with your little one…exposing them to the whole new world out there…

Summary:

  1. Start with destinations that are not too far off and don’t require too long a journey
  2. Start with shorter duration trip, preferably 2-3 days
  3. Prefer road trips to start with, they provide lots of flexibility
  4. Choose shortest possible means of communication
  5. For flights, reach early, check-in early and settle down before the flight
  6. Carry hot water thermos for the really little ones
  7. For formula fed babies, keep a stock of the formula
  8. Pack some ready to eat organic food, or their favorite snacks with you
  9. Choose healthy options like packaged curd, fresh fruits etc. for the baby
  10. Keep a ready to use diaper bag
  11. Keep a few sets of changing cloths for the baby readily available
  12. Don’t forget to pack all their essential medicines
  13. Don’t get over-adventurous on the stay options, primarily look for hygiene
  14. Prefer an accommodation with kid’s friendliness like play area, small zoo or pet animals etc.
  15. Check for the availability of basic amenities in the room you book
  16. Pack their favorite toys – one or two
  17. Be flexible with your itinerary and keep at least 30% buffer
  18. Give them time to fall into their routine
  19. Use travel organizers to pack small essentials of your baby like pairs of socks, caps, scarves etc.
  20. Choose kids friendly travel destination
  21. Don’t choose extreme destinations like high mountain peaks that would lack oxygen
  22. Choose kid’s friendly sites to see at your destination like a zoo, beach, farms that have farm animals etc.
Spread the love
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

47 Responses

  1. An excellent post. My partner and I are getting to the age where we are thinking of having kids. And I have been wondering, nay slightly scared about, how to travel with kids, especially babies. This is a great guide and I will certainly refer back to it.

    • Go ahead and keep enjoying your travels with your little one. They love travel as much as we do. And they enjoy even better than we do because they are in this worry-free age

  2. I’ll definitely forward this to my friends who travel with babies 🙂 Looks like toddlers set their own pace and style of traveling but travel still could be enjoyed by both parents and children! 🙂

    • Definitely. These are things you learn naturally, through your instincts, as you travel more and more with your toddler. I put them here for everyone’s ease 🙂

  3. I salute people who travel with kids. I don’t have any but it is really commendable to see the effort and care that you put in to make the babies a part of your getaway. I am sharing this post. There are many people I know who need to read this.

    • Thank you so much dear. When you have kids, and you still want to travel. There is no other choice than to be wise and well informed 🙂 I can’t think of leaving my kid behind. So, I try to gear up as much as possible. And thought to put out what I have learnt to help other parents as well

  4. Love what you said about buffer. A trip has to be super easy for you in order for you to do it with kids.

    I also like what you say about getting the kids used to traveling. Start with short trips and build up is a great idea. You almost need to kids trained for travel so, when they become surely teen agers, you can get them to go at all.

    Don’t forget movies. Movies are great on car trips for sure but if your kids like watching movies at home, they will appreciate the down time on the road.

    Final thought. This list would be great for anybody looking to start traveling. Maybe you don’t need to pack an diaper bag, but starting easy and building into it is always a good idea.

    Thanks for the list-

    • Thanks Jenn and Ed . We started off like this , following these tips, post we had our baby. She is still not 3 and she is still so used to travel. She gets super excited now as soon as the backpacks are out. We have traveled to some remote places here in India, where diapers are not available so easily, thats why the suggestion. Now she is potty training and we are mostly doing road trips with her, carrying her potty seat along. Will soon write about this new adventure 🙂

  5. Traveling with toddlers can be extremely stressful. What a great list of useful tips to make the preparation easier!

  6. Lots of good info! I’m sure many people don’t think of these things when they are traveling especially if they are new parents and have never traveled with children before.

    • You are right. Even we learnt as we traveled. And that’s when we decided to compile this list for the ease of other new parents out there like us 🙂

  7. Lydia@LifeUntraveled

    I don’t have any children but kudos to all the parents who manage to organize family trips! I’m sure this list of tips will come in handy to many parents who struggle with vacationing with kids.

    • Thanks Lydia. I have so many times seen parents putting off the trips saying ‘Oh! but I have a baby’ or ‘No, mine doesn’t like traveling’. Come on .. who doesn’t love traveling. We were sweetly surprised to see our 8 months old enjoy her first vacation like anything. That’s what motivated this post

  8. I love reading those posts about traveling with kids!
    Though I don’t have any on my own, I did find this post quite informative. I will make sure to sure for I know many people might struggle as far as traveling with an infant. I am sure some of your tips will help them.
    Happy travels!

    • Thanks Gem. Me too hope that these tips will be handy for the new parents and make their travel with a kid breeze

  9. Even though I don’t have kids, I do have nephews! So it’s a useful guide for me to be able to travel with them! And I’ll share it with my cousin who loves travelling and keeps on saying that she can’t do it with kids! Thanks a lot!

    • Thanks Maria. Your cousin can definitely do it with her kids. If I can do it, anyone can do it 🙂 Do pass on a few tips to her and encourage her to travel more 🙂

  10. You’ve put together a fantastic list for those traveling with kiddos! I’ll make sure to send my parent friends this way if they ever have questions on how to travel with children.

  11. I’m a travel light kind of person, but I found it difficult to travel light when I had my firstborn. That diaper bag alone takes a lot of space, so I’ve had to come to terms with my personal preference and practical needs of my son. I wish I had come across a comprehensive list of tips like this one you’ve put together back then. It sure would’ve made my life traveling with a baby easier!

    • Thanks Carol. I know it’s overwhelming at first, but practice makes us perfect. Initially even we carried all our kid’s stuff with us, afraid what if we don’t get it at the destination. Slowly we evolved and learnt what to take and what not to take, because we can easily get it at the destination

  12. natalietanner

    Great list! It is so important to be prepared and a mom can NEVER have too much information!! I would add to consider getting them their own seat – it gives them room to stretch and relax and sleep in their car seat and gives you a few minutes with a free hand! I write about traveling with the kids and you are SO right – all the information you can get = the best plan!!

    • Your point is so valid Natalie. Actually after we started traveling with our baby, we have always used a vehicle bigger than our requirement so that she will have extra space as you pointed out 🙂

  13. gtcookbook

    I applaud all the parents who are able to keep up with their travel dreams and bring the kiddies along! I know I’m enough work for myself when travelling solo, so I really bow down to you! Of course, these tips are enormously helpful, and I’ll pass them on to my new-mum friends!

    • Thank you! At least we are traveling only part time, so it’s still easier to manage. Think about the parents who are traveling full time with their children, home schooling them and making sure they don’t get behind in any aspect of development

  14. Great tips – like the summary at the end as well, very informative!

  15. As a first time mum to one year old….I definately needed this to get me more organised as I travel with my baby…its overwhelming at times but it only gets easier…. Thank you for this ….best regards from Kenya

    • You said it right. It’s overwhelming in the beginning, it was for us too. But with each trip it got easier and easier than before..now it’s fun

  16. This is awesome!! Such a completely comprehensive list of tips for traveling with little ones!! So helpful 🙂

  17. Traveling with babies and/or kids has a different set of challenges and it is prudent to be well prepared. One needs to forget atleast temporarily the impulsive and carefree travel style that one is accustomed to. These are some really practical tips that should go a long way in ensuring a hassle free travel with kids.

    • Thanks a lot Sandy N Vyjay. Hope we can help people like ourselves out, who want to travel and have a baby to travel with.

  18. Traveling with a kid is something I always recommend to my friends. It really helps bond the family as well as is good for the kid as it makes them more adaptable. Of course, it is a responsibility too but with these tips, am sure anyone can manage well. Well compiled. 🙂

    • Thanks Ami!! The bonding thing that you called out is so true. Even I have felt it. I have also seen her more relaxed on a vacation than in the daily life

  19. My friends just had a kid and they love to travel, I’m definitely going to pass this on to them. Some very useful tips here even without a baby, like checking in early and settling down before the flight. I love chilling out before boarding.

    • Thanks a lot. we will be glad if using these tips someone can have a fuss free travel with their baby

  20. I am sure the dynamics of travelling with children change things immensely!

    We have friends who now look at destinations based on kid clubs and as you’ve said, activities that will keep their attention! 🙂

    • Thats so true. But the good news is that with little planning, it all becomes enjoyable.

  21. Super tips on travelling with babies and toddlers. I love the opening pic!!

  22. Travelling for adults can be so difficult. Travelling with babies can be impossible, if your not savvy and prepared. These tips are specific and so helpful. Starting with small road trips is a great idea.

    • Thanks a lot. We have learnt these through other travel blogs, and practiced these. So, we know these work wonderfully 🙂

  23. Prerna_Malhan

    You have pretty much covered everything in here. I don’t have a baby but i would definitely recommend this to my friends who travel with their babies. Thanks for such an informative post.

    • Thanks Prerna. We know how overwhelming it becomes at times traveling with a baby. We will be so glad if our tips help someone plan a smooth trip

  24. […] to hit the road again. When Aashi was 6 months old, we flew with her to our hometown. We learnt valuable lessons on how to travel with a toddler. When she turned 10 months old, we went on a trip to Hampi on new year eve. This was our first trip […]

  25. I need to to thank you for this excellent read!! I absolutely loved
    every bit of it. I have you book marked to look at new
    stuff you post… http://yahoo.co.uk

We would love to hear back