This post has been a work in progress for months and months. Several of you have asked me in person and via email for traveling tips with your infants and toddlers. Initially, I had planned to share this post as part of a larger project. However your loving requests finally twisted my rubber arm!
Alhumdulillah, my husband I have always had a travel bug in our pocket. Even in pregnancy we took a few trips! When Zakariya was born there were no questions that we wanted to continue the lifestyle, to broaden all of our life experiences, among many reasons. Before our lil guy reached the age of 1 year, ma sha Allah he had been to places and seen things (and eaten foods) I could only dream of experiencing as a child.
Naturally, my family and friends wondered how we managed such overseas outings. They all wanted to know how I was able to do it so confidently. I told them with Dua, Allah's help, and the right planning, it is totally possible and everyone should try it too.
So.... without further delay, here is my guide to Traveling with Infants 101 (Part One).
1. When Packing
Pack never seen before toys. I have read of some Mama's wrapping these toys. Wrapping is added work on top of everything else. Chances are if its the right toy, your child will be excited regardless of the wrapping.
One activity that can keep little ones engaged for a very long time is a sticker book.When they are a bit older they are interested in pens, markers and crayons, you can pack a tiny notepad for them to color in.
Another toy that will keep your little one busy is a puzzle or activity/toy in one. For example, something that needs to be put together and can be easily taken apart. Once he/she figures it out, they will want to repeat the fun. There are cars, trucks, dolls and so on that can do this.
Lastly, a toy that saved us on the 4 hour drive from Toronto to Windsor was these lights! Zakariya kept busy with them the entire ride. The lights are very bright so its important to supervise this toy. However, once we explained to him to point them away from his eyes/face he was entertained by putting on his own ceiling display. I don't travel without these, they work amazing in airplanes once the cabin lights are off. These goodies can be found at the Dollar Store.
Personally, I go light on packing toys/activities. The airport/airplane can be really busy. We try not to over stimulate our little guy and encourage him to explore his environment instead. Try plane-watching, playing around an uncrowded area or just taking a walk and taking it all in.
A model airplane (car, train or bus) to show your little one how you will be traveling and get them excited about having their own size/version.
Portable playtime. Typically, I would not invest in something pricey for our travels. However. I got this for $2 (shout out to the Mommy that shared this via facebook: Maryam D!)
I am most excited because I do not have to constantly sanitize the tray table. I love that all our items can be within reach. The mat easily secures around the tray table for germ free, organized play.
2. When Eating
Nutritious sugar free snacks so your infant is calm and relaxed during the trip. A long flight and sugar rush are not a good combination. Most kiddies, like adults will not find airline food very appetizing. Make sure to pack some home cooked meals for your little ones.
3. When Organizing
Separate the toys, snacks, medications and anything else you would need in separate large sized zip lock bags. This is by far the most important TIP I can offer. This will help keep things organized, easy to find and easy to access. Sometimes the airline does not allow you to store baggage under your feet during take off. This way you can be prepared and pull out whatever you need and keep it in the seat pocket in front of you. It also helps the spouse (who didn't help pack) to locate items while you are busy with the baby.
4. When Selecting
Some parents think they need to pack everything from their daily routines. Remember, you want to make this as stress free as possible and stick to the essentials. My favorite products to pack in our suitcase are:
Ecover Stain Remover: Great for leaky diapers stains (if ever) and those surprise spit up stains when you do not have access to laundry. The bottle comes with a scrubby brush. The product is plant based but does contain some perfume.
Green Beaver: Sunscreen for the whole family.
Dr. Bronner's Castile Soap: Replaces about everything you need in your beauty products. You can skip all your soaps, shampoos, face washes and body washes. The travel size is perfect because all you need is one squirt.
Clean Well Hand Sanitizer: I carry the spray in my purse to pretty much sanitize everything. Airports are pretty dirty and my little guy touches just about everything. Love that this product contains no alcohol or chemicals, just clean hands!
Jojoba oil: Replaces any creams or body lotions for the entire family. We don't need to use anything else on our faces or body.
Sniffles Natural Eucalyptus Rub: This works great for runny, dry noses.
5. When Diapering
Make disposable pouches. Pre-pack a diaper in disposable nappy sack. It will be hard enough trying to get thru the isles of the plane with your baby, let alone your baby bag. It will be even harder to squish all three of you in the tiny bathroom at once. These pouches also help when you are traveling by car and have no where to dump your diapers.
Instead of taking a change pad, I prefer to use underpads. These are sold at any medical supply store, a pack of 10 for $4. It is easy clean up best of all its absorbent for any accidents that may happen. Anything beats trying to handle a baby and cleaning up your change pad!
These will be a life saver for those of you who are traveling alone. When you need to go to the washroom you can lay the underpad on the floor and sit your little one on top. You can secure that the baby does not move with your feet. This sounds gross but really when you are traveling alone, you have to get creative. Thanks to the underpad your baby can at least sit on a clean floor.
Your completed backpack should look something like this. Easily accessible and organized. I keep everything in the zip locks through out the whole trip for easy breezy restaurant trips, sight seeing and touristing!
Another important suggestions is to consider a backpack instead of a single shoulder strapped baby bag. The backpack will help you distribute the weight and carry baby. Holding baby on one side, husband on the other will be sure to give you a sore shoulder and headache.
These are just a few things to know, and there's a whole lot more. To me this is what keeps it simple which is the point of vacationing and traveling! As Rasul Allah (saw) said "be as a travelor," i.e. think twice about what you really need.
In the second post in this series we'll talk about how to enjoy your vacation once you are there.
Stay tuned for Part Two of this series!