Travelling with kids

Travelling with kids

By
David Frenkiel, Luise Vindahl Andersen
Contains
0 recipes
Published by
Hardie Grant Books
ISBN
9781742707686

After taking our daughter on trains, boats and planes across five continents, we have learned a few tricks on how to keep her happy, calm and safe. Travelling with kids or a baby definitely has its challenging moments but with some basic planning, lots of love and by putting your baby’s needs first, you will end up having an amazing trip.

When we started our adventures, Elsa was three months old. She was having breast milk only, but after a couple of months started to eat small portions of solid food, such as mild vegetable purées with cold-pressed oils or butter. During our journey around the world, she progressed to an entirely solid diet, similar to ours. We know how personal the subject of breast versus bottle is – and all mothers must do what works best for them – but we can tell you that in those early months of travelling, it was definitely convenient not to have to think about her food.

The tips we have gathered here have worked for us. Kids are different and even if all of these tips might not work for you, hopefully a few of them will come in handy.

Packing

Can it fit in a tuc-tuc?

If you plan to stay in more than one place during your trip, you will do yourself a big favour by not bringing all the baby equipment and toys from home. It is also a liberating feeling, realising that you don’t need all those things. Keep in mind that it’s not just about the baggage allowance on a plane – you should also be able to fit all your luggage into a taxi, boat, or sometimes even a tiny tuc-tuc (although we have learned that most drivers can squeeze almost anything into this three-wheeler).

Apart from baby clothes, pacifiers, nappies, a few plastic bags, bottles and other obvious stuff, here are a few things that we found useful on our trip:

–A baby carrier. Preferably one that you can also use on your back – we love our Ergo.

–A lightweight folding pushchair. Make sure it can recline completely so your baby can sleep in it – we have found a Chicco Liteway suits our needs.

–A portable fabric baby chair. This is a great little invention that you can mount to any chair and then fold up and fit into your pocket. It was good to have one on hand before Elsa could sit properly by herself. Check out the Swedish-designed In The Pocket Baby or the British Totseat, both available online.

–A baby monitor. This gives you peace of mind so you can relax while your baby is napping. There are also a few great phone apps that you can use.

–A mosquito net. Some bungalows and hotels already have mosquito nets, but far from all, so it’s a good idea to have your own. We had one big net that we put over our bed, and a small net that we put over Elsa’s stroller. They take up little or no space and can really save the night.

–Instant organic gluten-free porridge. We used porridge as emergency food whenever we needed to give Elsa something quick without having to find a restaurant. You can buy porridge in larger supermarkets all around the world, but it’s hard to find the unsweetened instant kind. If it comes in a box, pack it in a plastic sealable bag instead – it takes up less space.

Just in case

Make sure that you know whom to call if your baby (or you) becomes ill. A good tip is to take the contact details for your GP and health visitor with you so that you may be able to discuss health concerns with them without worrying about language difficulties and possible misunderstandings. In case of emergencies, it’s also worth checking out before you travel where hospitals and other medical services are to be found wherever you are staying in the world, and your nearest embassy, too.

We also created a small natural travel pharmacy that helped us many times through our trip. If you are more into traditional medicine, you can probably find equivalent things in most pharmacies.

–Homeopathic remedies to ease the symptoms of flu, colds, fevers and minor infections.

–Probiotic drops or powder to boost digestive and immune systems.

–Homeopathic cream to relieve pain and skin problems, bites, rashes and so on. We use products from Heel, but everyone has their favourites.

–Rescue Remedy Cream from Bach Flower Remedies (for skin problems, wounds, bites, rashes and so on).

–Herbal pain relief spray (we use Spenglersan).

–Citronella oil spray as a non-toxic mosquito remedy. Where mosquitoes are numerous, we spray Elsa’s clothes the evening before she wears them.

–Mini first aid kit.

–Relief of fever suspension drops.

–Oral rehydration salts.

–Sea band bracelets for children to prevent motion sickness.

On the plane

Have a bottle ready

If you don’t breast-feed, always have a bottle with formula or water with you when you get on an aeroplane. Let your baby drink during take-offs and landings to help prevent inner ear pain.

New toys on the plane

You know how it always takes at least 30 minutes of waiting on the plane before take-off? These minutes can be quite challenging for parents, since babies normally don’t like to sit still with the seatbelt on. For those occasions we sometimes bring tiny new toys (or download new apps now that Elsa is older), that we don’t show her until we are on the plane. Opening the wrappings and playing with them usually keeps her occupied and sitting still during that time. When we arrive at a new destination she often chooses to give the toys to kids living there, so we don’t have to carry new toys from destination to destination. The same thing goes for beach toys.

Don’t run out of snacks

Bring lots of snacks (fruit, hard-boiled eggs, instant porridge, vegetable smoothies, gluten-free crackers, raw food bars, avocado, carrots, sprouts and so on). Giving babies and small children a snack is always a good trick to prevent them starting to scream with hunger. We have found ourselves in too many unexpected situations (such as traffic jams) with a hungry and screaming Elsa. It’s not fun, but can easily be avoided. Nowadays we never leave home without emergency snacks in our bag.

Accommodation

Be picky about your place

When you have a baby, you will spend more time in your hotel room, house or bungalow than you think, so make sure that you choose a place where you feel comfortable. If you are on a beach holiday, it might be worth finding a beach-front location. That way you can dip your toes in the ocean and relax in the sun while the baby sleeps in the shade where you can see her. If you want to keep the cost down, consider home exchange. By swapping with other families, you will get a home suited to kids. We have used homeexchange.com with great success. Airbnb.com is also a good source for finding accommodation around the world and keeping the living costs down.

Keep them close

If you move around to lots of different locations, your child might feel a little insecure. Always show her around when you arrive at a new place, and if she has trouble sleeping, let her sleep in your bed. That way she will always feel safe, no matter where in the world you are.

Eating

Skip the menu

Even in the most remote places in the world we found children’s menus in the restaurants, but since we don’t feed Elsa meat or overly processed food, we rarely found anything decent on them. Our best advice is to talk to the waiter or the chef (if they speak English) and explain what your baby/toddler likes. They can almost always fix some yummy wholefood, even if it is not on the menu.

Eat early ... or late

Bringing a small baby to a restaurant doesn’t have to mean trouble – just do it on their terms. Even though it might feel a little awkward having dinner around 5–6 pm, in a half-empty restaurant, that is usually your best chance of having a no-cry dinner. You don’t have to wait for the food, plus there is lots of space for playing. If you prefer to eat late, give your baby something to eat at home then put her in the stroller at the regular sleeping time and hopefully she’ll fall asleep on the way to the restaurant so you can enjoy a quiet and romantic dinner.

Try the local luxuries

If your baby eats solid food, let her try the wonderful fresh produce available, such as fresh coconut, avocados, buckwheat pancakes, miso soup, grilled corn cobs, warm chestnuts, dragon fruit, pomelo, lychees and, maybe, even a wheatgrass shot. That stuff is so much better than baby crackers, bottled juices and bread.

Other

Take turns

Vacation is about relaxation, but since small babies need a lot of attention, it’s not always easy to find the time to read a book or just doze off. We took turns in taking care of Elsa so that the other one could have time of total relaxation.

Leave your rules at home

Things are different when you travel as you constantly run into challenges that you haven’t faced before. Try to be open and ready to adjust to whatever happens. Don’t take the view ‘This is how we do it at home so this is how it should be’, since adapting to circumstances can avoid a lot of argument and worry. Just try to make it clear to your child that you are doing things differently because you are travelling, but when you are home the normal rules apply.

The best school

On our trips, Elsa has asked us a million questions and made a million observations based on what she has seen: ‘Why don’t we have hot water here?’, ‘Why are those men wearing dresses?’ and ‘Look, Mummy, all the women have scarves on their heads.’ Seeing different cultures is a great way for your kids to learn and be more open to all the cultural and religious differences on this planet.

Don’t be afraid of what kind of problems you could run into. Travelling is an amazing experience and you will never regret it.

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