I might be MinimalistMum but it doesn’t mean my family doesn’t indulge in luxuries. The key one we love is travelling.
Many new parents are quite anxious about travelling with their new member(s) of the family, so I thought it might be useful to share some basic considerations in order to enjoy a good trip.
Objectives of the trip
This is the most important thing to sort out – what is the primary reason you are going for this trip?
- Is it to take a break from day-to-day work and routines?
- Is it to seek new experiences / learn new things?
- Is it to spend intentional quality time with the family?
Of course, there might be many reasons for your trip, but do be honest with yourself which is the primary objective, and which are secondary ones. This will help you narrow down your choices of destination and activities.
Once you’re clear on what your objectives of the trip are, the possible destinations can then be narrowed down. Be honest and practical about the number of activities which you will be able to do while having to pack for the additional baby and also adhere somewhat to a routine which works for all in the family. For example, if your child usually naps in the middle of the day, it is likely that he/she will be very cranky in the early evening if the nap was skipped. The day would hence need to end early for everyone to keep their sanity. In summary, these are the key factors to consider when finalising your destination:
- Climate/Season of trip (will you need to buy seasonal clothes specially for the trip? if yes, do factor in the costs)
- Sanitation facilities (especially if your youngest child is below 1-year-old and you might still be sterilising any item which goes into their mouths)
- Food options (especially if you might still want to stick to no or little salt or sugar options for your child(ren)
Preparing for your flight
One of the most common questions we get from parents travelling with their kids for the first time is – how do you manage the flight? Here are our tips:
- Flight times. Depending on where your destination is, select flight times which make the most sense for your child(ren)/family’s routine. The fact is, kids will get bored of being in the same seat very easily, so it might be better if they were asleep for as much of it is possible. That said, you need to factor in mealtimes, which would usually be within the first 2-3 hours of takeoff and last 2-3 hours of landing. So, if your flight would be at least 8 hours long, you might want to consider taking a night flight. This would also help with issues with time difference, as getting less than their usual hours of “night” sleep on the plane would probably mean they will nap longer/sleep earlier on their first day/night at your holiday destination. On the other hand, if your flight would be less than 5 hours, it might make sense to take a day flight outside of your child(ren)’s usual nap times as it would be unlikely for them to sleep on the plane at all. You hence want them to be able to nap well before your flight or after you reach your destination.
- Carry-on luggage. Packing for the flight is the most important packing needed for the whole trip. This is also because there may be unforeseen delays, both before boarding and in the air. As such, make sure you have the following:
- (i) 1-2 sets of change of clothes for both the child(ren) and adults. This not only helps in case of accidents on the plane (vomiting is VERY common), but also in case your checked-in baggage gets delayed.
- (ii) Post-covid, spare masks and hand sanitizer are very important since they need to kept on throughout the time in the airports and on the plane. For better protection, it might be good to consider changing masks after every meal.
- (iii) Moisturizer and lip balm for both the child(ren) and adults are essential since the air onboard is so much drier than what we are used to in humid Singapore. Slather both on as regularly as you can remember to.
- (iv) Personally, I also ensure my toilet-trained kids wear diapers on board and pack spares in our carry-on luggage just in case we are unable to get to a toilet on time and/or the child manages to fall asleep before using the toilet.
- (v) Enough snacks/milk to ensure that you can have your child(ren) munching during take-off and landing to avoid ear pressure issues, and also in cases of need for emergency distraction. Pre-fill all milk bottles with the required amounts of water if using formula powder – you will be allowed to carry them onboard.
- (vi) 1-2 compact toys/activities with not many pieces which might be easy to lose and which your kids will find very interesting for at least 10-30mins. Personally, I tend to either bring favourites or NEW activity books so they find it fresh. Never underestimate the simplicity of just having some old receipts in your wallet and bringing along some pens for emergency entertainment, besides the fact that you definitely also need the pens to fill in whatever forms might be needed at the airport or onboard.
- (vii) If you want your kids to fall asleep on the flight, pack whatever will help them sleep comfortably – for us, this includes eyemasks, their lovey muslin blankets, 1 soft toy, and more recently, our MuuHoo luggages, which converts the younger kids’ economy class seat into a business class one for them to lie down flat! I also usually bring along my baby carrier in case they really cant sleep and need to be carried to sleep.
- (viii) If you want your kids to be entertained by the in-flight entertainment for as long as possible during the flight duration, you may want to consider investing in earphones which they find comfortable and are willing to wear for a long time. Most airline ones are not typically comfortable, especially if your child(ren) are not used to wearing headgear.
- (ix) If you are not in a rush to get out of the airport at your destination, I highly recommend bringing a travel-friendly pram on your trip and bring it all the way to the plane before checking it in there. This is because it is a lot easier to manage the luggages and the crowd if 1 child is safely strapped into your pram and you can have at least one of your bags hung on the pram while you have one hand free to hold another child or piece of luggage. You can of course choose to wear your child in your baby carrier too, though that would mean you are carrying the extra weight through the airports while managing your other child(ren) and/or luggages.
At Your Destination
Your objectives will probably drive your activities at your destination, but here are some considerations as you plan:
- Transport. Travelling with kids means lots more luggage to lug around – clothes, milk powder, diapers all take up quite a lot of space and weight! As such, I would suggest either staying put at one hotel throughout your short holiday, or doing a drive holiday. For the former, you can then plan daytrips out from your centrally located holiday, taking either daytour buses, private hire vehicles or even the local public transport for your activities. For the latter, book a larger car for 1.5x the people you have as your luggages will take up at least half the space each person occupies!
- Packing. For the latter, pack your luggages in a way such that half of the clothes can be left in the car while you bring the other luggage(s) with the essentials (such as toiletries) and the other half of the clothes need to be brought into the hotel for your first short stay(s). When all the clothes in the first luggage(s) are soiled and you no longer intend to do any laundry for those, take out essential items such as toiletries and transfer into the other luggage(s) to be brought into the hotels for the later parts of your stay. I’m not going to list everything you need to prepare for your trip here – I believe you know what to do! But here are some reminders/tips:
- Pack medicine for common symptoms for the whole family, as well as ART kits to avoid needing to spend a lot of time sourcing for them when you need them
- Pack milk powder and diapers if your child(ren) are still taking formula milk and using disposable diapers. Don’t assume you will be able to get the milk powder/diaper brands your child(ren) are used to from the supermarkets at your destination unless you do your research beforehand!
- If you are still avoiding salt for your young ones, there are many ways to ensure you can eat out without too much hassle, though you might still want to pack a good quality thermos and some small amounts of raw ingredients to cook on-the-go easily. It’s too much to elaborate here so I’ll write a separate post on this!
- To save space, I like to separate disposable diapers into little packets of 3-4 pieces in order to nicely stuff them into the empty spaces next to the handlebars of the trolley handle. If you don’t understand what I mean, please feel to drop us a WhatsApp msg and we’ll send a pic!
- For those who cloth diaper, it is very possible to do so while travelling but how to do it depends on the number of days your trip will be!
- Remember to pack a small bottle of dishwashing liquid and bottle brushes for washing milk bottles and/or water bottles nightly.
- Wetbags and other cloth bags like packing cubes are fantastic ways to compartmentalise and keep everything neat and accessible when packing for many people for multiple activities!
- Naps. If your child(ren) are under 6 years old, chances are they would still need a midday nap. This is especially important if you want them to be in good spirits toward the end of the day.
- To nap on the go, bringing a pram and/or a baby carrier are best.
- Alternatively, if you are near your hotel, you can head back to the hotel for a relaxing midday break.
- If you are doing a drive holiday, plan your drives to be during naptimes so your child(ren) can snooze while you travel and wake up fresh for the next activity!
- Accomodation. When booking accommodations for travelling with young kids, bear in mind the following:
- Multiple children. If you have children of different ages, they may fall asleep at different times, so either consider booking 1-2 bedroom suites/apartments which might have a door to block out noise and light, or if everyone will be in the same room, free white noise apps you can download onto your mobile phones work WONDERS.
- Cots. While you may request for baby cots, many places do not guarantee this until you arrive, so it might make sense to bring your own. My family has been using the Baby Bjorn Travel Crib for years as it is less than 6kg, only takes a couple of mins to fold and 30 seconds to open.
- Laundry. It would be important to have access to affordable laundry facilities at least once every 3rd or 4th day. Kids are kids – they will get their clothes dirty, so you probably can’t pack enough for them. It’s probably better to ensure you have access to affordable laundry services instead of buying and lugging SO MANY sets of clean clothes there and dirty clothes back.
And…these wrap up the basics! We share some itineraries in our Members Area so if you’re keen to see them, do sign up for an account in the upper right corner of this site to access them. It’s free to sign up for the account and we do not send any spam mail.