Travelling for the first time with a baby or toddler?
Practice makes perfect! It’s a good idea to go on a few short trips first to see how well your little one travels and if there’s anything more you can do to ensure they’ll be happy on longer, more adventurous journeys.
Stop groaning at the back there! Just think about what you might need during a typical day and note items you can’t do without. Remember your toddler’s potty seat, plus a small inflatable bath tub might avoid the stress of using an unfamiliar bathroom. You may wish to take a supply of baby food in case foreign food isn’t suitable, but do check any food import restrictions in advance.
Don’t forget baby’s bottle steriliser – and their favourite bedtime toy to help settle them in unfamiliar surroundings.
Travelling by car
Make sure your child’s car seat is safe; that it is fitted correctly (studies show nearly eight out of ten parents fit them incorrectly!) ; and that your child is securely installed with no more than 1cm (or one finger) of space between your child’s chest and the harness. Choose the safest car seat for your child.
Car seat comfort - If your child is ready for a bigger car seat it may be a good idea to switch before your holiday so their journey is as comfortable as possible. Find out more about buying a bigger car seat.
In most countries the law says you must use an approved car seat for children up to a height of 1.35 metres, or in some countries, 1.5 metres. Always check before you travel.
For children of 3½ years and up, choose booster seats with a fixed backrest for the best side support and protection.
Find out how we test Maxi-Cosi car seats for safety.
Avoid the rush – avoid travelling on days and at time that are usually busy. Check online for traffic information about other countries you may be travelling to.
Take a break – take plenty of breaks during the drive to let everyone get some fresh air, stretch their legs and use the loo or potty.
Pack the stroller, picnic basket and potty last so you can get to them easily when you stop for a break!
Stay safe and well – You’ll need good sunshades on the side and back windows and a soft summer cover will keep the car seat clean and the little ones cool in warm weather. Once you’ve parked, drape a towel over the car seat to keep it cool.
Remember to use the child locks so rear doors cannot be opened from the inside.
It’s especially important to ensure babies who travel facing the rear are shaded from the sun.
Don’t store items on the rear shelf as they may shoot forward and injure your small passengers if you have to break suddenly.
It’s best to keep snacks to a minimum during the ride, and always keep travel sickness pills and plastic bags handy, just in case! Looking at movies, reading, or playing games can cause nausea, so it may be best to encourage the kids to look out at the scenery instead.
Are we there yet?
Playing car games will help keep everyone happy and pass the time more quickly. Simple, easy-to-play games are always popular such as I spy or guessing which colour car is most popular. And don’t forget baby’s soft toys, especially if they are travelling facing the rear; a mirror may be a good idea to help them see what’s going on!
Travelling by air
Choose your flights – short, direct flights will be faster while a night flight might mean your little ones can sleep through. And it may be better to break up longer haul flights with an overnight stay in a country on the way.
Some flight options may be more expensive, but worth it to keep the children happy and comfortable, and you stress-free.
Choose your seats – this comes down to personal preference and what’s best for you and your children. For example, front row seats may be best if you’re with a baby as you’ll have more room for a bassinet. Or you may prefer seats where the armrests can be raised to allow a toddler to stretch across to sleep. Your child may enjoy a window seat, or it may be more practical to have easy access to the aisle.
Seatguru has seating plans for most major airlines to help you decide on the best location for your family.
Encourage your children to drink and swallow when taking off and landing to help avoid pressure pain in their ears.
Buggy alert – remember to tell check-in if you plan to take your buggy right up to the boarding gate. Some strollers have travel bags, or you can use beach towels as a protective wrap while they’re in the hold.
Car seat on board – always check in advance to make sure the airline accepts car seats on board. Find suitable car seats for air travel here.