Tiny Frequent Flyers

Bob and his two sons Max and Alex are repeat toddler travellers so we had a chat with them about the tactics they use to make their travels drama free.  

When Max and Alex were between 1- 2 and 3 -4 years old respectively, I did several international trips with them; New Zealand twice, England, France, Thailand, Fiji and Vanuatu… All were brilliant and for most of the time it was just me and the boys. They were all very different trips ranging from 4 days to 6 weeks, on some we had a fixed location, for some we were totally on the move.

Preparation

A long time before we went anywhere we started to put things in place that would eventually lead to travel being easier; we started to create fixed but portable routines, for example the boys had a special towel each that they had with them at afternoon nap time, we later took these exact towels everywhere we travelled and it meant at nap time they had something to sleep on that was familiar all around the world. They also got used to sleeping with flight masks on.We would read a story and then the boys would sleep wherever we were and we made sure that routine was really well established before we left home to travel.

We also got the kids really fit, we did loads of walking with them and because of that practice when we were away they never complained about being tired when we were out sightseeing etc.

 

While away

Make sure you engage the kids in travel, you see so many unhappy kids being dragged around behind their parents, if you engage the kids in where you are they will enjoy the adventure. Give them a list of local attractions and things they can choose to go and see and let them pick one. Also try to notice what the kids become interested in and that can help you understand what it is that they would like to see, Alex was interested in Knights so in London we went everywhere to do with knights.

Interact with locals, kids open up doors that never would have been open to you without them, Alex and Max played with local kids in Vanuatu that ended up being the village chiefs grand kids so we were invited back for a feast.

The hardest aspects of travel

The trips when we were on the move all the time were especially hard, we had one trip in the UK and Europe for 4 weeks, in that whole time we only spent 2 consecutive nights in one place, the rest of the time we were on the move it was very tiring. Some days the kids just need to run in a park for a day and not have to go anywhere or do anything.

Doing laundry was very hard on our travels, especially when travelling on my own with the kids. Laundromats aren’t the greatest place for kids, make sure you take toys with you to try and entertain them while you are waiting.

Getting a break while travelling on your own

I didn’t really feel like I needed a break, but when the kids had their afternoon nap I was able to have a breather and read the paper or just relax. We also took a couple of those little pull back cars with us, you know the ones that shoot off when you pull them back and we would find somewhere safe and contained like an empty airport lounge and I’d sit back and have a coffee and let the kids chase their cars back and forwards. If we came across merry go rounds or a playground or something similar I could sit and have a break while I watched them.

In New Zealand, I hired a nanny for a couple of days through an agency, she would come and collect the kids and take them out places like the library or the park for a few hours it was actually quite cost effective to do so.

Food

Max is an adventurous little eater, he tried most things like snails in France. We didn’t protect them too much from local foods, we ate from market stalls everywhere and they were fine. We had the odd tummy upset a few times but nothing serious. They learnt to eat locally.

My best travel memories

Gosh, there are so many. I’d have to say they were the times when the kids were just really enjoying themselves and seeing amazement on their faces.

In Vanuatu it was at a local dance, the kids got right into it, dancing and interacting with the locals. Also the kids having their bath with the village kids in a big outdoor claw foot bath. Alex seeing the Tower of London, and visiting the world’s biggest toy shop in London where there are loads of things to play with or playing in the square in Lyon, France running through the water fountains in their undies squealing with delight.

 

Flying

The kids were always pretty ok flying. Max loved it he would call out ‘faster, faster, faster’ and Alex was fine as long as no one else was looking worried or afraid. I always gave them dummies for flights, it really helps their ears.

What to take

The kids had their own little bum bags that they carried with a few small toys in them, things like little plastic farm animals or little cars, things they could make stories out of and get a lots of play time out of. Their bum bags also had my mobile number in them in case we ever got separated. On the trips when they were a little older they had their own small suitcase with wheels but I made sure they were able to be stacked on top of my suitcase in case they got tired of carrying them.

Find a good sippy cup that doesn’t leak, they can be hard to find but its well worth shopping around to get a good one to avoid a sopping wet bag!

Take plastic bags; they come in handy for all sorts of things – nappy bags, sick bags, bags for wet clothes etc.

The bladders from wine casks are very handy, they can be used half inflated as a neck pillow for the kids or can be used as a balloon or ball to play with.

We took some small toys for the kids to give away to local kids when we were in Asia and the Pacific.

Take mozzie nets if you are going somewhere with a risk of malaria.

Pack a small medical kit including paracetamol, insect repellent, band aids and something for cold and flu like Demazin in case the kids have a cold when you have to fly, antiseptic cream and tweezers and always, always, always take wet wipes with you!!

Some great advice here Bob, thanks for sharing with us and we hope you continue to enjoy wonderful adventures with your gorgeous little sons - TWT