I absolutely looooooove to travel, but have had to scale the amount of trips back in recent years…..boo LOL! The arrival of Sophia, and a little bit of chemo, were not going to stop my travelling plans, although I did have to obviously adjust for travelling with a little bambino. Well before Sophia was even 1 she had flown to Chicago, the UK, Vancouver, and Victoria, not to mention road trips to Kelowna and Jasper. Travelling with a little bambino is actually super easy (well, if you have a baby like Sophia anyway), as long as you are organized. Having said that, bumps and hiccups will obviously come up when you’re travelling with an infant but being prepared for anything is the key! So here are my helpful little tips for travelling with your little sprogs.
Flight Connections and Times for Flights
Lets start with the basics, try to plan your flight route and times to suit your little bambino as best as possible. For Sophia’s first flight, we went to Chicago which was a 3.5 hour flight from Calgary and was direct which was amazing. Where possible, always pick the most direct option if you are travelling with a bambino. It might cost you a few hundred extra in the cost of flights but it is totally worth it for your sanity and stress levels! Our flight to Chicago was over lunchtime and this was perfect for Sophia as it was nap time…bonus!
We went back to the UK last Christmas so that Sophia could meet all of the great-grandparents and extended family…too cute! This trip required a bit more planning than the Chicago trip as the flight was 8 hours to London and then we had an hour connection up to Scotland (flying direct isn’t possible to Aberdeen). It was a night time flight to London so we were a bit worried about disturbing other people if Sophia didn’t sleep but actually she was a trooper and slept most of the way. When we flew to the UK we picked seats at the front of our section (next to the window) which meant that we had a fold down table and bassinet option in front of us for Sophia to sleep properly in. The bassinet/chair was perfect for Sophia to sleep in, the only issue was that the bassinet couldn’t be set up until after take-off, and we also had to wake Sophia up and take her out of the bassinet when there was turbulence, which happened a few times throughout the flight. Apart from during the turbulence, Sophia was able to sleep properly in the bassinet and this let Simon and I have a chance to sleep too…yahoo!
I know a lot of people say that you should use your stroller in the airport and just check it at the gate, but I think this is a lot more hassle than it’s worth. The easiest way of getting around the airport with a little bambino is hands down for the baby to be in a baby carrier like the Baby Bjorn. As soon as the plane lands (and the seat belt sign has been taken off), you can slip the carrier on and get the bambino all set up in the carrier so you can just walk straight off the plane and not have to wait around for a stroller to arrive.
We made the mistake of not checking our stroller the whole way through for our UK trip so we had to collect it in London. We thought it would be good for Sophia to nap in her stroller whilst we waited for our connection, but our flight landed 2 hours late and we only had 30 minutes to make it through Heathrow to our connection. We only made it to our connection in the end as it was delayed leaving and we had a nice man rush us through passport control and security etc. We were one of the first ones off the plane, but ended up being one of the last to leave the gate as we had to wait 15-20 minutes for our stroller to be brought up from the hold. Big mistake! We then had to run through Heathrow with a stroller that Sophia wasn’t even in (as she was in the baby carrier). Lesson learned….always check the stroller.
Our stroller for Sophia is the Nuna Mixx and I think it is a really great stroller (ps. the cup holder and snack tray are essential accessories to add onto your stroller). It collapses really easily and is very compact for a full size stroller. For checking the stroller, I got the Nuna Universal Stroller Travel Bag to make sure that the stroller wasn’t going to get bashed up and lose parts. The stroller fits really well in the bag; you just have to pop the wheels off which takes 2 seconds. There was also plenty of room to fit our infant car seat (Maxi-Cosi Mico Max 30) on top of the stroller and keep it all secure (we brought the main stroller seat attachment too but had this in Sophia’s suitcase). Our travel bag was really bashed up after our UK trip, but Nuna were really great and just replaced it for us as it was covered under the warranty.
If you have ever seen our car when we go on a road trip to Kelowna you are going to laugh at what I’m about to say next, but it’s totally true for when I fly LOL! When flying on vacation, I try to travel as light as possible and with as little bags as possible. Before we had Sophia, Simon and I would usually share a suitcase and then just have a holdall bag each. For flying with Sophia, we have 2 large Samsonite Rhapsody Lite spinner suitcases which are super lightweight and have the added bonus of the 4 wheels so that it makes it easier to maneuver them through the airport (just pop your holdall bag on top). Simon and I still share one of the large suitcases, and Sophia has one all to herself with all of her supplies for the trip.
It is totally worth investing in a lightweight spinner suitcase if you are travelling with infants. I was able to carry Sophia in the Baby Bjorn and push one suitcase and my holdall, whilst Simon had the other suitcase and the stroller bag already packed up. This makes it super easy to get from the car to the airport check-in without needing a luggage cart.
My holdall bag for long-haul trips is usually my Smythson Panama Tote. I used my tote as Sophia’s diaper bag for the UK trip as it was bigger than her usual diaper bag which folded up nicely and went in her suitcase for when we arrived in the UK. I like using the tote in the airport as it doesn’t have a zip so I can just stuff it full and not have to worry about the zipper not closing….my mum would be cringing at me saying this as she thinks all bags should have a zip…sorry mum ha ha ha! Anyhoo, it worked for me. Simon would carry the diaper bag in the airport seeing as I had Sophia in the Baby Bjorn.
To keep my hands free, I ditched my usual handbag style to use a backpack instead. I never thought I would see the day where I would use a backpack but it is just sooooo convenient when you have a little bambino and there are so many stylish options available now so why not give it a whirl.
Now that you have gotten yourself to the airport and your luggage checked in, lets talk about snacks and juice supplies.
The first time we flew with Sophia, she was under 5 months and still just having milk for each “meal”. This was a super easy time to fly with her as I just brought lots of milk in convenient little 59ml disposable bottles and lots of fresh nipples to pop onto the bottles. Once Sophia was done with a bottle, we just popped it in the recycling which then reduced how much milk supplies we had to carry. I also took a lot of extra zip lock bags with us for popping the used nipples in etc. as you don’t want to contaminate the clean ones.
I really do mean lots of milk here…I worked out how much milk Sophia would usually need for the travelling time, and I added a good 25-50% extra in case of delays or she was super hungry etc.; I didn’t want to run out of milk and have her getting upset! This proved to be a genius plan when we had a 2 hour delay (sitting on the plane) on our trip to the UK…Sophia turned out to be super hungry whilst we were waiting to take off and demolished a large chunk of my milk supplies. Had I not brought extra milk, we would have run out before we got to our final destination….argghh!
I made sure that we had milk ready for take-off and landing too as this is supposed to help little ones with popping their ears. Another option for popping ears is a pacifier, but Sophia never used one so this didn’t work for us.
For our UK trip, Sophia was starting to eat solids so we carried lots of snack options with us as a back-up plan. I also took a little pouch of dinner for Sophia, a pouch of apple puree for dessert and a container of oatmeal that I just had to add milk to to make her breakfast in the morning. I usually tried not to feed Sophia pouches as I preferred that she had home-cooked meals, but for travelling the pouches are just so convenient. There are lots of pouch options available for babies, but I liked the Baby Gourmet pouches as they are a local company and everything is organic which is a must for me. Again, I had lots of ziplocks on standby for putting used spoons and bowls into as you don’t want this mess exploding all over your diaper bag.
Now that Sophia is eating proper solid food and drinking cows milk, I have found that the Thermos Straw Bottle is really great for taking milk with you as it keeps the milk cool for up to 12 hours without having to take a bag with ice blocks for it. I also love the Sip by Swell bottle that Sophia got for her 1st birthday – this is great for carrying her water and keeps it nice and cool on hot summer days too.
Sophia likes to be independent, especially when it comes to feeding herself. Meal time and snack time can get a little messy with Sophia bopping the bowl and contents everywhere, but I have found 2 genius inventions that help with this. First, for snack time, I try to pop Sophia’s snacks in her little Ubbi Tweat Snack Container which is great as it has handles for her to hold onto and because it has an internal spill guard to stop all of the snacks from falling out if Sophia tips it upside down. The other genius invention is the Avanchy Bamboo Suction Bowl which sticks to the countertop so that the bowl can’t be thrown around. I usually pop this bowl in the diaper bag if we know we are going to a restaurant for lunch etc. so that Sophia can eat her lunch herself but not make a complete mess in the restaurant.
Diaper Bag Essentials When Travelling
Other than all of the snacks and juice supplies that will be in the diaper bag, you obviously need to pack diapers, wipes, creams etc. As with the milk, I work out how many diapers and wipes Sophia would usually go through during the travelling time and add a good chunk (technical term LOL!) more as a back-up plan. I have found that bambino’s love an extra surprise explosion when you are travelling LOL! For our trip to the UK, Sophia was already dressed in her pajama’s for going to the airport and had already done her usual daily explosions…that didn’t stop her from having an extra bonus explosion on the way to the airport which required a change of clothes!
This leads me onto my next tip, which is take extra clothes. I now take 2 extra sets of clothes when we are travelling to be on the safe side; I don’t want to be left with not having any clean clothes to pop onto Sophia.
We wrapped Sophia up in cozy pajamas for the flight to the UK and it turned out to be quite warm on the plane initially so we were worried she was going to overheat (I usually find it cold on the plane). The air conditioning kicked in properly once the plane got going (after the 2 hour delay) and it cooled down then so the cozy pajamas turned out to be ok. Try to have layering options for clothes though in case it is super hot or cold on the plane.
The final essential for the diaper bag is toys or something to entertain your little one with. I usually pick 3-4 of Sophia’s favourite toys that are smaller and easy to clean/sterilize once they have been dropped on the floor etc. I also take a book or 2 for Sophia to play with and her favourite stuffy for sleeping with. Don’t forget the stuffy!
Now that Sophia is getting a little older we also have a little Amazon Fire pre-loaded with episodes of Sophia’s favourite PJ Masks and a couple of games. Touch wood, we haven’t had to crack this out on the plane yet, but it is comforting to know that it is there as an emergency back-up in case nothing else keeps Sophia entertained. We are going on a trip to Mexico soon so we will see if we need to bust out the emergency tablet on that flight….hopefully not LOL!
Two Great Bambino Items to Pack
My final tip is to pack 2 really great gadgets. Instead of picking a conventional high chair for Sophia, Simon and I chose the Guzzie and Guss Perch. This is an absolutely genius invention – it just clamps onto a table or the kitchen island. It might look a little unstable as it is suspended in mid-air, but actually it is super secure to the table….probably more so than a conventional high chair as your little one won’t be able to wobble the high chair and tip it backwards. The best part for me is that Sophia sits right up at the table with you so she feels included at mealtime; rather than a highchair where she would be a decent distance back from the table due to the giant tray stuck in front of her. There is no conventional tray attachment for the Guzzie and Guss Perch, but I just got the Guzzie and Guss Perch Placemat to go with the seat…you don’t need this bit though.
Another reason I love the Guzzie and Guss Perch is that it folds neatly down (and really easily) for taking with you wherever you want. We have taken the Perch with us on road trips and long haul flights – just pop it in the stroller bag with your stroller. We usually don’t need to travel with the travel crib for Sophia (as hotels etc. provide this), but no-where seems to provide a high-chair. Bringing the Perch on our trips is totally worth it for being able to feed Sophia breakfast in one spot without her running all over the hotel apartment with yogurt! Arghhhh!
The second great gadget is an inflatable bathtub. Sophia is old enough now that I don’t need to travel with the inflatable Mr. Whaley (that’s what her bath tub was called) anymore, but this was a great buy for travelling when Sophia was a little baby. It made it so much easier to bathe Sophia on vacation without worrying about her slipping around in the giant bathtub. It also doubled as a handy little chair/make-shift play-pen for Sophia!