Travelling with children can be pretty challenging, especially as a new mum. But it can also be exciting: discovering new experiences and seeing the world through your little one's eyes. Exploring new cultures, meeting new people and experiencing unique lifestyles make travelling feel truly magical, and it doesn’t have to be any less so because you're a mother.
Whether you’re a local looking to explore the city and discover the newest spots, or a tourist interested in new adventures, having the experience with kids can be a lot easier than you imagine. Stay strapped, plan accordingly, be creative and, in all you do, don’t second-guess yourself. You don’t have to be a family travel expert to nail this.
Here are some of our best tips for an enjoyable, stress-free trip with babies and slightly older kids:
1. Be tactical when booking flights
When booking flights, it’s probably best to align the flight times to your kids’ bedtime or nap times, especially if there’s a major time zone difference. After considering flight prices and suitable seats, you should look at how the flight works with your kids’ schedules. Cranky or uncomfortable kids don’t make for great travel and as a first-time mum, you want to do all you can to ease the process.
2. Pack smart, light and functional
Keeping things down to the essentials, while ensuring you have everything you need, probably sounds easier in theory than practice. Thankfully, we have a few useful tips to help you nail it.
Try to see which affordable items will be available in the destination of your choice and leave those out. Functional but foldable items, travel bassinets and travel cribs, are perfect for comfort. If it isn’t portable, consider renting at your destination.
Travel packing isn’t the time to test things out; pack things that are comfortable, practical and can be mixed and matched. Kids find creative ways to damage things, so maybe you do need that extra outfit.
3. Have on-the-go childproofing hacks
Unwanted items find kids like magnets find metals and so, half of the battle is making sure they don’t hurt themselves. A quick safety assessment on arrival is an essential part of any trip with kids.
Survey your hotel room, or wherever you’re staying, and get rid of anything that could potentially be dangerous or damaged. If possible, keep drawers closed, lock doors, cover outlets, and move furniture around (a displaced item is better than a broken one). Childproofing materials like corner guards, tapes and cabinet locks will save you time and energy. That way, you can enjoy your trip instead of constantly yelling at your kids to take things out of their mouths.
4. Research is key
As a first-time travel mum, research is your best friend. Think through every step and research accordingly: What documents are needed? Will the child need their own travel ticket? Any ID necessary? Will there be access to excellent healthcare? What’s the distance to my hotel? Is it suitable for kids? Make a list and check it twice.
5. Seek out kid-friendly activities
Skip the cities known almost exclusively for their nightlife and explore more balanced locations. Look up spots suitable for kids (which kid doesn’t love theme parks?), seek out local favourites and pick a destination with lots of entertainment, activities and fun things to do. Visit the playground, explore nature, try indoor rides or stop by a circus.
6. Get a bunch of toys, games and books
Busy kids make for a happy life. Getting a bunch of mini toys, little games and activity books will ensure the kids remain entertained, giving you more time to do the things you love. Our top picks for travel are typically activities that are on the go, not messy and very engaging.
Games that don’t require you to buy anything are also a favourite — more room in your carry-on bag. Young kids love using their imaginations, and there are several ways to play pretend. It’s somewhere new, and the most unexpected things entertain kids anyway.
7. Don’t forget the snacks
Snacks are the gifts that keep on giving: they keep kids entertained, satisfied between meals and provide them with lots of nutrients. Beyond packing the essential baby food, create a varied and healthy snack list; you’ll need those everywhere you go.
8. Strollers and slings will save you
Strollers and slings come in super handy for extra support. Strollers can double as storage and slings can act as blankets. Your destination and type of travel will determine which is more suitable for you. For example, umbrella strollers are more ideal for colder climes and they are easy to travel with.
9. Document the memories
Take pictures, record the excitement, savour every smile and the light in their eyes as they experience new things. Finding fun ways to document the experience will make the trip much more enjoyable and ensure the sweet memories last forever. Travel journals and photo books are some creative ways to do so.
10. Be creative (Different doesn’t mean bad)
Be flexible in your adventure and make room for new, meaningful activities. Do some research on kid-friendly activities and bring surprises on different adventures for an engaging pull. When things don’t go according to plan, be open to trying new things. The unexpected often makes for the best memories.
11. Prioritise self-care and pace yourself
Don’t push yourself too much. Having a stacked holiday with kids is often overwhelming. Take naps, create awesome playlists and unwind when you can. It’s okay to take a break and be patient with yourself. We’re all rooting for you.
12. Embrace community
Travelling with partners, friends or family is great, as it enables you to take even longer breaks. If a family vacation isn’t possible, try travelling to a destination where family and friends live — it doesn’t have to be a family trip to feel like one. Make sure to let go of mum guilt and accept all the help you need.
13. Set realistic expectations
Embrace the adventure and don’t be too hard on yourself. Not ticking off everything on your kid’s travel bucket list doesn’t make it a bad journey. Leave plenty room for mistakes and plan for the unexpected.