Travelling with babies, toddlers & young children

Are we there yet?

Tips for travelling with babies, toddlers & young children

Parents need a holiday more than anyone. But getting to or from a holiday destination with young children can be enough to put you off leaving home.

As experienced childcare experts, we have these tips on how to make a car or plane journey go as smoothly as possible:


If you’re driving, try to time your departure for naptime or even at night. You could do your normal bath and bedtime routine and then pop them in their carseat as you’re ready to set off. Be sure to have everything packed and ready to go before then. If they sleep in the car, you will be saved from having to point out every passing tractor or cow in a field…

Flights can be more tricky, with lots of waiting around in airports and less flexibility on times. Make sure you leave yourself plenty of time so that you don’t have to rush to catch a flight. Little legs don’t move fast and a last minute nappy change or feed will add to pressure. See our other tips below on how to make flights more manageable.

Try to avoid travelling if you’ve just embarked on potty training – or be prepared to hold off on the training for a while – because stopping for emergencies toilet breaks adds to stress levels and means carting a potty with you everywhere you go.

Planning & packing

It can be tempting to pack everything you could possibly need, but you need to weigh that up with practicality. Here’s an essentials list of what to pack for a journey:

  • Nappies, wipes, mat, cream, nappy sacks (which double up as bin or sick bags)
  • Change of clothes for you and your child – take the climate of your destination into account and pack layers. You may need to change your own clothes if there is a food, drink or nappy accident
  • Snacks – steer away from sugar to avoid energy highs but take plenty of healthy snacks to keep boredom and tantrums at bay
  • Have lots of milk for babies and spare sterilised bottles
  • Water – for the whole family
  • Meals for weaning babies or picky toddlers plus a spoon/bib. You can normally find suitable meals en route for older children
  • A blanket or favourite toy
  • Entertainment for older children, like an activity magazine, tablet or crayons. Don’t reveal all the toys/activities at once. Keep them as surprises for meltdown moments
  • Any medications needed
  • Ensure all of this is kept in your hand luggage for flights or on hand in a car
  • For slightly older children, consider audio books either on an iPad or on a car CD to listen to as a way to pass the time. Singalong song CDs are also good for car journeys

Some other things to think about when planning:

  • You might want to check whether you baby’s brand of formula is available in the country you are travelling too.
  • Don’t forget to buy travel insurance and get currency changed before you go so that you don’t have to search out a bank on arrival.
  • Be sure that passports are valid!

Flying tips

  • Check in online to save time and faffing at the airport plus ensure that you all sit together.
  • If you have a baby or toddler who will need to be on your lap, be sure to book a bulkhead seat so that you have a cot or bouncy seat to strap them into. Both you and they will get some much-needed rest.
  • If possible, try to time your baby’s feeds for take off and landing. The swallowing action will help them adjust their ear pressure and distract them as they’re held firmly in your lap.
  • Avoid toys that make a noise. They’ll drive you and your fellow passengers crazy. Don’t have toys with too many bits to them as they will be difficult to retrieve when they’re dropped on the floor.
  • Pre-book a child’s meal if you’re on a long journey.

On Arrival

  • If you’re hiring a car after flying to your destination, send one parent ahead to sort out the car, while the other gets through passport control or collects the bags. This will save you time with overtired children.
  • Pack your bags with your arrival time in mind. Getting in late? Have PJs and toothbrushes on top. Getting in early, have swimmers and beach towels at the ready.
  • If possible, have pre-arranged for a few grocery staples to be provided at your accommodation for your arrival or take them with you if you’re driving. Or arrange for an online grocery delivery to arrive shortly after you do.

Whilst You’re Away

  • This is your holiday so be sure to factor in some time for you. Consider hiring a holiday nanny or arrange a babysitting service for some of the evenings. Contact Lemonjelly – we arrange holiday nannies and depending on where you’re holidaying, can supply babysitting services too.
  • Ease up on your normal routines. You will enjoy your holiday more if you relax the rules a little and allow later bedtimes or less rigid naptimes. Take your cue from your child.
  • Don’t overload the days with activities. Simple pleasures like building sand castles let you be a kid again and your tot will love it too.

Remember, even if travelling to your destination feels like hard work, the memories you make as a family will be worth it.

What travel tips do you have for other parents? Share them with us.

Leave a Reply

Lemonjelly Childcare Solutions