One of my favorite quotes is “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” I feel strongly that instilling a love of reading is critical to raising children. However, I feel as strongly about traveling. Embracing cultures, diversity, and empathy for others are just the beginning of the benefits of children who travel. A recent article I read that says everything I believe why travel is never wasted on young kids.
Whether it’s the food or the heat, or just your daily schedule getting in the way, I want to virtually put my arm around you and whisper “but it’s so worth it” in your ear. Give yourself permission to take those dream trips across town to a good friend’s house you rarely see or to sled down a volcano in Italy. Here are a few tips for traveling the world with children 0-5 to make those dream trips a reality!
This is number one on my list. For kids 0-5, the chance of getting something dirty is very high while out exploring on your vacation. You do not have immediate access to laundry, so this handy soaking bucket for the big or small messes of the day is PERFECT. At the risk of being too graphic, my daughter got the stomach flu on a 6 hour car ride and if only I had heard of this item sooner, that ride would have been a lot less expensive as we had to throw several clothing items away.:)
Every once in a while I see super mama lugging a stroller that looks heavier than all of my luggage combined. I feel immediately empathetic, but this is why I have to recommend this Maclaren stroller. It is only 9 lbs; super lightweight, but completely durable for any vacation. It was worth it’s weight in gold when I took a trip with my 6 month old to Israel and had to climb up and down the hills of Jerusalem. I felt like a superhero! Leave the bulky mega stroller with its own pop up restaurant storage compartments at home!:)
This little gem of a gadget I discovered while waiting in a 3 hour line at customs. I am a huge advocate for waiting until a child is 2 years old before any screen time, however, there are situations where you may bend the rules. When my daughter was 2 1/2 years old, we were traveling home for the summer and after 20 hours of traveling, standing in a 3 hour line at Dulles seemed like the nail in the coffin. She didn’t want to sit in the stroller after the long flight and I didn’t blame her as we all needed to stretch our legs. A little boy in front of us had the iGuy and was easily able to walk and still hold onto the iPad without dropping it. I think it’s a genius contraption, plus its adorable.
There are many times where convenience meets packing light in a beautiful symbiotic relationship. This amazing 3 in 1 Travel Bassinet is a treasure for those traveling with babies. This is especially great for airplane travel; its collapsible bassinet is worth it’s weight in gold since those coveted bulkhead seats with the bassinet are so hard to get. Long layovers are a breeze without having to run to the bathroom dragging 3 kids and 6 carryons behind you.
I learned quickly that parents figuratively lose an arm when they have a child. I have walked through many an airport and up a hotel staircase while simultaneously carrying a child, a stroller, a car seat, a toy, a coat, an electronic device, a purse, a diaper bag, a ticket, a credit card, an itinerary, a sweater, a pair of shoes, a balloon, etc. These wipes attach to anything and open with the press of a button. You will need to refill often, but when your hands are this full and a child sneezes, you will send up a silent (or loud) thankful prayer.
Going to a restaurant is part of most people’s reality when traveling. My family does not always choose the kid friendly places that have a stack of wooden high chairs in the corner. If you know you are going to be eating out a lot or plan on going to grown up restaurants, this is definitely a worthwhile item to pack! (Yes, I encourage encouraging little foodies!)
Admit it, we all cry a little on the inside when we have to empty the contents of a bag or purse because we forgot that juice box at the bottom of the bag. I also have the same feeling when I am trying to find a spoon to feed my child and end up dumping out everything just to find it in my pocket. This amazing zippered pouch has everything you need all packed neatly together for extreme convenience.
I know it is a very delicate balance with bringing what you need as far as medicine and first aid supplies. Really this is so dependent on your destination. If there is a drugstore on every corner, you will be able to pack more lightly. Traveling in remote places means you are going to have to bring the medicine cabinet in your backpack. For the essentials only, this first aid kit is perfect. Its compact and has a carabiner to clip anywhere. There are clear pockets so you can find things easily and clearly marked expiration dates. I suggest putting emergency contact information for where you are traveling inside this kit to have all the phone numbers/addresses you need in an emergency. (embassy emergency contacts, nearest hospital info., list of allergies, etc.)
Just like with rotating books every so often, my advice is to have a separate stash of toys, books, games specifically for traveling. I know I hate running around the house pulling items together for each trip when I have a million things on my list. You can switch some of the items out depending on your destination, but having this ready to go will help in the planning and allow you to relax a bit more knowing that you have less work to do before your trip. If you really want to go the extra mile, purchase a few new items and allow your child to unwrap them on the trip. Nothing fancy, it can be wrapped in the paper bags from the grocery store, but it adds a little magic to the trip.
My recommendation for the best baby toy out there is the Manhattan Toy’s Skwish toy. It’s a modern rattle with a mesmerizing twist! Kids will love it! For pre-school age children, no roll Crayola crayons paired with a coloring book with their favorite characters is pure gold. For older children, the Amazon Free Time is a wonderful investment. It’s a kindle/ iPad hybrid designed specifically for children. Parental controls allow you to designate reading before games/videos as well as have it lock after a certain amount of minutes. No more sleeping with one eye open making sure the kids haven’t been on the iPad all night during a red-eye!
My final item is a personal favorite. You will come across fountains, puddles, hotel swimming pools, water parks, rivers, and a million other places where the kids can jump out and go get wet! Personally, I have adopted the European freedom of sending my child in with just underwear if need be, but having bathing suits handy in a purse, backpack, or carry-on is a MUST. Remember you have your collapsible bucket to wash out the chlorine or mud!;)
This Go Pod is a perfect invention for your perfect baby. It’s the best portable play station I have seen for those flight risk babies who crawl away. A mother surely invented this; it has a floor mat for the germaphobes and loops for their favorite toys to save your back from having to bend over and pick them up every 5 seconds. This is not an essential item by any means, but a great extra for visiting places that aren’t necessarily kid-friendly.
Now all that is left is planning the trip!:) My best advice for parents is to have one parent in charge. Do yourselves a favor for your relationship, please do not share the burden of any one duty while traveling. For example, one person packs and knows where everything is. One person plans and books hotels. The worst thing is to have you and your partner on vacation playing the “do you have it? No I thought you had it!!” game! Relax with that book you have been dying to read on your Goodreads list knowing everything is organized!
Teaching Kids to Read Ages 0-5
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