It’s no secret that I love to travel. It’s something I’ve always done, and although I’ve slowed down a little since having children it’s not something I’m prepared to give up. I honestly believe it’s part of who I am, and it continues to help shape me as a person. I also think I’m a better parent when I’m able to visit somewhere new. Perhaps because I’m more eager to explore and learn new things myself that as a consequence my children are subject to all those new experiences too.
It took me a long time to feel secure enough after Little London’s birth to go away with him. It resulted in a disastrous trip to Amsterdam. But after we came to terms with that we didn’t really stop. In fact during my pregnancy with Baby London we managed to get away and enjoy Marrakech followed by two nights in Iceland.
This time around, I feel more confident travelling with a baby. So much so that before she was born Baby London already had some amazing holidays to look forward to.
We’ve planned a break to Provence in France- somewhere close by to dip our toes and get comfortable travelling with two children. And then at the end of the year we’ll be heading to Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam.
With the summer holidays looming, I thought it would be a good idea to share my travel hacks with you. Because over time I’ve learnt some great tips to get the best out of travelling with your children.
I’ll never understand package holidays. Yet so many people book package holidays thinking they have a deal. If you do the hard work yourself you can save so much money and create a bespoke holiday that suits your family (or if you don’t fancy doing it, let me… I literally thrive on booking holidays). For our Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam trip we’re paying £85 per night for our accommodation (high end luxury) in total including breakfast. That’s for a family of 4.
In monetary speak if Baby London was free, Little London was £10 per night, the cost per adult is only £37.50. I think that’s really reasonable.
Of course some of the places we’re staying cost more per night and others cost less but that’s our average cost… at the moment. Because of the age of Little London and Baby London I’ve boycotted anywhere that wouldn’t be suitable. So all the places we’re staying have beautiful swimming pools and air conditioning for example so we can enjoy our homes away from home. Plus they all come with excellent reviews.
I often book with booking.com and take advantage of their free cancellation policy. Before that policy runs out I’ll often double check the going rate of the room we’ve booked, because as the time of your holiday gets closer, hotels will often reduce their prices to tempt people to book the remaining rooms. So I’ll rebook, and then cancel our original booking for free.
So who knows, our £85 per night costing at the moment still has the ability to reduce further.
This doesn’t always work though. Our trip to France for example we’ve booked two separate places but they’re small boutique BnB’s, so they only have one of a kind rooms. So we’re locked into the price we said we’d pay.
2. City Tour by Baby Jogger
When travelling with children, don’t underestimate the usefulness of a stroller. At the age of 3 our son no longer uses a stroller day to day. But if we’re travelling we’ll always make sure we bring one. The heat can make him more lethargic for example, so having something he can nap in or relax in if we’re out is a bonus (it has a reclining seat and a uv 50+ extendable canopy to make it a comfortable and suitable option).
What you don’t want to do is bring something big and bulky that’ll just get in the way or take up a lot of space.
Weighing just 6.45kg and measuring 56 x 23 x 45cm the City Tour by Baby Jogger meets the guidelines for overhead storage on flights. It also comes in a handy back pack style bag so when it’s not in use you can carry it on your back- for me this will be particularly useful when Baby London reaches the recommended age of 6 months old and we’re travelling. If we visit somewhere that’s not pushchair friendly I can just sling it on my back and use a baby carrier to carry her instead. But I’ll have the pushchair handy at all times should I need it.
This stroller is also perfect for city dwellers, such as Londoners who are frequently using escalators and stairs to navigate transport.
3. Baby Carrier
When travelling I think a baby carrier and a good stroller go hand in hand. It gives you different options. The fact that the City Tour by Baby Jogger can be carried on your back means that it works perfectly with a baby carrier to cover all eventualities when travelling.
Our carrier of choice at the moment is the Caboo. Because Baby London is little, I’ve found many carriers don’t suit her. But the easy to use (yes really) Caboo is genuinely useable from birth- from 5lbs. I’ve always been a bit scared to use wrap style carriers, but Caboo has a really simple set up that gives me the same confidence as a structured baby carrier.
The carrier I’m using is one of their newest designs which has been brought out to celebrate their 10th anniversary and it’s made with a cotton blend, so it’s super comfortable to wear. Baby London loves it, and if she’s ever unsettled I find putting her in this calms her down straight away as she’s able to hear my heart beat and she’s upright making her instantly more comfortable in terms of gassiness.
Unlike structured carriers, the Caboo also packs up into itself when not in use and fits into my baby bag. For travelling that makes it perfect because it’s nice and compact.
4. Steriliser Bags
If you need to sterilise bottles, dummies, teething rings or anything else, make sure you travel with some steriliser bags. They last for 24 hours and make sure that all the utensils your baby might need or use will be safe to put in their mouths. Just make sure to pack some in your suitcase and some in your hand carry. You don’t want to be caught short with no way of sterilising if your baggage gets delayed for whatever reason. These bags can be used with the tap water from your destination and come with a sterilising tablet per bag ready for instant use. To get further use out of each bag bring some Milton tablets with you and reuse the bags!
5. Bank Card Services
Make sure you check with your bank to see if you’re paying a monthly fee for your account. If you are, chances are you have travel insurance included as part of the service. Make sure to give them a call before you leave just to double check if you’re fully covered (including if you’re pregnant) and of any additional bonuses. My bank account for example insures my entire family in terms of travel.
6. NSAuk Deluxe Travel Centre
Randomly I won a NSAuk Deluxe Travel Centre from another blog, and it’s become a staple for us when we travel. It’s lightweight (so much lighter than a travel cot) and it can be one of your free baby items for a flight- which you can also pack loads of nappies into if you so wish.
Although it can be used to give UV protection and somewhere safe for children to hide from the sun on the beach or in a garden, we use it for its travel cot purposes. When we travelled around Austria and Slovenia our son slept in this throughout that period, and whenever we go away we bring it with us.
The travel centre is a pop up tent, and it fits a child of up to 5 years old (height dependent). Inside it has a self inflating mattress, and the windows can either be left open or you could close just the insect mesh for night time protection.
Because we use this travel centre, we’ve often found we can get cheaper deals when it comes to accommodation. Often places will start charging for children over the age of two because they require a bed, but we often explain that our son likes to share our bed and won’t sleep in a separate bed- when in reality he’ll sleep in the travel centre (his choice, as he’s more then welcome to jump in with us).
Because of his height though we’re slowly going to have to phase out the use of our travel centre as a sleeping arrangement, we’ll get maybe half a year more out of it but it’s ready for Baby London when she’s old enough!
7. Kids Kindle Fire & Basic Toys
A long day exploring can be throughly enjoyable for little legs. But children do get tired and by the evening they’ll often need something to zone out on, either back at the room or if you decide to head out for dinner. You Tube on your phone is going to cost you an arm and a leg, so I highly advise getting a Kids Kindle Fire.
Plus it comes with a 2 year replacement guarantee which covers any damage (including Mr London Mum standing on the Kindle and breaking the screen…).
I also always carry a few little cars with me. I don’t bring loads of toys when away because I find my son plays with anything in his surroundings and then always seems to want just basic toys to keep him occupied. Cars are great for this.
Whatever your child is into, bring with you if it’s small enough just for those moments where they’re happy and content to play.
8. Car Insurance
Travelling by car can be such a convenient way to explore. I often book a car as part of our flight package because I find the deals really reasonable and it can be a great and affordable way to visit more of the country. But the car insurance you get will always be the most basic.
During our first trip to Iceland we learnt this lesson the hard way. At the car rental desk they tried to up sell their car insurance but the cost of it per day just seemed astronomical. So we refused.
However, whilst driving, a small stone hit our windscreen causing a crack in the glass. Apparently something very common when driving in Iceland. Our basic car insurance didn’t cover cracked windscreens, so we were obligated to pay the full cost of repair. Suddenly that couple of hundred pounds for extra insurance didn’t seem too bad compared to the price of a full windscreen repair.
MoneyMaxim.co.uk allows you to check car insurance policies for driving abroad. For example, for annual car hire insurance in Europe you can pay just £47.50 which will cover you for everything up to £50000 including windscreen damage, wrong fuel, lost keys, breakdown, towing… and that isn’t the cheapest.
Trust me though, it’s always worth getting that extra cover. Our first trip in Iceland would have been a lot cheaper if we’d taken out this insurance. It works out cheaper then the additional insurance they wanted us to add on at the car hire desk too.
9. Flight Comfort
If you’re travelling long distance with your child, it may be worth investing in something that’ll make the flight that bit more bearable. And comfort is key!
The Fly Legsup is a flight hammock that attaches to the tray in front and creates a bed for children to sleep on. A tired child is unbearable really, so making sure they get as good a sleep in as possible really is important for everyones sanity. Being able to stretch out or curl up like they would at home is key here I think.
Fingers crossed on all our flights we manage to get a crib for Baby London, but just in case a FlyeBaby (an infant aeroplane seat) may be the answer to have in our hand luggage. After all, flying for 12 hours or so holding onto a baby just wouldn’t be fun for anyone.
Just to say I haven’t used either of these products, but I’d like to. So if you have let me know, as these are on my purchase list.
Finally fully research the place you’re visiting. Make sure it’s suitable for you as a family. Our winter holiday we did have to reconsider because initially we wanted to go to Bali and then on to Palawan in the Philippines. After doing the research it turns out Bali would have been in the middle of its rainy season, and Palawan really isn’t suitable for children that can’t swim- unless we wanted to leave them in a creche the whole time.
I also have rough plans of things to do in each destination that we have decided on. From quirky cafes and restaurants to amazing, unique experiences that I know my son will love. I don’t structure too much, but having some ideas before going I find is essential to just making sure everyone is happy.
Disclosure: This post has been sponsored by Baby Jogger.