Top Ten Tips For Toddler Travel.

Is this where we’re going mummy

I’m known to my friends as last minute Lel.  I do everything last minute (or at least I have up until now).   I usually fly by the seat of my pants and just go where life takes me. This is not to be advised when travelling with a toddler.  Although I’m sure it’s doable, it’s not going to make life easy for me and could make the journey an unpleasant experience for everyone involved. Including my fellow travellers.  

Leo’s carry on case

So here are my top ten tips for organising yourself before you travel with a tot.  

Tip 1. Plan Ahead.

Plan plan plan, then plan some more.  

When I booked our flight I booked Leo as an infant on lap which means he doesn’t  have a carry on baggage allowance.   I have to be economical with our packing. Activities that don’t take up much room are a must.   Sticker books are a big hit with Leo. I’ve also bought a colouring book and crayons, a story book targeted to his age, small tubs of play dough and some cars.  I loaded his iPad with all of the Shrek movies (his favourite) and got him a set of wireless headphones.   I’ve been making sure Leo plays with them and gets used to wearing them before we go.

I’ve ripped pages out of his colouring books and wrapped each page around 2 crayons then tied it off with a piece of string. These puzzles have been keeping him entertained for around half an hour at a time.  They also have the added bonus of taking up less room in my bag than a full box of crayons and colouring books. Do what works for you. Leo loves to fiddle with things so the crayon wraps work for us. 

TIP 2.  Contact Your Airline and Airport.

Once I booked my flights I called my airline to find out if they had bassinet seats available on my flight.  Not all flights have this (mine doesn’t) and those that do tend to book up quickly.  Once I called my airline, I called the airport to find out their policy on baby milk. The government guidelines in the UK state that 200 ml portions of formula are allowed to travel with the baby.  Some airports have their own policies so I called ahead to be safe. I am able to take his formula.  Leo still has follow on milk for falling asleep.  The ready made cartons tend to be around 180 mls and he doesn’t mind drinking these at room temperature if they can’t be warmed up. 

TIP 3.  Don’t Pay For In Flight Meals.

Firstly in flight meals are very rarely toddler friendly. Secondly they’re served on a schedule and it’s very difficult to explain to a hungry toddler that it’s not dinner time.

I’ve decided to forego the in flight meals for me, Leo and Emily and again this means I’m planning ahead.

I’m taking a few of these with me. I’ll just ask for a cup of boiling water from a flight attendant and we’ll have a quick and easy meal. These are always a hit with both Leo and Ems and porridge keeps them full for hours. Not as healthy as real porridge but on the whole quite nutritious.

We’re going to take some fresh fruit that we’ll freeze the night before so it’s thawed and fresh again by the time we come to eat it.  I’m going to make up sub sandwiches, wrap them in cling film and freeze them the night before we leave. We’ll pack these just before we go so like the fruit they’ll be fresh and crisp by the time we are ready to eat them.

I’m also packing frozen tubes of yogurt (less than 100ml) for Leo. They will be fresh and thawed by the time he wants to eat them.

Juicy cups are a must.  It’s a comfort to Leo and it’s important to keep him hydrated when travelling.  I’m going to buy some cartons of juice once we’ve cleared security. I’m chalking juice up to airport expenses.

 

TIP 4.  Layer Up!

All My Things

With only two carry on bags for myself, Emily and Leo and with the food and toddler essentials to pack you have to wonder where I’m going to store everything else I need. Well my grand plan is to layer up. Living in Scotland this is something I do naturally anyway due to the weather. Mine and Emily’s airport outfit will consist of sports bra, cami vest top, long sleeved t shirt, hoodie, jacket, scarf, hat, comfy leggings, boots and socks. Each layer can be stripped off and stored if the cabin temperature rises and put back on as it falls.

TIP 5 Keep A Routine.

If you follow tip number 1 and plan ahead then keeping a routine should be easy enough. I booked our flights each way to leave at 4pm. This gives me time to do a last itinerary check and make sure I have everything. We also have time to have a big lunch and make sure Leo gets a good nap.  An afternoon flight means I can get to the airport a few hours early and be relaxed about the whole experience. Being relaxed and enjoying the experience from the get go is important to me. I want our holiday to start from the minute we wake up on the 23rd.  It’s our adventure and we are going to enjoy it. 

We only have 3 hours in the air until Leo’s bedtime, I’m going to follow his usual bedtime routine in flight. I’ve packed his sleeping bag, pj’s a toothbrush, toothpaste, a bottle and formula. He might sleep/he might not, but at least he will be relaxed and comfortable and feeling a sense of familiarity.

TIP 6. Make Things Easy.

Make everything as easy as possible on yourself and the kids. Resign yourself to the fact that the first and last day of your holiday are for travel. Take your time, make it as fun as possible and don’t sweat the small stuff.

Let the kids help with the packing, they might not know they’re going on holiday but they will feel involved with you and the excitement and energy.

Speak to other parents and ask for tips. One of the coolest tips I got was to pack nappy kits. In a nappy bag, pack 1 nappy and a few wipes. So every time Leo needs changed I’m just grabbing 1 ready made nappy kit instead of a nappy, baby wipes and nappy sacks. These also pack up smaller for your bag.

TIP 7. Let Them Burn Off Energy.

You’re going to be in the airport a few hours, it’s busy and the temptation will be to keep the little ones in their pushchair. Some airports have soft plays. Some airports will have quieter spots. I’m going to let Leo run about as much as possible prior to boarding. Once we’re on the flight I’ll have to hold him in one place for a while. This is going to be much easier if he hasn’t been sat cooped up in a pushchair for hours.

I’m going to get to the airport early and have fun with the kids. Run about with them, play, laugh and burn off steam. We are going on holiday after all.

TIP 8. Bring Medicine.

You never know when sickness will strike and you don’t want to be caught unaware. Single sachets of Calpol are small and easy to pack. You don’t need a spoon to administer them and Calpol is always handy. These are already packed in the front pocket of my duffle bag.

TIP 9. Make The Flight As Comfortable As Possible.

This is something I’ve been panicking about. I booked a budget airline with budget seats and my 28 pound toddler is travelling on my lap.

I decided to buy this inflatable set from Amazon.  It’s made by a company called James Bentley. The link is below. It has arrived and is small and compact in the original packaging so it fits in my bag fine. I’m not sure how small I’ll manage to make it pack on our return flight. I think it will be useful. I’ll have a place to put my feet up and the cushion on my lap will mean my arms aren’t taking all of Leo’s weight.  I’ll do a review of this product when I get back from New York.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0756B5579/ref=asc_df_B0756B557957381782/?tag=googshopuk-21&creative=22146&creativeASIN=B0756B5579&linkCode=df0&hvadid=309911992479&hvpos=1o1&hvnetw=g&hvrand=9630746342655490145&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=&hvdev=m&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=1007337&hvtargid=

The flight I’ve booked does have WiFi but no power points. So to make sure our flight is comfortable and no one (the teenager) is sitting saying I’m bored. I’ve ordered portable chargers for the iPad, kindle and mine and Ems phones.

TIP 10. Utilise Every Space You Can.

When travelling with babies and toddlers all airlines (even budget ones) allow for one pushchair and one car seat per infant.

There is no weight restriction on this so if your pushchair is able to fold safely with stuff in the basket this is another great way to be able to pack more things.

I’m going to carry our neck cushions on to the flight already on our necks and use Leo’s blanket as a shawl to save space in my bags. 

And finally the items I’m not risking travel without. Dummy’s and extra dummy’s. Dummy clips so they don’t get dropped on floor. Disposable place mats for trays and disposable bibs. These can all be thrown away so we don’t get cluttered and I’m packing a spare set of clothes each in case of any accidents .

Dipping My Toes Back In The Pond!



So I’ve decided to channel Maya Angelou on this one.  I’m going to have the courage to fall in love one more time, always one more time.  After being psychologically Ike Turnered for the past 3 years I’m sure people will understand that I’ve been sitting firmly on the side of the jaded when it comes to dating.  So why take this step? I can hear you all asking yourselves, is she ready?  Maybe she should just go to New York and see how she feels when she comes back.  And yes I agree with all the scepticism.  I have my mothers voice ringing around my head like a bell.  “You shouldn’t be dating yet.”

Tinder Profile Picture

But I’ve decided to fight back against my own scepticism and my mums warnings.  Not only for myself but for my daughter.  I have a 14 year old girl who now believes that all men are awful.  I’m a big girl, you don’t get to my age without being slightly jaded but she hasn’t even began to date yet.  Talking with my teenager who has already hardened her heart against the idea of love made me realise I owe it to her.  I owe it to her and to myself to get back out there.  To show her that one bad man is not representative of the whole dating experience.  

we’ve all been there

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m under no illusions that I’m going to immediately find mister right, fall madly in love and start a new family within a couple of weeks of meeting someone (I’m not insane).  After escaping the mental terrorism of the last few years, I’m definitely taking the slow and steady get to know you approach to dating and to everything else in life. I’m actually thinking of it less as dating and more as making friends who might have potential to grow into something more.   

Never a truer word spoken 

So I’ve gone on a couple of dates this past week and so far so good.  I’ve met a couple of seemingly nice people and I’m looking forward to getting to know them better.  I’m also getting taking out dancing this weekend which should be really good fun, it’s been a while.  I’m not jumping head first into anything and my eyes are wide open for red flags but I am glad to be out there again.

Dancing this weekend 

So I’m opening myself back up to falling in love again and not just to falling in love with someone else. I’ve fallen in love with the idea of travelling with the kids and I’ve fallen in love with the plans I’ve made for the future.   Every step forward I take, I get some of me back and I’m falling in love with myself a little more every day. I hope I’m leading by example for Ems.

My inspiration in life
Save yourself 
Looking forward 

xxx

BREAKING UP IS HARD TO DO!

The first blog post.

Updated: 17 hours ago.

This is true about most things, business, relationships, marriages. There’s no easy way to do it and some people take the cowards way out. This was my experience. In August this year (2018), after 3 years together, I got a text from my then boyfriend (now ex) on our sons first birthday. Just six little words and an x. “I am breaking up with youx”. There had been no explanation, no conversation. Leo and I had been sitting at home waiting on him coming through the door when the text arrived. He had been working away. The distance had gotten to us.

We didn’t hear from him for another couple of weeks and he wouldn’t answer my calls. We had been dismissed. He eventually came home the third week in August to talk. He promised there was no one else and he was moving back to Scotland as soon as his contract was up. I knew he was lying. The next couple of months plodded on and we didn’t hear from him or see him. Then one normal Monday morning at my work, I got a surprise phone call from his pregnant girlfriend. She had known nothing about me or Leo and she was on the warpath to find out. He had denied having any children. I wasn’t surprised by the call, for some reason I’d been expecting it. I guess I always knew deep down exactly who he was. After some serious drama we severed all ties. So there I was alone with my babies. Working full time and suffering the mum guilt that all mums experience. I felt guilty for having such poor taste in men. In particular for choosing Leo’s daddy in the first place. I was heartbroken for my son that his daddy just wasn’t able to stick around and had moved on to a new family. I felt guilty that I couldn’t spend enough time with Leo while holding down a full time job and I was raging like a bull in a china shop at the whole awful situation. I decided my life needed to change.

The first step I took was to escape the situation entirely. I wanted to take my kids away somewhere and heal my little family. A new perspective on life was called for and nothing changes your perspective quite like travel. Emily had always wanted to go to New York so I sat down one night and booked a holiday. I found flights on Skyscanner for the 3 of us for £750 return. Flying direct to New York from Edinburgh with Norwegian Air. I booked an Airbnb in Brooklyn for 2 weeks for £1500. I saved every penny between October and December for spending money. I got myself a Revolut travel card for interbank exchange rates and I youtubed and googled and researched every thing I could find out about travelling with a baby.

After researching a lot about New York, I knew I would be exploring a lot on foot. I vowed never to take a cab. I researched and found the best toddler sling I could. My personal preference was from Tula. It offered really good support, despite Leo being just over 2 stone (30 pounds). I researched the best pushchairs for travel. My favourite was the Quinny Zapp I liked the zapp because it was so lightweight and folded so small it could fit in a shoulder bag. It can be parent or world facing and Leo found the seat unit really comfortable he had no problem sleeping in it. I found 45 free things to do in New York. I found information on how to pack for a long haul with a baby, how to keep them in a routine in flight and how to keep them occupied. I made plans for getting from New York Stewart Airport to our apartment in Brooklyn without using a cab and I started feeling like a bit of a boss.

So now the dust has settled and we are getting ready for New York in 20 days. I finally decided to write a blog. Mostly for myself and my own sense of sanity but also to document the journey forward to a happy future with my wee family. Onwards and upwards and away from the last 3 years of hurt, betrayal and negativity. xxx

The Countdown is on