MOMtravelchat: Best Tips For Travel with Tots
For our July #MOMtravelchat we talked all about summer travel with kids 4 and under, a set of travelers who are easy in some ways, but present their own unique challenges (they’re fussy and messy and they travel with a lot of extra stuff).
Here’s what we learned:
New Moms Travel
Our new moms are an adventurous bunch and are not sitting home with their babies and toddlers. Most of them travel two or three times a year with their little families and several get away as many as half a dozen times a year.
Their travel is a mix of long trips and weekends. They travel to visit family, go to the beach and to cities that have quality zoos, aquariums
and kids museums. They travel to amusement parks, too, mostly for the water-play areas. They take preschoolers on cruises and to Disney World. And our outdoorsy moms visit the national parks and camp, even with little ones.
Several have taken the kids north to Canada and south to Mexico. A few families have been overseas and several others are saving for trips to Europe and Asia with the little ones.
Traveling Moms Have Several Ways to Get Around
Our moms are evenly split between preferring to drive or fly with little ones.
Driving moms worry about disturbing other passengers on planes if their kids get upset. They time their drives with naps or bed time and they like being able to stop and take a break from driving whenever they want to.
Flyers like getting to their destination faster, believe their kids are more entertained and distracted by the flight experience and feel they can tend to their kids more easily sitting next to them on a plane, and so can avoid meltdowns better.
All agree the trains work well with small kids because they love not being strapped in, looking out the window and being able to get up and walk around. Dining cars are great because they have tables where kids can eat, play and color.
Flying Moms Balance Safety, Comfort and Convenience
All the moms who flew were considered about their little one’s safety and comfort, but they were split on whether to keep kids under 2 on their lap or buy a seat and carry a car seat. For over-2s, parents believes the CARES harness was a handy alternative.
Moms Plan Around Kids’ Sleep and Eating
Keeping little kids on their eating and sleeping schedules is the biggest challenge when our moms travel. Time changes throw off kids’ internal clocks. And squeezing in naps and bedtime around vacation activities can be tricky. All agree that kids are better behaved if they keep close to a normal schedule. And if they depart from it too much, it’s a struggle to get back to normal when they return home.
But most don’t worry about what their kids will eat; they assume even the pickier kids will find something they like. They want to limit junk food while they still can, and so pack healthy snacks their kids like as backup. Bananas, boiled eggs, cereal bars, puffs and applesauce are their go-to travel foods.
They avoid eating all their meals in restaurants. They look for hotels with refrigerators so they can keep perishables like milk, yogurt, and fruit on hand (actual kitchens are even better). And they love hotels that offer kid-friendly breakfasts.
Moms Think Carefully About What to Pack
The one item parents almost always bring with them is their stroller —often paired with their carrier. The other essential was extra clothes, for mom and baby.
Most moms rent or borrow bulky gear like car seats, high chairs pack ’n’ plays or cribs. Those who bring their own worry about second-hand equipment being clean and in good shape. Those that use a hotel’s crib or pack ‘n’ play often bring their own sheets and blankets for comfort and to make sure the sheets are clean and fit properly.
Some pack diapers to save money and to make sure they have a brand they like; others buy them on arrival for convenience, or do a combination. Those staying with family will have diapers shipped to their destination ahead of time.
Traveling with little ones means always weighing relative convenience, cost, safety when decided where to go, how to get there, what to pack and what to leave behind. Our moms offered some great insights into how those decisions are made and why.
Missed the fun? Try our Next #MOMtravelchat.