At the end of this week, I will embark on a transatlantic plane journey from Canada to France with my 4-year-old and 3-month-old. It will be hectic, and I will be alone for the first half of the trip. We will be away for nearly a month. Needless to say, it is quite daunting, and I need to be sure to pack very carefully, to ensure I have everything that the kids and I will need, but keep it as hassle-free as possible. I also want to keep my trip as low waste as possible. Here are some tips that I've come up with and want to share with you!
Babies should only use sun cream if they are 6 months or older. Younger babies like mine need to be kept shaded, so a hat and a muslin cloth are essential.If like me you have a chubby baby with rolls, their creases could get hot and sweaty, and rub their skin raw. A great solution is to put on a bit of bentonite clay on the creases to keep them dry. You won’t need much, so spoon a few tablespoons into a small jar to pop into your wash bag.
Babies can make messes! Castile soap is another handy item to take on vacation in case you need to do a bit of hand washing clothes and don’t have access to a washer. Castile soap can also be watered down to use on the skin and hair, eliminating the need to take both shampoo and soap.
They take up a lot of luggage space. If you use cloth diapers, maybe take a few, but cut yourself some slack and consider doing a mix of disposables, or use them entirely. If you are visiting friends or family, or know people who live near to where you are going, find some you like online, order them before your trip, and have them delivered to that person’s address, to save running to a store as soon as you arrive.
If you’re exclusively breastfeeding, you won’t really need anything specific for your baby. If you are bottle-feeding, airport security will allow you to take liquids onto the flight, but security officers may need to test it.
They won't need much so keep them to a minimum; I limited mine to three small, familiar objects that I know the baby likes and uses.
Entertainment for the Plane
A coloring book and crayons might occupy them for some time. Travel related books or comics would be exciting for them and could motivate them to look at them while on the plane! A stuffed animal that is flat and pillow-like would also be handy to try to get them comfortable and cozy enough to sleep. Download some games on your phone before-hand in case you need a last-resort distraction.
Clothes and Luggage
Limit the items! Preschoolers have a tendency to obsess over one item and wear it again and again. I’ve packed my daughter three dresses, three t-shirts, one pair of leggings, a cardigan, and her bathing suit. Instead of cramming her clothes into my luggage, she has a Trunki, which she can sit on, get pulled on, and take onto the plane. It’s awesome!
Again, cutting them down is the key! Don’t forget the favorite lovie, of course, but hopefully, they’ll want to explore a new environment on vacation, so something to encourage that, like a magnifying glass is a nice addition if you have one, and a notebook for them to draw their observations. Also, a couple of pictures of their best buddies at home could help if, like my daughter, they might complain about missing them while they’re away!
Don't forget to pack the safety essentials for a beach or pool holiday! Sun cream using protective properties like zinc are good for children. Floaties or a life jacket are a must if the child will be going into or near water.
Rather than splash out on a marketed “nursing” bathing suit, a halter neck one will work just as well, which can offer easy access for feeding. To avoid let-down messes in the pool or at the beach, you can get silicone nursing pads, like those made by Lilipadz. These are a good investment as they last for over a year so can be used even after your vacation.A large sunhat is really useful as it’ll offer extra shade for your baby. A thin muslin cloth would also offer both extra shade for baby and good privacy cover for you when you’re breastfeeding.
I will definitely need two hands when we're going to the airport! I don't want to drag along a suitcase. Instead, I'll take a large hiking backpack to put on my back, and have the baby in the carrier at my front, and both hands-free to reign in the 4-year-old. Hiking backpacks tend to have lots of compartments for storing extra bits, like your kids' wet shoes, and other last-minute items that you need to stuff in. A fanny pack is also a convenient way to have your plane snacks, passports and boarding cards at the ready. If you don't have either of these, ask around your friends to see if there are ones you could borrow!
Pack light! I am limiting my items to a few dresses, two pairs of shorts, two skirts, some nursing tops, a light cardigan in case of chilly evenings, and those oh-so-comfortable harem pants.
Food for the Plane
Whilst the baby is sorted with milk, a preschooler can have all kinds of on-the-spot food demands! I’m going to take the following in case she isn’t interested in the plane food, or needs to snack:
Chopped cucumber and peppers.Tangerine.Quick-cook oats in a jar.A low-sugar/sugar-free snacks (we don't want a sugar rush on a night flight!)
If you want to try and eliminate some plastic waste on the plane, you could also throw in a non-breakable bowl and a couple of bamboo sporks.
Hope that these tips help!
Happy (stress-free!) travels!