Should we do it? Long-haul travel with children: The ultimate tips from a seasoned family traveller

January 10, 2024

Should we do it? Long-haul travel with children: The ultimate tips from a seasoned family traveller

Written by Courtney Norris, Co-founder of House Of Bimbi


Embarking on a long-haul trip for any family with small children can feel very daunting. We have all observed other parents struggling with luggage and a screaming baby on our travels and certainly not wanted to trade places with them.


As a first-time mother of a 6-month old, I left Australia for Italy for the very first time, blissfully unaware of the actual journey ahead of me. I had over-packed with all the things I really didn’t need and I wished I had brought more of things I didn’t need to bring. As a quick learner and understanding that these trips were going to be an essential part of our family, I became determined that next time, I've got to do it better.


Below is a list for my very best tips and advice for any family travelling by plane or car or train. Whether it be a short flight or long-haul journey to the other-side of the world, these tips will certainly save you and your sanity.


My key takeaway is don’t be scared, it will be worth it. Most importantly, set your expectations to be realistic. Nothing will run on time, or perfectly, you just need to do your best and know that your arrival will be the moment you can implement some routine. The journey is only a part of the vacation.


1.)  Pack every member of your family into an individual bag each. This will save you time when finding what you need in a hurry. Especially with a baby, who generally needs more and who you need to unpack first once arriving.


2.)  Use packing cells in different colours for each child, this makes finding and repacking so much easier and efficient on layovers.


3.)  Activity books, colouring books, stickers, Hey clay kits and card games. These are essential to passing time on long haul travels when iPads are exhausted and children need to be entertained.


4.)  SNACKS! I cannot tell you enough how important it is to have familiar snacks for a child, something that they like and want during delayed travel. This will certainly help with delaying many meltdowns and tears.


5.)  The crucial flight times. If you can fly during or board soon after their bed time I would choose this option over an earlier or later flight. It means they will naturally sleep or they will want to relax vs daytime flights which seem to last for a lifetime.


6.)  Pack extra clothes – for you, for the children. It is amazing how many accidents or needs to change clothes happen.  Sleep wear are essential. It sets the mood and tone for the time in which children need to sleep. My advice if travelling with a child in nappies still, ensure they wear a top and bottom. This makes quick changing easier and more realistic in a travel environment which isn’t ideal or convenient.


7.)  Devices - download their favourite shows, movies, music on screens and phones. These will be your life saver for delayed flights, longer landings or departures and everything out of your control.


8.)  Arriving early to your departure - children sense your anxiety and if you allow time to check in and depart, it will give them space to burn crucial energy and adapt to their environment. Airports and train stations are overwhelming, even for adults and this will give you time as a family to adjust. The least amount of rushing the better for all.


9.)  Chargers – universal chargers are essential to ensure all devices are charged and ready for the next leg of your journey. I love the chargers you can pre-charge and then use without proximity to a power source. Game changer!


10.)  If travelling with babies, bring their familiar blanket or soft toy, particularly if you have numerous sleeping environments on their trip. It will give them a sense of familiarity and safety which they need on vacation. Don’t underestimate how much they observe and are aware of. This includes their noise machine and anything else they associate with their regular sleep environment.


Although travelling with little ones is daunting, preparing for travel is a must. If your little ones are entertained, comfortable and most importantly tummies are full, it most likely will ensure a smoother experience for all. One promise I can guarantee, is that once you arrive at your destination, it will be worth all the hairy moments. We choose to travel, babies do not and as their parents our role is to try and support them, as best we can, to the incredible experiences that a vacation can bring.  Buon Viaggio!

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