Essential Gear (and tips!) when Traveling with Kids
I flew to London with my 2-year old and survived. Traveling with kids is never easy. I’ve done my fair share of domestic travel with Britt, our 2-year old, so when we decided to travel to London from Los Angeles to tag along on my husband’s work trip in January, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. The crazy part was my husband had to extend his trip unexpectedly so instead of canceling the trip, I decided to fly back with Britt solo. I repeat. ALONE. I’m not going to lie. It’s taken me a few weeks to process the PTSD to even attempt to write this post but at the end of the day I’m glad we did it. And we survived.
I thought it would be beneficial to share what products worked really well for us along with some travel-with-kids tips so that my fellow parents feel prepared and empowered to tackle travel with kids.
Every time I wear this parents stop me dead in my tracks. I discovered the Tush Baby late last year and it has been a LIFESAVER! I was never consistent with my baby wearing so my son at some point started to protest the confinement of sitting in one but still prefers to be held. Before I had the Tush Baby, my back was killing me from jutting my hip out and my ‘mommy thumb’ that I worked so hard to rehab was acting up.
This is a doctor-approved strapless baby carrier that evenly distributes your baby’s weight while keeping your spine straight. It also has a ton of storage so you can ditch the diaper bag and keep your phone, a stash of wipes and whatever else you need. Get it here!
Verdict: The best if your kid doesn’t love sitting in the stroller!
So this bed box is pretty genius. This is a ride-on suitcase that turns an economy seat into a bed! It’s approved my many airlines but with most things you bring on board, it’s up to the discretion of the flight attendant - read: if they’re in a good mood or not!
So after the meal service, I discreetly busted this baby out. After a nurse, I quietly transferred Britt who settled right into the bed and my husband and I stared at eachother in disbelief. It was short-lived though since our son woke up shortly after and stayed up for the remainder of the 10.5 hour flight. Kill me. Get it here!
Verdict: 50/50 – A must-have if your kid will sleep on it. If not, it’s a hassle to lug that thing around with all of your other stuff.
Most parents start parenthood with a travel system or full-size stroller. Later, many graduate or buy a second lightweight stroller. Dragging around a 25-30 lb. stroller when you’re running quick errands or traveling is no fun so I always recommend buying or borrowing one when traveling. We went with the Babyzen which is one of the most compact, versatile and lightweight strollers on the market at just under 13 lbs.
The best part is it fits in the overhead bin of an airplane. Again - it matters who you come across and whether or not they let you stow your stroller on-board or gate check it. We made the mistake of rolling up to the gate with the stroller so they forced us to gate check but I quickly learned my lesson and folded it up and put it in the travel bag (included) and walked right on. Trust me - it makes all the difference in the world not to have to wait for a stroller after a flight. Get it here!
Verdict: Very necessary – if not just to hold bags as a cart.
iPad or Tablet
Flights are really the only place I approve of extended screen time. It’s just necessary. Make sure you download everything you can think of before time and keep that baby charged. We got this case for it which has a strap that made it super easy to grab and go instead of always having to stuff it in a bag. It also has a stand. While it was a lifesaver, Britt became ADDICTED to that thing and we had to go through major weaning and withdrawal when we got home so be prepared for your kid to become literally iPad crazy.
Verdict: Must-have even if it melts your kid’s brain.
Britt used to sleep in one of these at daycare until he moved on to the cot so I was a little worried that he’d be like WTF and I was right. We hauled this thing with us thinking if we could get him to sleep in it then we wouldn’t have to worry about him falling out of the bed, but he wouldn’t. The one time I put him in there to nap he ninja’d his way out of it so that was that. A quick tip: If you’re going to use one, make sure your kid is used to sleeping in it. If not, practice a week or two before you leave and have them nap in it so it’s not a complete shock once you get to your destination. Get it here!
Verdict: Great if your kid will sleep in it!
We didn’t bring one since in London a child can travel in the back seat without a car seat when in a taxi. We decided that we were comfortable with that since we were going to be mainly walking and if we were in a taxi, it was rare that we were ever going very fast with all the traffic. Check what the rules are in your destination city before you go. If we had to have brought one, I’ve been eyeing the WAYB Pico, a portable car seat that’s ultralight and compact.
It’s not yet available but they’re running a crowdfunding campaign where you can preorder. It was founded by the former CEO of Patagonia and they’ve raised half a million dollars so far so it looks promising. Keep your eye out for this if you travel a lot for when they launch this Spring! Preorder here for $369 and get the Pico and a travel bag that can be used as a backpack or slipped onto a luggage handle plus FREE shipping!
Verdict: Only bring it if you need it! Otherwise go without or find out if you can rent one at your destination.
Getting back through US customs when you get home.
What. A. Drag. If you travel a lot, it’s worth applying for Global Entry for around $100 so you can literally just walk through as soon as you land. The other thing I learned was that if you download an app called Mobile Passport, it can also speed things up. I wasn’t told about this until I boarded and at that point I didn’t have wifi – pretty annoying since United had a whole ad pushing this but no one could download it! So I was stuck in a long customs line with a screaming child trying to watch Boss Baby about to have a meltdown – but that’s a whole other story.
Board Last – not First
Most parents jump at boarding first as if it’s a perk. Not me. I board last whenever possible since there’s no point in being the first one’s on the plane so that my kid can start to get restless or so we can watch all the other passengers freak out about a kid on the plane. I send my husband first to get the overhead space and then I literally am the last one to board with doors closing behind me and pushing off within 10 minutes. It’s a beautiful thing.
So many germs.
I’m not a big germaphobe in general. In fact I embrace microbes that will boost Britt’s immune system but it’s a different story when traveling. I recommend Babyganics Alcohol-Free Hand Sanitizing Wipes over conventional antibacterial wipes. Triclosan and triclocarban are the most common compounds used as antibacterials in soaps and are linked to endocrine and thyroid hormone disruption increasing the chance of developing allergies, asthma and exzema.
Keep your composure.
There’s always going to be someone that huff’s and puff’s or rolls their eyeballs the moment your child sneezes, giggles or god forbid cries. Take comfort in knowing that most everyone is on your side and has been through it before. I found the flight attendants to be sympathetic and accommodating as well. Keep your cool and just know that this too shall pass. You got this!