Traveling with children during the holiday season can be a delightful and challenging experience for parents, nannies, and newborn care specialists. This extensive guide will explore the intricacies of creating a kid-friendly approach to travel and delve into practical insights on must-haves for nannies and kids on the road. In this blog post, we’ll also discuss the following:
- tangible strategies for efficient packing
- a general all-season packing list for you to revise as needed
- preparing for a flexible itinerary
- navigating airports stress-free
- selecting family-friendly accommodations
- engaging children during travel
- handling unexpected challenges
- creating meaningful keepsakes of travel memories
Basic Travel Must-Haves for Nannies and Children
Embarking on an adventure with children requires meticulous preparation. A well-equipped travel kit is essential for maintaining a sense of familiarity and comfort for the child. Here are some critical must-haves to consider including in your travel kit:
- Diapers, wipes, changing pads, fresh underwear, and socks: Always have an ample supply of the (age-appropriate) items necessary to cover the duration of your journey when a bathroom accident occurs.
- Comforting Items: Pack the child’s favorite soft toy or blanket to provide security in unfamiliar environments.
- Feeding Essentials: Ensure you have enough snacks, water, formula or breast milk, portable bottle warmers, and insulated bags for on-the-go feedings.
- First Aid Kit: Include child-safe, physician and parent-approved first aid lotions, creams, and prescribed medications.
- Entertainment: Age-appropriate toys, sensory activities, and books can keep children engaged during travel; be sure to pack this in your carry-on.
Efficient Packing: Tips for Nannies
Efficient packing is an art that significantly impacts the ease of travel. Consider these practical strategies for packing efficiently:
- Organize the Essentials: Use packing cubes or pouches to organize similar items together, making it easy to locate items quickly while on a tour bus, in a hotel room, on a flight, or on the road.
- Maximize Luggage Space: Roll clothes into packing cubes to save space and utilize every nook and cranny in your luggage. Thoughtfully consider which items may be needed throughout travel versus what could be packed into luggage that will be checked at the airport or stored in the car’s trunk.
- Create a Checklist: Develop a comprehensive checklist to guarantee that all necessary items that cannot be purchased while traveling are packed to avoid last-minute stress and ensure that nothing is left behind.
- Multi-Functional Items: Choose items that serve multiple purposes, such as a travel diaper bag that doubles as a changing mat.
- Practice the Pack: When a trip requires a large number of items to support the children’s care, particularly when there will be multiple locations and repacks, it would be helpful to practice packing every item on your checklist ahead of the trip to ensure that all items can be strategically and quickly repacked with the designated baggage.
All-Season Packing List Template
- Several darker-colored or patterned tops – whites on kids are hard to keep clean while traveling. Pack basic pants, leggings, shorts, skirts, and dresses – also darker colors and patterns to hide stains. Don’t bring anything that requires special washing instructions unless you are traveling for a special event.
- Plenty of clean underwear – bring more than you think you need! It takes up little space and always comes in handy.
- Warm clothes and jackets -bring the brightest outer layers they have so the kids are easy to spot in busy airports or piazzas. Down jackets are great because they are super compressible.
- Sun block – make sure it isn’t expired!
- Bug Spray
- Sun hats
- Sound machine for sleep
- Water bottles
- Crayons + coloring books (square and triangle crayons are great for travel- they don’t roll!)
- A few toys and activity books
- Camera and film or extra digital memory
- Entertainment (iPad, videos, audiobooks, games) chargers + extra batteries
- Familiar and loved snacks
- Medications and prescriptions, motion sickness pills, Tylenol
- First aid kit
- Tide To Go
- Hand sanitizer/wipes for faces, surfaces, and spills.
Packing For A Baby:
- Easy to wash outfits and swaddles
- Warm clothes for bundling
- Car seat
- Travel stroller
- Collapsible crib/playpen
- Hands-free front-facing baby carrier
- Diapers + plastic bags (for disposing of dirty diapers)
- Lotion + powder
- Breast milk or formula
- Extra bottles and nipples
- Breast pump
- Blackout curtains
- Milk storage bags
- Bottle warmers
For The Car:
- Paper towels
- Garbage bags/freezer bags
- Books, coloring books, and games
- First-aid kit
- Drinks and snacks
For The Plane:
- Carry-on bag with a change of clothes
- Compact stroller
- Small (quiet) toys for the flight
- Cling stickers for the window
- Sensory materials
- Any soothing stuffed animals or comfort blankets
- iPad or tablet
- Battery bank for mobile devices
- Neck pillows
- Snacks — anything familiar and loved by the kids
Managing a Flexible Itinerary
Balancing adventure with the needs of the children in your care requires thoughtful planning. Here’s how nannies can work with families to embrace a flexible itinerary:
- Communication is Key: Discuss the child’s routine with the family and establish a plan that accommodates their typical feeding and nap times to maintain their schedule as much as possible. When traveling internationally or into different time zones, develop a strategy for helping the children assimilate to the changes with their parents.
- Plan Rest Stops: For road trips, plan regular rest stops to allow for bathroom breaks, quick physical activities to burn some energy, diaper changes when relevant, and quick snacks.
- Unforeseen Disruptions: Pack a small “emergency” bag with extra supplies, snacks, and comfort items to handle unexpected disruptions
- Flight Delays: Have a backup plan for delayed flights, such as a portable playpen or additional entertainment.
- Choose Family-Friendly Attractions: Once the travel itinerary is finalized, map out some attractions and activities that provide fun engagement for the kids and opportunities for learning more about the world. Ensure that all activities and outings, such as parks, library reading events, aquariums, or nature walks, are parent-approved and age-appropriate for the children in your care.
- Be Open to Spontaneity: While having a plan is essential, be open to spontaneous moments and allow room for adjustments. Traveling domestically and internationally, particularly throughout the holiday season, can be pretty dynamic and unpredictable, and in addition to packing plenty of snacks and planning engaging activities for the children, embracing the unexpected with patience and grace will be a massive source of support for the entire family.
Navigating Airports and Security Checks
Airports and security checks can be daunting, especially with children. Here are some insights into navigating these challenges:
- Check Airline Policies: Familiarize yourself with the airline’s policies regarding traveling with infants and children, including whether they provide on-board accommodation or priority boarding.
- Kid-Friendly Security Lanes: Look for security lanes designated for families with children, making the process smoother.
- Pack Wisely for Security Checks: Keep kid essentials easily accessible for security checks, and be prepared to remove items such as iPads, strollers, carriers, and any approved liquids such as breast milk.
- Use a Baby Carrier: A safe, parent-approved, hands-free, front-facing baby carrier can make navigating the airport more manageable.
Choosing Family-Friendly Accommodations As Appropriate
Selecting family-friendly accommodations is crucial for a comfortable stay. If the parents you are working with ask for any recommendations from you about where the family will stay throughout trips, consider sharing the following factors when appropriate:
- Safety First: Ensure the accommodation is childproofed, with features like covered electrical outlets, the ability to adjust lighting and hang blackout curtains, and secure furniture.
- Convenient Location: Choose accommodations close to well-researched, family-friendly attractions and amenities.
- Amenities for Infants: Consider accommodations providing safe-sleep cribs and secure high chairs to save room when packing for the trip.
- Reviews Matter: Read reviews from other families who have stayed at the accommodation to gauge its suitability for children.
Fun Activities During Travel: Age-Appropriate Activities for Children
Keeping children entertained during travel is essential for a smooth journey. Here are creative ideas for on-the-go entertainment:
- Sensory Bags: Create sensory bags with soft fabrics, textured toys, and crinkly materials for tactile stimulation.
- DIY Travel Mobile: Hang lightweight toys from a car seat, stroller, or airplane seat back to create a DIY mobile for visual stimulation.
- Interactive Books: Choose books with touch-and-feel elements or interactive features to engage the child’s senses.
- In-Flight Activities: Prepare for children to lose their cool during flights, particularly on long cross-country or international flights. Research popular child development creators on social media for some fantastic ideas.
Capturing Travel Memories
Documenting travel experiences is a beautiful way to create lasting memories. Here’s how nannies can help families capture these moments:
- Photography: Take photos of memorable moments, capturing the kid’s reactions to new experiences.
- Journaling: Consider keeping a travel journal, noting special moments and reflections on the journey as time allows.
- Travel Scrapbook: Create a travel scrapbook with mementos such as ticket stubs, postcards, and small souvenirs.
- Digital Keepsakes: Help the family create a digital photo album or blog to share their travel adventures with friends and family.
Embarking on adventures with infants requires careful planning, adaptability, and a sense of adventure. By incorporating these insights into your approach, you can enhance the travel experience for the children in your care and the families you accompany. Traveling with children is not just about safely reaching the destination; it’s also about maximizing the experience for the children and capturing the memories created along the way. Safe travels from all of us at Adventure Nannies!
Contact us if you are seeking an experienced nanny or newborn care specialist to support your family throughout holiday travel and beyond!