I think most parents would agree that the most stressful part of any holiday is the travelling. Before we can stroll into paradise, there is the dreaded travelling part. As much as I want to rest, it is impossible with a toddler who wants to constantly walk everywhere and touch everything. Being stuck in a confined space for 15 minutes is hard enough, let alone a long haul flight. #JasperBean’s attention span is very short, as with any other toddler his age and finding ways to keep him entertained and occupied is hard and stressful. Therefore hand luggage essentials tailored for him is very important.
I have many travelling memories that I consider to be failures but I have learnt from them and this time round, I want to share this with you. I don’t want you to be the unprepared mum that desperately asks crew members for in flight colouring pads or toys. If you want a somewhat calm and relaxing start and/or end to your holiday with a toddler once you’ve boarded. Then read on and find out what we packed in our hand luggage on our latest trip.
Nappy Bag Basics
Change of clothes
You have at least one set of clean clothes for your baby, but have you considered ones for yourself? Accidents happen and it’s no ones fault. You don’t want to sit for hours smelling like spoilt milk or worse… right? Of course if you’re dressed in layers, you can remove them the dirty outer layer, but you know sometimes it doesn’t just sit on top. Also if you’re arriving at a destination that is a completely different climate to where you came from, a fresh change of clothing will get you in the right holiday mood. Check out my post on Travel Outfit Essentials and Ideas.
Getting rid of soiled nappies generally isn’t too difficult on a plane, but what if you have to hold onto it for a bit longer than expected? It’ll be more hygienic and pleasant for your neighbours if you have a few spare bags to pack these away. Also pack some bigger Ziploc/plastics bags too, so that you can put away any soiled clothes… you wouldn’t want to stuff them in your clean bag or throw them away, right?
Ok, this is optional, but unless you want to use the tissue paper thin airline blankets, I suggest you bring a small blanket for your little one too. They don’t take up much space and as #JasperBean often suffers from rashes due to his super sensitive skin, I would rather he use his own blanket than break out in something awful anyday.
- Activity Books full of stickers and pages to colour and don’t forget the crayons!
- Stickers, yes I’ve said this as well but you really can’t get enough of these. Have a variety of them, such as plain boring paper stickers to shiny and foamy ones. Window gel stickers are a winner if you have a window seat.
- Playdough. I love playdough because you can literally do anything with them. #JasperBean loves pretend cooking, so the Kitchen Creations Shape N Slice Play Set is an absolute lifesaver for me. He can sit there cutting and chopping for a good 30+ minutes and not get distracted. It’s also inexpensive, so if we lose some, we’re not going to cry over it. Love love love!
- Building, hand-eye co-ordination and mini activities:
The most important thing about these activities/toys you take on board is that they are cheap and cheerful and you don’t mind losing them.
In the photo above, you can also see I have used the Toddler Car Seat Travel Tray by DMoose to make sure that all the little bits and pieces of toys don’t suddenly disappear or roll off the table. This was extremely useful and I’m so thankful I took this along as I avoided many “mummy, it’s gone… mummy pick it up please… mummy, mummy, mummy”. The sides zip off for easy storage too (you can see that I have folded the sides up in the first image – bottom right, next to the Fly Legsup and stored the surface part in my backpack).
Tablet and headphones
Definitely not my first go to option, but definitely an essential. this is great if nothing else works and you just need some peace and quiet. Load up with lots of songs, short age appropriate tv programmes/movies and gaming apps. Particular favourites currently are:
- Dave and Ava Nursery Rhymes and Songs from Youtube. They also have an app, but I think this is ridiculously expensive, so I utilise Youtubes offline feature.
- Apps. Bizzy Builds and Bizzy Farm – from the Bizzy bear series.
- Amazon Prime Video. I have a variety of children’s programme downloaded for offline viewing such as Paw Patrol, Peppa Pig, Teletubbies etc. Basically, anything that he will want to watch.
Food and drink
Be prepared, a hungry toddler is never happy! Bring lots of healthy snacks and create familliarity in a strange surrounding. Not everyone wants airline meals on offer and toddlers are notoriously fussy eaters, so having something that they are use to will make the journey feel a lot smoother and calmer. Try to bring snacks that take time to eat and isn’t laden with sugar. We all know what comes after a sugar high! Also, make sure to offer plenty of water. A dehydrated toddler is equally as bad as a hungry one. Food options include:
Support for when you need to free up a hand or leg…
Sling or easily collapsible stroller
I personally love the traditional mei tai as they are comfortable and flexible. They fold up to almost next to nothing and weigh next to nothing. I have always used a mei tai/sling when boarding and disembarking so that I free up my hands to carry my hand luggage, purchases and stroller. We have the GB Pokit stroller, so it folds down to the size of a backpack, therefore I don’t need to check this in separately and can take it straight on board and store in the overhead compartments. I also use the foldaway Ikea backpack to carry this when not in use.
There have been many varieties of bed/leg-rest popping up in the last few years, and why not? Everyone wants to be comfortable when flying, but not everyone can afford Business or First Class travel. So, instead of buying another suitcase for that purpose, we decided on the Fly Legsup. This is a hammock that creates a flat platform for children to sleep and play on. Once we’re in the air and the seatbelt sign is off, we hook it up onto the tray table and it stays there for the entire journey. We don’t have to remove it to use the table or if the seat in front decides to recline. It’s safe because it doesn’t restrict the use of seatbelts or block walkways. Most importantly, no more sleeping on mummy’s lap!
#JasperBean, myself or S can use this, it is super adaptable, comfortable and has become our ultimate accessory for airplane travel. We just have to make sure we’re not sitting in bulkhead seats. If you have a smaller baby and require a bassinet seat, then you wouldn’t be able to use the Fly Legsup.
Note: Some airlines have banned these in-flight travel accessories, and as the hammock is a still a very “new concept”. If you are questioned, let the crew know that the Fly LegsUp has been comprehensively tested by a CASA authorised aviation engineer.
We were able to pack most of his entertainment in a Trunki, so we didn’t have to carry any of this whilst at the airport and at the same time, he had fun rolling around. Just make sure you keep an eye or hand on the ‘lead’ so they don’t go charging into people or secured areas. 😛
Calpol Sugar Free infant Suspension come in little satchets. Hence it is a easy to carry some in your handbag/nappy bag etc. Make sure you check and bring the correct dosage for your child as this would come in handy to relieve pain in little ears after take off/landing of if they don’t feel well during the flight (teething, headache, cold/flu, fever etc.) If you need it, you have it. Prepare for the unexpected.
P.s. Sucking on a dummy, chewing and drinking can help prevent ears from popping during take off and landing.
These are some of the essentials I take with me when we go on holiday and I hope it doesn’t look like I’ve taken the kitchen sink! I’m sure there are other essentials that are personal to you and your family, but I hope my recommendations can remove some of the stress from your travels.
Travelling with a toddler is never easy, but I believe if armed with a plan and organised essentials, you can make travel look effortless and a breeze. You may not need everything that you have packed, but at least you know you have it when the time comes.
To all the hard working mummy’s and daddy’s, I hope you have a great adventure wherever you go! I would love to hear what your hand luggage essentials and packing tips are.
Thanks for reading and until next time…
Love, MsMamaBean x
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