Traveling alone with children: how to love it and not get crazy? In the last few days, following my recent travel with our Little One, I got some questions from my friends about traveling with children. I love to travel! I enjoy a lot getting on the journey with my family, just with my girls, husband, or simply alone. Any dimension works for me!
Some parents might find it challenging and stressful to travel with children, especially when traveling alone! And that’s often a deciding factor whether to travel or not. How to overcome our worries so that travel with children is not only possible but also enjoyable? Yes, traveling alone with children can be fun too!
TRAVELING WITH CHILDREN
We love traveling with our girls. Our Bigger Angel is like a pro traveler by now. 🙂 Our Little One, being 20 months old, marked already 22 flights. I think it proves that we like to travel together and we do it pretty often. Unfortunately, now during the pandemic, there are a lot of limitations to travel.
Having kids is a reason to travel, never a reason to stop.
What makes me so passionate about traveling with children? For me, it is to have a purpose. It might be challenging, stressful, or tiring. Yet, having a reason helps to overcome these and stay positive, energetic, and happy. What could it be?
|enjoy together family time
|introduce children to other cultures & languages
|bonding time with child/children
|teach tolerance and understanding
|show the world to the little ones
|seek new adventures
|great development opportunity
|share own passion with the children
|benefit from the weather and climate change
|for the love of travel
If you are not convinced to take your little one for the upcoming travel, think about the purpose first. It might help to clarify your doubts fast! And if this time you need a solo trip or maybe an adventure with your partner or friends only, that’s good too! But the next time, travel together with your little ones! It is so worth it!
TRAVELING ALONE WITH CHILDREN TIPS
In the last months, I wrote two posts related to traveling with children, Flying with a Baby: Relax, Fasten Your Seat Belt and Smile! and Flying with Babies during Pandemic: Valuable Tips. You might find them useful for some additional suggestions.
This time, for a change, I want to focus on traveling alone with children. Even if today you might be planning a solo trip with your child, who knows if any future situation won’t require it. So always better to be a bit prepared.
There is freedom waiting for you, on the breezes of the sky, and you ask: “What if I fall?”, oh but my darling, what if you fly?
I have traveled with Our Little One a few times already alone (7 flights till now, to be precise). All of them part of long international journeys. Having a comparison to flying alone, with My Better Half and Our Bigger Angel, or my parents, I know how differently I need to prepare for solo travel with Our Little One. For me, it is to have a little strategy in place and then to enjoy the trip! It can work!
BEFORE THE FLIGHT
BABY TRAVEL CLOTHES
One quick travel tip first. Whenever we travel with Our Little One during her sleeping time at home, we dress her up in travel clothes before her nap time. It is to avoid additional waking up the baby, especially during the night. I take Our Little One from the crib, and we are ready to go. If she wakes up, then I change the diaper before getting into the car or taxi. Else, I do it at the airport. It is a small thing, but it helps.
Check my previous post, Flying with a Baby: Relax, Fasten Your Seat Belt and Smile!, to learn more about traveling hands-free with a baby. Important, try to check in your cabin luggage. I wrote there more about it. When your cabin luggage is checked in, keep with you only a small backpack or comfortable bag where few items for the baby, documents, and money can fit. Your hands are free now to push the stroller or to carry your little one.
Sometimes I forget this item myself. Traveling with small children gives you an option of fast track at the airport. It is helpful, especially if you have a connecting flight or you are running late. Fast track applies to check-in, security check, immigration, boarding, currently also to all applicable COVID-related check-ups. Knowing you are flying a fast track path, you might consider a shorter connection, if applicable, and reach your destination faster.
BE READY TO WALK
Be ready to walk with your child at the airports. It is applicable for all flights, however, especially the ones with connections. I always check in advance if the airport is a smaller or a bigger one. Usually, the bigger airport, the higher the chances of walking more between different terminals or zones. Based on that, you can also select the carrying method for your baby. I do not advise taking a stroller as scanning it during security checks might be problematic when holding the baby. Usually, there is no help to scan the stroller, and at some airports, they don’t fit in the scanners, so a bit of extra exercise is needed. I recommend a baby carrier, easier to manage.
BABY ROOM / LOUNGE
If you have a connecting flight and some extra time: check for available baby rooms. Some airports, like recently during my visit to Amsterdam airport, have even baby lounges. That’s a relaxing space, with separate cribs and sofas allocated for each family. Alternatively, you can also check priority/business lounges. Especially now, during COVID, they are less crowded, and it might be better to wait there with your child.
YOU KNOW IT BEST
For me, the key thing in planning a trip with a child is the child’s personality. So you will know it best. Like, Our Little One is super active. So I know that long transfer times might be the most tiring. And on the other hand, she sleeps very well during flights. So adjust the plan accordingly!
DURING THE FLIGHT
When traveling solo with a child, I always seek to get a comfortable seating space. During initial booking, the Seat Guru website can help you here. How? Explore my previous post: ‘Air Travel: Free Tips for Comfortable Journey’. Later on, once ‘the booking completed’ is announced, you can always swap your place for any more comfortable one. Do you feel it might be too complicated with a little one? I don’t unpack till that moment and wait. 🙂 Once I select the best seat option, we start our travel party in the air!
If you are breastfeeding, take a shawl with you. You might feel more comfortable when traveling alone with a baby up to 2 years old as then no extra seat is allocated to your baby, and someone might sit next to the two of you. You can use the shawl also to cover your baby.
Strategic item! 🙂 Two tips from my side here. I always use a bathroom at the airport before boarding the plane. It is easier to manage the baby this way. And during the flight, I ask for half a glass of drinks. Be it coffee, water, or anything else to drink. Two reasons: it will help you limit your ‘journeys’ to the bathroom. And if your baby is awake, it might be challenging for you to manage a glass full of hot coffee/tea and your baby.
GET SOME SLEEP
When traveling alone with children, you might need some extra energy. So it is essential to regenerate and get some sleep. In particular, if it is a long journey or a night flight. Use the moments when your baby is asleep. Rule number one, always keep both of your safety belts fasten together. I need to admit I got pretty pro with it. I am even able to lie down with Our Little One with both of our belts safely connected. For some flights, mainly domestic ones, seat belt extenders for children might not be available. That’s when it is best to stay awake. Or, you can carry your one with you. They are available online!
BABY FOOD & TOYS
Self-efficiency is a prime element for me when traveling alone with a baby. I want to be ready to have the right food, things that the Little One likes, and what can stay fresh for the entire journey. In this way, she isn’t hungry and keeps on smiling. As she doesn’t like baby jar foods provided by the airlines, it helps us a lot. I also keep in my handbag two or three toys or items for playing. Last time Our Little One was awake for nearly 5 hours during 8 hours flight. It means 5 hours of entertainment in the clouds! 🙂
AFTER THE LANDING
It is somehow easier to leave something behind when traveling with a child. So double-check your seat area after every flight. We make a small game out of it so that at least I do not forget to check back.
WALK TOGETHER (IF POSSIBLE)
If your child already walks, it is good to walk together at the airport. After sitting or lying down for a long time, it is good to get some movement. Stretch legs, walk together and, get a bit tired. It always means higher chances that your Little One will fall asleep during the next flight or taxi ride.
You are alone with your baby at the final destination (or in some countries at the first entry point), and you need to pick up your checked-in luggage. Two suggestions here. If you have more items (that’s usually us!), you can use the airport’s porter service. Someone will help you to pick up the luggage from the belt and carry it. Otherwise, you can ask someone for help. In particular, if you have less baggage or porter service is not available or might be too expensive.
Are you planning to travel further? Yes, it might mean jet lag risk for your child. How long does it take? It is an individual case. But I would assume one week. You can try to make your child a bit more tired on the first day, skip a nap or keep awake for longer. It all depends on the new time zone. Important is: you reached safely. So it is time to enjoy your destination now. Sleeping is a lower priority during holidays or world trips! 🙂
Have you traveled alone with your children already? Which suggestion would you add to the list? If not, what would you find the most challenging? Share! Sharing is caring!
Moments that matter, no matter if alone.