I remember pre-covid travel with a young child as this beautiful, relaxed adventure of discovering new places, eating delicious food, and cuddling up with my toddler in hotel beds. My brain has utterly and completely forgotten about the difficult and very real parts - inhaling those delicious meals in a self-imposed 45-minute time limit at the risk of a public meltdown, the “H” formation that a sleeping toddler naturally gravitates to in a hotel bed with the parents forming the sides while she pushes off with her feet throughout the night to either check you’re still there or because she’s dreaming of being a kangaroo, and the constant need for entertainment without screentime. But with this upcoming holiday season of traveling for fun or visiting family, or sometimes those things are one and the same, I wanted to share some of our favorite products so that you too can look back on your travel with rose-colored glasses, because revisionist history is a very valid coping mechanism as a parent.
YOYO2 Stroller - Our favorite stroller BY FAR for everyday use in crowded cities and for traveling. Easy to fold close to carry on your shoulder like a messenger bag, and easy to open one-handed. We would use it all the way to the gate at the airport, then fold it up, put it in its bag then carry it onto the plane to store in the overhead compartment.
Guava Family Lotus Crib - While you can request a hotel crib, sometimes the hotel can’t guarantee it. As a germaphobe, I don’t love the idea of my baby sleeping in one anyway. We always traveled with the Guava Family Lotus Travel Crib. When staying at relatives’ homes, the side opening allowed me to lay down next to her if she needed a little extra comfort in the middle of the night.
Kids Fly Safe Harness - We carried my daughter’s baby carseat with us when we flew, but when she switched to the Clek Foonf, it was too big and heavy for us to take on the plane. We took that opportunity to lighten our load and fly using this harness instead.
Trunki - We received this as a gift from one of our most in-the-know-mom-friends and it has stood the test of time. My daughter lovingly calls hers “Fatty Cat” and it goes to sleepovers at Grandma’s house on the weekend, road trips to her aunt’s house, and overseas travel. Basically, it goes everywhere she goes. It’s her own suitcase and it carries her essentials - blanket, pillow, her lovey and whatever the most cherished toys of the moment are. She loves riding on it in the airport, oblivious to all the stares from other kids and parents, so it replaces the need for a stroller in the airport and gets us to the gate much faster. When we’re not in a hurry or have our hands full, she pulls it herself. It is hard to find in the U.S. so snag it if you ever see it or wait until you’re in Australia. For one that is easier to find, here’s the Stokke Jetkids version. It’s not as cute and it looks like it has less room for their belongings but includes a bed.
Traveling often means dining out. My biggest tip here is to eat at off-times. A young kid’s schedule facilitates this anyway and time zone changes help too. So might as well take advantage of early and late times when there are fewer patrons to annoy.
Bombol booster seat - If hotel cribs gave me the creeps, restaurant booster seats are even worse. They are never clean enough for me. We used this foldable Bombol booster seat and if you are averse to having your child on your lap while eating, then this is a good option.
Placemats: We used to carry around flimsy disposable plastic placemats for the kid, but they were so bad for the environment and probably not any less toxic than whatever was on the dirty table. If I had a young child today, I would go for one of these super cute Loulou Lollipop silicone placemats.
Jaq Jaq Bird Doodle It & Go and Color It & Go books - These little booklets are great for restaurants, plane and car rides. They have a little pouch that holds 4 Butterstix. Kids can draw and color in their books and it wipes clean with just water. Some of our favorite styles are the space, forest animals, planes, and mystical creatures.
Toniebox (Disney Pixar bundle, Disney Princess bundle, Paw Patrol bundle) - For younger kids, they’ll enjoy the stories and songs associated with each of the little Tonies. For older kids or kids with more eclectic tastes like mine, we use Creative Tonies to customize a collection of songs from her favorite shows. On car rides, this has been great because she can listen to the same song over and over again in the backseat while we listen to our music in the front. You can even personalize it with stickers made just for the Toniebox.
Puro headphones - Either to go with the Toniebox or the iPad, headphones are key. We use headphones on the plane, but not in the car. If going to an amusement park with loud rides, headphones are a good way to block out some of the sound.
Legos - Whether you’re grabbing a couple of handfuls of Lego bricks and carrying them around in a little bag or you have one of these Storybook Adventures kits featuring Elsa & Nokk, Encanto’s Isabela or Encanto’s Antonio (we have a lot of the Disney princess ones), play can be very open-ended and very imaginative.
And the most important tip, always tether the lovey and always carry its twin.