Below are some general things I have learned about travelling abroad with our two little kids. Travelling with little ones is NOT easy. There is a reason that in all of our travels we have yet to run into another family with two little ones. We have seen plenty of families with one young child, but never two. As I said before though, if you accept that things won’t always be easy you have the opportunity to build amazing memories and expose your little ones to some amazing culture and things that most other kids won’t have. Even though they are “too young to remember” it is crazy how often our now four year old will reference something we did on vacation.
Every year we go somewhere and something happens, and I think why didn’t I think of that in the first place. Here are some of those things. Tips related to flying are on my Flying Tips page.
- Pack Light: Every time we travel abroad, we take less and less. It all started with our first trip to Europe with our at the time six month old baby. We got all the way to Sweden and through the airport and customs before coming to a subway stop that required us to walk up the stairs to the street level next to our hotel. As we went to go up the stairs we faced a harsh reality, we couldn’t get up there. We had too many bags, a child, a stroller, and a car seat…and we stood at the bottom wondering how we were going to get up the stairs without leaving items unattended either at the bottom or the top of the stairs and making multiple trips. Luckily we were in Sweden and some friendly locals saw us and ran over to help, but if it wasn’t for them we would probably still be there. Long story short, you need to pack light especially if you are taking public transport. Our four year old this just for the first time took a backpack of goodies that I didn’t really care if we lost…it was just a way to get a few extra item packed for us. Even at this age there was times he didn’t want to carry it but hopefully soon he can start to carry his own items.
- Keep your Hands Free: Your kids at this age cannot carry anything, and your most important item when dealing with your kids is having your hands free. Because of this our best friend is this brilliant backpack/luggage/day pack combo. It will pull as luggage as one piece if needed, you can put it on your back as one (bulky) piece, and it also comes with a smaller backpack that you can unzip and separate from the main piece when you are going out for the day and you just need it for a diaper bag. In addition, they are both small enough to fit in the cabin and you don’t have to check them!! This is how we flew international without checking bags with a family of four. Of course we checked them this year just because we had car seats this time, and they got lost for days…so yet another great reason to not check your bags.
- You need a stroller: If you’ve been to Europe, you know that you can easily walk miles per day. The last thing you will want to do is carry your little 20-50lb bundle of joy all day or when they nap on the go, so you need a good stroller. When looking for a stroller we needed one that would hold both of our kids, yet would be able to handle small areas (fit through doors without having to take the kids out), fold up easily and quickly, and could be carried up escalators, stairs, etc. This combi stroller that we have is awesome! It actually folds up enough to go through a security scanner at the airport, and it light enough to fold and carry up/down stairs. People are always shocked when they see us fold the stroller up into such a small item, even at the airport where the security people do it for a living. The stroller isn’t great for medieval cobblestone roads so don’t even try it, but for a travel stroller it is amazing.