Most first time parents I know will always want to wait for the kid to be older before they start travelling with them. How old is old enough? Well, you got to subscribe to the belief that your kid is never too young to travel! Better to start them young! Personally, I started travelling with my kids when they were around six months. My rationale was simple. They were still surviving on milk alone, they either cry or sleep, they were more predictable. Most importantly, they have not figured out how to throw a hissy fit over nothing.
You are ready to travel with your baby if you have decoded your baby’s cry – be it for a nappy change, hungry for milk or just a hug. At this age, the things you need to pack are mainly diapers and milk (if you have already weaned your baby). You still have a chance to complete a full-length in-flight movie!
Besides training your baby to travel, you are also getting yourself used to the new routine of travelling with a kid. Say goodbye to travelling light! Kids take up the most luggage space, and it gets better with each new trip you make with your kid! Though from my own experience, if you want to have a kid who is adaptable and travels well, you need to avoid replicating the home routine for the kid when you are away. Train them to eat and sleep on the move from young and you will reap the benefits when they are a little older.
It does get a little more challenging when they can walk, climb or run by themselves and articulate themselves with their limited vocabulary. Travelling at this age requires a lot more props. Be it an iPad loaded with interactive and educational songs and cartoons, or a luggage filled with favourite toys and snacks for different parts of the day, travelling with kids at this age means you will be lucky if you can catch half an in-flight movie. In fact, from my own personal experience for age 18-36 months, I do recommend travelling with another family with kids of similar age. At least the kids can entertain themselves. There are extra pairs of hands to help each other and you can even travel lighter by splitting the things to bring along between the two families.
When planning your trip with your little one in tow, it is highly advisable to pick child-friendly destinations. Start with short flights and trips to child-friendly resorts or cities nearby where you can still navigate around easily with a stroller and in the case of medical emergencies, you can still get ready access to a doctor or paediatrician. I do like to get a set of kids travel meds from my paediatrician before departure, at least I feel more assured knowing how to self-medicate my kid while on the move.
Travelling with your kid is like an experimental journey not only for you but also for your kid. You will make your life easier by setting the travel routine up for your kid, and not let your kid set the routine for you. If you don’t want to be that parent walking up and down the narrow aisle for the most part of your flight, don’t start it with your kid. If you hate the idea that you need to rush back to the hotel so that your little one can nap before hell breaks lose, don’t start that habit for them. Train them to sleep anywhere if they are tired. If you want your kid to eat adventurously while travelling, don’t even start packing your kitchen to replicate the same home cook meals when away from home. Trust that all kids are adaptable, and you will eventually train your own travel savvy kid!