If your family is lucky enough to be escaping the cold this month, aside from being insanely jealous, I wanted to offer you a few tips! Traveling with kids always requires a tall order of patience and preparation, but it’s always worth it. When your travels include a drastic change of culture, weather, or time zone, it’s a bit trickier, so take notes!
Preparing Your Kids for New Weather
Chances are if you’re travelling in March, it’s somewhere much warmer than Canadian temperatures, so how can you need to prepare your baby or child physically? Start with their skin. Before you leave, start using body lotion on your little ones head to toe, if you don’t already. The change of temperature and humidity may cause irritation, especially with children who already face eczema. I love Honest Face and Body Lotion and Hydra Bébé Body Lotion from Mustela. If you’re flying, the air is extremely dry there as well, so keep your baby hydrated with plenty of water or milk (not juice!) and their skin moist with these great products.
Once you’re down South, make sure you use Mineral Sunscreen on you and your little one with SPF 50 or higher. Mustela and Think Baby are great sunscreens to try. Always have your child in a sun hat when in the sun! Look for a hat with the means to fasten it under your child’s chin or to keep it on them if the wind blows it off their head, and I strongly suggest a hat with coverage at the back of their neck like many of these have.
For any holiday near water, you can never be too careful. Salus makes a range of lifejackets from baby to child, which will bring peace of mind if you’re at the pool or beach. If you’re going to get wet, make sure you bring along a way to get dry at the end of it! Lulujo has beautiful Turkish towels that you’ll probably want to steal for yourself! Kids will love the animal hooded towels from Zoocchini, too! And for any little ones who aren’t quite potty trained, we loved using the Apple Cheeks swim diapers for our kids. Even non-cloth-diapering families usually opt for a cloth swim diaper as you use them so infrequently (who wants to buy and store swim diapers on top of everything else?!) It helps that they’re so darn cute!
Preparing Your Kids for a New Culture
Culture shock is a serious thing to consider when travelling; even for your babies that you might not think would notice much. We’ve always considered this when travelling abroad, as we have done several times with our young family. Before your trip, be sure to talk about some of the differences you’ll see and experience on your trip. If you can, show your toddler or child pictures of places you’ll visit and people from that place (if they’re distinct from the people in your general community). Talk about any differences in positive terms. We’ve taught our kids from the time they could speak that we don’t say, “that’s weird” but instead, “that’s different” about a new cultural observation. If you live in a remote area and are visiting a big city, even within your own province or country, there could be a degree of culture shock. It’s important to prepare our kids as best we can, and help them process these nuances while on vacation, too.
For babies, culture shock isn’t as easy to prepare for or coach them through, but you can be a comfort to them while they’re experiencing something new and potentially overwhelming. If your baby is extra clingy, wants to nurse or have a bottle more regularly, or sleep less or more, just go with it. When we’ve travelled to new cultures with babies, we always brought extra bottles, extra lovies, and expected our little ones to be a bit needier. We were okay with it because we mentally prepared ourselves for it beforehand. As with most parts of traveling with kids, we find keeping expectations realistic (read: low!) is the key to not being thrown off or frustrated when abroad.
Preparing Your Kids for a New Time Zone
This part of travelling is by far the hardest, but thankfully the most temporary. If you can, book a red eye whenever changing time zones. If the plane is taking off around 7pm, or close to their bedtime, there’s a better chance of them sleeping during the flight, which you want! Dress them in comfortable pyjamas and don’t give screen time or sugary snacks that will make sleep harder. With really young babies, changing time zones isn’t actually a very hard thing, because chances are they’re not sleeping through the night or on any firm schedule yet.
We went from Montreal to Vancouver when our oldest two were 8 weeks old and 16 months old. We took off at 7pm, the kids mostly slept, and when we arrived in Vancouver it was about 8pm their time, so we just put the kids right back to bed after a quick feed for the newborn. They woke up a bit earlier than normal the next day, but it wasn’t a drastic change because the kids slept on the flight and we weren’t used to perfect sleep habits! As our children get older, it’s actually harder because we are used to them sleeping all night, and because planes are less and less comfortable the larger you grow. Thankfully the older children get, the more you can reason with them, and insist that they try to sleep when they’re not as tired or that they stay awake to adjust to a new time zone, even when their eyelids are drooping.
In all, time zone changes adjust within a couple of days, so I’d plan your holiday accordingly. If you’re only planning to travel for a week, it might be best to stay in your own time zone (or not travel beyond a three hour time difference). The time it will take to adjust to a completely different time zone (say, in Europe or Asia) should be factored in to the length of your trip. This Spring, we’re off to Japan and it will be three weeks, partly because we know it will take many days for all of us to adjust!
Travelling with children is certainly more involved than those getaways you took before kids, but the bonding as a family and special memories will last a lifetime. Certainly long enough to make all the planning and preparation well worth it! Bon Voyage!