Travelling the world may seem off limits to most new parents. However, it does not have to be that way. 'Travel Mad Mum' aims to inspire other parents with personal experience, factual information and top tips for travelling with little ones.
We only spent a little time in the city of Jerusalem but I was truly amazed. We are well traveled, so we don’t often feel culture shocked. However, Israel was totally different from anywhere I’ve ever been. The fusion of so many different cultures, all crammed into the ancient Jerusalem streets was fascinating.
Jerusalem is so kid friendly, there is almost nowhere that is not acceptable to bring your little ones. Most of the restaurants and cafes in Jerusalem have highchairs and are happy to accommodate children. We even stayed in a fantastic hostel which was so budget and family friendly, two things that don’t normally go together.
An important thing to note when visiting is that most of the city shuts down on the Sabbath. This means few to no restaurants, shops, public transportation will be available from Friday afternoon until Saturday night. Plan accordingly to be within walking distance to wherever you want to go.
As everyone knows there are some major political tensions in Israel. We don’t support any one side of the conflict but some people get concerned about the safety of visiting. When we were there we felt very safe and had no worries for ourselves or our children.
Every once in a while things heat up but for the most part it sounds much worse in the news then it feels when you are actually there. The main safety problems are usually contained to areas along the Gaza border.
We will have to go back to Israel to explore other area’s of the country. You could easily spend 4 days in Jerusalem or even more. In the meantime, here’s where to stay, the best Jerusalem restaurants, our best budget Jerusalem tips, and the best things to do in Jerusalem with Kids.
Jerusalem with Kids
Getting in and Around Jerusalem
There are lots of options for getting in and around Jerusalem. We had a car rental in Jerusalem, which is a great option if you are doing day trips. Although, before you decide to rent a car, make sure to check that there is parking near where you choose to stay. In some of the central areas finding a parking spot may be too much trouble. To find the best prices on car rentals will cost click here.
If you will be arriving in Ben Gurion airport you have a few options for getting to Jerusalem. The cheapest way is the bus that runs from Ben Gurion to Jerusalem once an hour for only 16 shekel per person.
There is also a plethora of taxis and Neshers. Neshers are a shared taxi situation which is a good affordable option if you are only one or two people, but if you are going with your family it probably will cost the same as a taxi.
The best option will be to take the tram or the bus in Jerusalem when trying to see the center parts of the city. The roads in the center can be very confusing for those not used to driving there. Most of the attractions in Jerusalem, Israel are easily accessible by public transport.
Where to Stay – A Budget Jerusalem Option
We stayed at The Post Hostel which is a fantastic place for families. Don’t be put off by the word hostel because it’s definitely not like any other hostel I’ve been to.
The hostel has a great private two level family rooms with a pullout sofa downstairs and a double bed upstairs. The stairs aren’t ideal for younger kids but there was plenty of space to stretch out and it was a very cost effective option.
In the main area of the hostel, they had kid’s games and all the staff were really lovely and interacting with the kids. We didn’t feel even a little out of place staying there as a family. They offer a great breakfast with loads of options that the kids enjoyed as well.
We participated in a great hummus making class that they had in the evening which my little ones absolutely loved. The same kids who I can’t get to touch hummus at home ended up covered head to toe in it, eating it by the spoonful.
We actually thought it ended up being one of the best Jerusalem kids activities. They have lots of other fun events and classes for the people staying there, including a free walking tour of the old city.
The Post hostel has a very affordable happy hour and lots of chill out areas that were great to lounge in after getting lost in the old city all day. They also have great wifi and laundry machines, which is always welcomed when traveling with a toddler.
One of the best parts of staying at the hostel was the location. Many of the Jerusalem hotels are either right in the middle of the chaos, or too far to easily get around. The Post Hostel is located on a smaller side street that is calm and quiet but within a 5 minute walk we were right in the thick of things.
Five minutes one way gets you to the old city and five minutes the other way brings you to Ben Yehuda. It’s also located right near the tram so anywhere not walkable is easily accessed by public transportation.
There are loads of great things to see and do in Jerusalem for kids. We’ve rounded up the ones that are the best, and the things you should absolutely not miss when visiting the city of Jerusalem.
The Old City
The old city of Jerusalem is where so much of ancient Jerusalem history took place. It’s an incredibly important area of Jerusalem to the Jews, the Muslims, and the Christians.
Some of the most holy sites for each religion are located here. The areas surrounding the holy sites are filled with narrow cobblestone alleyways filled with shop, restaurants and load of people, locals and tourists alike.
If you are visiting the old city you could probably get away with bringing a stroller but we would not recommend it. Most the staircases do have ramps but things can get quite chaotic with the number of tourists on such small streets so it’s best to bring a carrier.
While you can wander through on your own, there is a lot going on and a lot of history that you might miss so we would definitely recommend taking a guided tour. Find the best tour for your family here.
You should also note that women must be dressed to Muslim and Jewish standards of modesty to enter many of these places, so be careful about your clothing choices.
The Arab Shuk, Jerusalem
There are several gates to enter the old city from, but the main one is called Jaffa Gate. We wandered through, as you walk in you can follow the flow of foot traffic straight into the Arab shuk. A shuk is basically an open air marketplace.
We got lost wandering through the narrow alleys of the shuk for hours, just marvelling at all the fresh baked Middle Eastern breads and pastries, fruits, and trinkets. We were happy to find the market to be filled with salesmen that were a lot less aggressive than in other countries in the Middle East.
If you follow the blog you know we try very hard to minimize our impact on the environment. Being a travelling family we do rack up quite a few air miles but we try to do road trips as much as possible and to balance out our footprint by eating sustainably and going plastic free as much as we can. We try to choose eco friendly toiletries and eco friendly travel accessories as much as possible.
When you go out and see the amazing world we live in and then see the effect we are having on it, you start to understand the importance of living and travelling whilst making as small an environmental footprint as you can manage.
Lucky for us the awareness of the environment has caused an amazing amount of eco friendly travel gear to pop up. From eco friendly luggage to eco friendly travel mugs we’ve got you covered. We’ve collected a list of our top 15 favorite eco friendly travel products for 2019!
Three cheers for Samsonite on coming up with eco friendly suitcases! Their suitcases are made from recycled plastic and factory waste materials that would have otherwise gone to the landfill. The suitcases are very durable; we’ve already put ours through the mill and they have held up great! They are also very easy to push which is always a great thing in a suitcase. They are a little bit on the pricey side but they are definitely worth the investment as they seem like they will last a very long time. We have the hardside luggage but they also have other options of eco friendly travel bags.
Hammam towels are great for travelling and the environment! Because they are so lightweight and take up such little space they are easy to pack up and bring along where ever you go. Their compact nature is also why they are environmentally friendly. It takes less water and energy to wash and dry them than an ordinary, bulky towel.
This eco friendly travel accessory is also just great for so many different uses. We mainly love to use ours as a picnic blanket or beach towel. It absorbs water fast and dries quickly, so it’s really just a fantastic thing to have. If that’s not enough motivation, I think they are also prettier than ordinary towels!
ECO FRIENDLY REUSABLE WATER BOTTLES
We always like to travel with eco friendly reusable water bottles. A huge number of water bottles end up in landfills every year. I also, in general, try to avoid plastic whenever possible, especially when it comes to things that go in my body. Even BPA free isn’t fantastic for you and there are so many beautiful stainless steel and bamboo eco water bottle options on the market in adult and kid size! More recently I’ve been considering buying a water purifier, so I asked my friend Ellie for some recommendations. See below!
We (Ellie & Ravi from Soul Travel blog) have tried and tested quite a few options for filtering water on our travels – across India, Iran, central America and other countries in between. With a bit of preparation (and the right equipment) it is possible to travel all over the world – even to places where you can’t drink the tap water – and not have to buy bottled water. Not only does that save a lot of money, but it also avoids adding to the global plastic problem.
There are two products we recommend above all the others:
First we recommend the Water to Go 75cl Water Bottle. Water to Go is a UK company that uses technology developed for NASA to filter water (how fancy does that sound). The end result is a simple water bottle which filters out all biological contaminants, chemical contaminants, heavy metals, strips out odors and bad taste and leaves you with clean, pure good tasting water! It even removes fluoride which no other travel water filter that we’ve found does. The filters are even zero waste (they can be fully recycled) and last longer than most. You can easily stock up on the small filters before heading out on a long trip.
Secondly, and as more of a backup, we recommend the SteriPen Adventurer. We’ve used our Steripen all over Asia and wouldn’t be without it – we’ve not yet had an upset stomach, either. This eco friendly gadget is ideal for families, too as it’s so small to carry and you can use it with any refillable bottle, glass, cup, or any water container.
The Steripen is not a water filter; it’s a UV pen which (literally) zaps the water and kills all biological contaminants. It’s super handy for situations where you may be with local people who offer you water which you’re not sure is safe to drink – rather than offend by declining, you can give your water a quick zap with the Steripen to make sure it’s safe! Make sure to stock up on batteries before you go as they’re a size not commonly found.
ECO FRIENDLY SHAMPOO BARS
Travel sized hygiene products seemed like the greatest thing, until you start to think about the environmental impact of all those little plastic bottles! While some people like to buy refillable bottles to bring their favorite products in we think eco friendly shampoo bars are an even better option.
There are many options on the market now but our favorite is the D.R.Harris one. The bars are made with natural, eco friendly materials and I just generally feel like it works great for my hair. The eco friendly soap packaging is a nice aluminium tin that is perfect for travel and you can keep reusing it so there is no waste! As far as eco friendly toiletries go – this is one is one of the best.
SOLAR PHONE CHARGER
When you travel you won’t always have access to a charger so loads of people bring portable chargers. We like to bring this solar charger. This one is especially great because it holds a huge amount of charge (it can charge most phones 7 times!) and also because if you don’t have access to the sun it can be wall charged. You can even plug your phone into charge while the solar panels are charging!
ECO PACKING CUBES
Who doesn’t love packing cubes! If you don’t love them then you haven’t tried them yet. Packing cubes are so amazing for saving space and keeping things organized in your suitcase. A company called Florious has just made this even better by making their packing cubes from recycled materials. This product has unfortunately not made it to the UK yet but I’m waiting for it!
Since we first tried out the incognito line we are converts. Incognito was started in order to create a mosquito repellent that was not toxic to the environment, but equally powerful. As someone who gets bitten by every mosquito in existence, wherever I go, I can tell you this works! It is better for our bodies, the environment and keeps us bite free.
No need to waste precious batteries when this amazing solar powered lantern is on the market. Not only does it save energy but it also saves space! As opposed to a traditional lantern, this one can be deflated and stored in a much smaller form when you are not using it. Just set it in sunlight during the day and when it’s fully charged it will provide up to 12 hours of light.
When we travel we bring loads of snacks. We like to bring stackable stainless steel containers that way once the foods gone we can save some space. These are great for airplanes and for once you get to your destination. Having containers on hand means that we have an easy way to bring health snacks along when we are out and about rather than being at the mercy of whichever prepackaged snack is nearest when the kids tummy’s start rumbling!
BAMBOO CAMPING CUTLERY
You can say no to the plastic cutlery in restaurants, on a plane or anywhere else. Having your own to hand is a necessity for any eco-travelling family. We love this bamboo cutlery set as a great environmentally friendly option. Bamboo is super durable and resilient but when it finally outlives its use, it’s compostable. This specific set comes with a handy roll up pouch which makes it easy to take on the go!
BIODEGRADABLE SANDWICH BAGS
Sometimes a large container just wont do it. If you need to bring along sandwich bags look no further. These biodegradable sandwich bags are made from recycled material and when you are done they can be composted. There are different brands that make them depending on where you live. If you are in the UK you can find them here. If you are in the USA you can even find ones that are resealable here.
ECO FRIENDLY TRAVEL MUGS
While it may seem like the innocuous paper coffee cup is not a problem, most coffee cups end up in the landfill and not recycled because they are coated in polyurethane. Loads of these paper coffee cups get thrown out every day and it’s easily preventable. A lightweight eco friendly travel mug doesn’t take up much space but can save many a coffee cup on your next trip!
ECO FRIENDLY MENSTRUAL PRODUCTS
When I was travelling through The America’s, I got super fed up of looking for tampons every month. I bought a
When you travel to far flung destinations you have to deal with the dreaded jet lag. While this can be annoying for adults, it gets a little more complicated with baby travel. We are frequently asked how to avoid jet lag in infants, baby, toddlers and kids. It’s most travelling parents worse nightmare, so we’ve tried to put together our best jet lag tips and advice.
We have certainly flown to far flung destinations with our kids, both as babies and toddlers and had to deal with baby jet lag fairly often. We’ve done the dreaded Europe to Oceania (11 hour time difference!) in one hit a couple of times. However, it should not be something that you get stressed about. That said, there is no perfect cure to beat jet lag and sometimes you and your kids will just have to adjust but here’s what you can do to make it easier.
I want to start off with positive vibes here, I’ve had some of my best travel experiences with my kids BECAUSE of jet lag. We’ve seen some epic sunrises in beautiful destinations because they were up and at it in the middle of the night, so we decided to make the most of it. Whilst that’s fine on the outbound trip, I appreciate it’s a pain in the ass when you are on the return home to reality, possibly back to work!
ABOUT JET LAG IN BABIES, TODDLERS AND KIDS
WHAT IS JET LAG?
Lets jump into the basics here, what exactly is jet lag? We have something called a circadian rhythm aka body clock, that controls biochemical, physiological and behavioral processes in our body. These processes control a number of things such as sleep and appetite. Passing through daylight and darkness at times when our body is not used to it, de-synchronises us!
As a result we are awake and feeling hungry at different times. A number of hormonal changes take place to get us use to the new environment. There are a few things we can do to help ourselves and the little ones along.
One important thing to remember is flying east is harder that flying west. We don’t have as long to adjust to the new environment since the timezone is ahead. Flying west is generally easier as there are more hours in the day to recover. Keep this in mind when choosing a flight time.
BABIES AND JET LAG
A jet lagged baby or newborn can actually be the easiest to set back on the right schedule. They nap so much during the day it’s not such a big deal to change their routine. You may have even done it before as many babies deal with day/night confusion in their early months anyways!
HOW TO PREVENT TODDLER AND BABY JET LAG
CHOOSING A FLIGHT TO REDUCE JET LAG
I often feel the most painless way to fly long haul with a baby or toddler is during the night. It’s less work for us as parents to keep them entertained for hours on end. The most seamless way to join a new time zone is to arrive somewhat rested, albeit with slightly broken sleep on a plane.
Booking a night flight is the first step to combating jet lag! As we know, the lights are off on night flights and they are generally a lot quieter, meaning when you wake up, you can get on with it. Think about sleep when you are choosing your seat, ask at check-in for any spare seats to be allocated to your little one, especially if they don’t have their own seat. More about sleeping on the plane in a moment!
If you are travelling a mammoth distance, for example from London to Auckland, I highly recommend a stopover. Some airlines give you a free stopover, yes that’s right, including a nice hotel for the night. Passing through multiple time zones worsens the effects of jet lag.
All of the usual airport hubs have a tonne of things designed for people passing through. From airport butterfly gardens in Singapore, to watching animals roam in the park across the road in Nairobi, it’s always been worth the rest. Two massive flights back to back is pushing little ones too much in my honest opinion. I’ve tried both ways and I certainly feel a stopover is a kinder way of doing it.
ADJUST THEIR SCHEDULE EARLY TO AVOID BABY JET LAG
If you’ve followed Travel Mad Mum for a while, you will know I’m a big fan of preparation. I firmly believe that family travel does not have to be stressful. I think that everything from the flight, to the trip itself is just so much easier with a plan. As your trip gets closer you can start preparing by adjusting their routine slightly a few days before your flight.
Try making bed time a little earlier or later depending on where you are heading. You won’t be able to change their routine completely but changing it little by little will help minimise kids/baby jet lag and make the transition to the new time zone easier once you get there.
Think about trying to move your own sleep routine as well. The hardest part in my opinion is trying to keep ourselves awake in order to help your kids do the same. If we end up falling asleep, they of course will too. It’s a process the whole family have to do together.
AVOIDING JET LAG – SLEEP TIPS
We like to make sure our kids are dressed in PJ’s for a night flight, this helps them wind down and feel comfortable. If you are flying with a baby we like to bring a shade that goes over the bassinet which eliminates distractions, helping them sleep better. If you haven’t managed to secure the bassinet on the plane this SkyBaby travel mattress seems like a really good option for the all important baby sleep!
For toddlers and older kids we like to bring a JetKids BedBox. This turns their seat into a bed and makes them sleep a million times better! Having them sleep well on the plane has done wonders in minimising baby and toddler jet lag in my experience. Of course, for this to work you need to make sure your flying time makes sense for their routine taking into account the time change.
If all else fails, I find having my carrier is the best option for cuddles and hopefully sleep. I use the i-angel carrier as it lasts from 7 lbs to 44lbs. It’s my number one piece of baby paraphernalia.
HOW TO DEAL WITH BABY AND TODDLER JET LAG
If the preventative measures don’t work, we’ve still got you covered. Here’s the best way to recover from jet lag in kids once you’ve got it.
MELATONIN FOR JET LAG
Melatonin is a natural sleep aid that some people give their kids to try and make them sleepy at the right time. Some say it’s one of the natural jet lag remedies for toddlers and kids. While taking melatonin for jet lag may prove helpful we definitely would advise you to consult with your GP or pediatrician.
The first time I had to deal with jet lag I did a lot of googling and one of the most popular suggestions was to expose your baby or toddler to the sun. The idea is that exposure to the sun will help your baby adjust their internal clock naturally and get them back in sync with day and night.
I have definitely found that if we don’t close the shades the first couple days they adjust much faster to waking up at the right time. With a baby or infant just try and take a walk in the afternoon sun if the daytime sun is too strong for them. And of course, don’t forget suncream.
WHEN YOUR JET LAGGED BABY WAKES ALL NIGHT
If your jet lagged baby wakes all night, sunlight exposure can be especially helpful. They are waking up because their internal rhythm is off and they think it’s day time, so sun exposure can really help set them right. It’s also important to keep the lights off or dim when they wake up in the middle of the night, even if they are not able to fall back asleep for awhile. This will also help them understand that it’s night and time to sleep.
Mealtimes are important for two reasons. Meals are obviously part of most kids daily routine. If you can get them eating on the right timezone, it’s a step in the direction of getting them to sleep at the right time. The second reason is that most kids (and adults) fall asleep much faster on a full tummy.
We recommend bringing along, or making sure you have access to, lots of foods your kids love and timing it so they can have a meal before bedtime. I find having a meal at the airport rather than on board really helpful for night flights. That way you can settle them down quickly and don’t have to disturb them. We have a list of our favorite snacks to bring along on the plane in our flying with kids post.
It’s always important to stay hydrated especially when you fly, and even more so if you are a breastfeeding mum. Normally your body learns to produce milk faster around your child’s feeding times. Because you are going to want to alter your feeding times in accordance with the time zone change, you need to make sure you are producing enough milk to feed at the local time zone.
Making sure to hydrate well will help your body produce. We like to bring refillable water bottles with us when we fly. As long as they are empty, you can go through security with them and many airports now have filling stations. Unless of course it’s your babies bottle, in which case it’s fine to take liquid through security.
Sometimes you are just going to have to push your kids to stay awake a little longer than they want. You know your kids and you know what’s too much for them. We find new toys or a pool is a great way to make them want to keep playing and not fall asleep. With infant jet lag it will be a little more hands on to keep them awake and stimulated at the right time but infants also readjust easier so you don’t need to worry.
WAKING UP TOO EARLY
If your kids are waking up too early then you are going to have to try and push them to not take a nap until later in the day. You may want to schedule a low key pool day or something of the sort that will keep your kids wanting to have fun for hours but close enough to the hotel that when they really need to go to sleep you can give them a nice quiet place to take a long nap.
GOING TO SLEEP TOO LATE
If you find yourself dealing with the other side of jet lag and your kids just won’t go to sleep, you need to be waking them up earlier in the morning. Try and find the sweet spot between too early that they barely slept and not too late that they will be up all night again. We find playing some fun music and the pool to be a winner every time.
MAKING THE MOST OF CHILDREN AND JET LAG
Baby and toddler jet lag doesn’t last forever so sometimes the best strategy is to just go with it. Just accept you’ll be awake at godforsaken hours and make the most of it! If your kids are waking up on the early side it’s a great way to get to places that are normally crawling with tourists and have it all to yourself.
On numerous occasions we have gotten up at 4am with our jet lagged baby and/or toddlers and gotten tourist free stunning pictures at sunrise. In Siem Riep we got to have the Phnom Bakheng Temple all to ourselves. The same happened in Canada, we got to see Banff all by ourselves before the masses descended.
Of course, if you are too tired to deal with your kids at 4 am you can always toss them the tablet and go back to sleep. No one is judging you – you are on vacation!
If you know your toddler is not going to fall asleep before midnight you can go ahead and take advantage of this. Lets face it, as parents with young kids we rarely get to see our holiday destination after dark. We love strolling around night markets, or looking for low key evening activities. You will always find something suitable.
HOW LONG DOES JET LAG LAST?
In our experience getting over jet lag doesn’t normally take more than a few days. Everyone always wants the magic trick to overcoming jet lag but if you plan ahead for your trip, keeping in mind that your schedule may be weird for the first few days then you won’t even need to worry about how to beat jet lag and you can just go with it.
We’ve been to Portugal with kids twice now. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, its one of the most family-friendly countries in Europe, and somewhere I always recommend to people looking for a break. We’ve been twice now and had some of our best family holidays in Portugal!
On our first trip a couple of years ago, we focused on Central Portugal mixing a Lisbon city break with a relaxing cultural and beach trip to Sintra. Whereas on our most recent family vacation, we explored the Algarve on the southerly coast of the country! Both visits were quite different and could be combined into a longer road trip around Portugal with kids. Renting a car could be an amazing way to explore on an extended trip, however public transport is also quite good.
Portugal is between a two to three hour flight time from the UK, making it an easy to reach destination for the whole family to travel. Our kids loved the trip and I personally loved the diverse experiences Portugal offers. From exploring ancient castles, to wandering the narrow cobbled streets of Lisbon, not to mention the glorious beaches of the Algarve, there is so many things to do for all types of families.
The Portuguese are incredibly welcoming of tourists and in particular are great with children from our experience. Nearly every person we met took the time to chat with our kids and interact with them, making the family travel experience so enjoyable.
We’ve created this guide to Portugal with kids! You can choose to focus on one area you are interested in, or make it into a couple of weeks of exploring. We’ve got it all covered from the best beach holiday in Portugal to a weekend in Portugal, happy reading!
PORTUGAL WITH KIDS
FARO, ALGARVE WITH KIDS
We started off our recent trip in Faro and stayed in one of the most family-friendly villas in Portugal. At just half an hour drive from the airport, Quinta De Lagos is the perfect place to start a trip off to Portugal with a toddler or young child. The gated community is an expansive area filled with tree-lined promenades, walking and cycling routes, not to mention access to some completely isolated beaches.
We stayed at Martinhal Quinta, well known for offering some of the most child-friendly holidays in Portugal, in fact, I would happily say in Europe by my experience. The villas inside the complex are privately owned, however they are managed by Martinhal and all have the same facilities and branding.
BEST PLACE FOR A FAMILY HOLIDAY IN PORTUGAL
Martinhal specialise in ‘baby’s first holiday’ and all round making it easy for families. They have a catalogue of items they can have ready and waiting in the villa. From high chairs to potties, nappies and so on. Being at Martinhal Quinta made us feel like both parents and children were catered for. Sometimes the balance can be too much in one or the other way.
We had everything we needed inside our three bedroom villa. It was a beautiful big property with open plan living, all mod cons kitchen and of course a private swimming pool. The beautiful winding marble stairs was the most eye catching feature of all which ordinarily spells hazard with kids, however Martinhal had a gate at either end to keep little ones safe.
If the villa wasn’t enough, we had all the facilities of a regular resort within Martinhal. The area feels residential in some ways, almost like the Portuguese version of Wisteria Lane! Pastel green Mediterranean buildings along cobbled streets with fuchsia pink flowers outside every house.
Beyond the villas, Martinhal has a central area where there is a bar / restaurant, heated swimming pool and a trampoline play area for the kids. There is also an indoor heated swimming pool for those cooler days, maybe on a Portugal winter holiday! The kids had hours of fun and we really struggled to get them beyond Martinhal, so it was certainly a relaxed part of our trip.
KIDS CLUB PORTUGAL
When we go on holiday we are not the type of parents to palm our kids off whenever possible, but our daughter just loves going to the kids club, especially at Martinhal. They had an amazing programme of activities, from face painting, to arts and crafts. Its such a nice way to get a break as parents, even it its just for lunch or a nice walk on the beach.
We spent our evenings exploring the local walking routes. I absolutely loved the long bridge across the estuary onto the beach. So many beaches along the coast in Portugal have board walks, ideal for cycling or pushing a stroller. There were very few people on the beach so it was just stunning wilderness as far as the eye could see.
Another favourite spot of ours close to Martinhal Quinta was The Shack, it was also on the Estuary that had a man-made beach. It was such a clean and tidy area and perfect for little kids, instead of the crashing waves of the wild Atlantic. On the little beach outside The Shack were stand up paddle boards and a tonne of peddle boats in all shapes and sizes. From little cars to giant swans, it was certainly attractive to the kids.
They serve great food at The Shack and I must admit it was so nice sitting there watching the sunset whilst the kids were playing. Food is only served until 7pm, so make sure to get there on time if you plan to visit.
SAGRES, ALGARVE WITH KIDS
For the second leg of our recent Portugal trip, we travelled further into the Algarve. Martinhal arranged our transfer to their other property in Sagres. Although if you are on a road trip around..
Throughout my entire adult life, I have loved travelling. I was always nervous of having children, would I still be able to travel? Could I afford it? I have found a number of thrifty ways to make travel more affordable, from Flybuys Travel, to choosing the right credit card, in order to maximise on rewards, there are so many ways of doing it. That’s the financial side, but what about everyone saying you are crazy for wanting to travel with a newborn? As new parents we were certainly met with a few raised eyebrows after we said we were going to use our maternity leave to travel around the world with our newborn baby, not once, but twice!
I am a firm believer that you do not have to give up on your travel lifestyle once having children. I for one, wanted my children to be a reflection of me. So both of them have travelled since they were newborn babies and will continue to do so until they no longer want to, or have grown up and are doing their own thing. We set off on a ten-month adventure with both children when they were between 7 and 9 weeks old. With my first baby the idea seemed daunting, I was so nervous, however when it came down to it, I was quite surprised at how easy it was.
Having travelled right through the newborn stage, with my kids, I wanted to write down some of my tips and tricks. Of course, it’s very important to recover after having a baby and not stress yourself out if you are not feeling up to it. On a personal level, getting out and travelling was getting back to my old self, so it was important to me. I get so stir crazy at home. So it did wonders for my mental health to be out doing something stimulating. Here are my top tips for travelling with a newborn.
TRAVELLING WITH A NEWBORN
RECOVERING ON THE ROAD
Many people ask me if I booked my flight before I had baby. The truth is, I did because I wanted to secure the seats and I felt it would be motivation and a goal to get back to my old self. I added baby on after he was born with no issues. Of course it comes with a certain element of risk, not only for the fact his passport might not have been ready but what if I hadn’t recovered?
My second baby was a c-section, something I hadn’t planned so the thought did cross my mind, what if I couldn’t go? Luckily my recovery was speedy so it wasn’t a problem. I gave myself 7 weeks to get a passport sorted for the little man and his first flight. This might be too quick of a turnaround for some mums so listen to your own body and feel comfortable with your decision. Our first flight was short haul and we did our long haul flight when he was 9 weeks old.
GETTING A PASSPORT FOR A NEWBORN
It sounds worse than it is but luckily for most passports, newborns are exempt from the eyes open, mouth closed rule. Instead of bringing baby to a pharmacy or photo shop, I laid my little ones on a white blanket and used a passport app to take their photo on my phone. It’s so much easier and less time consuming.
FEEDING A NEWBORN
As a new mum I always found breastfeeding could solve any situation. Not only did it provide comfort, it also helps to relieve pressure in a babies ears on the ascent and descent. Likewise, it reduces the load of baby paraphernalia. We did not have to worry about sterilising bottles and making formula lightens the load. We all know babies, even as tiny as newborns can accumulate a lot of ‘stuff’. As much as the focus may be on baby, we must not forget to think about ourselves as the feeding mother. Make sure to have water with you and remember empty reusable bottles are allowed through security and almost every airport has refilling stations.
Talking of breastfeeding, I found all of the countries I visited so welcoming and ok with it. No one blinked an eyelid. Of course in countries where modesty was a very important part of the culture, I always ensured I had a cover to feed on demand. I have lots of tips on breastfeeding when travelling. On the other hand, although, I haven’t formula fed my children, I have an excellent guest post on formula and travelling. It is full of tips such as being able to pick up your trusted brand air side. For example, Boots in the airport!! The other good news is so many airports have baby rooms where parents can feed baby, change them and even heat milk. We’ve learned to do a lot of these things on the move, but it’s always nice when there are accessible amenities.
PACKING FOR A NEWBORN
I am a complete minimalist when it comes to most things in my life and even more so when I am travelling. Babies don’t need as much as we think and that certainly goes for a newborn baby. Depending on the type of trip you are doing you may only want to bring some of the things mentioned here. I love packing in small cloth draw string bags, so, it’s nice and easy to things one handed if needed. I don’t always use a specific nappy bag, it can be any type of day bag, and all the better if I can put it on my back out of the way.
NAPPY / DAY BAG
I keep my reusable nappies, wipes, changing mat, bottom cream and wet bag in one draw string bag. It can easily be whipped out of my day bag and taken to the toilet when needed. I have a separate draw string for spare clothes. For my newborn I always had a spare vest, onesies, and two outfits, plus two blankets that were warm but also folded up small.
I also had a small zipped case with a thermometer, baby analgesia, an aspirator and a balm incase baby wasn’t feeling well. It’s kept at the bottom of the bag, as it was rarely needed. It was kept my nappy pouch at the top and clothes in the middle. All of these things are small and easily fit in a day bag especially when organised as mentioned. I also brought myself a spare outfit as it’s fairly standard with being a parent to end up covered in some sort of bodily fluid.
The great thing is, so many airlines will check in a stroller and a car seat for free. This is standard practice across the industry, so I would be surprised to learn otherwise. With a newborn, I found the piece of equipment I needed the most was a baby bouncer. It’s not that compact but I would prefer to wear baby throughout the day and have somewhere to put him down when we were indoors. If you feel you will be out a lot, where there are appropriately paved paths for strollers then maybe it’s worth it. We’ve travelled to places where there are pavements so it was pointless to bring a stroller. It really all depends on the trip.
When it comes to the checked / hand luggage, I only bring enough outfits for the trip plus a couple of extra for baby. I tend to bring a small sachet of laundry powder and either use a local laundry or hand wash. There is no point in bringing bundles of extra things. Especially as it can be hard enough at the best of times having a little person to look after without having lots of bags as well.
The best thing is to have everything as contained as possible, no random bags and be sure you can do everything independently if needed. Most of the time we manage to pack for our four person family into one suitcase most of the time. The absolute essential item is the baby carrier in my opinion. It’s helpful when feeding baby, when you need to rock them to sleep, or just need a cuddle.
BOOKING A FLIGHT WITH A NEWBORN
Every airline has a different rule when it comes to flying with a newborn baby. Most of the time baby can be booked at the same time as the parents. However there are a couple that expect parents to call with the details. I like to make the call regardless to ensure we have a seat with a bassinet. Most bassinets are suitable for newborn babies, unless they are extra tall or big babies. It’s worth putting the extra effort to make it happen as It’s quite nice to have somewhere to lie baby down on a long flight, especially during meal times.
I for one was nervous about continuing to travel with little ones. Of course, the purse strings are a little tighter with a newborn in tow on a reduced maternity or paternity wage. However, I was adamant to try and find lots of ways to keep up travelling from a financial perspective. I have a credit card that helps gather airmiles and a flying companion voucher annually. So whilst my little newborn only costs about 10% of my flight price, every little helps right?
In Australia, they have a fantastic loyalty program called Flybuys who in turn run an amazing travel programme called Flybuys Travel. Flybuys members can pick up points at a large variety of retail outlets. Everywhere from on their grocery shop, to their car insurance and can then redeem those points against flights and hotels. This is the kind of program that can make all the difference and continuing travel with little ones financially possible. It’s also important not to forget about additional costs such as travel insurance which is an absolute necessity in my opinion. Coles Travel Insurance, is free for those under 18 when booked in conjunction with their parents.
Oh, car seats! Oh, how I love those bulky oversized pieces of equipment. They are such a pain to carry around. However with newborns, it is an amazing way to transfer from car just by lifting the seat out without waking them up. I go by the rule if I am going to be renting a car, I bring my own. If I’m travelling in places where I’m likely to be using tuk tuks or other forms of transport, I don’t bring my own car seats. It will very much depend on the type of trip.
I always get asked about travel vaccines for baby. Newborns cannot have travel specific vaccines and therefore relY on mums milk for immunity. Of course, it’s important to choose a destination based on current public health knowledge. So, for example, I personally avoid places where there may be yellow fever or malaria. On the whole, I make sure we have really good insect repellent measures. I try to keep baby cool and hydrated if we are in a hot destination. In my opinion, no where is off the cards if it is safe from a tropical health perspective. Newborns are they are so portable and easy at that age!
ENJOY YOUR LITTLE ONES FIRST TRIP
Now that you are all sorted and organised, you can start getting excited about your trip. Getting out of the house, no chores or day to day errands means you can have undivided time with your baby. We really loved travelling with our babies at the newborn stage. It starts getting tricky, although still very manageable, when they are walking and running around. I hope you have the best time if you are planning something. Don’t forget, recover, don’t put pressure on yourself, have passports at the ready, pack light, save and be crafty with programs like Flybuys Travel, only bring your car seat if you need it and choose a suitable destination to make it amazing for your first time away.
I don’t know how I never heard of Portaventura holidays until recently? When I initially posted about our visit on Instagram so many people said it brought back childhood memories. Portaventura is a 24 year old ginormous leisure complex based just an hour away from Barcelona and only 15 minutes from Reus Airport. Flights from London are only a couple of hours, so it’s an all round easy destination to reach! Featuring several theme parks, hotels and even an RV Park, it attracts millions of visitors every year! We were invited to the opening ceremony and celebration of the Sesame St dark ride, one of the first of its kind in Europe.
PORTAVENTURA HOLIDAY REVIEW
We stayed for two nights in one of the Callaghan rooms at the Hotel Gold River. You know when a hotel pulls off an ‘old’ look but everything is new? Well that’s just how it was. We felt like we had stepped back in time with the country and western theme throughout. From the rooms, to the restaurant and beyond, they really pulled off the look. Our room had two double beds and enough room for a cot so it was perfect for a young family of 4!
On our first morning we took the old school train from Pentinence Station at the Far West area of the park for a very scenic ride to Sesame St where the ceremony was held. It was so nice passing by Easter Island type statues, lush green vegetation and getting our first glimpse of some of the rides.
When we arrived, all of those childhood memories came flooding back, as all of the Sesame St characters counted down the opening of the new 4D ride. We were one of the first people to try it and I was so happy we could all do it together, as quite often Quinn is too short at his age.
We were all given 4D glasses and were spun around the different rooms of the ride. There were 4D cookies coming at us from every angle and we each had a laser to crumble them. Whoever got the most won at the end of the ride! It was really interactive and engaging, we all loved it.
We went on to explore a bit more of the Sesamo Aventura area as there was plenty for kids of Esmé and Quinn’s age. From Sesame themed jeeps, to aeroplanes that circulated the entire area, it was certainly the most colourful and vibrant area of all in the park. The characters made a few appearances throughout the day making our little Elmo loving daughter very excitable.
Next stop was Polynesia, a relaxed and tranquil part of the park, it kind of reminded me of Moana. The kids rowed mini canoes around a water way. They loved it so much they queued up so many times to try it again and again. Most of the other rides in Polynesia had a 1.4 metre height restriction, so we moved onto the next area.
The next area was perfect place for lunch time. Mediterrania was full of restaurants, bars, cafes and a gelateria. I find food options in a lot of theme parks to be quite poor but I was super impressed with the options and the style of this part of Portaventura. We could have been in a little Spanish town with blue and white painted buildings, fresh flowers lining the street and a nice view of a lake! Oh but then you realise where you are when you see the Furius Baco ride literally skimming the lake as it thundered above you.
We had an AMAZING lunch at Restaurante Vinosfera. Inside the atmosphere is chilled with giant ceiling lamps on dimmer. Long wooden bench seats and everyone sharing tasty tapas dishes. The food and wine was great and they had a children’s menu with colouring in. I can highly recommend this restaurant to break up an otherwise long day in the park, it was the perfect respite.
Our next stop was the Far West as we knew there were some rides there specific to Esme’s height that were a little more thrilling. We started off with the Grand Canyon rapids, perfectly timed with the weather getting a little warmer and getting a cool spray of water on route. We also tried the Silver River Flume which was lots of fun. I could have personally gone on the Silver River Flume again and again!
The Mexico area of the park houses one of the attractions that can be seen from near and far. The Hurakan Condor is a tower that sores into the sky and can be seen from miles away. Riders are hoisted to the top and dropped suddenly to the bottom. Whilst hubby was enjoying that, I was next door taking the kids on two perfect rides for them. The Los Patrillos and Armadilos are side by side!
The last and final part of the park we visited was China. By this time it was 5pm and we had been there all day! Hubby and I had a go on the Dragon Khan, probably the most iconic in the park. It was perfectly positioned next to the children playground area. A space filled with a long dragon. It had lots of graduated steps inside and slides coming out of it from all angles. This was the perfect finish to a fun filled day. We headed back to Sesame St to catch the train back to our hotel.
Disclaimer: This post is an advert for Portaventura, as always all views expressed are entirely my own.
If you follow our blog or Instagram it can sometimes seem like we are living a glamorous life filled with fancy family trips. While our lifestyle of travelling with kids is amazing, we only show some of the challenges that come along with it. Like everyone else we have our ups and downs with parenting on the go. We’ve had our share of crying on planes, toilet training on the go, sick kids and airport confiscations! We make compromises and we work hard to achieve our lifestyle.
Travelling with kids has made us into minimalists. When you are carrying your kids around, not to mention all their gear, you really don’t want anymore on hand then is absolutely necessary. There is nothing worse than having to dig through a Mary Poppins bag while your little one is screaming their head off in public and you’ve got no where to put them down. Or trying to drag several suitcases, carry-ons, and personal bags around while your bubba is tugging on your leg begging to be held. To avoid these situations we’ve mastered the art of packing light. This includes downsizing all the things to make me feel like I can still feel confident! So when it comes to beauty products and accessories I choose very carefully and selectively.
We were recently gifted these beautiful jewellery pieces by Philip Jones. They are very sweet and happy to match everything. This way, I don’t have to worry about bringing different accessories for each outfit. The whole line is geared towards making mum’s feel special. It comes with a lovely note that says “thank you for being the world’s greatest mum”. Sometime’s when you live out of a suitcase you just need something nice to feel a little pampered. The photos in this post are from mothers day in Jordan! After a day where your toddler throws himself on the ground screaming because he couldn’t have dad’s coffee, it’s a lovely reminder that we are all doing our best as parents when he has the locket in his little hand mid-snuggle.
Travelling with Kids on Their Schedule
One of the biggest mistakes you can make is thinking that you can pack in as much as before you had kids. When you travel with your kids you have to accommodate their routine. This means assuming you probably wont be going far from the hotel on flying days. It also means having a solid plan for how you are going to deal with nap time. If your little one is flexible about sleeping this can mean walking around somewhere quieter with your bubba in carrier. Or, if you have more sleep sensitive kids, it may mean making sure you are near a bed.
Whenever we are doing a long drive we try to time it with our kids nap times so they will sleep in the car. A good strategy is to decide that for every packed day you have a down day the next one where you just hang out by a pool or something else kid friendly and routine happy.
We also try to limit the number of things that we really want to visit. Instead we favor things that will be fun for the kids. This may seem annoying but if you prioritise things at the top of your list you can still do what you want and get to experience the city from a whole different perspective. Usually when we find kid friendly things to do, we get to interact with a lot more locals than we would have otherwise!
While the “just show up and wing it” strategy was great in our younger years, it doesn’t really work with kids. Planning ahead will stop many mid-trip meltdowns. You should always have plenty of snacks on hand and know where you will be getting your next meal. Likewise, pay attention to how long you will need for a specific attraction so you are not caught off guard at nap time. If you know the day’s activities are less kid friendly be sure to pack toys and entertainment.
Doing the research to find a kid-friendly hotel is so important. It maximizes your free time and enjoyment when the hotel will provide basics like a bassinet, or even extras like kid’s clubs and babysitting services. You can filter your searches on booking.com by family friendly which helps a lot!
Travelling with kids can be a completely different experience for someone who used to travel alone. No more drinking your way through the world (okay, a little drinking your way). No more crazy packed days and lie ins. If you embrace the change and learn to work with your kids, you open yourself up to new, exciting experiences. If you are open to going with the flow and being flexible and attentive to your kids needs it can be a fun-filled, exciting holiday for everyone.
Even though travelling with kids can sometimes be difficult it is so rewarding. The amount of bonding time we get to spend as a family experiencing new things is fantastic. Our kids are so confident and flexible. They are constantly exposed to so many new cultures and experiences. I can’t help but believe they will grow up to be creative, open minded individuals! The world is a powerful learning tool for our kids and because we travel they get to learn hands-on. Plus, all the difficulty is worth it when you get to look back on all those amazing family photos ;).
We have been wanting to visit Jordan with our kids for a while now. The Middle East is so different from other places we’ve been with its vibrant unique culture and tantalising local delicacies, it’s an experience like no other! From the red sandy desert of Wadi Rum, to the lowest point on earth, the Dead Sea, there is a lot to see and do in Jordan (although I don’t recommend the Dead Sea with kids, more about that later). Most people fly into Amman in the north of the country, however we weren’t so interested in exploring the city and had an option to fly into Aqaba in the south direct from London.
We chose to base ourselves in Aqaba for the duration of our five day trip. We ordinarily like to move around and stay in different places, however, Jordan formed part of a much bigger trip so we were keen to stay at the same hotel. It’s really easy to get to Wadi Rum and Petra from Aqaba.
Although my feeling is, it’s probably best to stay close to Petra when visiting. We rented a car from rentalcars.com at Aqaba airport and found the roads overall safe to drive on. There is the odd speed bump that is not very obvious so it’s worth being extra vigilant for them. Other than that, hiring a car is the best option with kids. If you prefer to get a guide, that can also be super useful when it comes to getting a well-rounded educational experience and insider information on visiting Jordan with kids.
My brother was travelling through Jordan at the same time as us and he used a guide that drove him around and organised his accommodation as well. Something to consider purchasing before leaving home is the basic Jordan Pass. It covers not only your visa for entry to the country, but also to a number of attractions, including Petra.
I’ve heard a few stories of people getting charged different amounts entering Petra, so it’s something definitely worth buying, we saved quite a bit of money per head doing it this way. It didn’t make much difference to the queuing system in the airport at Aqaba, as the visa officers had to check the pass. I had it on my phone and didn’t need to have them printed out. What’s more, our kids, ages 4 and 1 didn’t need a visa or to pay entry to the attractions. All the more reason to take them whilst they are young!
THINGS TO DO IN JORDAN WITH KIDS
Aqaba is a small town based on the edge of the Red Sea. Both Israel and Saudi Arabia are within a mile either side of Aqaba. It’s almost like the bottle neck of Jordan! With the territory of being on the coast of the Red Sea comes spectacular coral reef and beautiful clear water. We spent our time in Aqaba exploring the small town. There is some roman ruins, an ancient castle and a mosque to see. There is also a tonne of nice cafes and two really good restaurants that come highly recommended by locals.
We took the kids on a glass bottom boat, I can’t say I was that impressed, however I feel if it was organised a bit better through an official company with a better boat it could have been much nicer. Both hubby and I have an open water dive certification so we tee’d up childcare so we could explore Aqaba beneath the water. We visited the seven sisters and the C-130 Hercules plane wreck. The visibility was amazing and, honestly, it’s one of the best places in the world to dive! I was blown away by the preserved colours in the coral, unlike other places that are completely bleached from climate change.
WHERE TO STAY IN JORDAN WITH KIDS
We stayed at the fabulous Hyatt Regency Aqaba, not far from the town. It’s inside a secure area called ‘Ayla’ where there are a few other hotels. Hyatt Regency has lots going on and was certainly a luxury experience. I love hotels that manage to balance family-friendliness and luxury, there are only a handful that we’ve come across! Our kids absolutely loved the kids club, complete with lots of toys, games, art and craft activities. It also has a special splash park within the kids club.
On our first day we were so looking forward to chilling by the pool but it was overcast and a bit chilly. However it was a lovely surprise to find the family pool was heated and could still be enjoyed despite the weather. The food was also amazing, from the buffet breakfast with everything imaginable, to lunch at the Olive Tree restaurant and the late night pizza at the bar! Everything was so good and we always found something for our preferred vegan diet, it wasn’t difficult at all. Of course the Middle Eastern, local type food was the best! I found myself eating it for almost every meal.
We stayed in a suite that had a separate living area from the bedroom. We all know that’s a win when travelling with kids. Featuring a lovely balcony to catch the sunset, and a dining area in the living space, it could be used as a multi-purpose room. The beds were super comfy and the room was definitely spacious enough to house a single bed for our girl. The walk-in bathroom was huge, with a bath, shower and separate bathroom. It was definitely an ideal space for families in terms of room and configuration. The kids were absolutely loving their robes that were perfect for their size. It’s not often they have them in hotels, they felt extra spoilt.
The Hyatt Regency Aqaba had several other areas including an adult only spa and a man made beach. From plunge pools, to lazy rivers it was a super relaxing and tranquil space. We also loved the live music in the bar in the evenings (the cocktails were also great and not too expensive). Hyatt Regency Aqaba rent a selection of bikes from kiddie size with stabilisers to full sized adult ones, another great activity to enjoy during our stay.
RESTAURANT RECOMENDTION IN AQABA
If you are looking for a nice restaurant in Aqaba the Sheikh El Harah restaurant was really good! It’s a small traditional restaurant with a very friendly and accommodating owner. We ordered a few tasters as starters of local foods and it turned out to be a massive spread that could have definitely been suffice for a meal. We had already ordered a main before realising that, so if you go, make sure your hungry, or just stick with the traditional tasters. It was super affordable and the food was great, not to mention highly recommended by locals.
WADI RUM, JORDAN WITH KIDS
We’ve previously visited the desert in Abu Dhabi with the kids, they really loved the experience so we were excited to visit Wadi Rum with them. Wadi Rum is unique in the sense the sand is almost red in colour and there are some incredible rock formations around the desert. We were blown away by the stunning landscape. At only an hours drive from Aqaba, wether you’ll choose to stay or not, is the perfect distance with little ones. We always tie our road trips in with nap time so it goes (hopefully) as smooth as possible.
There are quite a few glamping sites in the desert that offer unique overnight stays in an igloo style tent. Complete with a double bed, stunning views and a ceiling window for seeing the stars from your bed, it’s the ultimate Jordanian nature experience. Most of the camps have camels hanging around and offer jeep experiences.
We went to the desert to watch the sunset from Hasan Zaweidih Camp and stayed for a buffet dinner with some entertainment afterwards. The kids absolutely loved the simple experience of playing in the sand and seeing the camels (we didn’t ride on them). Our daughter gets a little car sick and I felt going up and down sand dunes in a jeep wouldn’t go too well so we decided to hang out at the camp instead. There are a tonne of different options out there but I can definitely recommend the camp we went to for stunning views and the food was great, the entertainment was mediocre.
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When you spend as much time travelling as we do you learn what works and what doesn’t when it comes to keeping your kids happy on the move. Whether it’s for flying with your toddler or a road trip we are always looking for the magic travel toys for toddlers that will keep them entertained and tantrum free. It is also important to find lightweight options and to figure out what works for your child so that you aren’t loaded down with gear.
We have found that one of the most important components of keeping your toddler happy is that they have new, stimulating toys to play with. Very often we hit the dollar store to fill their carry on with cheap toy’s they have never seen before. If you don’t have time (or just prefer not) to put effort into searching out new toys you can try out our favorite pre-made packs designed with your child’s age in mind. That said, here are our favorite travel toys for toddlers!
THE BEST TRAVEL TOYS FOR TODDLERS
Keep ’em Quiet Bags
We love these pre-made bags. When life gets busy there isn’t always time to spend on putting together the perfect pack of toys for your child. When that happens our go to option is the Keep ’em Quiet bags. They are specifically designed to keep little ones of all different ages entertained on a flight. They come in different age groups, gender (also gender neutral available), as well as length of trip. If you are going away for a weekend they can be smaller and obviously a little cheaper in price. They are stuffed full of activities such as mess free painting, 3d puzzles, snacks, special colouring in and so on. The Keep ’em Quiet bags are only available in the UK but the USA and Australia have a similar product called Busy Bags.
No Mess Colouring
Colouring just got more fun (for parents). Having to worry about your child colouring on walls, chairs, seat back tables and themselves is no longer an issue. There are a few options on the market that all follow the same principle of markers that only work on the paper it comes with. Here are some of our favorite options:
Color Wonder Products
The Color Wonder products are markers whose colours only appear when used on the range of colouring books and blank pages that Crayola has on offer. Color Wonder gives your kids the most options and creativity as far as no mess colouring goes.
The Water Wow colouring books include four reusable pages and a refillable water pen. You get one pen which you use to activate the colour in the pages! When you are done you can let the page dry to erase the pictures and fill it in again and again. The chunky-sized water pen is easy for kids to hold and it stores neatly right in the front cover. Water Wow comes in animal, alphabet and vehicle-themed books, which makes for an ideal travel activity toy for kids. The only down side is that your little one can’t choose which colour to use as it has one marker that activates all the pre-existing colours in the page.
Aqua Doodle – Travel Doodle
Aqua doodle mats come in varying sizes and options but the best one for travelling is obviously the travel doodle! The mats follow the same principle as the Water Wow – fill the pen and it activates the colours in the pages. The main advantages of the travel doodle is that it is soft like a mat and folds up small with an easy carry handle. Just like the Water Wow, when it dries the color fades and you can start colouring all over again!
Magnetic Doodle Board
Magnetic doodle boards are always a great option. We especially like this brand because the magnetic stamps are strong enough to stay connected to the board so they wont get lost on the plane or in the car. It also comes in mini for travelling although whether or not you feel the need to get the travel size will depend on your carry on space.
Buckle toys are all the rage lately. They help toddlers develop fine motor skills, cognitive skills, hand eye coordination, problem solving. Of course they are also fun and snuggly. You can get them in stuffed animal form but we like the backpack version the best. You can put some small things in it and your toddler can wear it through the airport to feel like a ‘big girl/boy’.
Magnetic Play Set
Children will exercise their imaginations for hours with this magnetic play set that encourages storytelling, promote problem-solving skills, and build skills in sequencing. The play board folds in half and because the pieces are magnetic they are hard to lose, making it great for travel. With so many theme options, such as farm, dollhouse, construction site and more, you can choose the option best suited to your family. Your toddler will love spending time setting up the scenes and it makes for some great, quiet fun!
Play-Doh is a classic. I’m sure I don’t have to talk it up to anyone but I will anyways. Play-Doh is great for kids of many ages. When they are little they will enjoy just squishing it and when they get older it’s great for letting their imaginations run wild. There are an infinite amount of things you can do with it when you get creative! We like to bring a bunch of small containers and take a new one out throughout the trip whenever we need a little distraction. You can also buy a fancier set that will give you all sorts of molds and fun tools like this baking set!
Another easy one is pipe cleaners. Pipe cleaners also have an infinite number of uses if you get creative. As creative as we get though nothing ever seems as fun to a toddler as just waving them around or wearing it as a bracelet. We’ve been surprised time and time again that no matter what amazing toys and surprises we bring the most effective and time consuming toy is the pipe cleaners.
What kid doesn’t love stickers? Stickers are a fabulous way to pass the time. Our favorite kind for planes are gel stickers which cling to the windows and can be easily taken down and put back up. You can also get classic stickers accompanied by a sticker book or just some paper. The paper/sticker book will probably end up ignored, though, and you will just end up covered in stickers instead.
Wristband Stuffed Animal
When travelling with little ones it’s always great to have some sort of familiar comfort object but this stuffed animal is great because it’s very difficult to lose! It goes around your arm like a wristband so there will be no dropping it between the seats and never finding it again.
Lonely Planet Pop Up Books
Whilst normally we are a fan of smaller books for the sake of space, the Lonely Planet pop up books are great if you want to prepare your child for the destination you are headed to. Just like the adult Lonely Planet books they feature the highlights of the city but in these they do it with colourful pop up pieces! Right now they only have London, Paris, and New York books.
These stringy balls are fun and exciting for toddlers and really any aged child. Originally created to be an easy ball for small hands to grab and hang on to, Koosh balls are more exciting than any regular ball and are way more fun!
Busy books are a great three-in-one option. They are story books that come with a play mat and toys. The play mat may not be so practical for the car/plane but the toys, activities and story should keep your toddler happy for quite a while. They come in many themes so you can choose whatever theme your child is obsessed with today!
While we prefer to let our kids experience some good creative fun, very often the time comes, especially when flying long haul, that you need to bring out the big guns! When that happens we always have a tablet on hand, loaded with educational apps and TV shows. You can download all these with the Amazon Prime Free Time Unlimited which you can test out by signing up for the Amazon FreeTime Unlimited Free Trial. We also bring along toddler headphones so that they don’t bother anyone.