Travelling with Toddlers

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Travelling with Toddlers

Airplane backlit with the rising/setting sun
For those of you who read my previous travel article on travelling with babies or know my husband and I, you would know that we are avid travellers and we hope that we can share our travel bug with our daughter and any future children we may have. After an epic 30 our journey with a 4 month old baby, we decided to tone down our travel for a little while - okay, I lie, it was more about the restraint of lack of time and money. When we finally ventured out of Brunei with our little family - we could finally confirm that travelling with a toddler is a whole different ball game than travelling with a baby. While a lot of the same rules apply and we did need a lot of the same things (listed here in this article), we now had to worry about entertainment, food, tantrums, walking, crawling on the floor, kicking the seat in front of us… all the fun stuff. So here are the additional things to consider.

Request the bulkhead

When booking your flight, always call the airline to ask for the bulkhead seats (where they can attach the bassinet). If they can’t guarantee them then call again closer to your flight. Still can’t get them confirmed? Call again a couple of days before your flight. Check again at the airport when checking in. Even if you don’t use the bassinet (which we don’t), the bulkhead area gives your kid a great little area to walk around and play without getting in anyone’s way. The only annoying thing is that you can’t have any bags during take-off and landing but that’s a small price to pay for all that space!

Entertainment, entertainment, entertainment

As with the last trip, I made sure to thoroughly prepare. I brought a bunch of entertainment:-
  • Painters tape (this was amazing - I would just rip bits off and stick them all over the seats and windows and she would happily peel them off. You should be able to get this at any stationary or hardware store)
  • Tons of stickers (also great fun)
  • A tub of Playdoh (still unopened and waiting for our next trip)
  • A small box with a slit on the top and a bunch of popsicle sticks (another hit and cheap too. I used a small box I had lying around and a bunch of small wooden ice scoops I bought at Samima Stationary store in Kiulap across from Aneka Rasa)
  • A plastic ball that lights up when you shake it (fun for about 2 seconds - again bought from Samima Stationary)
  • A sticky octopus that is supposed to crawl down windows when you throw it (From Toys’r’Us in Mabohai Shopping Centre. Ellie is terrified of this - she hates the way it feels and will run away when she sees it. I’m contemplating getting a bunch of these and putting them in places I don’t want her to go)
  • A mirror (Ellie loves mirrors but this was only fun for a few minutes)
  • An iPad filled with videos (if you have a Netflix account, they also allow you to download most of the kids content for offline use. But do note that once you play a video most expire within 48 hours and you can’t renew some titles - though you can for most of the tv shows)
  • Kid-safe headphones (bought off Amazon but she just ripped them off)
  • There really is tons and tons of different items you can bring on the plane for entertainment. Key rule of thumb is, don’t bring things with lots of pieces that can be easily lost and only bring things you wouldn’t mind losing (the exception on my list being the iPad). One of the best forms of entertainment though … snacks!

    "Mummy! I’m hungry! I must eat NOW"

    It is all about the snacks. Snacks are super important, particularly on trips since you might be moving around a lot, eating at more irregular hours and generally may have less kid friendly food options. Also, don’t forget that kids love to find the most inconvenient times to start refusing to eat. There are also certain snacks we generally try to limit on regular days, but on trips, and especially flights, it is a free-for-all. I try to bring some healthy options as well like freeze dried fruits (from Guan Hock Lee - note that these are quite expensive) and fresh fruit (things that transport well like small tangerines). But some of my daughter’s favourite snacks are puffs (Organics Happybaby puffs are the best and can be found at most supermarkets but not at Supa Save), cheerios, digestive biscuits, fig rolls, fruit shreds (from Guan Hock Lee but they are quite expensive) and crisps.
    Having said all that, my number one must pack food items for kids on holiday are pre-packaged food pouches. They are amazing on trips. They don’t need to be stored in the refrigerator and they ensure that my daughter gets some fruit and vegetables into her diet daily on trips where the only thing she might eat at a restaurant are chips. I personally like Rafferty’s Garden because there is a wide selection of flavours available in Brunei (though mostly, I’ll be honest, it’s because it’s the cheapest) and these can be found at most supermarkets here including Supa Save and Hua Ho.

    If you’re travelling with children, you are usually allowed to bring water and baby food that exceed the usual 100ml limits onto your flight and pass any airport screening. I usually bring my daughter’s Skip Hop straw water bottle filled with water. It also helps with pressure during take-off and landing if I try and get her to take sips often (as well as nurse and eat snacks… anything to keep their jaws moving).

    Once again, be prepared but be comfortable

    The rules here are pretty much the same as when travelling with babies - be prepared for anything. This means bring enough diapers (plus a few extra), LOTS of wipes (even more than when they were babies cause they now need their hands and faces wiped all the time too - and they touch so. much. more. stuff!), extra clothes (it’s now less about the diaper blowouts and more about food everywhere), a baby changing pad and medicine (we always carry baby paracetamol and allergy meds).

    With all that said, travel as light as possible. I like to use backpacks for our handcarry so we have both hands free. I also don’t travel with a stroller but use a baby carrier instead. I find strollers way too bulky and overall more troublesome than helpful.
    I am a stickler for safety though and usually bring a carseat for when we travel. I check this in at the gate before boarding and carry it through the airport with a Britax carseat trolley (purchased on Amazon). If your child can sleep in a carseat though, and you can afford it, I would say get a seat for your toddler (even if they are under 2) and attach the carseat. This really is the safest way for your child to travel. Do note though that some airlines don’t allow kids below a certain age to sit in a carseat (I don’t understand this policy at all and it annoys me to be honest), so do check with your airline beforehand.

    Bring backup

    This probably applies when travelling with kids of any age - but one of the most valuable things to have with you on a journey… another pair of capable adult hands. For me that means my husband or my mum, and I have been fortunate enough so far that I haven’t had to travel with my daughter without them.

    Travel more

    The more we have travelled with our daughter, the better and better we have become at it. We have learnt to relax more and just go with the flow. Travelling with a kid has really changed what we look for in holiday destinations and the overall experience. It not only opens their eyes to the rest of the world, but it looking at the world through their eyes has really made some of our trips even more rewarding. So if you have the chance - travel.
    Mel Poh
    Mel Poh
    Mel moved from Singapore to Brunei in 2016 to give birth and raise her now rambunctious toddler. The move from the world of business and law to being a stay-at-home mum ignited her passion for all things baby and child related. She founded Baby Brunei in the hopes of sharing this passion with other parents in Brunei.

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