Tips for mums travelling with multiple kids

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Family holidays can be fun, but the thought of travelling with multiple kids may put some parents off. Find out how to plan a stress-free holiday for the family!

Travelling with a baby or a toddler may seem daunting for some. But just imagine what it’s like travelling with multiple kids! How can a mum travelling with multiple kids not end up pulling out her hair even before she reaches her destination?

Here are some tips on how to make travelling with multiple kids an easier, happier task for everyone.

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If you thought travelling with one kid was tough, how about travelling with multiple kids? Preparation is key!

Pre-Travel Preparations:

How to Plan the Journey

Travelling with multiple kids, whether twins or children of different ages, means you will have more factors to keep in mind when planning the trip by plane, bus/coach or car.

  • If your elder child is able to play a supporting role, have him help you out with little tasks as you manage his younger sibling. Otherwise, it would be wise to have a companion, such as your partner or another adult, who is able to assist you during the travel.
  • If one of your children is still taking day naps, it helps to plan the trip around them, so that the child is able to get adequate rest. 
  • If you plan to leave before your child’s nap, ensure you take their comfort items along in your carry-on bag, for example, a toy or bolster. Your child will be sleeping on-the-move, and may experience interrupted sleep, so do be prepared for some fussing if he is a light sleeper and dislikes interruption.
  • If you plan to leave after your child’s nap, he will be more energetic during travel and you may end up having to find ways to keep him entertained. However, it saves you from having to carry him in your arm (for younger kids) during the journey.
  • If you are planning to take a long haul overnight flight, it would make sense to schedule the time of flight with your children’s bedtime so that the children are able to sleep during the plane ride (and so can you).
  • If you are planning to take a short flight (for example, three to four hours), it might be good to plan around your baby’s nap time or feeding time. A hungry baby in a new environment – and add cabin pressure to the situation – often results in a fussing child. Reduce the chances of a potentially stressful situation for yourself.

What to Pack

The packing part can be quite a headache, especially if you are packing for more than one kid. During the baby and toddler years, things can be a little tricky since their essentials can be numerous, and some young children require specific products which may not be available in a foreign land.

If you are travelling with a baby, you will probably be fearful about missing out certain items.

Here is a handy checklist for your baby’s luggage:

  1. Daily clothes that are suitable for the weather. For example, if you will be travelling to somewhere cold, do bring along long-sleeved clothing and pants, and leave those singlets behind. Alternatively, onesies are easy-to-wear without the hassle of bringing more separates, and great for warmer weather.
  2. Additional weather-ready clothes such as sweater/cardigan or jacket to keep warm.
  3. Pyjamas to keep your child warm at night.
  4. Diapers for the stay. However, some mothers choose to purchase disposables diapers from the country that they are heading to especially if they will have to lug along a full pack of diapers. It helps if your baby’s skin is not particularly sensitive too. If your bub uses cloth diapers, bring sufficient pieces along for the trip, as well as washing detergent.
  5. Socks, gloves, mittens, hats, ear muffs, shoes according to the weather needs.
  6. Baby bath essentials such as shampoo, body wash, body lotion, diaper cream, powder and any special or specific creams needed, for example, eczema cream or medication.
  7. Bath towels and face towels
  8. Swaddle, if you’re bringing along your newborn
  9. Washing detergent is optional unless you’re planning to do some washing there.
  10. Baby’s medication or supplements
  11. Breastpump, if necessary. Or formula powder and bottled water (depending on how comfortable you are with baby drinking water from another country).
  12. Solids weaning essentials, if your child is above six months old and has started solids. For example, bowl, spoon, bibs (disposable or cloth ones).
  13. Milk bottles and bottle cleanser, if your baby takes the bottle

For toddlers, we put together a list of items to help make travelling with multiple kids a tad easier.

Here is a handy checklist for your toddler’s luggage:

  1. Daily clothes that are weather-appropriate. For example, if you will be travelling to somewhere cold, do bring along long-sleeved clothing and pants, and leave those singlets behind. Alternatively, one-piece clothing such as dresses are easy-to-wear without the hassle of bringing different separates.
  2. Additional weather-ready clothes such as sweater/cardigan or jacket to keep warm
  3. Pyjamas to keep your toddler warm at night
  4. Diapers/underwear for the stay. If your toddler is on diapers, remember to pack these along. Toilet trained toddlers will need to pack along underwear instead.
  5. Socks, gloves, mittens, hats, ear muffs, shoes according to the weather needs.
  6. Baby bath essentials such as shampoo, body wash, body lotion, diaper cream (if needed), powder and any special or specific creams needed for example, eczema cream or medication. If your toddler is not highly sensitive, some parents share their toiletries with their tots. But this is really an individual’s preference.
  7. Bath towels and face towels
  8. Washing detergent is optional unless you’re planning to do some washing there.
  9. Medication or supplements, especially if your toddler is taking them regularly
  10. Breastpump, if you are still breastfeeding and need to pump. Or formula milk or UHT milk for your toddler. Some parents are comfortable with buying fresh milk from their new destination. So these can be skipped if your child is not particularly sensitive or intolerant.
  11. Milk bottles, bottle cleanser if your baby takes the bottle. Otherwise a water bottle for daily water intake should be taken along.
  12. Shoes and slippers/sandals, depending on weather

Things to Note Before Travelling

  • For your check-in baggage, do note that airlines have weight limits for each passenger. So do check with your respective airlines to avoid excess baggage, as that would incur a fee. The weight of your kids’ baggage is taken into consideration. So if you are travelling as a family, the total weight can be shared since your children’s baggage would not be as heavy as for the adults. For international airlines such as Singapore Airlines, the free baggage allowance for Economy Class is 30kg per passenger. Meanwhile, for budget airlines such as Jetstar, the weight limit for check-in baggage requires an additional payment for the first 20kg per passenger, with options for top-up to increase the limits.
  • For carry-on baggage, international airlines usually do not have a weight limit. But there may be restrictions on the size allowed, as the only area of keeping them would be the overhead compartment. For budget airlines like Jetstar, the free carry-on baggage limit is 7kg per passenger, with a size restriction. Do check with your respective airlines if you are considering to bring a bulky carry-on.
  • Check with the airline in advance about their rules on bringing on-board baby food and milk (both expressed breastmilk and formula). 
  • Speak to your kids’ doctor a couple of months prior to travelling, and inform the doctor of any existing medical conditions. Have the doctor prepare a prescription for medicine for you and your children just in case you need it.
  • Vaccinations may be required if you are travelling to certain countries where there are potential outbreaks such as the malaria epidemic or Influenza A.
  • Check that you and your children’s passports are valid for more than six months, as immigration customs reserve the right to restrict entry into their countries.
  • If one parent is travelling with the kids alone, a letter of consent is required by the other parent who is staying behind when travelling in the States. This is a measure in place due to increasing number of child abductions. However, do check with your respective airlines with respect to the destination for further clarifications.
  • Ensure all bookings are confirmed before travelling. These include return trips, hotel stays and any transportation that have been booked if you are travelling with a baby.
  • For your check-in baggage, do note that airlines have weight limits for each passenger. So do check with your respective airlines to avoid excess baggage, as that would incur a fee. The weight of your kids’ baggage is taken into consideration, too.

Janice Wong, mother of two, shares that prior to the trip, explaining to them what’s about to happen can help to keep them excited. It is also helpful to put the children along the same row as the younger kids usually imitate their older siblings. For example, if one of them is sleeping, the other child may follow suit.

She also advises getting to the airport early for check-in. This helps the kids to expend their energy, and they usually fall asleep on the plane.

With these tips on how to pack and prepare for the trip before travelling with multiple kids, find out how to manage your kids onboard the vehicle.

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A kid-friendly destination can help your children stay entertained, especially when you are travelling with multiple kids.

Onboard Travelling Tips:

  • If you and your children are travelling by plane, do note that cabin pressure in airplanes can cause discomfort and pain in your baby’s or young child’s ears. Just like adults, the swallowing reflex helps alleviate the pressure to clear the ears.
  • For a breastfed bub, simply latch on before take off and landing. The suckling and swallowing helps your baby to feel better – along with the comfort from mummy. For babies who take the bottle, offer milk, water (only for babies over six months old who have started solids), or even some snacks (if he has already started on solids), as the swallowing action helps baby feel better.
  • If you and your baby are travelling by car, bus or coach, remember to ensure the safety of your children. Babies and children under 1.35m travelling in a car require a car seat or booster seat as stipulated by the Singapore Traffic Police, so do ensure your child is snugly belted up during the drive. In Singapore, buses and coaches are not required to provide car seats. And in airplanes, these are not encouraged too, even if parents were to bring their own.
  • If you are travelling with a baby or a toddler, the chances that you will need to bring a diaper bag or a carry-on bag is highly likely.

Here are some essentials for your babies and toddlers that you should pack along to make the travel journey a more comfortable one for all, especially when travelling with multiple kids.

Things to bring along for your baby’s ride:

  1. Formula milk in container, thermal flask with hot water, bottle with fresh cooled water and milk bottles if baby is on formula. Expressed breastmilk should be stored in milk bottles and kept in insulated cooler bags with ice packs or freezer packs (declaration required at airport security screening).
  2. Wet wipes and tissue packs
  3. Diapers
  4. Baby’s sweater to keep warm should the ride get too cold
  5. Sippy cup or water, if baby has started solids and is taking water
  6. Baby’s meals and snacks, if baby has start solids. Alternatively, some airlines do provide infant meals which are usually baby jar food. Do check with your airline during booking.
  7. Baby’s favourite toys or security blanket, to provide comfort
  8. Nursing cover/shawl for breastfeeding mums

Things to bring along for your toddler’s ride:

  1. Formula milk in container, thermal flask with hot water, bottle with fresh cooled water and milk bottles if toddler is on formula. Expressed breastmilk should be stored in milk bottles and kept in insulated cooler bags with ice packs or freezer packs (declaration required at airport security screening).
  2. Wet wipes and tissue packs
  3. Diapers, if toddler is still wearing them
  4. Child’s sweater to keep warm should the ride get too cold
  5. Sippy cup or water bottle
  6. Toddler’s meals and snacks. Do check with your airline about kids’ meals as most full-fledged carriers provide them.
  7. Toddler’s favourite toys or books
  8. Nursing cover/shawl for breastfeeding mums

Be sure not to double pack these essentials although you will be bringing more than one child along. Pack smart, mums!

When getting from point to point, remember to prepare things that your children need to keep them entertained. Mother of two, Serene Seah, shares some useful ideas:

  • Entertainment for different children. This could be a kindle, mobile device or electronic digital device with games or educational materials, or games such as puzzles and colouring books.
  • Gadget holder. This helps to hold those digital gadgets in place so you won’t have to end up holding them for your children.
  • Extension plugs and USB ports. Keep these within reach to charge those devices when they run low on battery life.
  • Nappy Disposable Bags. If you are travelling with multiple kids via bus, car or coach, keep those soiled diapers, wet wipes, tissues in these convenient bags if your bub needs a diaper change during the commuting journey.
  • Travel John Disposable Urinal. These are ultra handy for those long rides via bus, car or coach, for urgent toilet breaks with no stopover or washroom in sight. Ideal for children and adults, for hygienic, odourless and spill-proof relief.
  • Babies who are light sleepers may be better off not sleeping in a bassinet. Babies are required to be carried (whether she’s asleep or not!) during turbulence. This might result in a cranky, fussing child if your little one had a hard time dozing off in the first place.

At Your New Destination:

Plan a Feasible Routine

Travelling with multiple kids requires understanding of each child’s character and routines. Anticipating your children’s needs, such as hunger, rest/sleep, comfort, should be considered when planning your trip.

Mums, do go slow when travelling with multiple kids, so that things are easier to manage and the holiday will not be a stressful one.

Things to Consider: Stroller or Carrier?

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When travelling with multiple kids, babywearing the younger ones can help free up your hands. That way, you can attend to the older kids, or carry things during the trip.

When you are out-and-about at different sites, consider bringing along a stroller and/or carrier/sling to help free your hands. At the same time, this allows for a more comfortable travelling position for your baby.

If one child allows babywearing, that would be a good option in helping to free your hands. If the other child takes the stroller, your travel companion can help with pushing the other child when he naps.

When travelling alone with multiple kids, here are some ways you can keep things manageable for yourself:

  • Always make sure all your children are within sight or arm’s length when you and the brood are out and about. Safety is always priority number one.
  • Plan activities suitable for the kids even if they are of different ages. If one child is going to end up bored and disinterested, remember to plan backup activities or games you can take along to keep him entertained while the other kids are busy.
  • Hire a private transport if you can, to make travelling within the country a more manageable one for you. Doing so can remove the hassle of lugging heavy items and holding onto your kids at the same time.
  • Try to imagine writing this article for a mum travelling alone with multiple kids and provide tips accordingly.

Transportation Within the New Country

Moving around a new country while travelling with multiple kids may take some prior planning.

Most developed countries have a convenient and well-thought-out public transport infrastructure, such as lifts, escalators or ramps at the train or rail stations. These are great for mums who are travelling with a baby in a stroller.

In buses, strollers are usually required to be collapsed so as not to hinder the walkway for passengers and prevent any mishaps during maneuvering.

If you are taking a cab, strollers are required to be kept in the boot.

As a general tip, always check the local transportation networks as part of planning for your trip. This helps eliminate surprises such as costs, routes, transportation breakdowns or closures.

Alternatively, car rental or hiring a vehicle can help ease matters especially with a big group.

Home Sweet Home:

Expect the Unexpected

Travelling with multiple kids may sometimes end up with them being ill or unaccustomed to the time difference. Here are some common happenings which may occur:

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A new holiday may bring on a bout of illness for your children. Help them recover by taking them to the doctor’s and informing him about your recent trip with the kids.

  • Jetlag is common, especially if your kids have travelled on a long haul flight. Due to the time difference, your children may need a couple of days to re-tune. In the meantime, bear with his difficulties on differentiating day and night, and bedtime strikes.
  • Caught a bug. Returning home with an unwell child is common. Bring your children to the paediatrician and inform the doctor which countries your children have returned from. Obtain the appropriate medication for them so they recover soon.
  • Over-stimulation may happen especially since your children experienced new and fun things. They may experience difficulties falling asleep (somewhat similar to jetlag), so do allow a couple of days for them to adjust back.
  • Sudden rashes, flareups or eczema may occur especially with a change in weather between countries. Seek medical assistance to obtain medication (oral or topical) so your child can get some relief.
  • Food allergies may happen if your baby has eaten new food, and has developed a reaction to it. Most food allergies ride out in a week. But if your child’s condition is affecting him – for example, he is scratching, bleeding or is unable to eat – do visit the paediatrician to obtain the appropriate medication.

When parenting multiples, it is nice to have extra hands to help out especially when the kids are unwell. Travelling with multiple kids can be tiring. But with adequate planning and anticipation, the holiday can be a good one too!

Mums, are you planning to travel with multiple kids? Share with us where you are planning to go!