Baby's First Holiday – tips and tricks!
Fig 1. Our first night in Fiji
NOTE: extremely comprehensive packing list contained within….
Weirdly enough, planning a trip is probably my favourite part, all the excitement of choosing where to go, where to stay, how long to stay and all the activities that you could do (but somehow never do)! I approach this whole process with the same level of excitement as a child does Christmas.
Our daughter is now about 18 months old; so far, we’ve taken on her on a couple of short interstate trips to Victoria and Queensland and an overseas holiday to Fiji. We are now about to embark on our biggest trip to Hawaii and it got me thinking about what I’ve learned from our previous trips.
We still made mistakes even after our interstate trips, including that we had a Bluetooth-only monitor which is fabulous for home but we got stuck in our room when Olympia was asleep. We thought we planned enough ahead by booking a ground-floor ocean view room but realised very quickly that the screen went black within about 10m. So this upcoming trip we have purchased a new monitor that connects to wifi and can be used on our phone. Staying at a resort we feel safe enough to leave her in the room while we grab lunch together, knowing she is safe, we are very close by, and we can see her at all times (from our phones!).
We also didn't take an iPad, assuming she'd be asleep the whole flight or find enough entertainment in books and walking up and down the aisles. Since Covid, they have gotten quite strict on allowing you to roam the plane, so where you could've once given your toddler a tour and let them get their wiggles out, now they are required to stay in their seats unless using the bathroom, which they don't even let you line up more than 2 people long! So the best way to keep them content and sitting, for the sake of your sanity and those around you, pop that iPad on! Screen-time rules can recommence on landing! We will be packing an iPad that we bought second-hand off Marketplace, some kid-friendly noise-cancelling Bluetooth (no cables!) headphones I picked up for $30 on Amazon, and pre-downloading the movies or shows that she can watch before our flight.
We also didn't take a stroller or pram to Fiji with us as we planned on not leaving the resort, and we didn't. We tried to travel with as low expectations in regards to relaxation as possible, and was still surprised by how little we got to sit down! Realistically if this is your first family holiday with a baby, you likely won't do as much of anything you used to do (laying by the pool, long lunches, shopping trips) and do more of what you do at home (cleaning, running after them, finding a missing shoe, getting snacks).
What should I take on my baby's first holiday?
Summary of things to consider:
- what can you hire vs what will you bring,
- what do you think you need vs what you actually use day-to-day; and
- what can and can't be bought at your destination.
For our interstate trips, as Olympia was only 5 months, she still fit into our pram bassinet and wasn't yet on solids, crawling, or sitting up. You may notice I didn't mention much about bathing, I opted to jump in the bath with her or have a quick rinse in the shower together.
Some items I am glad I packed were:
- Lovey / comfort object
- Pram and bassinet attachment
- Capsule, make sure to check the car you hire has Isofix points or is compatible with your car seat. Some airlines will allow you to bring them on board if there are spare seats available, otherwise, you can check in with oversize baggage.
- Pram protector bag
- White noise machine
- Large nappy bag, to fit all your and baby's needs.
- Sturdy change mat, you will likely have to eat out a lot while you're on holiday and often establishments are not child friendly and you have to change their nappies on the floor... yuck!
- Poop bags (yes, like the ones you use for dogs!), during covid housekeeping has really dropped off to 'unless requested', these are also handy for the plane and while out and about. Another tip we learnt was to actually tip the nappy poo into the toilet so it's not just sitting in the bin.
- Baby Wrap/Carrier, awesome for the airport or if your little one gets tired and your pram is checked in.
- Baby Monitor, make sure you buy international adaptors! We recommend a wifi one that links to your phone so you can pop out of your room if you feel comfortable enough to do so.
- Sleep Sacks, check the weather beforehand, you may need to bring a couple of varying thicknesses as rooms can get quite cold no matter the temp outside.
- Cot sheet, optional but personally think it's a great idea as it smells like home and you know it's clean!
- Dummy clip, and a couple of extra dummies.
- 2-3 small books and toys, you can always buy more if needed
- Baby sunblock, this is something you don't want to buy without researching first or be stuck using something you are not happy with
- Small first aid kit
- Antibacterial wipes and gel
- Baby panadol and teething gel, trust me you do not want to run out and try to find baby panadol when they inexplicably come down with something, Olympia picked up Hand Foot & Mouth in Fiji!
- Enough clothes to not need to do washing, even though you likely will still do the washing
- Bottles and steriliser, (if you are bottle-feeding)
- Items I could've/did leave behind:
- Cute impractical outfits, these were unsuitable as she napped on the go during the day and we wanted her as comfortable as possible
- Baby towel, a hotel one is more than suitable
Items we hired:
- Car or book a "baby taxi", most states require if you book in advance and know you have a baby travelling with you you must stipulate that you require a car seat. These rules vary state by state, some uber/taxis are happy to have the baby on your lap if it's an ad hoc pick up ie you're out and about or join a cab rank. It's best to pay a little extra for peace of mind and book a service in advance.
Items I purchased while we were away (interstate):
- Extra nappies
- Extra wipes
- Extra toys
- Swim nappies
With all these tips in my mind, having got Fiji under our belt, and re-evaluating everything now our daughter is 19 months old, my baby packing list looks a little different now.
- I think I would have to ask them to turn the plane around if we forgot this one! I will even bring our spare one just in case.
- "Snackle box", I purchased a craft box from Howard's Storage World but you can get a bento-style lunch box from anywhere, add something sweet, savoury, new, and some favourites! Age depending, I also highly recommend a snack that takes them a while to eat and makes a minimal mess, like a whole apple
- Drink bottle, airlines allow water for young children or you can refill once you are through security
- Change mat or portable potty, on the plane you are required to put dirty nappies in a sick bag before disposing of them in the bin
- Nappies, wipes, couple of poop bags
- Baby carrier, for before and after the flight
- 1 sleep sack - we are flying overnight and want to keep routine as "normal" as possible
- Warm socks
- 1 familiar bedtime book, plus 2 books
- 1 reusable sticker book
- Quiet-time or fidget book
- 1 weather appropriate change of clothes for arrival destination
- 1 silicone bib
- iPad with pre-downloaded favourite movies and tv shows
- Noise-cancelling cord-free headphones, even if screen-time runs low at your house, you'll want this.
- Antibacterial wipes and gel
Some items I plan to pack for a resort-style holiday:
- Nappy bag
- Snacks, yes we can buy snacks everywhere but you'll want snacks for the airport, plane trip, standing around the car rental place, everywhere at all times. Bring extra in your carry on if your little one has particular favourites!
- Poop bags
- Wifi baby monitor
- White noise machine
- 2 Sleepsacks, different thicknesses for weather changes
- Cot sheet
- 2-3 small loved books
- Girls Hat(s) / Boys Hat(s)
- 3 pairs of swimwear, including long-sleeves for maximum sun protection. In some tropical climates, it can take a long time for bathers to dry, so factoring in swimming twice a day and allowing time to wash bathers you may even want extra
- Silicone bibs, we took cotton ones to Fiji which was a big mistake!
- Non-slip bath mat, a must! can be used in shower or bath
- Nappies and wipes, depending on your location, it is best to research if you can buy close by or bring your own. We were at a resort and quite far from supermarkets. I overheard a couple who needed swim nappies having to travel 30 minutes each way just to buy them and they were x3 the price!
- Swim nappies, these can sometimes be very expensive at the hotel or hard to come by. A couple of reusable swim nappies will be your best money and space value.
- Beach toys, blow-up floaty devices/ball and silicone sand bucket
- Small first aid kit
- Baby sunblock
- Baby Panadol and teething gel
- 1-2 sets of familiar cutlery
- Multiple universal adaptors for all electronics
- Booster seat, not necessary but included as free check-in baggage and a lifesaver for a toddler that hates highchairs
Items I will leave behind:
- Cute impractical outfits
- Baby towel
- Car seat
Things to consider based on your type of holiday, and whether to hire or bring:
- Stroller, in this instance we plan not to leave the resort so will be leaving this behind! If you have a small enough stroller you can usually bring this right up to the plane and pack in the overhead. OR....
- Pram and pram protector bag, if you plan on going out and about a lot during your holiday or have a double pram, you may prefer to pack this up and check-in as oversized baggage. I highly recommend a pram protector bag to ensure your pram doesn't get damaged during transit.
- Car and car seat
- ..book a "baby taxi", most states require if you book in advance and know you have a baby travelling with you you must stipulate that you require a car seat. These rules vary state by state, some uber/taxis are happy to have the baby on your lap if it's an ad hoc pick up i.e. you're out and about or join a cab rank. It's best to pay a little extra for peace of mind and book a service in advance.
- Portacot, I don't recommend this mainly because you can hire one (sometimes for free) at hotels, and some AirB&B's also offer them. It's best to check!
- Mattress, you know your baby best. Fiji had a real crib and mattress, and Hawaii also had a mattress for their portacots, but interstate the portacots did not include a mattress and we resorted to using our bassinet pram attachment. It's best to contact them ahead of time.
- Inflatable footrest (eg. Plane Pal) for baby's sleep. Most airlines accept this depending on where you intend to inflate it (no aisle seats) but check ahead with your airline before purchasing or bringing on board.
- BONUS tip - Passport pictures. Something I have always done and thankfully never needed, is to scan or take pictures of your passports and email them to yourself. If you ever happen to lose your passport (or worse your passport and phone) on holiday, you will always have access to your email.