The actual truth about travelling abroad with a toddler – PART 1: What not to pack

It’s been quiet lately on the blog because me, my husband Lammy and our 13-month old daughter Iyra have been rail roading through Morocco for a few weeks — ending in Spain, where we met Woke Mamas Jessie, Sim and Lauren (hit the gram for glorious toddler Girl Gang pics).

Overall taking Iyra to 8 beautiful cities in 3 cray weeks was next level incredible, but it was also bare missions (starring a 4-hour train journey through a desert with broken A/C). Because there’s a few things about travelling with a walking baby that I wish I knew before going.

So here’s part 1 of a BS-free mini series about travelling abroad with a toddler. And it’s the ultimate guide to what NOT to pack. Yep, step away from the wireless headphones, 90s nail art kit and 500-page sci-fi. This ain’t no ordinary vaycay, pal.

However easy you normally find packing, going on a Big Mofo Trip is a different ball game. Usually, when I visit family in the UK with Iyra for a week, all I take is my trusty, crusty backpack. Yet for our magical mystery Morocco-Spain adventure, we took a giant suitcase for her and two little ones for us. And that’s totally fine for a package holiday.

But when you also have a writhing zombie-squealing toddler, a 2-tonne backpack of baby crap, constant bottles of water and google maps in your “spare” hand — plus you’re uprooting your HQ every other day — that’s WAY  too much, man.

Your back/partner/taxi driver/camel/bell boy (delete according to how flair your trip is) will thank you for packing LIGHT AF.

So just ask yourself these 5 questions to stop being so bloody extra, and pack better.

  1. For every one thing you put in that suitcase, reconsider something else. Take it out. You’re not gona wear platform crocs. Nobody is. Hopefully.
  2. If you don’t use stuff every day, why would you use it just because you’re in a hotter country? Stop panicking and midnight-buying everything from Amazon. Firstly it didn’t come on time for me anyway (as usual, first-world sigh), so I bought substitutes from Boots — and nearly all of it was useless. Save your baby’s carbon footprint from being even bigger than it needs to be by cutting down on useless plastic, air-mile heavy rubbish.
  3. You can buy nearly anything, anywhere. Even Moroccan towns in the Atlas mountains. When we all got the bum-squits, we bought anti-puke medicine, butt blocker pills and re-hydration salts from a guy who appreciated our non-French speaking impressions of bum-squits. Who wouldn’t. Only pack something if it’s so niche you won’t find it abroad, like prescriptions. Below are a few of the things-you-can-buy-anywhere that we took but didn’t actually use, so didn’t need to wedge into Iyra’s massively heavy diva-sized suitcase. This list is long, but it’s for ur own good, mate.
    • Books, sorry
    • Water purifier tablets (buy or boil water)
    • Too many nappies
    • Anything in a glass bottle
    • Baby food (especially in glass)
    • More than 1 or 2 pairs of shoes
    • Shower gel or shampoo for any of you in particular. Ur fam now. Sharing is caring (see point about multi-takers)
    • Hand wipes (we had Water Wipes already. See point above)
    • Baby hat/sunglasses (as if she’d let us inflict such witchcraft on her)
    • Circle scarf/muslin to cover up when breastfeeding (Morocco may be a conservative country but Iyra has NEVER let me do this, so we gave up on the first tangled, sweaty try)
    • Moisturiser/baby oil/night cream (whether for us and her, there’s no time for luxury — unless you have skin probs — when is there even time for that at home anyway?)
    • After sun (you’ll be keeping baby out of sun/using so much lotion anyway)
    • Soap (accommodation always has it)
    • Make up (lol)
    • Paracetamol (SO dangerous to have in their reach)
    • Sink clothing wash (we packed too many clothes, so didn’t even wash any. Better to take less clothes and use this tho!)
    • Mosquito spray (got paranoid about DEET yet didn’t believe in DEET-free, plus it wasn’t season for vampire douche-quitos anyway. Depends on location obv)
    • More than a couple of plasters
    • More than one baby swimming costume
    • Swim nappies
    • Bibs
    • More than one jumper
    • Towels
    • A cotton portable high chair that attaches to a seat (she was too big and wriggled out, almost hanging herself in the process)
    • More teething powders/gels than you’d normally use
    • Bigger than a pocket-sized bottle of hand sanitizer
    • Reigns
    • Pram (we didn’t take one, but there is NO WAY we could have carried that too)
    • Bed guard (we didn’t take one of these either, but beds were BIG and always had lots of cushions we could use to create a daredevil baby barrier)
    • More than a small bottle of Calpol
    • Reusable nappies/wipes — sadly we had to use disposable everything cus it was lighter and also, carrying shit in a bag in 40C heat. Nah.
  4. Do take stuff that has more than one use. Multi-taskers include: gentle wipes (like Water Wipes) that can be used for surfaces/baby skin/your skin. Toiletries that can be used by the whole family. Snacks you can share. Phone/tablet apps that you can read books on and entertain baby with on LONG journeys. Blow up cushion in the shape of a cat for baby’s sleepy head/breastfeeding mum’s arm/bed guard/entertainment-extraordinaire. Boobs. Always boobs. This is not the time to be a weaner.
  5. Do take some stuff that you use every day. There are a few essentials we were glad we took with us like sun lotion and toothpaste (they come with their own physical struggles *eye-roll*), but a lot of it we still didn’t use a lot of. Just keep an eye on how much you use in the weeks before you go. It’s not actually that much. And these are the things that actually saved our asses:
    • The all-mighty sling. We heart our Ergobaby 360, cus we could wear Iyra on our backs on longer treks. She had most of her naps in it, even in the middle of the noisiest Marrakech markets and Essaouira sand storms. Plus, slings are MADE for breastfeeding a toddler while you innocently walk around in traditional Muslim countries. Slick.
    • A couple of tiny toy cars. Basically, whip out any toy that is usually hidden for the extra scary-long missions. Goldfish memory babes will fall for it every time, for at least 15 minutes.
    • Clothes that are dark/psychedelic enough to cover regurgitations (for baby and you) and baggy enough to not get too stinky (for you).
    • Patience. A 2-tonne backpack full of it.

     

    Ask yourself these 5 questions and you’ll be killing it — NOT your back.

Stay tuned for more BS-free travel truths in the next few weeks, including how to stop blood-curdling screaming in confined transit. Bare lols. Do YOU have any toddler travel gold? We would ❤to hear from you. Contact us, comment below, or tag #WokeMamas on social media.

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