I get so many questions about traveling with children advice, so I'm going to be sharing some of the tips I have as I think of them here! When I run out of ideas/tips (Drew will be helping me brain storm some of the things that worked really well for us as well) I will compile them all into one big post. But for today, and the biggest one on my mind right now:
Bring a car seat for younger children
I know many people will disagree with this one, but I can't tell you how many times during this past European vacation that Drew and I looked at each other and said "Thank god we brought the car seat" or "I'm So glad we decided to bring the car seat."
We only rode in a car a hand full of times up in northern Sweden visiting my family and friends and then again in Oslo when we visited friends. We could have probably been fine without bringing a car seat but besides the few times we used it in a car, we used in on the plane (life saver, seriously) and on the many trains we took and the two bus trips we took (one which was unexpected because of a train problem and I'm SO thankful we had it then especially). On the trains we took (4 trips total anywhere from 3 hrs to 8 hrs) we just put Tindras car seat in one of the regular train seats. I had booked seats facing a table so we had four seats with a table in the middle. There aren't seat belts on the trains so it's not necessarily any safer, but there is just No way she would have sat still if she would have had free roam, but she knows that she has to sit still, buckled in while sitting in a car seat so she did Perfect in her seat. Plus its more comfortable for her little body. And when it was time for naps we just turned her rear facing against the wall behind us so she couldn't see anyone and that helped her fall asleep without all the commotion.
We bought a special travel seat that was cheap and super light weight (both of which our regular car seats are not!) and it wasn't a big hassle at all to have that to lug around. We already traveled with so much gear, what was one more thing. Often times we even used a bungee cord to strap her car seat to our stroller and she sat in there while we navigated our way through train stations and airports.
On top of it being SUPER convenient to always be able to strap two year old Tindra in, I also learned recently that small children really should be in a car seat buckled properly while flying. We ended up having a really, really horrible landing in Denver and I'm so thankful she was fastened safely in her car seat (sleeping actually, no clue how as I thought we were going to die) and felt really bad for the mom sitting across the isle who was holding her infant. She honestly looked like she could have dropped the baby any second. The turbulence was so bad due to wind sheer (a term I hope to never hear again while in an airplane) that we kept dropping suddenly, and then would bounce back up before dropping again. I was gripping my hands so tightly to the arm rests to keep from bumping around too much, I honestly have no idea what tiny 25 lb Tindra would have done had she not been strapped in tightly to her 5 point harness.
She did not ride in a car seat when we took public transportation around Stockholm and Oslo like the subway, city busses, boats ( I know, right?) etc, for that she just sat in her stroller.
So that's my first travel tip, if possible, bring a car seat for a baby or toddler! For Jasper we just brought a long a bubble bum, which is an inflatable booster and it worked perfect for the few short car rides we had.