Winter Travel With Warm Weather Babes
Travelling in the in winter is magical. Let’s face it, there is nothing more lovely than enjoying a real, white, family Christmas. But for those of us who don’t reside in a country with a cold climate, it can take some serious planning to be fully prepared without breaking the bank.
You might think that it gets easier as your little one gets older but the fact is, winter clothing only increases in price as your child grows. Plus the level of warmth necessary for a 5 year old who could spend hours sledding vs. a two year old you might max out at 20 minutes, differs significantly. To top it off, your two year old is a lot more likely to lose those mittens or outright refuse to wear them than nearly any other age. So here is my take on travelling to cold climates with kids.
We are Canadian born but after eight years in Panama, we seriously lack the resistance to cold that we once had. Our son, well he never had it! So when we have spent our past two Christmases at home it has offered us some perspective on the trials related to living in a cold country and has taught us a great deal about how to be adequately prepared.
I must also say that I am blessed with having multiple nephews. Blessed because they are awesome little people but also blessed because they have outgrown the very clothing that now fits our son. But even with hand me downs galore, there are a number of key things that we had to purchase and prepare for.
At under a year, your little one (unless really on the move) is unlikely to be spending a ton of time our in the winter wilderness. And if you are like us, none of your family has much in the way of hand me downs with the exception of some hats and mittens. So, you need to get prepared without spending a fortune on unnecessary winter accessories.
At two, that little person is ready to move and, just like an older child, requires significantly more in the way of outdoor wear. Again, this is easy to do with some clever second hand clothing and using what you've got.
Here is our list of the must haves for any age and what we did to make these trips a breeze (a VERY cold breeze that is).
Whether an infant or toddler, a super warm blanket or a few layered blankets are key. They keep your little one warm and happy in the stroller or you can layer them over their little bodies when they are in a carrier on your chest - simply try to zip up your own coat as much as possible and wrap the blankets around them and your body. They do have amazing sleeping bags for strollers but the cost is usually pretty high. Try checking in local mom facebook buy and sell groups or do what we did and use blankets instead. Especially because you will need them to transfer your little one from inside to their carseat and back (remember it is NOT safe to have your child in a car seat with a winter jacket on).
A Winter Jacket
This differs significantly depending on the age of the child. If they aren’t super mobile, we love a one piece. It tends to be a cheaper option, you can roll it down and keep their legs covered in the car seat and the little ones stay extra warm. Some of them even have booties - which, so long as the little one isn’t walking, can be a big benefit. Just be weary of booties without grip as it can be very slippery.
For older children, a jacket, snow pants combo is great and can be very easily found either on sale online (by December most winter wear is going for very low prices so try Old Navy and Joe Fresh). Also second hand stores are more and more popular, even online where you can order second hand items and have them delivered to wherever you will be staying. Economical and environmental. Everyone wins!
Socks, mittens, scarves and hats
These are the little things that add up but by finding these items online and on sale at stores like old navy and h&m you can save a ton. Again, second hand is always wonderful. Scarves are not great until your little one won’t run the risk of choking themselves. Mittens are also a bit of a waste until you know they they won’t cry because they can’t use their hands or cry because they keep falling off or cry because they hate them.
These really aren’t worth the investment until you are certain that they will be roaming around in the snow or in very cold temperatures for more than a journey to and from indoor spaces. They are also very expensive but we found some amazing ones at a local second hand store for just $5. Best part? Even though they won’t fit next year, you can easily drop them right off at the same shop or donate them.
Sleepwear is so important. We often use the AC at home and even our AC temperature is no where near as cold as it gets in a fully heated home in the middle of winter. We made sure to choose the same style PJS our little one would usually wear but made in thick, warm fabric. Footed pyjamas are amazing IF they are willing to wear them but socks will also do. We also found that buying some really warm jogging pants meant that we had both sleep wear and day wear in one.
If your little one isn’t accustomed to winter temperatures, it is key to keep their skin really hydrated. And this means starting a routine before you realize you need it. We love Green Beaver lavender lotion for babies but there are tons of amazing lotions out there that are gentle and hydrating for a baby’s skin. Another amazing tip - use natural, unscented lip balms (menthol-free) on baby’s cheeks to protect them from strong winds.