As I mentioned in my previous blog, I’ve been spending the last few weeks in Switzerland and Spain with my family. Compared to other overseas trips, the difference this time around is that I had both my five-year-old and my four-month-old with me!
Most people (and most new moms) would be shocked at the thought of traveling overseas with young kids, especially with an infant. After all, a baby that’s a few months old requires a lot of attention and needs to stick to a regular schedule for the most part. A toddler is more resilient and inquisitive but also needs a good pace when traveling because he can get cranky, moody, or tired.
My trip to Switzerland and Spain involved a lot of pre-planning to make sure we would all enjoy the trip comfortably. I am also thankful that I had my mom, my dad, and of course, Chard, to rely on when I needed help from time to time.
So, if you are wanting to do just the same, here are some tips for traveling with infants and toddlers.
When traveling with infants:
Plan your itinerary.
It’s pretty hard to do things on a whim when you’re traveling with your kids. You have to make sure you’re spacing everything out so that they don’t get too tired from the journey. It’s best that you do your research and allow your family a couple of weeks to get through all the places you want to go. Be sure to schedule some fun time for your toddler as well!
Make sure you have a complete carry-on bag for the baby.
Whether you’re just about to board your flight, or are about to embark on a day of sightseeing, you won’t always have the luxury of looking for things last minute. Make sure you have a good amount of diapers, clothes, towels, formula, ointment, pacifier, etc. Messes can happen in the span of a few hours, so it’s good to be prepared. Ensure you have a first-aid kit as well, just in case.
If you’re traveling to a country with cold weather, bundle your baby up appropriately.
Prepare for this well, because a cold baby is not a happy baby! Bring a blanket or two for the flight. When going out, be sure he’s covered from head to toe. Double or triple mittens and socks if you need to. Baby skin is so sensitive, and they may not get immediately used to the prolonged frigid air.
Pack familiar things to help him be entertained.
Colorful toys that your infant loves can keep him distracted during plane landings and takeoffs, as well as during long periods of travel. You can also bring a small pillow to rest his head and ensure maximum comfort.
Plan your schedule around your baby’s.
Traveling with family is so different from traveling with friends! With friends, you wanna do all the fun things in a short period of time. When you have kids with you, you want to take it easy and make sure you get in a sense of a regular day. There should be a reasonable wake-up and bedtime, as well as scheduled regular feedings in between all your planned activities.
Make arrangements with your hotels in advance.
You may be traveling with a portable stroller, but you can’t exactly bring a crib on the flight. If you need special sleeping arrangements for your baby, let your hotel/s know upon booking. It’s also useful to know how far your hotel is from drugstores, supermarkets, and hospitals or clinics. In case you run out of formula or need some over-the-counter medicine while abroad, it can then be arranged very quickly.
I’ve mentioned in a previous blog about the time Zion and I went to Hong Kong together for a little mommy-and-me time before I gave birth to Kai. While some of the things I mentioned still holds true, here are some of the things I kept in mind when traveling with my toddler:
I’m still learning how to do this. As a mom, you always have that voice in the back of your mind telling you “Oh, you might need this!” over and over again! Packing light means packing only those multipurpose essentials you absolutely need for the trip. After all, small things like toiletries can be bought or provided by your hotel.
Pack a toddler survival kit.
They don’t always have the longest attention spans, and a 10-hour flight can be really boring for them if they have nothing to do. We let Zion use an iPad so that he’s distracted, but bringing activity books and a storybook or two is a good idea. Like you would for your infant, it’s also good to bring a change of clothes, toiletries, and some snacks that he’s familiar with just in case he gets hungry during the flight or at any point in the journey. Make sure your snacks and liquids follow airport guidelines, so you don’t get held up at security.
Try to keep journeys not too long.
If you’re taking a car ride from one point to another that could take hours, your toddler could get restless. There are also meals and potty breaks to account for. Take a look at your itinerary as a whole and make sure that it’s reasonable for your kids.
Pack comfortable clothes.
Footwear included! If you’re traveling to a country with cold weather, then try to pack layers for your toddler so that it’s easy to get changed. It’s also easier to add on layers when you land at your destination as opposed to getting changed completely.
You will usually be given priority to board the plane first when you travel with very young children. Take advantage of this so that you have time to get them settled. You can also use this time to make requests from the stewardess like an extra blanket or bottled water.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that I also had a lot of help from our dedicated yaya. After all, we were out of the country for more than a month and really needed the extra help. She helped make sure the kids were eating and sleeping well, and I hope she also enjoyed going back to Europe as much as we did. 🙂
I’m sure other seasoned travelers also have a ton of tips for traveling with infants and toddlers. Let me know if you have more tips in the comments below. While I loved every minute of our time abroad, I’m so happy to be back home and can’t wait to share with you a lot more of what I was able to do and experience with my family.