So how do we handle traveling internationally with her? What do we pack? What does she eat? Does she cause a scene? I know you're all wondering, so I thought I would share with you what has worked for us!
1. Pack snacks! Maia loves Baby MumMums, so we always have a stash in our bag. She's also obsessed with Earth's Best Fruit purees (our family ships both products to us from the States!) These are great in a pinch when she has to sit still - like during takeoff or landing - or when she's hungry but there aren't any stores nearby to buy her food. Check your bag before you leave to make sure your child's favorite healthy snack is stocked up. There's nothing worse than reaching in and finding an empty space where the goodies used to be!
2. Bring a few quiet toys and books. Maia enjoys "reading" so we always have a couple board books handy. She spent quite a bit of our drive through Sicily looking at books. She also enjoys playing with my old cell phone. I actually still carry it around with me so I have it if I need to distract her. She can play with it and I don't have to worry if it gets lost. You can also bring a small notebook or coloring book with crayons. This crayon roll would be a great addition to a kids' travel bag! Make sure you bring your bag of tricks with you on the plane, in the car, and into restaurants!
3. Allow for free time. We never expect Maia to go from her car seat to the stroller to the airplane to her stroller to her car seat. It's just not reasonable to expect her to be still for such a long period of time. We always allow her time to roam and do her thing (within reason.) She loves to be mobile and it wears her out! When we flew to Sicily we had a layover in Rome for a couple hours. She spent almost every single minute of the layover wandering the area at our gate. She was thrilled and completely entertained.
The same can be applied to a road trip. When we drove to Amsterdam, we made several stops along the way and each time we let Maia be free. One rest stop actually had a kids play area, so we marked it in our navigation system and made sure to stop at the same place on the way back to Germany. It was the perfect opportunity for all of us to take a break, stretch our legs, and regroup for the next portion of the drive.
When we went to Wuerzburg a couple weekends ago, Maia insisted from the moment we got our of the car that she push the stroller. It's a two hour drive each way so we figured we might as well let her burn off some energy in between car rides. Sure it took us much longer to tour the city, but we were in no rush. She was so happy and had an absolute blast! And you know what? On the way home she fell asleep before we had even left the parking lot and didn't wake up until we pulled into our driveway two hours later! Mission accomplished!
4. Be flexible. When you're traveling with little ones, you can't always predict how the day will go. Sometimes you won't be able to see everything you planned on seeing. Or maybe your child falls asleep and naps during the time you planned for him to roam around and burn off energy. Expect the unexpected…and just roll with it! Do your best to predict your child's needs (and wants!) during the trip, but no matter how well you plan, something is bound to come up! Be flexible and it will save you a lot of stress.
5. Relax! This is your vacation too!! Your child can read your body language and if you're a stressed out mess, it's likely he will become anxious as well. If you have prepared for the trip, everything will be fine. Take it one step at a time and stay calm. Most travelers are sympathetic to a young family and many are entertained by your little one's antics (good or bad!)
If you're not sure you're quite ready to hop a flight cross country yet, start with small trips. Spend a day exploring something local or plan an overnight trip that can easily be aborted if you feel you need to return home. Have a friend or relative go with you or meet you at your destination. Grandmas and grandpas, aunts and uncles love the chance to play and entertain your children and it can give you a chance to regroup after your journey.
Maia is a great traveler. Maybe it's in her blood…but more than likely, it's because of our approach to travel. Follow these five steps and be on your way to international travel with your toddler!
How do you handle traveling with a toddler? Do you stay close to home or venture farther away? Pin It