Modern Toddler

Tips for Traveling with a Toddler Internationally

November 6, 2017

Jordan and I got married in April and in September we took our “honeymoon” to England and Paris.  Theo came with us, as well as some other family members, so we joked that it was actually a family-moon.  My mum is from England so while we were there we stayed with family.  That was helpful because my cousin had a lot of the baby equipment that we needed for Theo. In Paris we stayed in an Airbnb and I’ll share why I preferred it to a hotel when traveling with a toddler. I know that traveling with a toddler internationally can seem intimidating but I promise it’s not.  If you plan accordingly it’s not much more difficult than traveling alone. We had such a great time and having Theo with us made the trip that much better.

Keep reading to find my top tips for traveling with a toddler!

Theo went on so many trains during this trip.  Snacks were essential to keep him occupied.  I also let him walk up and down the aisles when he got restless.

traveling with a toddler

Checking out the view from our Airbnb in Paris.  I love how he’s standing on his tip toes.

traveling with a toddler

Worn out from all of the sight-seeing we did.  

traveling with a toddler

He passed out when we got to Versailles and stayed fast asleep until we were done with our tour.

traveling with a toddler

Exploring the gardens at the Palace of Versailles

traveling with a toddler

A little park break in England

traveling with a toddler

Fast asleep in the ring sling while we explored Carnaby Street in London

traveling toddler

Theo waiting patiently for the train to take him to London

traveling with a toddler

Tips for Traveling Internationally with a Toddler

Bring lots of toys. 

Regardless of your mode of transportation, sources of entertainment are a must. I pack a variety of toys in my diaper bag, some old and some new.  Every so often I let Theo pick a new one to keep him entertained. This is especially helpful for when we were on the airplane or the train.  

Snacks Snacks Snacks:

Seriously though, don’t forget the snacks when traveling with a toddler. The only thing worse than a hungry toddler is a hungry toddler with no food available. I always make sure to have food in my diaper bag because Theo has a big appetite.  There is only so much distracting I can do before he will get hangry and inconsolable. I like things like pouches, granola bars, and freeze-dried fruit for snacks when we are out.   I mention some of the snacks I kept on hand while traveling in England and Paris in this post.

Diapers:

Only bring what you need to get to your destination.  We were gone for two weeks, so that would have been a lot of diapers to pack.  I brought enough diapers for the day that we were traveling and the following day. Then, when I had a chance, I just stopped into the store and picked up some more diapers. This really freed up a lot of luggage space.

Airbnb vs hotel:

Our trip to Paris was the first time I have used Airbnb and I’m so happy we did. There were three rooms with attached bathrooms, a living room, and a kitchen. Our host had a pack and play set up in the master bedroom for Theo.  I can’t tell you how convenient it is when you are traveling with a toddler to have a separate sleeping space.  This allows your little one to sleep peacefully while you stay awake and chat or watch tv.  Also, it’s really nice having a living room and kitchen when you are out of town. In the mornings we sat in the kitchen and drank coffee together before we left for the day. Then, in the evenings, after we put Theo to bed we were able to hang out in the living room.  I also think that Airbnb was so much more affordable than a hotel would have been for our group.  If you use this link to sign up for Airbnb you will get a discount on your first trip and I will on my next trip .

Stroller selection:

I can’t stress how important having a good stroller is when traveling with a toddler. Make sure that the stroller you choose reclines comfortably for naps.  Also, make sure it folds up easily so that you can bring it on the subway or the bus. Without stroller naps, your whole day will be eaten up by going back to the room for naps. Theo was having so much fun on this trip that by the time nap-time rolled around he happily crashed out in the stroller.

*It was so much easier getting the stroller onto the bus than the subway.  However, the subway is a much quicker mode of transportation. Not every subway station has an elevator and there’s no guarantee the elevator will be in working order. Most of the time we had to carry the stroller down the stairs to get onto the subway. Since there were six of us, carrying the stroller down the steps wasn’t a big deal. However, if you are traveling by yourself, make sure you consider the likelihood that you will be carrying your stroller to get onto the subway. If you think it will be too difficult, plan on relying on the bus.

**We got to go to the front of so many lines at the attractions in Paris because of our stroller. Theo is going to be ten and I’m going to still make him sit in the stroller when we go sight-seeing just for this perk haha.

Baby-wearing:

Baby-wearing is a must when traveling with a toddler.  Without fail, there were moments when all Theo wanted was for me to hold him.  Baby-wearing makes it so that I’m still able to use both hands and my arms don’t get tired. I have a ring sling that is my go-to carrier for Theo.  It is really easy to get on and off and it’s easy to throw in the diaper bag when he’s not in it.  Plus, there were some places like the Palace of Versailles and Windsor Castle that didn’t let us bring the stroller in.  We ended up having to carry Theo around for the entire tour.  In those situations I was very grateful that I had thought to bring my ring-sling.

Take breaks:

Even though Theo was only 11 months old when we took this trip he was walking really well.  Moms of walkers know that this is a game-changer. He was no longer content sitting around in his stroller or being carried all day. Because of this I made sure that we took “rest stops” during the day. We stopped at parks and let Theo run around and play for a bit.  I also tried to let him walk as much as possible. When we went to the Palace of Versailles there was a beautiful outdoor garden that he was able to explore.  I also tried to choose restaurants with outdoor seating.  This allowed him to walk around if necessary while we waited for our meal to arrive.  I talk more about dining out while traveling with a toddler here.

Try to stick to their schedule:

Take this advice with a grain of salt, and just do your best. I didn’t revolve our travel plans around Theo, but I did try my best to keep him happy of course.  He ate and took naps at similar times as he does at home. I also tried to make sure that he got a full 12 hours of sleep each night. There was an 8-9 hour time difference, but he adapted really well. He still took his first nap about 2.5 hours after he woke up for the day. His second nap was about three hours after the first, which is the same as at home. On busy travel days he would end up catching some extra zzz’s in the car or on the train. There were a few days when we were out past his bed time.  On those days I just planned ahead and brought a night-time diaper and pajamas with us. After dinner I changed him and when he was ready for bed he fell asleep in the stroller.  It was nice to not have to rush back to the Airbnb for bed time.

Bring your own car seat:

If you know you are not going to be traveling in a car then leave the car seat at home. However, if you are renting a car like we did then I would strongly suggest bringing your own. You can rent one through the rental car company but that’s an additional cost and in my mind a gamble.  You have no way of knowing what has happened in that seat and whether or not it has been in an accident, etc. Plus, Theo loves his car seat so I wouldn’t want to chance renting a seat that he doesn’t like and refuses to go to sleep in haha.

Traveling with a Toddler on an International Flight:

Overnight vs day flights

Don’t assume that if you travel during nap/bedtime your baby will sleep. I made this assumption and the flight to England was an overnight flight. I booked a seat with a bassinet attached thinking that Theo would pass out. Well our flight ended up being 2.5 hours delayed and by the time it took off it was way past Theo’s bedtime.  Needless to say he was not pleased and it took us two hours to calm him down.  By that point it was after midnight and the only way he would sleep was in my arms.  However, our flight home left midday and it went so smoothly.  He slept for the first two hours and the last three hours of the flight and was happy the whole time.  Despite the bad experience we had, I would probably still take my chances with another overnight flight.  We ended up landing in the afternoon in England so it made it really easy to adjust to the time change.

Non-stop vs layover:

If I’m traveling with Theo I always choose nonstop whenever possible. It can be a bit pricier depending on the airline, but the convenience is well-worth it in my mind. It’s hard enough trying to navigate yourself and your luggage through a new airport when trying to make a connecting flight, but add to that carrying a kid and all of your kid’s stuff… that’s a hard pass for me. Also, I always seem to have the worst luck with layovers getting delayed or canceled and it just makes my trip so much longer. So whenever possible, skip the layover if you’re traveling with kids.

Seat selection:

Avoid the back of the plane, it’s the noisiest area.  People are constantly in and out of the bathrooms or they are standing around trying to stretch their legs. We booked the seats in the front row because then the flight supplies a bassinet/chair for your baby to sleep in. The downfall to this is that you don’t get space to store your carry-on beneath your feet during take-off and landing for easy access. I sat with family members in the middle row so it was easy for us to get up to go to the bathroom.  If you are sitting next to strangers and have to choose between window or aisle, I say choose window.  If your baby falls asleep you don’t want to risk waking them because your are in the aisle seat and someone needs to get up to use the bathroom.

Lap-children:

For children under two you have the option to hold them on your lap or get them their own seat. We flew with Theo as a lap child and it ended up saving us a lot of money. You still have to pay some fees for having a lap child on an international flight but it’s considerably cheaper.  Regardless of the savings though, if we fly internationally again before Theo is two I think I will buy him his own seat.  I won’t lie, holding a squirmy baby in your lap for a ten hour flight is hard work!  If your child has their own seat you can bring the car seat onto the plane and put them in that. Theo loves being in the car seat so I think that it would have helped him sleep better and he would have been more content.

Diapers:

Bring more diapers than you think you will need. The last thing you want to have happen is to run out of diapers when you are stuck 40,000 above ground. I calculated how many we would usually use during that time and then packed an extra three in the diaper bag and a few more in our carry-on that was in the overhead bin.

Change of clothes:

Bring a change of clothes for both of you. I think that a change of clothes for baby is a given regardless of your circumstance, but if you are going on a long flight make sure to bring a change of clothes for yourself as well. Fingers crossed you won’t need them, but if your little one ends up having an explosion or vomiting all over you, the last thing you want is to be stuck in your smelly clothes for the rest of the flight.

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