Phil and I recently took the plunge into international travel with Naiya. Thanks to some very helpful advice we learned beforehand as well as some experimentation on our own, our trip went so much smoother than we ever expected. Sharing some of our favorite photos from our recent trip to Prague as well as four ways we survived our 18+ hour travel days with our ever-moving toddler. If you’re a new parent, prego or are thinking of having a baby but feel like your travel lives are or will soon be completely over, think again! Traveling with little ones is totally possible as long as you pre-prepare and I’m hopeful that the below tips will help give you some insight and extra confidence. Here goes!:
1) Buy An Inflatable “Bed” For The Plane
A couple of weeks before our big trip to Prague, Phil surprised me with an inflatable “bed” for Naiya. While I had no idea what it was at the time, I now know that the man was a sheer genius; he was surprising me with a gift that would provide us with more than an extra dose of sanity throughout our flight.
If you’re not familiar with this product, (sharing clickable photos below), it’s basically an ottoman you blow up when you get on the plane that fits between your seat and the seat in front of you. It’s made out of the same material as those blow-up head rests you see all over the airport.
For parents of toddlers, the space in between your seat and the one in front of you can be the actual devil because your kids will constantly try to jump down there and try to escape. The area is so cramped (if you’re traveling in economy as we did), that toddlers can’t really play down there comfortably but they just can’t stop themselves from trying (#tantrumzone).
The blow-up ottoman comes in a tiny pouch and once you blow it up, it becomes a giant cube that goes from the floor, right up to the seat. When blown up in full, it becomes a sort of makeshift bed. From there, you can cover it with a blanket and your toddler can sit in it, play with toys or even lie down to sleep.
What I now refer to as “the magic square” was pretty much everything throughout our 18+ hour journey. Naiya absolutely loved it and it kept her occupied for hours. At $22.87, you literally can’t go wrong.
2) Invest in A Great Baby Carrier (And Bring A Back-Up)
If you’re traveling somewhere like Europe and there are going to be cobblestone roads, make sure to plan ahead! We wanted so badly to put Naiya in a stroller all day during our travels but since the roads were far too bumpy for our travel umbrella stroller, we realized early on in our trip that we’d have to carry Naiya.
Thankfully, we brought along the most amazing travel backpack for Naiya that we can’t recommend enough. This particular model comes equipped with an ergonomic, completely adjustable design, foot straps for baby, a removable cover for shade, ventilation, pockets galore and the most comfortable straps. It is pricey but it’s worth putting it on your registry or on a holiday wishlist because it’s pretty amazing. It’s also an excellent hiking backpack if you’re into that world as we are.
The only drawback to this carrier is that it’s rather long so it’s not ideal for taking on the plane.
Instead, we decided to us our ergo baby carrier for the flight itself because it folds up so nicely, it’s light and Naiya still loves it. New mamas and mamas-to-be: this carrier has been my go-to since day-one. If you don’t have it on your registry or list, I’d highly recommend it!
3) Try To Land In Time To Start Your Bedtime Routine
Keeping your toddler on a schedule at home, let alone abroad can be such a challenge! While we’re still new at this whole parenting thing, in our experience so far, whenever we venture out for the day and can’t be home by nap time, it’s so much harder to stick to our routine.
Traveling internationally amplifies this big-time–especially since you may be traveling all night and if you’re anything like us, your baby may not sleep. Thankfully, for both legs of our trip, we planned to land at nighttime. This allowed us to arrive at either our hotel or back home right in time to give Naiya dinner, her bath and then to put her down.
Although she missed out on just about all of her sleep on the plane, in jumping right into our bedtime routine upon landing, she was able to slide right into the new time zone. She was also so tired, she was able to sleep through the night.
We recognize we also got very lucky that Naiya slept through the night (and that this may have been a fluke!) but we still highly recommend landing just in time for bedtime because we feel it can help set you up for success.
4) Hyper-Organize Your Carry-Ons For Security
For the first leg of our journey, Phil and I were not exactly our uber-organized selves in the carry-on department. We had bottles of Naiya’s milk in all different areas of our carry-ons, we had our laptops stowed too far away and we had other food items stashed all over our bags that security definitely wanted a closer look at.
This wasn’t too much of a problem checking into our flight because we weren’t entirely exhausted yet but by the time we landed in Paris for a 4 hour layover and at least two more rounds of security, we were glazed over and completely discombobulated.
We promised ourselves that from now on, we’d have one carry-on ready to go with everything we’d need to run through security instead of having to open multiple bags. This proved to be extremely helpful because I was also holding Naiya throughout this time and could barely be of help to Phil.
Nursing mamas: remember to take your milk out preemptively so that it can be seen and run-through security separately. Keeping it in your bag without saying anything will cause security to flag you immediately. This may be a no-brainer but it doesn’t hurt to remind you–especially since I had no idea how any of this worked before I myself became a milking factory.
Photography: Puf Creatif