Travelling with toddlers can be stressful. The running around, curious about everything and losing sight of them as they go explore, plopping themselves down on the floor crying; and that’s just a trip to the grocery store! It’s no wonder all of these pick-up and delivery services have caught on so quickly! It’s also no wonder why so many parents put their overseas vacations on hold and refuse to travel abroad. With a little preparation, your family can enjoy the sights and sounds of foreign cities with minimal trouble!
Of course you will want to pack your family’s bags accordingly, based on where you are travelling to and the amount of time you will be staying at your destination. But also consider the need to pack extra clothes for the plane ride itself. What are the chances your little one will get motion sickness from the turbulence at 30,000 feet? The fear of flying could cause a number of accidents. You will want to have a change of clothes standing by in your carry-on for just such emergencies. Probably throw in an extra shirt or two for yourself as well. What are the chances your little one will get sick on you?
One of the best things you can do for yourself, your spouse, and your toddler is book a flight that is at night. Not only is it dark outside but airlines usually dim the lights in the cabin to allow passengers to maintain some semblance of their sleep routines. There is no reason this won’t work for your little one (although the new environment and lack of familiar surroundings may cause them to take longer to doze off). Take advantage of night flights! No screaming of boredom, no running up and down the aisle! And you might just get a nap in too.
It’s bad enough driving up a mountain and having your ears pop, and your toddler is in the backseat screaming because their ears won’t. Now imagine what that might feel like flying at 30,000 feet. To remedy this, make sure to have plenty of drinks or snacks available; chewy or gummy treats would be best. These will keep the jaw muscles moving, helping to relieve the pressure on their little ear drums, as well as create saliva; the constant swallowing will also alleviate the pain air travel can cause. If you can’t relieve the pressure, your child is going to have an extremely rough flight. Prolonged screaming and crying from your poor little one can cause trips to be cancelled, if not by the airline then probably on your accord, not wanting to hear your child suffer. Even just keeping them talking will help adjust their tiny ears.
Even before you reach your destination, you should have an itinerary ready; at least for your first day there. The rest you can prepare or adjust once you settle into the hotel. This should include not only anything the family will be doing for the remainder of the day but also any toddler-specific essentials. Naps are the big one that need to be worked into the schedule. If you’re lucky, they will nap during longer car rides or even in a stroller, allowing you to continue to enjoy your sight-seeing. Potty breaks will also need to be planned if your toddler is potty training. Just because you are abroad doesn’t mean you should forget the hard work you’ve already put into preparing for big boy (or girl) undies.
Activities on Flight
Not only do you need to plan your activities at your destination, you will also want to have activities for your child available on the plane. There are not as many products available for airplane travel as there are for a family car or RV, so you will have to be a bit creative. Do not try to do too much too early. Your toddler is already overstimulated, don’t add to the fray; and do not give your child options. Stick with one for a while and space your activities out. Be involved in what they are doing; help distract them. You will not get away with just handing them a toy and thinking they will be able to entertain themselves.
Not every country requires a visa to pass through its borders. Some allow citizens of certain countries to enter under programs or laws for a finite period of time or under select reasons. Those countries that require visas for visitors, or if your trial period ends, will require papers on not only you and your spouse, your toddler will be required to have one as well. Do not make the mistake of forgetting to process the paperwork on the little one, otherwise you just made that long plane ride for nothing.
Some airlines will offer to bump families with small children up and allow them to board early to get them seated and out of the way of all of the other larger passengers. If this offer is extended to you, do not do it! That is extra time your toddler will have to be cooped up and sitting, leading to an earlier meltdown. Instead, you or your spouse should board the plane and stow away any overhead luggage while the other stays with the child in the airport terminal, stretching time out for as long as you can. This will benefit everyone on the flight and (hopefully) insure you won’t run out of those activities you planned for.
Don’t let having a child hold you back. Explore the world with your toddler. Expanding his or her cultural horizons now could lead to a more-worldly, understanding adult later in life. You will also be making memories as a family, memories that would never have been made if you continued to put the momentary discomfort and stress above the adventure. Go somewhere with your toddler!