Tips for International Travel with Toddlers

Traveling abroad always has the potential to be complicated and when you add in a toddler things can really get tricky. While there are obstacles to traveling with toddlers, a little planning, research and travel savvy can ensure a smooth trip. Before you bury your passport deep in a drawer for the next several years, read on to discover some tips for international travelers with toddlers in tow.

mother starpping child into a  car seatIt’s All About Your Toddler

Keep your toddler’s routine as normal as possible while traveling abroad. That means that the most important thing should be your toddler, not price. Often parents choose a flight based on what is most affordable.

Another strategy to consider is to choose a flight that coincides with your toddler’s natural sleep schedule. When your little one is blissfully sleeping on the flight, it will probably worth any extra money you paid.

Not All Destinations Are the Same

You know that as a parent, you’re always concerned about the needs of your child. This doesn’t stop when you are travelling.  There might be a destination that you are dying to visit, but ask yourself, is this a place for a toddler?

Destinations that are known for cramped spaces, that don’t have outdoor parks for an impromptu play session, and that aren’t friendly for a stroller, might not be the best choices.

Ask yourself how important language barriers will be. If your toddler is sick, will you be able to communicate with doctors or pharmacists? Will you be able to order special food for your toddler? Bringing a phrase book or electronic translator is always a good idea.

The Power of Vacation Rentals

At home, you have a routine with your toddler. So why break that routine when on vacation? Choose a vacation rental and you can keep that routine the same. With a separate bedroom, you can put your toddler down at his or her normal naptimes and bedtime.

After putting the little one down, head to the kitchen inside the rental for a romantic dinner for two . . . without having to get a sitter. The kitchen in a rental will also allow you to easily prepare breakfast and snacks for your toddler.

Pack the Right Gear

A huge suitcase full of things for your toddler isn’t always ideal when traveling internationally. Choose carefully and pack the right gear that will help ease travel. Pick a couple of favorite toys and entertainment (nothing breakable or with tiny pieces).

For the journey itself, snacks and drinks are essential. An empty stomach is the first step to a cranky kid. And don’t rely on airlines to have things like juice for your child; if you want it, be sure to bring it on board yourself. Freezer packs and an insulated bag will help keep snacks and drinks cold and fresh. They can also be used during picnics when you reach your destination. Other essentials include hats, rain gear, and sunscreen.

Be Practical

A practical attitude is the most important thing to take with you when traveling with a toddler.

Take advantage of early boarding to get settled in. Walk a little further to a less crowded bathroom where you won’t be rushed and can take your time with your toddler.

When planning your itinerary, keep in mind that you won’t be able to cover as much ground with a toddler and schedule plenty of breaks and relaxation times.

Be practical when choosing a vacation rental. Is it on the ground floor and, if not, is there an elevator? These small details can make a big difference on an international trip.

Be Organized

Traveling internationally is a bigger deal than jumping in the car for a road trip. You need to have all of your travel documents in order and ready to be inspected.

Make sure everyone in the family has up-to-date passports that don’t expire within six months of the departure date. Make two photocopies of each passport. Leave one at home with someone you trust and bring the second with you in case passports are lost or stolen.

Print out confirmations of all your reservations: train tickets, car rentals, restaurants, tours, etc. Look into the logistics of what you plan to see and do (what are the opening hours? Does the museum have a café?).

Child-Friendly Attractions

Once you’ve picked a destination, do some research on child-friendly attractions. Many cities have children’s museums with interactive science exhibits, aquariums, or zoos. If tickets can be purchased in advance online, do so, to avoid a line upon arrival. From family theater to art classes for kids, there are many great attractions for kids beyond our borders.

About the Author

Laura Hoot manages HomeAway.com’s Travel Ideas as well as a hectic household full of animals including dogs, cats, chickens and along with one husband and a new baby boy.  She’s previously written for many well known websites including Travels.com and USA Today. 

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