Have Toddler, Will Travel!
My last blog entry on traveling was when Momo was just 7 months old. He’s almost 2 now and boy have things changed! He’s running, and talking, and for a change awake.. well, most of the time! To read that post click here, otherwise scroll down for my quick two cents on some of the most frequent questions I receive about traveling with a toddler:
- On routine: we do shift Mohsen’s routine by 1 hour to better suit our travel plans. So, for example, bed time is at 9pm instead of 8pm. He wakes up a little later in the morning and it allows us to feed him dinner a little later at night.
- On bedtime and going out as a couple: most nights Momo will fall asleep after dinner and we’ll pop him into his stroller and continue our night. This is VERY easy in child-friendly cities like Rome, London or Cologne, but, obviously, not as easy in other cities. Of course you need to choose a place that isn’t crazy loud. You can’t take ur stroller clubbing.. we tried. I’m kidding but really, if you’re willing to sacrifice loud nights, you’ll be just fine for nice dinners.
- On meals and food: when momo was younger it would take more prepping and customization. But generally, wherever we’d go we’d ask for mashed boiled veggies with no salt and never had any trouble. From about 9 months Momo has been eating whatever we eat so this has made things much easier. I try to never customize his meals as I really like to expose him to new flavors. The only thing I take with me from home is healthy packaged snacks for the plane/train rides and the only reason we go to supermarkets is for fresh milk and fruits. Otherwise most of his meals are with us wherever we’re eating.
- On entertainment: I take a bag of some of his fave toys and books. He’ll usually play with these in the morning while waiting for us to get dressed. The rest of the time he’s exploring with us! Books are also perfect for airport queues. I choose flight times closest to his nap so he’ll fall asleep during take off. Then a snack when he wakes up. A little bit of walking around and exploring (and giving 5s to every passenger ) and then time for toys, singing, and some books. If it’s a long plane ride I will buy something new or take a toy that he hasn’t played with in a while so he gets excited about it. 90% of the time Momo is traveling WITH US, not the other way around. So he does what we do. Shopping, dining, walking around, museums, galleries.. whatever. If you expose them and involve them at a young age, you’ll see they are both interested and patient. That’s how it was for both me and Hassan when we were growing up. Hassan’s mum used to tell me that she’d travel with 3 kids all alone and spend weeks in Valencia just soaking up the sun and enjoying her holidays. I used to go to antique shops with my mum all the time and I used to love it! I remember one time when I was 5 an antique dealer was shocked to see me recognize the era of an armchair. It’s exposure.. that’s it! Of course, we take him to merry go rounds, and parks, and play areas, and sometimes our trips (like my London trip in August) are totally planned around him, but, for the most part, momo does what we do!
- On packing: at this age I pack one outfit per day and a couple extra outfits in case of emergencies. I pack one pajama for every night we are there. I take enough diapers to last me just the first 2-3 days and then I buy when we land so that I don’t have too much bulk in my bags. Usually take 3 pairs of shoes: 2 sneakers and a pair of boots or sandals, depending on the season. That’s it. Don’t overpack. Worst case scenario, in an emergency, you can buy anything you need in most places.
- On meds: I received a lot of questions on this point. I usually take an appointment from our pediatrician about a week before traveling just to get a check up and ask her to write me a list of what I should take me. Please ask your doctor, but just FYI my list usually includes a paracetamol in case of fever, a topical cream in case of rash or the like, and an anti allergen in case of an allergy. And his butt cream. I don’t leave home without it, but mostly for me it’s the best “fix everything” cream that ever was! I always take a traditional thermometer and an ear thermometer. I keep all meds and thermometer in my diaper bag during plane journeys so that I don’t have to panic in case of any emergency.
- Bottom line: traveling with kids is as simple as you make it. I realize that I’ve had it easy so far: my husband is hands-on and usually flies with us, my child is calm, and our longest flight was 5 hours. So I’m probably not the best person to ask advice from if you’re traveling to Australia with a newborn, a 3 year old, and a 5 year old. Sorry in advance! But I really do feel that your children pick up on your energy. If you’re ready for a good time and you’re calm, they will be too. ENJOY IT! Traveling as a family is the best way to bond and I really count down the days to our next trip!
Do you have some ideas or maybe a question that hasn’t been answered here? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!