How to make overseas travel with a small child less scary
How I changed my approach to overseas travel with a small child
Most parents can attest to the fact that overseas travel with a small, can be a wonderful adventure or can turn into a nightmare. I love to travel and for a while, before I had kids I always believed that once I had kids I could no longer travel and enjoy myself. This was the one sad thing for me about becoming a parent, because some of our best memories have been of my husband and I seeing the world and meeting truly amazing people.
Luckily once I got pregnant with TheHeir I decided that I could cope with travelling with my kids and have subsequently had some really great family adventures. The one major thing or adjustment had to be my attitude and to accept that travel with kids requires better planning than when there is just the 2 of you. I have also learned to just let things be and not be as pedantic about every little thing as I can when I am at my own house.
Our first overseas trip with a small child
This helped tremendously when 2 years ago we took TheSpare (who at the time was only 10 months we went on a 3 weeks trip around the US. We travelled from Johannesburg to New York, To Atlanta, To Bermuda, Back to New York and then finally back to South Africa.
Although there was a lot of moments when I was completely exhausted from moving from one place to another plus the time we had to call 911 (by the way their response time was impressive…story for another day) because he had picked up a piece of paper off the floor as we were packing to fly to Bermuda and started choking it was still a marvellous trip, we made some amazing memories. Since that trip, I have believed that anyone can do Overseas Travel with a small child, and survive.
Tips for making overseas travel with a small child easier
I would like to share a few tips with you that have been useful for me, maybe they will help you or someone else:
- Plan properly – Do yourself a favour and know exactly where you are going, how are you getting there, when you are getting there and where are you sleeping every night.
- Also, check if the places you are planning to stay at are child-friendly, easily accessible especially with the stroller and all that kiddies luggage you have to carry and that you have at some level of privacy to relax, do bathtime and get into a sleep routine
- Ensure all your documents are ready, and document that you think you might need, Take your unabridged birth certificate – who knows you might need it, take with you proof of medical cover/insurance, ensure you have visas.
- Travel medical insurance is a must for me when on an overseas trip with my kids, because children can and will get sick anywhere, and getting sub-par medical attention is not an option in an unfamiliar country
- Pack the essentials, if your child only drinks a certain type of milk, find out how much of powder milk you can bring along and check for a viable alternative before you travel because you never know. Take more nappies than you think you will need, and ensure that you know where to get a similar type where you are going. Google is your friend here.
- Check for any compulsory inoculations through your local travel clinic, some of these might not be suitable for your child, therefore it is better to know this in advance
- Find out about airline concessions for parents travelling with infants, such as a choice of certain seats as well as the availability of sleep baskets for infants below a certain age or weight
- Most airlines will allow you to bring your car seat and pram/stroller with you and this is over and above the babies travel baggage weight allowance
- Bring a selection of easy On/Off clothes for the baby. Lots of changes might be required
- Bring as many wet wipes as you can and be prepared to buy more because there will be a lot of cleaning up spills, wiping drool, cleaning objects baby comes into contact with, and wants to put into his mouth etc
- Ensure that you have all you need for the whole day and a layover in your carry-on for both you and baby, in case the airline loses your bags. Also carry essentials medicine with you in your carryon, and ensure that it properly labelled and doesn’t contravene airport security’s liquid limits.
- If you are travelling with a toddler carry snacks for them, a hungry toddler is a terror
- Carry little toys to entertain your baby and a favourite item,perhaps a blanket or teddy. You don’t have to carry all their expensive toys, truth is you probably lose it somewhere by mistake on your travels
- Bring a baby carrier or better yet a proper cloth to carry your child on your back like a chitenge, it will comfort your baby and keep your hands free, It works so well for when the child wants to sleep, is overwhelmed and just needs comfort
- If you are not too opposed to it, it’s time to download some age appropriate games, movies etc. on to your Ipad, these are a life saver when you are stuck indefinitely at an airport or you are in the air for 12 hours and the kids need a distraction
- If you child takes a bottle or eats solids, remember that the airline crew is always willing to provide hot water or warm up food for you
- If like me, you struggle to sleep and are a light sleeper talk to your doctor about getting a light sleeping tables so that you can rest when the baby is resting
- Try and acclimatise to the different time zone as soon as you arrive at your destination, create a nap time routine for your child, so they can get some rest. Create a version of your home schedule/routine for naps, bath and feeding so the baby has some normality
- Be aware and be prepared that your little one might be overstimulated, as you visit friends, sightsee etc, and that this might cause some meltdowns. if you are expecting it you are better equipped to deal with it on the road
Relax, enjoy the trip and take each moment as it comes, you can only plan for so much, part of the beauty of travel is letting go of the needs for certainity
Do you have tips on how to prepare for Overseas Travel with a small child? Please share them in the comments below.
See you soon