My family and I just recently came back from our first big international trip from the Philippines together. We had such a wonderful time. But the weeks leading up to our departure was spent agonizing, carefully planning and collecting things we needed to survive the long journey over and back. After all, we will be on the road for over 24 hours. While I was confident that Ruthie would be a far better traveler than Miya, given her age, this was also going to be the longest flight she ever experienced, and I wanted to make sure it was as pleasant as possible. With Miya- my goal was to make it with as little tears as possible. Planning to travel with an infant had its own challenges. Planning to travel with a toddler felt different. At this point, she is walking, crawling and in need of constant mental stimulation. Here are some of the tips and tricks I picked up along the way. For anyone planning on a trip with a toddler, I hope it helps!
Traveling with a Toddler: (For tips on traveling with an infant, and other applicable tricks, click here.)
- If possible, purchase a plane seat: Even though children under 2 years can fly free- we purchased a ticket for Miya. This saved us a whole lot of pain in the long run. No regrets whatsoever.
- FAA-approved car seat or harness: In anticipation of future travel, we also purchased the Lilly Gold Sit n’Stroll Car Seat, which worked wonderfully. Yes, it is pricey, but given how convenient and how well it worked- we believe it was well worth the purchase. We considered purchasing the CARES harness, but it seemed more appropriate for older children.
- Transport Alternatives: We knew that in between lay-overs and once we’re off the plane that she’d be tired of sitting in the car seat, so we also brought our Ergo Baby Carrier. And when she wanted to walk but didn’t want to hold our hand, we also had a backpack harness we could attach on her. We checked in our stroller, which was something we didn’t use as much of in this trip since she prefers to be mobile. When she’d get tired of walking, the carrier was an easier alternative than the stroller.
2. Activities for the Plane:
- Toys and Books: I packed an entire carry-on suitcase of activities and snacks just for Miya. We brought twistable crayons for drawing, magnetic boards, shape sorters, little hand puppets and a handful of lift-flap, touch-and-feel books. Each item kept her busy for a good 15 minutes or more. We constantly rotated the toys so she won’t tire of seeing them. And we brought a travel tray with us so she can keep her toys and snacks directly in front of her.
- Snacks: I also brought a boat-load of snacks for the girls. I packed Miya’s food in toddler snack containers. It made it harder for her to eat everything at once, and kept her interested in her food for a longer period of time.
- Sleep and Walk: Obviously the former is ideal- and both the girls did sleep for the majority of the flight, but when they woke up, we alternated the activities with taking laps around the plane. We were on a 747, so one trip around the plane took a good 5 minutes or more for a toddler. Miya is also very social, so waving and high-fiving strangers became a pretty good activity.
- Alternate with your partner: My husband and I happened to sit across the aisle from each other, which became advantageous so that we can alternate every two hours in taking care of Miya while she’s awake- and each of us got to have some time to ourselves.
- Medicines: Everything from tylenol to benadryl to a snot sucker. Pack for the worst-case scenario of teething, allergies and fever. We had a pediatrician appointment a week before we left to confirm her weight and the right dosage for every medication. Everything was ready in our diaper bag.
- Bath and Bed: We have been using the Bjorn pack-and-play for every trip, both domestic and international. It is a dream to set-up and break down. We have a collapsible bath-tub at home, but to save space, we brought this inflatable tub instead. While it was a pain to blow-up and deflate- it saved valuable luggage real-estate. We also brought a chair harness for places that don’t have high chairs available.
We had such a beautiful trip. We met wild monkeys, swam with dolphins, witnessed breathtaking sunsets, but best of all, my husband and children got to know and fall in love with my family and home country. Seeing them together, blissfully happy made every minute of the long journey worth it.
To see a glimpse of last year’s trip and an eyeful of delicious Philippine street fare, check out “Philippine Street Food“.Tags: motherhood, philippines, tips, travel