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International travel with a toddler

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We recently got back from a month long (almost) vacation to India with our two year old toddler in tow.  Our travels included the expected – some jet lag, some shopping, good food, a lot of quality time with grandparents and family … generally a good but tiring trip.

I must admit, I was a little nervous before the trip.  My two primary concerns were how our little girl would do on a long journey (and adjustment for time differences) and  how her little body would handle a totally different environment with completely different strains of viruses etc that she was not really exposed to.  So, I’m happy to say that she did really well on both the travel and the health front.

Now, a lot of parents have asked how we did and what lessons and advice we had to share, so I thought this might be a good topic to post.  Lets first start with travel:

1) Stroller stroller -where art thou: If you do not have a direct flight to your destination, find out if your preferred airline is willing to gatecheck your stroller.  This way you will have it at the layover airport and don’t have to carry your toddler across the airport or look for those elusive stroller rentals.  Don’t assume that they always will gatecheck and double check that the stroller is tagged correctly otherwise it will end up going through immigration at your layover airport while you continue on to your final destination!

2) Dim the lights: If you want your toddler to sleep, dim all the lights you can, shut off your personal TV (and theirs of course) and wait for them to nod off.  If you are lucky and your child tends to sleep in a carseat, she/he is most likely to sleep with the motion of the flight as well.  You can switch on your TV or turn on your lights for a book after they are off to dreamland!

3) Its PJ time:  Try to dress your toddler in comfortable PJ style clothing.  The last thing you want is a child who cannot get comfortable in their seat because of their outfit.  We dressed our little one in these super cute jumpers from mylittlepakora – they were really soft and comfy with no obtrusive buttons or clasps…so they kind of felt like PJ’s but looked adorable

Monkey Jumper

Monkey Jumper

4) Carry entertainment:  If your toddler is not asleep, she/he is going to get bored soon.  Carry entertainment that is somewhat travel proof.  Eg. a small portable DVD player, some lightweight story books, a small soft toy for comfort.  We loved these twistable crayons from crayola -they were sturdy and the plastic shell protected them from breaking when dropped!

5) Stock up on milk: This point is for toddlers who have been transitioned to regular milk. The airline will allow you to carry some milk on board of course but you will need to restock it before you get to your final destination.  Flight attendants may not be easily available to get you milk as your child needs…so try to stock up with a small bottle at the layover airport.  They are usually available in the refrigerated section of the convenience stores.  More on milk and travel in the next post

6) Airport lounges: For those of you who have a long layover do some research on paid airport lounges.  They are comfortable, keep you plied with fruit, water and beverages and give your toddler the opportunity to run around in a relaxed setting.

Above all, try to enjoy traveling with your toddler.  Use this time as an opportunity to teach your toddler about the destination, the concept of flying, planes and anything else you can think about.  When we got back, our little girl pointed at a plane in the sky and asked me “Going to India?”…now thats precious!

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Written by Redpatang

January 12, 2012 at 4:04 pm

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