Traveling internationally with a toddler

Last year around this time, we were getting ready for our first flight and first international trip to India with our toddler who was at the time 10 months old. I have been wanting to write my thoughts and experiences from that trip for a long time and finally got around to it. I hope this post finds its way to at least one mom who is really scared and looking desperately for survival tips for toddler travel. I know I was that mom, a year ago, without any experience in this department.

Here is few pointers that was shared with us and it helped us immensely during our travel:

  1. Book a flight around the babies nap time or bedtime. Do not let them sleep right before you board. While you are waiting at the gate, set them free, let them move around and get the wiggles out.
  2. Carry a surprise toy along with their favorites. You can either buy a new one or hide one of their toys for few weeks and give it to them during flight, this will keep them engaged for a while. Add lots of busy bag activities to your carry on. Be creative, kids are interested in the most mundane things like an empty water bottle
  3. Lots and lots of snacks. This goes without saying, have lots of yummy treats. If they are young, carry their feeding supplies, flights usually provide baby food but carry some the baby likes in permissible sizes. Also keep them hydrated, long flights can really be dehydrating.
  4. If the baby is young, booking a bassinet seat may help, so that you can lay the baby down and keep them more comfortable. For us this option, backfired because we had a turbulent flight and they wont let you have the bassinet seat on during turbulence.
  5. Nurse the baby or feed during take off and landing. This will alleviate the pain/ pressure in ears for them. I used this nursing cover, which you can also use as an infinity scarf, that way you can wear them at all times during your flight. You can also use your neck pillow as a boppy pillow for support during feeding.

These tips really helped me during our long flight with baby/toddler. Also remember that during these long travels be lenient with screen time rules, you are in survival mode and sometimes you gotta let it be for the sake of other travelers.

If you are interested in knowing the specifics of our travel from Austin to Cochin (Kerala). Here you go:

  • Traveling from a small airport really has its drawbacks when it comes to international travels and the availability of flights. We had to have one extra layover since we were traveling from Austin. Our flight was from Austin -> Fort Lauderdale, FL –>Dubai, UAE –>Cochin, Kerala, India
  • Our first leg of the flight to FL was smooth, baby slept almost all the way and we had no issues, we felt so proud of her 🙂 . Then we had a long 6 hour layover at FL, by this time she was getting tired, we tried our best not letting her sleep during this time. We walked around with her, had our meals and made sure she was fed and happy before boarding for our long overnight flight to Dubai.
  • To our surprise, even the flight to Dubai was not too bad, she did good, except for the fact that we had to hold her all the way, but it was fine. She slept good for the most part. At Dubai, we had a small 2-3 hour layover. I used my nursing cover while feeding her in the flight, but at the airport, they had these nice nursing stations for free, how awesome!!
  • We reached our final destination Cochin. Other than the hot humid air that blew on us as soon as we landed, we were so happy and relieved to make it to homeland.
  • Our return journey, was another story. We had to leave for airport quite early, and it threw off the sleep schedule for her for the entire trip. She was a lot more cranky and fussy on flight. We stayed up pretty much all the way, walking and trying to soothe her. But nothing really worked, she was just not a happy camper. I do wish i had a different set of toys/activities for our return flight.
  • Regardless of how long the flight is, I learned how important flight times are for flying with babies
  • Read more on some travel busy bag ideas here on one of my previous posts.

Traveling with baby is a whole another ball game and it requires a lot more effort and patience, but don’t let that stop you from taking your little ones to different destinations. These are your wonderful years to cherish with them before they become too busy with their own lives!

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