I have never let motherhood thwart my plans of travelling the world, and neither should you. My parents instilled a love of travel in me from a young age. Fittingly, I have been travelling with my son since he was two months old, even taking him abroad at 4 months of age. Most recently, at the age of 3, he accompanied us on a family vacation to Tuscany in Italy. On each trip, I have picked up some tips and tricks to make the experience of travelling internationally with a child, smooth and fuss-free. Read on for my recommendations on what to do while travelling with a toddler (ages 2-5) to Europe and other places abroad:
- PACKING CHECK LIST:
A standard check list makes the process of packing for a child, easy and efficient. It can be very distressing to forget an essential item at home, when you are in a new place. Make your own travel check list, adding and subtracting as per the age and individual needs of your child.
- CARRY BASIC MEDICINES:
Most European countries are strict about selling medicines without prescription, and the ones available are quite expensive! Always pack the basics such as Paracetamol, cold and cough medicine, nose drops, band-aids, antiseptic cream, digestive syrup etc.
- CARRY EASY TO COOK PACKAGED FOOD:
It can be a challenge for most parents to feed local food to children at every meal. The easiest solution is to carry pre-packaged foods that only require heating up, or can be cooked at home. My son’s favourites are the goodies from Slurrp Farm, but my nephew enjoys ITC’s Bukhara Dal and other Indian options. Shop by clicking the links.
- PACK A BABY MONITOR WITH APPROPRIATE ADAPTOR:
A baby monitor comes handy if your child likes to sleep early. It gives you the ability to enjoy your evening without sitting quietly in a dark room, babysitting your child. Keep in mind that European plugs are different from those in the UK, USA and India, so always carry a multi-plug adaptor. Shop by clicking the links.
- CARRY A FEW SETS OF LAYERABLE, NEUTRAL COLOURED CLOTHES:
Resist the urge to over-pack, so you are not lugging around heavy bags throughout your trip! It is best to pack a few sets of clothes in neutral colours that can be mixed and matched, as well as easily layered, in case the weather is unpredictably cold or hot.
- BOOK DIRECT AND OVERNIGHT FLIGHTS:
Saving money takes precedence over convenience, when it comes to booking flights. However, I highly recommend booking a direct flight and preferably an overnight one, so children can sleep for the majority of it. This makes the journey as smooth as possible. Give your child a candy/lollipop/ something to keep in their mouths during take-off and landing, to ease the discomfort of the ears and stave off air sickness.
- CARRY A STROLLER:
European vacations involve a lot of walking. Hence, carrying a stroller for your toddler is highly recommended. A travel-friendly one like Maclaren works best as it is light, durable (a must for Europe’s cobblestoned streets) and easy to open and close. Shop by clicking on link.
- CAR SEAT IF RENTING A CAR:
If you plan to rent a car and drive around Europe, a car seat for your child aged 0-7 is mandatory as per local laws. After doing some research, we determined it was cheaper to carry our own car seat packed in a duffel bag from Delhi, than renting one on a daily basis abroad. You can choose whichever option works best for you. Car seats are not mandatory in taxis. Shop by clicking on link.
- STAY IN A RENTAL HOME/ VILLA/ SERVICED APARTMENT:
Renting a home, villa or serviced apartment works best with young children. It is most cost-effective, gives access to a kitchen to cook for fussy eaters, wash laundry, and enables you to have your own space. For short durations, however, hotels are better. Book a stay via www.booking.com here.
- STAY IN THE CITY CENTRE:
To enjoy a city to the fullest, it is best to stay in the city centre.. You can avoid unnecessary travel time which always leads to irritable children!
- CHOOSE A CONVENIENT SCHEDULE AS PER YOUR TRAVEL ITINERARY:
Jet lag, excitement, and jam-packed days will throw your child’s regular eat-sleep schedule off-track. However, you can tailor your activities to suit their schedules. For example, let them nap even if they don’t at home, as it allows them to stay up late and be out for dinner. Don’t be too particular about ensuring a strict schedule. It’s a holiday- be flexible, you’ll have more fun!
- BE PREPARED FOR MELTDOWNS/ TANTRUMS:
The new environment, sugar and foreign food, as well as change in sleep schedule may upset your child. Tantrums are a natural part of the travel process, but can be dealt with by distracting the children with activities they enjoy, and maintaining a calm demeanour.
- INCLUDE KID-FRIENDLY ACTIVITIES ALONG WITH SIGHTSEEING AND SHOPPING:
It is important to include kid-friendly attractions in your sightseeing. Museums and monuments will not appeal to very young children, so balance it out with visits to amusement parks, ice-cream parlours, or child-friendly museums (with dinosaur simulations or aquariums).
- KEEP EASY AND NON-BULKY ENTERTAINMENT AT HAND:
It is not practical to carry your child’s favourite books and toys along with you, but you should always keep some entertainment at hand. A colouring book with a handful of crayons, a sticker book and play-doh are easy examples. Shop by clicking on links.
- GET YOUR CHILD EXCITED ABOUT THE TRIP BEFORE HAND:
Start talking to your child about the country you are going to visit, well in advance. Children that are excited to visit a new place, are happier and more cooperative.
These are my tips for travelling with a toddler to Europe (or anywhere internationally). Do you have anything to add to this list? Tell me in the comments below.
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