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International travel with children is intimidating but it does not have to be a nightmare! I recently experienced my first trip with Jax, who is 13 months old, from the United States to the Dominican Republic. We really needed a family getaway and although initially I was nervous bringing him along, it was well worth it.
I learned a few tricks along the way, which I will share with you, to keep you sane as you tackle international travel with your toddler.
First, let me start by telling you how our trip came about.
I am a first time mama and I am a planner by nature. My husband, on the other hand, is sporadic. He really dislikes planning vacations ahead of time because it makes them feel too far away making them less real, I guess.
One Sunday afternoon, while we were with friends and family, they shared that they would be visiting Dominican Republic the very next week. Somehow they convinced my husband that we should come along and if you know me, I never say no to a vacay!
We booked our hotel and flights the very next day. Then, we were tasked with getting a passport for Jax in less than week! If you are local to FL, I will share with you in another post how we got this done in case you need one for your child as well.
Our trip was scheduled for Monday, July 2nd, and on the Tuesday – Saturday prior, Jax had reoccurring fevers. Just our luck! A couple emergency and urgent care visits later, we discovered that Jax must’ve had some sort of viral infection because he tested negative for the flu, he had no cough or green mucus, negative for UTI, and his ears and throat were clear. I was advised that he should not travel but I went against the doctors’ orders since his fevers stopped 24 hours prior to takeoff.
Here are the tips we learned after traveling internationally with our toddler for the first time at 13 months! We are planning to visit Cuba soon so I will be sure to make adjustments to the post, if necessary.
Check your stroller in at the gate
Toddlers are heavy and no matter how light you pack, they require a ton of stuff to travel. Most airlines will allow you to keep your stroller with you after check-in and check it in at the gate prior to boarding.
This was literally our holy grail. Game changer.
We aren’t “baby wearers” no matter how hard we tried so keeping Jax’s umbrella stroller with us while waited for hours to board, was a life saver.
Ask if there are any extra seats
When you go up to the counter to get a “pink tag” for your stroller, it is worth asking if there are any available seats on the flight. If your flight is not fully booked, sometimes you can change your seat to one with an empty seat beside you for extra space or even a spot to put your toddler down!
Pack ALL the snacks
If your toddler is anything like mine, snacks keep them entertained. TSA allows most food items through security checkpoints so you should pack your child’s favorite snacks in your baby bag or carryon for easy access before and during your flight.
There are some exceptions to the 3-1-1 Liquids Rule when it comes to formula, breast milk, and juice so be sure to visit tsa.gov for the most current information.
Have a bottle or sippy cup handy or be prepared to breastfeed during takeoff + landing
The air pressure changes that occur during takeoff and landing can cause ear pain or discomfort for your baby or toddler, so I highly recommend bringing something for them to suck on.
If your baby is still breastfeeding, you can do so during that time or if they are bottle fed, you should give them a bottle with water, formula, milk, or juice to suck on.
Bring a couple changes of clothes
This one applies to baby and mama (and maybe even daddy).
Jax does not spit up or barf usually so do not go based off of that…Accidents can still happen especially due to the air pressure changes experienced during the flight.
It is also very beneficial to carry a barf bag and an empty plastic bag to out the dirty clothes in.
Bring tons of wipes and overnight pampers
This tip goes hand in hand with the one above! Bring tons of wipes to clean up the potential accidents but you should also use them to clean curious hands to prevent illnesses from spreading.
Overnight pampers are extremely useful as well because they hold up for several hours. If you are like me, the airplane restroom is a no go unless if there is an emergency. It is difficult to use it alone so imagine adding a child to the mix.
Allow EXTRA screen time
I know, I know. Everyone has a different stance on this but bringing an iPad for Jax and connecting to the airports Wifi really helped us keep him entertained while we waited to board.
Once we landed, we had a two and a half hour drive and 15 minute ferry ride to the resort where we were staying so I made sure to download some movies from Netflix directly to the device for those times we could not connect to Wifi.
Bring their favorite books, stickers, note pads
Fill your bag with familiar things they love! If peeling stickers and reading books are your toddler’s thing then bring them along.
Jax loves stacking cups but I left those at home because the arm on this kid is pretty serious. That is okay, though… I am all good with having a future major leaguer.
Stand up and walk
Once you have gone through all of the activities in your bag, do not be afraid to walk the aisles with your toddler if they get antsy. Heck, I know even I get antsy when I have to sit for long periods of time so I do not blame them.
Don’t forget to bring some over-the-counter meds
If there is one thing I learned from Jax being ill right before our last minute trip out of the country, it’s that I had to be prepared for any and everything.
I drove to our local drugstore and bought items to make a first aid travel kit! I included a thermometer, Band-Aids, Children’s Motrin and Tylenol, and some packets of Pedialyte that you can pour into a water bottle.
Having children does not mean you have to cut your globetrotting dreams short. Of course, a few adjustments are necessary but traveling internationally with your toddler is not only doable but totally worth it.
When we came back from our trip I shared the photo above on Instagram and I explained:
Every time I visit La República Dominicana a piece of my heart stays behind. The hotels and resorts are amazing but what resonates with me the most is the people.
Their roots are deep and their culture is rich. What they lack in materialistic items they gain in love for one another + nature. Their hospitality is unmatched.
This picture is one of my favorites from the trip. This gentleman welcomed us into his home with open arms. Ever since Jax’s first birthday, he’s been extra clingy and although, we traveled with lots of family + friends, he only wanted to be held by his mama + papa. So this moment where he took the hands of this man to walk on his land was extra special!
You and your children deserve to experience special moments like the one I described above.
Happy Traveling, friends.