We just came back from an amazing trip with our 19 month old to visit family currently living in the Philippines. We have traveled quite a bit around the U.S. (D.C., San Francisco, Hawaii) with our daughter since she was 5 months old. This, however, was clearly going to be a different experience – it was international, a very different environment than she is used to and had a significant time change.
We knew there would be challenges traveling far from home and adjusting to a 15-hour time change with a toddler. We reminded ourselves of the reason we decided to travel almost halfway across the globe, took the leap of faith and proceeded with the trip.
My brother and his family moved to the Philippines for a great job opportunity about a year and a half ago and we have always wanted to visit them. A few months ago, they had a baby girl, giving us the push to materialise our plan to visit our family who we missed and wanted to support in this new adventure they were on.
Before having our daughter, we traveled around the world and we do not want our love for seeing the world to end with having a child. We have been changed by experiencing the beauty in other countries and also the needs around the world. We want to expose our daughter to this beautiful, big world we live in so that she knows that life outside of Los Angeles looks very different. I want her to not only see beautiful things around the world but also know about things like poverty and to be aware of the needs around her whether in her own backyard here in LA or across the world in the Philippines. Big dreams for a toddler? For sure. But there’s no time like the present to give her the gift of travel.
Here are my top tips.
Fly low season if possible. You might score a seat for your under two-year old if you didn’t book a ticket.
A relatively empty flight is more pleasant for any traveler, but when you’re traveling with a little one, it makes all the difference. Regardless of whether you know if your flight is full or not, always talk to the airline agent at the ticket counter to ask if they can block off an empty seat — (or row if you’re lucky!). Our flight was 60% full and we hadn’t bought a ticket for our daughter. I was regretting that the week before the trip, but since we flew off-season, we ended up getting an empty row of 4 seats both ways!
Choose your seats wisely, if possible.
If you are lucky enough to get several seats, try to choose a row where armrests go up. My daughter slept on the night flights by laying down on two seats.
An easy way to find this out is by posing the question in Club Bébé Voyage. The community is worldwide and chances are someone there has at least traveled to where you are going.
If you discover the country you are traveling to doesn’t have great healthy snacks, bring your own. These come in handy when you’re on the go.
Here’s what I recommend:
- Freeze dried fruit like blueberries and strawberries
- Apples and oranges
- Rice cakes
- Instant Mac n cheese
Don’t forget to stock up on entertainment toys for your little one(s) for the journey.
Bring as many as you can without overloading your carry-on for your little one’s happiness and your sanity.
- Water wow book by Melissa and Doug
- Lots of small books
We also brought our iPad with downloaded kids apps, here are our
- Daniel Tiger’s neighborhood
- Peekaboo barn
- Minnie one since Minnie is her favorite!
Don’t leave without your little one’s favorite stuffed animal or wind down essentials.
You need to bring as much of home as you can with you for comfort and to remind them of their routine. Whether it’s a stuffed animal or a blanket they love to also keep warm on the flight.
Don’t forget about yourself! Bring what you need to be comfortable on the flight too.
For me, a small nursing pillow for comfort in flight was key. Your arms will get tired if your little one falls asleep on you.
Stick to your routine but roll with it.
Stick your routine, whatever that may be. For us, reading a book and taking a bath before bedtime are key bedtime signals. We tried to adjust to the local time as soon as we arrived. That said, know that sleep will probably be different from what we get at home, so be flexible!
Our daughter sleeps about 11 hours a night at home and she definitely didn’t do that while we were away! We had to be flexible. For example, we do not co-sleep at home, but when she woke up at 2 and 3 am and the only way to get her back to sleep was to lay her next to us, so we gave each other the “just go with it” look and enjoyed the cuddles with our new international traveler. By day five, she was almost completely adjusted to the time change and was enjoying the Philippines and the family as much as we were.
The KidCo Peapod travel bed was a lifesaver. She slept very well in it and it was light and easy to bring along when we moved around in country as well.
Bring medical necessities.
Pedialyte in case needed. It took a few days for her appetite to adjust and for her to get used to different foods. We needed Pedialyte for the first day or two and I was glad I had it. Although things like this are usually available in country as well. We also brought some medication for ourselves in case we got a stomach bug, etc.
Consider bringing mosquito repellent with DEET if you’re going to an area with a lot of disease-carrying mosquitos. I know some won’t use DEET, but we chose a low level of DEET because the risk of dengue was high where we were. If you don’t want to use DEET, dress your child in light long sleeves and pants and avoid times of day when mosquitoes are outdoors.
We also packed a good sunscreen. Thinkbaby sunscreen was great as it was very sunny there and we spent a few days at a resort and in the pool.
A few on-the go items that were lifesavers for me.
Babyganics foam hand sanitizer was helpful to clean her hands before meals and just keep her from getting sick as much as we could.
We also packed lots of wipes for the flight and for the trip itself.
Diapers for the trip.
We packed ours in the car seat bag on the way there to save room in our suitcase. I was glad we didn’t have to worry about buying them there but we did pick up some towards the end of the trip which was no big deal as you can find diapers pretty much anywhere!
It’s worth buying a light car seat for the trip.
A light car seat for taxis and driving when you arrive. The Cosco worked great!
Stroller and baby carrier.
I know that’s a lot of gear, but both are just really useful.
Umbrella stroller – this was extremely helpful both in the airport and when we went to malls in country. Having something light was so convenient.
Ergo for airport – I always use a baby carrier in the airport. You can keep it on walking through security and it makes travel a lot easier.
Bottom line: You can do it! And you’ll make memories you’ll carry with you forever.