This past July our family went on a life-changing pilgrimage to Italy. While we were there we visited Rome and Assisi. It was such an amazing experience! Peter was the best little traveler and the joy of our trip. Though we are far from being experts on traveling with a baby, we learned quite a bit about it on this trip. We wanted to share with you our tips and advice for traveling internationally with a baby!
Tips For International Travel With A Baby
- Take a red-eye flight if possible (each way). Our flight to Italy was a night flight and Peter slept the entire time! The way back was not, and it was difficult for him. He was at the age (fourteen months) where all he wanted to do was move!
- A strong, sturdy, light, and compact stroller is a must! We debated on bringing one at all, but thank God we did. We bought a Mutsy Nexo stroller and it is currently our favorite baby gear item we own. We LOVE it! Throughout the whole trip we laughed because we kept finding ourselves saying how much we loved it to each other. So many times throughout our trip we had to carry Peter in the stroller up and down stairs to reach the metro or trains, and we were so thankful to have a light stroller!
- In the airport, ask security guards and other airport workers if there are designated lines for customs and airport security you can go in that are reserved for families with children. These lines are often much smaller and quicker. Airport workers came up to us and led us to these lines without us even asking, and we were so grateful! Most people are truly so helpful when they see you have a baby.
- We brought too many diapers and not enough wipes. In researching how many diapers and wipes to bring, people said you can purchase both there – which you totally can. However, my personality likes to be completely prepared! I wanted to have all the diapers and wipes we needed ready and on hand. We just got the proportions wrong! We used wipes for everything – cleaning Peter up when we were out, etc. and we ran out of them. Next time, I would bring less diapers and more wipes. A good rule of thumb is one diaper for every two hours during the day, one overnight diaper per night. We went through about a pack of wipes per day. I know this is a lot to bring, and not for everyone – but for those who are like me – this is my advice!
- Relax with schedules. Before the trip I made a conscious decision not to have high expectations for sleep, site seeing, and visiting tourist attractions. This mentality helped us so much! I felt at peace. We knew it was going to be a change and adjustment for Peter and instead of trying to stick to a schedule, we relaxed and were totally in the present with his needs.
- Mike disagrees with me on this one, but my advice to avoid jet lag is not to nap when you arrive! As difficult as it is to do, I have always tried to stay awake until bedtime when I travel internationally. I truly believe this helped with Peter’s sleeping schedule while we were there!
- Bring a few “emergency treats” for the airport and being out and about. We brought tiny gummy fruit snacks and a few small lollipops for when he needed a little sugar!
- Pack as light as possible!
- I am thankful that we did pack a lot of clothes for Peter. He is at the age where he gets so messy when eating, and I am grateful I brought enough for two outfits a day for him.
- Prepare your heart for humbling moments, especially out to eat at restaurants! The first night Peter was overtired and spilled EVERYONE’S water at the table (something he has never done before!) and broke a glass. It was humbling, but you just have to roll with it!
- Restaurant advice: ask for a corner table if eating inside. Ask for the baby’s meal right when you sit down so it’s the first thing out. Ask the waiter for the bill when they bring you your food, and take shifts eating if necessary. We looked for restaurants near open piazzas and parks so that one of us could run around with Peter outside while the others ate.
- We loved Airbnb! It was our first time using this service and we couldn’t have been happier with our choice! We found rentals that were cheaper and much more spacious than a hotel. Prior to leaving for our trip, we contacted our hosts and asked if they had a crib available. Both of our hosts did, and the crib was set up for us when we arrived. Airbnb has a “family friendly” option when selecting a place to stay, and this gave us so much peace of mind when choosing a location. Also, check to see if you can get a place with a washer and dryer. Although we did not, this would definitely help with packing lighter and having clothes readily available for those emergency outfits after a nice pasta dinner! From now on, we will always use Airbnb when traveling.
- The best advice I can give is just have fun as a family, take it at a slow pace, and remember the whole trip is about BEING together, not doing things or seeing things. If that means being in the hotel for an evening because that’s what you all need – praise God for that gift of being together!
- Don’t plan too much and know that you are bringing a baby overseas and that is awesome!
– M & C