Travel Stories: Tips for International Travel with a Toddler

Have Baby Will Travel Facebook friend Alejandra shared this article with me from her blog, Finally Off the Block, and I’m so pleased that she agreed to let me publish it here as well. We definitely have a similar philosophy when it comes to travel with babies and toddlers. With so many amazing-sounding trips under her belt, I’m delighted to share her tips for international travel with a toddler here as well. Thanks, Alejandra!

Tips for International Travel with a Toddler | Have Baby Will TravelOur baby started traveling with us when he was six-months-old. We started domestically (short flights and familiar airline experiences) and moved on to international flights once he was a year old. We visited South Africa in September (Johannesburg, Cape Town, and Durban) when baby was eighteen-months-old, and Brazil in November (Sao Paulo, Rio, Salvador, and Iguacu Falls) when he was twenty-months-old. We’re heading to Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam, and Hong Kong in March when baby will be twenty-four-months-old.

We’ve had really positive experiences, and I thought I’d share how we survived international travel with a toddler:

International Travel with a Toddler, Mini Town, durban, durban south africa

Enjoying Mini Town in Durban, South Africa | photo courtesy Finally Off the Block

#1 Choose a child friendly city

We like museums, hiking, thrifting, and wandering around. For us, a child-friendly city means someplace that we can meander around and have a good time people watching and eating at random places. When things are too structured it creates stress for us. We especially enjoyed Cape Town and Rio. Some might say these cities are places to be wary of, but I say that with common sense, these places are as safe as any other place to take your baby, toddler, or child.

International Travel with Toddler, Rio Rental House

The view from our rental house in Rio | photo courtesy Finally Off the Block

#2 Choose a comfortable rental house

Since our little one is still a young toddler, we look for rental houses that have a crib, a bathtub, and a way to easily access transportation. We have used hotels on occasion, but we find that get the best value (good amenities at a good price) when we use home rental websites like AirBnB or FlipKey. I’ve read good and bad reviews of staying in these types of accommodations, but our experiences have all been positive. We prefer to rent a whole home (sometimes a house, sometimes an apartment) that has multiple bedrooms, a full kitchen, air conditioning and heat, a bathtub, cable, and wireless internet. We’ve rented homes in the swanky financial district in Sandton, South Africa (suburb of Johannesburg) and average sized apartments in Salvador, Brazil. Before we had kids, we CouchSurfed in Japan. I’d do it again but most CSers tend to be young and are usually NOT looking for a family to move into their home!

International Travel with a Toddler

In Salvador, Brazil | photo courtesy Finally Off the Block

#3 Bring touches of home

We travel a lot. A LOT. We’re usually on the road for business a few times a month and with so many awesome travel deals popping up, we are traveling internationally more and more. To make sure that we don’t all lose our minds, we bring things from home that make us feel comfortable and help us keep our routine. For the baby that means bringing one of his turtle blankets, some familiar toys, a few snacks (granola bars), and a tablet with his videos (Storybots, Raffi, Mulan, and Kung Fu Panda are his faves right now). Regardless of what’s on TV in the country we’re visiting he can sit on his blanket, play with his toys, and watch the same thing he might watch if we were at home. It keeps him grounded and helps us all sleep well.

International travel with a toddler, babywearing in the airport

Babywearing in the airport | photo courtesy Finally Off the Block

#4 Think strategically

Traveling with a toddler can be all fun and games IF you put things in place to lessen your stress and create opportunities for awesome things to happen. We’re all different and what that looks like to you may be different than what it looks like to me, but here are the things I do to increase the chances that fun will happen:

  • Choose fewer sights to see in one day. What do you absolutely want to make sure that you get to do?
  • Choose times to see sights when foot traffic will be low. This is a no-brainer.
  • Bring snacks for everyone because cranky adults fight with cranky kids. A hand full of trail mix and an apple can turn even the worst attitudes around.
  • Bring our baby carrier. There is no way I’d even attempt all this travel without my handy Mei Tei.
  • Use carabiners to attach water bottles and snack cups to backpacks and Mei Tei.
  • Bring a small backpack inside of my larger backpack for day trips. Less weight means less effort expended on humping items and more effort enjoying the day.
International Travel with a Toddler

Learning to walk near Buckingham Palace | photo courtesy Finally Off the Block

#5 Let ’em be free range

Some of the best experiences we’ve had, have happened because we are open to letting  the baby explore a bit. In Salvador, the baby and a waiter played tag while we ate. It was still early (we have to feed the baby before sleepy time) so the restaurant was pretty empty. There were two waiters that started playing with the baby. At one point, he wanted to get out of his high chair and then wanted to get down off of my lap. The waiter assured me that it was fine and then began chasing the baby around! The baby loved it. He began running and squealing with delight! The other waitstaff came to see what was happening and joined in. That’s one of the best memories I have of Brazil and it happened because we allowed the baby a little freedom. See what can happen when you allow children to experience the world they live in on their own terms.

International Travel with a toddlerThis is how we’ve managed to take our not-yet-two-year-old on almost twenty five flights on four continents in four countries. Do you have any tips about traveling with a baby or toddler? I’d love to hear ’em. Please share in the comments below.

Many thanks to Alejandra for sharing her post with us. You can follow her adventures on her blog, Finally Off the Block.

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7 Responses to Travel Stories: Tips for International Travel with a Toddler

  1. So much good info here! I have to say I’m not sorry my toddler travel days are behind me, but I never regretted taking mine everywhere…they’re such good travelers now!

  2. JessieV at #

    Great tips – especially for choosing what to do. No need to pack it all in and get stressed!

  3. Tamara at #

    Good tips! We also enjoy getting vacation rentals for the extra space but it was especially important when the baby/toddler went to bed super early.

  4. Keryn at #

    We are huge fans of the rental house or apartment! Great tips for getting the toddlers out and exploring with you!

  5. Allison at #

    We’re finding now that toddlers can be easier to travel with than older kids – if only because they have no school or activity schedule to contend with. Love the common sense tips in this post!

  6. Another cool post from you, thanks for sharing this amazing tips, I love your content.Can you reply to my email please

  7. Good information. No stress if a person follows this tips during travel with toddler.

    Keep posting. I really love this one.

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