You guys, our trip to Europe was AMAZING + exhausting bringing our little toddler, but I do have to say that I’m actually really glad we decided to bring him. We debated back and forth since our family offered to watch him, but in the end I’m so glad we decided to bring him. I’m going to list things that I found were helpful in bringing a toddler overseas so that on our next trip I won’t forget, and so those of you who are thinking about it can keep a few things in mind.
I was honestly terrified of this part. We have the hardest time flying the 3 hours to Utah, I couldn’t comprehend what a 12 hour flight was going to be like. I think I prepared pretty well, and to my surprise it wasn’t as bad as I had envisioned in my head.
1. As far as luggage goes – we just brought 2 big rolling luggage bags and packed for all 3 of us in those. We each brought a back pack as a carry on and I put all of Ryder’s snacks/food/water in my bag (Fawn Design) and then his backpack was full of dollar toys and things he had never seen before. (Side note: Make sure your sippy cup is completely shut so it doesn’t leak onto your iPad. The cantigo bottles (see HERE) are amazing, but make sure to close the straw all the way up in the lid… We lucked out with the iPad surviving the water, but we thought we just ruined our main source of entertainment before we even boarded our first flight! I was panicked, but it ended up being just fine.)
**Before we even left, me and Shey had this deal where if something went wrong with ANYTHING we would try to say bad news with a smile. I have to admit that our luck was HORRIBLE before we left, but once we got on the plane it got much better!
2. We brought an old car seat that we wouldn’t mind being thrown around on the flights as well as a cheap stroller (like this ONE). I’m glad we did because it got pretty thrown around.
3. Like I mentioned earlier, we stocked up on dollar store items and only pulled out one thing at a time to make it last as long as possible. If he was entertained looking out the plane window we wouldn’t even touch the stuff in his bag until he was getting restless. ALSO: Learn from my mistake and download movies before you leave! I didn’t realize that when you are flying over the ocean you can’t access wifi. (Rookie mistake).
4. I know it’s not like this for everyone, but I LOVED the overnight flight ten times more then coming home during the day. My pediatrician also recommended that we gave him Benadryl to help him sleep. I know that’s not for everybody, but it helped him so he wasn’t miserable. Also, babies do WAY better with jet lag then adults do. I was shocked at how well he did going there and coming home, it almost didn’t even phase him.
5. We brought both our stroller and carseat and checked it at the gate and every flight I would ask if they had any open seating since we had a baby under 2. For our overnight flight they luckily did and we had an entire row to ourselves. I just put his car seat in like we were getting in the car, did our nightly routine, and he slept for 6 hours. It was seriously amazing and we were so lucky to be able to get an extra seat like that! If you can afford to pay for an extra seat even if they are under 2 – it’s totally worth it! It also was nice to have him in his carseat and not trying to roam around.
6. We bought headphones but our babe hardly used them.
7. I liked when our seats were next to each other in the middle and by the window. A lot of times my toddler would just lay on the ground in front of us or play with his animals on the ground. I think it helped him feel like he could have his own little space too.
8. Every layover we would play around the airport to get this busy boy tired. Exhibit A: (I feel like I have 2 kids sometimes. 😉 )
9. ALWAYS make sure that if you are bringing a “lap” infant that they have that on your ticket. We ran into a ton of problems with that. Especially with international flights, you have to pay a couple hundred bucks if you bring a toddler/baby under the age of 2. That was unexpected for us and I kinda wish we knew that in advance.
10.My baby is a light sleeper, but for the majority of the flights he slept pretty well. The sound of the airplanes is like his white noise at home so he seemed to adjust pretty well. We got pretty lucky because I was totally expecting a nightmare!
11. Europe isn’t made for people in wheelchairs or strollers. We probably carried our stroller more than we pushed it because there are TONS of stairs and hardly any elevators. We mastered how to go up and down escalators too! We debated bringing a backpack carrier but I honestly still would rather push a stroller than carry it on my back. Plus, people are so nice and would always offer a helping hand to us if we needed it.
12. We bought 3-5 day passes for the metro… totally worth it because we were constantly on them going from one thing to the next.
13. Move fast. Even with a stroller, car seat, 2 luggages, and 3 carry ons… metros don’t wait! I may or may not have gotten shut on by one of the doors! Life flashed before my eyes. But it’s fun!
14. We rented a car for the Hungary part of our trip and it was amazing. It was worth hauling around his car seat and nice to be able to go wherever we wanted to go and not feel the rush of the metro system.
Oh, and I always snuck upside down kisses in between… a moms gotta do what she’s gotta do!
NAPS + SLEEPING:
We had a lot of naps-on-the-go. I do wish our stroller reclined so that I didn’t worry about his neck half the time, but we made do with what we had and it worked out pretty well I think. 😉
15.We stayed at 4 different hotels and most of them had a baby pack n’ play so that we didn’t have to worry about bringing anything as far as that goes. One night I put an extra mattress on the floor for him since he’s a wild sleeper if he’s in our bed and it worked out perfectly. Always call ahead and see because that can be one less thing to have to worry about packing.
16. I’m a total germaphobe so I brought one Aden and Anais blanket for him to use on the plane and then another one that I only used at night after he had showered and everything.
FOOD AND WATER:
17. I have a really picky eater, so I brought tons of applesauce, dry cereal, fruit snacks, craisins, and PB and J’s. It worked out perfectly because even sometimes we would need a small snack so we could keep going. (PS… food there is AMAZING and I crave those Nutella crepes all the time!)
18. I wish I brought more bottled water. If I were to do it again I would pack as much water as the weight limit would allow and then bring a spare water bottle or camel back to keep hydrated.
TRICKS TO SIGHT SEEING:
We had a full list of things to do and I thought “There’s no way we can do all this with a baby!” But we actually were able to do everything we had on our list which was so awesome. I was shocked that we were able to do it all!
19. The best part about bringing our babe was at all the museums and cathedrals we would walk to the front of the line, they would see our baby and let us in front of everyone! We saved HOURS worth of long waits just because of it. I don’t think our little guy would’ve lasted if we had to wait in those long lines so I was seriously so grateful.
20. We brought lots of snacks and made sure he was fed. On occasion would get him out to run around and get his energy out so that he could keep up and he was awesome! I brought tons of dum dums and those things saved us from a lot of tantrums.
I think the most important thing to remember is to find beauty in the chaos… isn’t that what being a mom is all about? My toddler is in a “terrible 2 stage” but I was actually surprised that his tantrums were significantly less than they are at home! Here are some of the more chaotic moments we had on our trip that aren’t “picture perfect”…which turned out to secretly be some of my favorites.
(Sometimes you have a “dirt in shoe” meltdown in the middle of Paris.)
This is one of those moments I was talking about – smiling even when things aren’t exactly perfect…how could we not? We’re at the Eiffel Tower!
All in all, it was amazing! When you’re on the go everyday, even if your little one is in a stroller, they still pass out pretty hard at night right along with ya. I loved the memories we were able to have and the people we were able to meet. Even though he won’t remember this trip, I will and I loved it because he’s my little buddy.
If you’re debating about bringing your little one on a big trip I would recommend it knowing that it will be exhausting but the most amazing experience ever! Don’t let having kids, money, or any other excuse hold you back from doing what you love. Sometimes you just have to book a flight and just GO. And you’ll more than likely be so glad you did!