I’m one of those people that just loves traveling. I’ve traveled to different countries including Italy, Spain, Austria, Germany, Romania, Canada. My husband is even easier when it comes to traveling and during his touring days as a ‘rock star’ he traveled to even more countries than myself.I’m a pretty easy traveler, although I do tend to over-pack sometimes. This is a problem when you have a baby who’s going to travel with you. And although all baby clothes are so tiny and cute, you’d be surprised how fast they fill an entire suitcase by the time you’re done packing!We’ve traveled with the baby before, short trips to California when he was about 6 months old, but never internationally. So this was a big deal for us.
Get up-to-date with all immunizations
The first thing I made sure – a couple of months in advance – when we started planning for our month-long European vacation was that my little one was up to date with all his vaccination. The last thing you want is for your baby to catch a disease while you’re in a different country, especially one like Romania (no offense because I grew up there but…) The main consideration here is that babies under 6 months of age can’t be given certain immunizations – the yellow fever vaccine is one example. This means that destinations where exotic diseases occur may be unsuitable for a baby in this age group. My recommendation to you is to seek specific advice regarding the necessary vaccinations from your pediatrician.
Apply for a passport well in advance
Also part of the planing for an international trip is getting a passport for your baby, which needs to be done well in advance, with processing times lasting up to two months in most cases. Check your state’s requirements for the passport application as well the fee, as they all differ from state to state. In most cases, passport applications for minors under age 16, who have or have not had a passport in the past, must be submitted in person at a passport agency or authorized passport application acceptance facility. The minor must be present and BOTH parents or guardians should appear with the minor.Because we intended to do a short trip to Canada when my LO was 4 months old, I had his passport done when he was about 3 months. It’s still funny to see his chubby face as the passport picture and since it’s valid for 5 years I guess we’ll see it some more.
Pack light – baby will need lots of stuff
While I’m a heavy packer, this time I needed to reconsider my outfits and choose ONLY five pairs of shoes (a pair of flip-flops, sandals, Toms, hiking shoes, and stilettos) out of the fifteen I was going to pack at first. A girl’s got to have her shoes, what can I say?
While our LO just turned 15 months at the time of our travel, we decided to save some money – international flights are extremely expensive! – and not get him a separate seat, but fly with him on our lap. You have that option until the baby turns 2 and occasionally, if you’re lucky – like we were this time – the seat next to you might be available. Do make sure to ask at the gate for the row where they can also hang a baby bassinet – although the bassinet is good for babies up to 9 months only – having the extra leg room in that row is always a blessing!
Each airline has their own baggage rules and limitations and even so these rules can differ from flight to flight, so make sure to check the specifics that apply to your particular booked flight.
We were able to take for the baby – part of the flight’s allowance – a car-seat and a light stroller, along with a checked-in baggage, a carry-on and a diaper bag. While we had our own carry-ons, handbags and accessories, we soon discovered we didn’t have enough hands for how many small bags we ended up having. So, emphasizing on my point again: PACK LIGHT, you’ll thank me afterwards.
Another especially useful tip when you get to your destination and your check-in baggage doesn’t – is to pack a couple of days worth of clothing in your carry-ons. Especially for the baby. Our baggage was lost twice – including the car-seat – during this one trip to Europe and only got them three days later, which is a long time when all you’ve got is the clothes on your back.
If you plan to rent a car overseas, consider taking a car seat. In some destinations, you may find that none are provided – or that you are offered an old, potentially dangerous seat. We did take ours, but since it got lost at the destination we needed to purchase a new one which we used for three days until ours arrived.
Depending on your destination, I would not pack a whole lot of diapers. There’s high chances you’ll be able to buy them wherever you travel. I would stick though with the brand you have been using at home – and if that is not possible, get Pampers as they’re internationally renowned and easy to find in stores. Our LO was never allergic to anything and I have changed many diaper brands on him here in the US which made me think I could do it in Europe too, but unfortunately he got a rash after using one nameless brand, after-which we switched to what we knew.
Surviving a 15-hour flight
I was anxious for days (or should I say nights?) about this part. I prepared like never before. I got lots of snacks,
new toys, stickers, ipad apps to entertain him during the long flight. I bought small gifts for all passengers surrounding our seat with preemptive apology letters written just in case. I was prepared for the worst.
Little did I know, I had an angel on my hands! He did absolutely fantastic! No crying or whining of any sorts. He slept some, played some, watched about 15 min of the cartoons I bought for him – but then he’s never been an ipad lover – or not yet. And the time just flew by and we got to our destination before we knew it. We took turns entertaining him but having the additional empty seat next to us though was a total blessing!
On our way back, the flight was oversold so we didn’t have that luxury anymore. While I held him for most of the time and got numb at times, it wasn’t all that bad afterall. I’ll take that over a screaming baby anytime!
Dealing with the time change
I am a much more easygoing parent than I thought I’d be but this one made me nervous. I had no way of knowing how my LO will react and if he’s gonna have a hard time adjusting to a 12-hour time change difference. I’ve been told to give him some melatonin, but after reading more about it I concluded is not safe for someone of his age. So our plan was to try to ease him into it slowly and mostly let him adjust naturally on his own. Which happened, but it did take a whole week for him to truly adjust. Much longer than we thought. But then he was also getting his molars in which played a whole lot into his adjusting.
Adjusting to the new location
We traveled in July/August and the first country we spent time in the temperature was at an all-time high during that time and the humidity the same. More than anything, the hardest thing to deal with for all three of us was the humidity, heat and total lack of air conditioning. But we overcame that with lots sun protection, water and hikes in the beautiful Carpathian Mountains where we managed to stayed cooler for most of the time.
Because we traveled from city to city in each country for the entire duration of our vacation, we needed to adjust and readjust constantly to the new conditions and for that I’m ready to give my LO an award because he’s the best traveler and adventurous baby I’ve ever seen and am so proud to be call him my own!
Although you may worry about taking baby abroad, a trip overseas with your little one can be a wonderful experience. Enjoy expanding your tiny traveler’s horizons!