Passionate About Des Moines
and the Moms Who Live Here

Traveling to Europe with a Toddler

Sounds crazy right? We thought so too but recently returned from Italy and Paris with our 18 month old daughter and lived to tell about it!

As I was preparing for our trip, I searched online for helpful tips and thought there was a lack of resources on traveling overseas with little ones. So, I want to share my experiences/advice (and other ramblings) with you all and hope it helps as you plan your own adventure!

betty 2Passport

First and foremost, don’t forget to apply for your little one’s passport. For information on Polk County’s application requirements and processing time, please visit http://www.polkrecorder.com/passports.htm. Surprisingly, ours only took about two weeks to process but it can certainly take longer so don’t wait! FYI, hair bows are not allowed in passport photos 🙁

Packing

Don’t overpack! Bring a good bib (love our Baby Bjorn bib) so outfits can be worn more than once. While not all sidewalks/streets in Europe are ideal for strollers, I still recommend you bring a light-weight umbrella stroller. Our Moby wrap also came in very handy. Pack LOTS of snacks. Try to limit yourself to one carry-on (a backpack) for the flight. You’ll want to include lots of fun, NEW ways to entertain your little one. I packed stickers, crayons, unopened Happy Meal toys, books, pipe cleaners and puzzles…things I didn’t care about losing but provided hours of entertainment.

Be Flexible

Traveling overseas as adults is difficult enough with long flights, time changes, etc. It can be even harder for your little one so make sure you are flexible. Don’t jam pack your itinerary. You won’t be able to see/do it all in one day and that’s okay! I also got very good at changing my daughter’s diaper while she was standing up. Of all the places we visited, I never found a diaper changing station or family restroom. C’est la vie!

Bypass the Loooong Lines

Don’t be afraid to move to the front of the line. Whether you’re waiting to board a flight or trying to get inside a museum, it doesn’t hurt to move to the front and see if you and your little one can “budge” in line. I know this isn’t easy to do but people are usually very accommodating when they see you traveling with a little one.

Betty1Other Advice and Ramblings

While I’m sure many people had the thought, one person actually said, “Why are you taking Zayli to Europe? She isn’t going to remember any of your trip!At the time, that question really bothered me. I’m not going to wait and have her experience people/things when she starts having memories of it. That would be like saying “Why bother reading books to her now. She isn’t going to remember it!”

I had the great opportunity to see my daughter experience things she wouldn’t at home…the look on her face as she devoured gelato for the first time, her little voice saying “Wow!” over and over as she stared at the Eiffel Tower, etc. My husband and I want her to grow up having a love for travel, people of this world and their cultures.

Whether it’s Europe or the next state over, don’t be reluctant to travel with your little one!

Well DMMB readers, I’m off to start saving up for our next international adventure. Bon voyage!


Meet Guest Blogger: Betty Baker

betty_baker (2)“My GRANDMA’S name is Betty too!” This is a common response Betty gets after introducing herself to new people. Until she turns 90 and becomes “cool”, Betty is loving and living life as a wife to an amazing man named Erich and mother to a beautiful girl named Zayli (born October 2011). She is a stay-at-home mom with several part-time jobs, including freelancer for local marketing agencies, dance/gymnastics instructor at Grace Ballet and All Iowa Honor Drill Team choreographer. In her “free” time, Betty enjoys cooking/baking, traveling, eating bacon, attending/serving Cornerstone Church, reading, watching movies, and any water-related activity (except fishing).

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5 Responses to Traveling to Europe with a Toddler

  1. Jody July 19, 2013 at 8:46 am #

    Some good tips in this. We have been traveling to Europe with our girls since they were little as well.

    A couple things I would add… Buy a seat on the flight for your child and bring their carseat. It’s a known object and can help them adjust to flying. Also, babies and toddlers can sleep almost anywhere- and definitely sleep better on planes than adults do, so they will experience less jetlag.

    You can also consider shipping items over ahead of time. We did this when our daughters were young and needed additional supplies. It cut down on the stuff we had to wrangle through the airport.

    We changed diapers on many a floor… bring a good sized changing pad (I never could change a nasty diaper with a child standing).

    And don’t forget that ice cream (or gelato) can solve many a tantrum.

    There are dozens of terrific family travel sites across the internet, many specific to destinations.

    I would invite readers planning family travel across the US to visit FamilyRambling.com. If you are planning a trip to Ireland, IrelandWithKids.com.

  2. Farrah July 19, 2013 at 10:03 am #

    We’re US expats who now live in Europe with our 2 year old twins and 4 year old. It’s not nearly as crazy/difficult/bizarre as most people think it is. In fact- I’ve met more people who travel here with their kids under 4 than I ever knew existed. It’s just like anything else- become familiar with something new and go for it.

  3. Andrea, Passports And Pushchairs July 19, 2013 at 11:54 am #

    I always tell people who are nervous about traveling to Europe that they have babies and kids over there too, so it won’t be as hard as you think! I think the budging in line will vary in different countries, some places that would not be looked on upon as a good idea at all.

    I am sorry you had a hard time finding info online, there are tons of great family blogs filled with info for families traveling overseas! Glad you had a great trip!

  4. Erin Bender (Travel With Bender) July 19, 2013 at 1:15 pm #

    We have been travelling everywhere with our two kids (2 & 3 years old) for the last 440 days. But we are about to head to Europe for the first time. I am so excited! Thanks for the tips.

  5. Keryn @ walking on travels July 19, 2013 at 1:35 pm #

    I could not agree with you more that traveling with little ones is well worth it! I honestly don’t care if my son remembers walking along the Great Wall of China at 14 months. I remember. He certainly remembers that first taste of gelato at age 3 though. Even remembers how to ask for it in Italian. Ha! His baby brother may not remember gnawing on pizza crust in Italy at 5 months, but I remember, and I think it has certainly given him a taste for bread his brother never had.

    I’m so sorry to hear you didn’t find much on Europe with kids. There are tons of sites, including my own, covering international travel with small children. In fact, last October I took my 5 month old and 3 year old sons to Europe by myself and wrote several tips pieces and posts about our experience. Here is a bit on London (http://walkingontravels.com/london/), and packing for a trip to Europe with babies and toddlers (http://walkingontravels.com/2013/02/11/travel-with-kids-packing-for-a-european-adventure/). We are headed back again for a few weeks this fall. I can’t wait to gather even more amazing adventures and tips to share.

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