How many parents out there have traveled alone with an infant? How many parents out there have traveled alone internationally with an infant, or a toddler? I have, and if you’re a military wife I bet you raised your hand twice, and good for you for surviving that challenge! Seriously, that has to be the biggest, toughest, emotionally draining, alcohol inducing, thing I have ever done, and that’s coming from a former Marine and Police Officer! Coworkers, friends, and social media followers ask me travel related questions almost weekly. My followers on social media look at Liv and I and think we travel domestically and internationally with ease, but we don’t. It’s not easy, but if I can do it, YOU can do it. Oh, and without tears. Here are some tips and tricks I have personally come up with when it came to road trips and flights, with my very energetic toddler;
Number one; iPad screen time. Not to quote Linsay Lohan’s character from Mean Girls, but this is absolutely correct. When it comes to screen time “The limit does not exist.” Oh, and bring a backup battery charger. When it comes to long flights or road trips, make sure to have an iPad or some sort of video entertainment on hand at all times. Don’t feel bad for the excessive screen time either. Remember, you are in survival mode, and your mission is to get to your destination unscathed, and sober. Make sure to have movies and games pre-downloaded the night before, just in case you are unable to find wifi. This expensive little tool will help you get to your destination, and hopefully with the help of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, will help your little one get there as well with little to no tears.
Number two; Travel games. Amazon should do the trick for this one, and the best part about it, travel board games are pretty cheap! Here is my list for travel board games I have used with Liv;
Melissa & Doug Travel Bingo.
Coogam Travel Tangram Puzzle- Magnetic Pattern Block Book.
Eraseable drawing pad book by AriTan.
“Take ‘N’ Play” magnetic game boards.
Good ol’ fashioned crayons and coloring books, or color wonder markers and books.
These are just a few of the travel games, but will come in handy on road trips or layovers! All can be easily searched for and found on Amazon.
Number three; Endless snacks. Your job during this taxing process is to continuously feed the toddler. I have never had an issue with TSA in the past when it came to traveling internationally with prepackage baby food, or toddler snacks. You will however, have to take them all out of your insanely organized diaper bag you packed so perfectly the night before, and present them all to the TSA officers at screening time, but you should not be told to toss them out as long as you actually have a child with you. I have traveled internationally with full bottles of formula and baby food, and I have never had a problem. Snacks are good to have specifically for bribes. For example, “I will give you this bag of Pirate Booty, if you can sit down properly, and stop jumping on your seat.” If this does not work, keep offering other snacks until one catches their attention. To this day I am very snack driven, like my three year old.
Number four; Stay organized and travel as light as possible for Customs. I learned this the hard way. The first time I traveled internationally with Liv, she was 8 months old. We flew from Japan to San Diego, and I had no idea what I was doing. This was the first time I had flew or even traveled alone with Liv, and it was all trial and error. I took notes on what worked for us, and what did not. What did not work was checking our Bob Stroller. Terrible idea. I put Liv in the oversized jogging stroller, while dragging our giant 75 pound luggage bag behind me, and an infant carseat in a TSA approved travel bag (backpack style) on my back (also a great Amazon find!). It was heavy and obnoxious. Oh, and at every customs stop, you have to take the baby out of the car seat, fold the stroller, place the stroller on the conveyer belt to scan, all while holding the baby, then place all luggage on the belt, unpack the diaper bag because, snacks, then take you and baby though security, just to get to the end of customs to unfold stroller and repack the diaper bag. Oh, and they dont give you much time to do this. There will be a very long line of tired and angry people behied you, if you were to take your time. There is an easier way, and here is what I learned the second time around. Strap baby to you so you have free range to move around through customs, and layovers. If you have to travel with a stroller, the POCKIT travel stroller will be a life saver. It even folds into a tiny square to fit inside of the overhead compartment above your seat. Thie was also another Amazon find. This will come in handy for toddlers up to three years old as well. I love this stroller, and when Liv grew out of it, I donated it to another mama who was traveling solo with her little one. We both agreed, this was perfect for traveling with! You don’t even need to check it because of how perfectly sized it is, so baby can remain inside while walking around the airports during layovers.
Number five; “The extra” stuff. If you are staying with family, try and send all hygiene products to your destination a week before your trip. Do not travel with them. You need that extra room for clothing, diapers, or even to make your luggage a little lighter. I use Target or Amazon to send all shampoos and body washes, straight to wherever I am staying. Keep your luggage light and organized because heaven forbid Customs has to break open your suitcase, because they saw your curling iron as a threat and needed to investigate it ( true story) so they dumped it. Do not expect them to put anything back nicely either. Diaper bags as well. Get one specifically for traveling. A lot of compartments and side pockets! You will fill them all, trust me.
Last but not least. If you have to travel with an infant, call your airline after you book your flight to request the baby bassinet. You will get more space for you and baby, and your little one will be able to relax and sleep during the journey! This is something a lot of parents did not know! There is usually only one or two of these on a flight, so request it quick.
Traveling solo with a child will be stressful, but the more you do it, the better at it you get. It will be rough at first but take notes on what worked, and what you could do better next time. Like anything, it takes practice, but I can honestly say after three years of traveling with Livvy, its actually getting a little easier when it comes to the process.
There is a lot I am leaving out but I wanted to keep this topic simple and light so, if you have any other questions or need any advice on this topic, please leave a comment or email me, and I will get back to you!
Thanks for reading!