My first trip with my baby was when she was only 1-month old. We drove to Baguio for a four-day trip. Since we had our car, I figured we could bring everything, just to be sure we had what our baby needed. But that trip taught me that there were things I didn't have to lug all the way to Baguio, and there were things I could just buy to minimize bulk and weight of our load.
When my baby was 10 months old, we went to Japan, which was so much more challenging! Apart from having to pack lighter, I had to make sure my baby was comfortable in the airport, the airplane, the hotel and during the bus tours. I also unlocked an achievement: changing my daughter's poop-filled diaper in the small aircraft lavatory!
For my daughter's first birthday, we decided to celebrate in Boracay. By then, I was more confident about air travel. But I had new challenges: the boat ride to the resort and making sure my baby would enjoy and be safe at the beach.
In between these long travels, our family would spend alternate weekends at my parents’ and my in-laws’ places. Packing for a weekend with your toddler is like packing for an out-of-town trip!
I learned a lot from my mistakes from these trips, and here's a that might help you avoid them, whether your trip is by air, land or sea.
1. When riding a plane, have your toddler drink from the bottle or make them suck on hard candy during take-off and landing, so their ears don’t hurt.
2. It is essential to prepare to keep your kid “entertained” during travel time — may it be for a long flight or just a brief drive. Even 30 minutes of travel time could feel like an eternity with a fussy and crying baby. Bring toys and snacks to keep your toddler from being bored. You can also prepare a music playlist. Include songs that are familiar to your toddler, whether it's for playtime or sleep.
3. If your toddler is not too heavy and you're traveling by air, it's better just to use a carrier rather than a stroller. You can check in the stroller so that you don’t have to worry about it while waiting to board.
4. Make sure you have a rain cover for your stroller in case it rains especially on tours. We didn't get to use our stroller at all when we were in Japan because it rained almost every day.
5. If you have bottles to sterilize, buy Milton sterilizing tablets. Most hotels don't have microwaves so that microwavable sterilizers will be useless. They’re very bulky too!
6. Do not forget to bring sunblock for babies, mainly if you will be mostly outdoors. Make sure to apply sunscreen every two to three hours until about 4:00 pm.
7. Do you need to bring everything or can you just buy what you need? Before traveling, check if there are pharmacies or convenience stores near the place where you are staying. Whether it’s diapers, snacks, water, it can make your bags bulky if you try to bring everything. Pack just enough for your travel time and then buy what you need when you get to your destination.
8. Unlike adults, toddlers might not be able to use the soap and shampoo provided in hotels. Bring their lotion, shampoo and body wash but transfer them to small watertight bottles. Make sure you bring enough for the entire trip.
9. Bring two pairs of shoes for your toddler — one to wear during travel and a spare pair in the bag. Toddlers tend to lose a shoe, especially during tours! At least your toddler can keep walking around while you are desperately looking for the lost shoe.
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10. If land travel is long, be prepared to have a lot of stopovers. Toddlers can get fussy when cooped up in a car for too long.
11. Pack an extra set of clothes for yourself! Spillage will happen. And there’s always the danger of getting poop on your top while you're changing your baby’s diaper.
12. Pack a portable bidet or a spray bottle, so that it will be easier to clean your toddler when you're aboard a plane or when you're on tour.
Traveling with a toddler can be stressful, but the joy of it all outweighs the difficulties! I find myself looking forward to our next trips, and I can't imagine going on a trip without my daughter.