My husband and I were living in London when our twins were born and were able to travel to Norway, Greece, the US, Wales and Ireland before we began our journey home in Feb 05 when they were 10 months old. We had always wanted to travel to Australia and New Zealand, so on our way back to the US we took three months off and flew around the world stopping in Singapore, Australia and New Zealand.
We spent the majority of our time in Australia and New Zealand renting motor homes (camper vans) and driving around the coastline. It was a great experience and we learned much from our adventures traveling with the girls. Here are a few points to consider:
• If possible, try to plan your flight times around your children’s schedule. If they are more awake and playful in the morning, fly in the morning. (Avoid nap times when they are more likely to be cranky.)
• If you are traveling to a time zone that is significantly different than your home time zone, start moving your children to that time zone a week in advance. For instance, when traveling to Phoenix (8 hours behind London) we started keeping the girls up an hour later each night a week before and by the time we arrived, they were barely phased by the time difference. We did this when we traveled to the US when they were 7 months old.
• Pack a carry-on bag just for the children to include extra food and bottles, (in case of delays, etc.), medicines, toys, cleaning supplies, extra clothes, extra utensils, etc. It pays to take more – one of our girls got diarrhea on the flight from London to Singapore (12 hour flight) and went through 8 pairs of pajamas.
• Be aware that your child(ren) may behave differently than they normally do as they are not in their normal surroundings. On our flight from Sydney to LA (14 hours), one of our girls peed whenever we were changing her diaper – something she had rarely ever done before and not a coincidence as she did it at least 5 times. Easily caught by keeping a diaper under her, but we went through our supplies quickly.
• While on an extended holiday, buy travel high chairs. We had two that could pack flat and fit into a suitcase easily. These were helpful when high chairs were not readily available in restaurants or homes we were visiting. (As well as in the camper van or at picnic tables at our camp sites.)
• Ask the flight attendants when you get on board if they have extra supplies of anything you might need – diapers, baby food, bottles of water, etc. – just in case.
• If you have infants or young toddlers, make sure to have a bottle, drink or pacifier ready for takeoff and landing to help ease the pressure on their ears. Likewise, feed your child before getting on the plane or just before landing to avoid tantrums during those periods where your movement is restricted.
• Request the bulk head seats to minimize the number of people around you as well as the distractions for your children. For overseas travel, most international airlines will supply a sleeping bassinet or car-seat type carrier to provide a place for infants to sleep.
• Contact your medical insurance company to understand what needs to be done if you have a medical emergency or situation in the place you are visiting. Buy supplemental insurance if necessary. Carry all medical information with you.
• If you are traveling to a place where English is not the native language, take the relevant foreign language dictionary with you and read through to understand where you would need to go if you needed items for your children. Travel books are helpful in explaining where you would go to find the things you may need as not all stores carry the same types of products as they do in the US. (Lonely Planet is a good travel book for practical advice.)
• Make arrangements at your destination, before you leave, for car seats as well as pack and plays (travel cots) as they may not be available when you arrive. Many online reservations may not allow you to enter more than one car seat, etc. so send an email to customer service or call to confirm.
• For infants, be sure to pack a bottle brush, sanitization tablets, disinfecting cloths and wipes, or buy some when you get there. Infant carriers that you can pack into your suitcase can be helpful as well.
• Buy a blow-up bathtub if you are concerned about the cleanliness of the bathing facilities where you are staying.
• Pack plenty of storage containers for food, formula, etc.
Not all of these may be relevant depending on your destination and length of travel, but we found these hints helpful in our travels, and hope they’ll help you too! Please share any Smarty travel tips you have! Happy travels:-)