I think this called for a post on its own for we have learned so much about traveling with a toddler this trip. Ain’t no expert but would love to share our experience and document this trip down. Obviously, if there are other tips that you lovely readers would love to share, I would be most happy to hear them out. :)
Flying with a toddler:
When the Man booked our Europe (Geneva/ Italy) trip earlier this year, we didn’t quite know what to expect. We had travelled with Bubba since she was 3 months small to Tokyo and then to Phuket plus Perth. The first trip was daunting especially my solo flight up to Tokyo but we survived. The subsequent trips, she had done fairly well. But a trip on a plane for close to 12 hours? Alarm bells ringing for CABIN FEVER for a bubbling toddler. YIKES, what were we thinking of?
Our flight out to Zurich was about 1am, so we put Bubba off to bed and headed off to the airport at about 11pm. I strapped her in my Tula and off we went in a cab. She did continue sleeping before waking up at 11.30 pm slightly buzzed from the flurry of activity.
During take-off, she was curious about the surroundings but thankfully, could manage to sit still after I conned her with some DHA vitamin sweets. An hour lapsed after take-off and she felt a little tired, so I managed to put her to bed and she slept for about 5 1/2 hours straight! Woo hoo… Mama here managed to get some rest as well. Thereafter, she was contented to run up and down the aisles in the dark plus make friends with other babies/ toddlers on the flight. She didn’t quite enjoy her in-flight meal made up of mashed peas, potatoes and eggs but she did try cornflakes with milk for the first time and loved it.
Lessons learned? We decided not to use the bassinet and let Bubba sit with me instead. On our flight up to Zurich, we are thankful that she fell asleep quite quickly but she did experience some cabin fever when she woke up. We loaded her up with snacks and food to keep her duly occupied. Letting her run up and down the aisle (with adult supervision as you don’t wish to disturb the other passengers) also help burn off some of her restless energy. On our flight back, as there was a time difference, she was pretty much wide awake for most of the flight while both the Man and I were dead-tired. So we tried to confine her in as little a space that we possibly could and let her expend her energy by climbing up and down the seats.
If all else fails and if your baby wails, then tune out the dagger stares. That’s what we did when whatever we did could not please nor satisfy Bubba. We just let her cry it out and after she felt much better, she then either slept or did whatever she felt like doing.
Adjusting to a new time-zone:
In Geneva, the meltdowns happened. She was fussing at mealtimes or rather slept through dinner time. When we woke her up, she unleashed her angry cries and refused to open her mouth for any form of food. Nice dinners originally planned for were difficult to execute as we tried to calm an angry toddler who at the end of the day just wanted to sleep.
Lessons learned on toddler’s meltdowns during sleep-time: Don’t wake a sleeping baby! It may take a while for their body-clock to adjust to a new time-zone. Bubba also woke us up at about 3am and then again at 4-5am two consecutive days in a row. We tried to minimise any form of excitement when she woke up in the wee hours of the morning, so we usually gave her a bottle of milk and then let her babble for a bit. After an hour or so, she would usually feel tired and then head off to bed on her own.
Moving around and sight-seeing:
Even though we were just in Geneva and Italy, we moved around quite a fair bit in Italy from Florence> Siena> Borgo> Milan> Asti> Milan by car. When it came to exploring the towns and places, we travelled by foot and put Bubba on her Zen Yoyo (which we love to bits because it’s lightweight and easy to fold up).
On good days, the little Missy would be cooperative and sit happily in her stroller for a bit. On days where she gets restless (case in point in below pic), she would be fussing and screaming for Daddy to let her out of her stroller.
A point to note is that traveling to Europe can also be slightly tricky because most of the streets in the older parts of Europe tend to be cobbled stone which means that it may not be that comfy a ride for our lightweight stroller. It may also be difficult to navigate the winding and tiny streets with our stroller and a toddler who only wants to run around instead of being strapped in her seat. So, we are also glad that the Man and I brought along our baby carriers on the trip.
When it was all wet and rainy in Siena, we ditched the stroller in the hotel, loaned umbrellas, strapped Bubba into the Man’s Boba Air Carrier and explored the quaint city by foot.
In Alba, when Bubba was simply too tired having skipped her naps, I was glad I brought my Tula and baby-wore her to sleep when she got too cranky. It took a while but she eventually took her nap leaving the Man and I to have our lunch using both of our hands. Phew!
Eating out with a toddler:
Now, let’s go on to my fave part of the trip – mealtimes with Bubba!
Mealtimes are sacred because the Man and I, we both love our food to bits! Bubba, on the other hand, well, I think she lost weight during the trip from not eating her meals consistently. The first couple of days were tough, largely due to the time-difference and she was more interested in sleeping.
During mealtimes, we still brought her along with us but fed her bits of whatever we ate. From bread, to vegetable sticks to pasta to fish, she just picked on the food.
For breakfast, we found out that she has taken to cornflakes, so that was her staple at the hotels which we stayed in. She enjoyed picking them off from her bowl or feeding herself with a little spoon when we poured in some milk along with them.
For her lunch and dinner, as we dined out most of the time, we got the restaurants to help whip up a small portion of pasta. She has no love for the plain old pasta with tomato sauce, it was a tad bit too sour for her but pasta with ragu, that she lapped up the dish quite happily. Once she got sick of this dish, we found out she loved ravioli with a simple chicken/ vegetable soup stock.
On days where she didn’t feel like eating, meaning whatever we tried to feed her simply ended up on the floor or she protested in tears on her high-chair. We resorted to tanking her up with her milk. She’s currently still on Bellamy’s Organics Stage 2 (which has more nutrients/ vitamins) and gulps her milk down like a Milk Monster, so we weren’t too particularly worried about starving her. Plus, during the trip, she had learned to verbalised her wants which took us by surprise! When we asked her if she wants milk, she would nod her head or say Yes if she really wanted milk.
As for baby chairs, we brought along a portable one that folds up and fits nicely into our diaper bag. In restaurants that don’t have baby chairs, we simply whip this cloth chair and turn a normal one into one that Bubba can nicely sit in for us to feed her. We also brought along a whole bunch of disposable bibs for our travel. While we love our pretty bibs, it’s also a pain to wipe and wash them every night. So for travel, we just use these and trash them once Bubba is done with her meals.
Well, its not that bad travelling with Bubba. The first part of the trip was kinda challenging initially as we tried to figure out her schedule. At some of the meals that we had where she had a total meltdown, we couldn’t help but feel frustrated as nothing we did could pacify her. Yes, we did succumb to dishing out our iPhones and iPads loaded with her fave nursery rhymes to keep her from screaming. Once we figured out how she clicked, we just changed our strategy. Instead of an early dinner, we headed out for a late dinner (at about 8.30pm). Once we gave her her milk feed, dressed her up in her jammies and she went to bed. That’s when us as parentals went out to party! We did a few nice dinners towards the end of the trip while Bubba snoozed in her stroller. Cheers to that!
So, YAY, we survived our 2 week holiday with Bubba in tow. It wasn’t easy but we had a blast hanging out with her nearly 24/7 during the 2 weeks.
Next up, a winter holiday in Japan to usher in 2016! Wish us luck!