People have all kinds of reasons for postponing parenthood. Whether it's building a career, saving up enough of a nest egg or traveling the world - I've heard them all. After traveling on 34 flights and to four countries with our son before he turned two, I can confidently help you cross the former excuse off your list. You can travel the world with kids - and it's pretty fun!
There are, however, some tricks to making the task more enjoyable. People thought we were either crazy or brave for traveling to Australia and New Zealand for three weeks with our toddler. After doing a lot of research before our trip, and making a few mistakes along the way, here are the tips I found most useful.
Backpack: Leave the single shoulder strap diaper bag at home and invest in a good backpack. With all the moving around, you'll need both of your hands free. Plus, walking down the narrow aisles of the airplane is so much easier with a backpack. For a list of my favorite backpacks for moms, read my post on upgrading your diaper bag.
Wap Wap Inflatable Pillow: Basically, this turns the airline seat into a bed for your child so they aren't sleeping on your lap. With the extra legroom, you'll actually be able to get some oh-so-necessary rest (or perhaps catch up on your favorite Netflix series...what a luxury).
Melatonin Gummies: Instead of Benadryl, I opted for Zarbee's melatonin gummies. Our doctor approved the dose prior to our trip (we gave him half a gummy). It worked like a charm and our son slept for 12 hours of the 14.5 hour flight to Sydney. Please note: I am not a medical professional, so please get this approved by your pediatrician before using.
Car Seat Alternatives: It was such a relief to not have to lug a car seat around. We rented car seats when we rented cars, but opted for The Ride Safer Travel Vest for $159 when taking taxi's around town. It is certified for use in motor vehicles in the Unites States and meets all applicable Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards 213 requirements. Depending on the size or age of your child, this may or may not be an option (your child must be at least 30 pounds to use The Ride Safer Travel Vest). It fit underneath our stroller, making it super convenient to explore new cities.
Air BNB: Having a second bedroom was necessary for a three week vacation. When our son went down for the night, we were able to enjoy a glass of wine looking out over the city (or vineyards depending on where we were). We also took advantage of having a kitchen by making a quick breakfast before we ventured out for the day.
Leave the Pack-n-Play at Home: Instead of lugging a 30 lb pack-n-play (called a portacot down under), we stayed at Air BNB homes that provided this for us. It was so nice not to set it up and break it down every time we moved cities.
iPad: We do not let our son have screen time. We made an exception on this trip. After all, 14.5 hours on a flight with a 2-year-old sounds daunting without some kind of electronic babysitter. We downloaded educational videos from LeapFrop's Amazing Alphabet Amusement Park, Numbers Ahoy, Adventures in Shapeville Park, and a few episode's from Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood. It worked like a charm. It was such a luxury for him, he was transfixed while we were able to enjoy wine tastings and fancy dinners like we used to pre-baby.
Note: Don't make the same mistake we did - download SD videos. We downloaded these videos in HD for Hawaii two months before our trip to Australia and New Zealand. The HD versions would only play when connected to WiFi (which defeated the purpose for us).
Enroll in TSA pre-check: It literally took a total of 20 minutes; 5 minutes to fill out the online form and book an appointment, and 15 minutes at the appointment. It has saved us SO much time at the airport. Shorter lines, keeping our shoes on, computers in bags, etc. It's so worth it!
Separate your liquids: Remove baby bottles, sippy cups and apple sauces from your diaper bag. If you leave them in the diaper bag, they have to check every pocket and it just takes longer.
Leave juice boxes at home: Avoid bringing juice boxes through security, unless you want a full pat down. I'm talking, up in your business, no boundaries, frisking. No thanks!
Lastly and most importantly, have a glass (or two) of wine and enjoy yourself. While your trip may not go exactly as planned (let's be real, you have to allow time for the occasional meltdown and blowout), you will have adventures you never would have had before kids.
Disclaimer: I may or may not receive a small percentage of any sales made from this post. These recommendations were made after endless hours of online comparative research. I hope they help you with your travels.