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  • Writer's pictureLeslie

7 Tips to Travel Internationally With a Toddler (And Actually Have a Good Time)

Split Croatia with a Toddler Diocletian's Palace
Our daughter, exploring Diocletian's Palace in Split, Croatia

This might be controversial, but I actually love to travel internationally with a toddler. They are just so curious at this age, so you don't have to try hard to come up with creative activities to keep them entertained... because everything is fascinating! Steps? Yes please! Stones to walk along? Show me more!

They're experiencing everything for the first time and help you stop and savor the little things, like window art, pretty flowers or a special sunset.

Plus, when traveling with a toddler you can still do a lot of things YOU want to do, because so much entertains your kiddo. They're happy to come along for the ride (as long as there is room to roam), so everyone is happy.

And sure, you'll probably have meltdowns and inconvenient diaper changes, but you'd have those moments at home, anyway. So, might as well be somewhere you're excited about, right?

Here are seven ways you can make traveling internationally with a toddler even easier:

1. Take the stairs. I don’t know about you, but both of our littles LOVE climbing stairs. It gives them the biggest sense of accomplishment, and helps them get allll the wiggles out. It's kind of like toddler strength training.

Whenever we’re looking through our guidebooks, if there’s an activity that involves climbing stairs, we’re all in (of course, as long as it’s safe for them). Chances are, there’s a beautiful view at the top, too -- so, it’s a perk for everyone.

One example? Climbing the stairs to the Piazzale Michelangelo lookout in Florence, Italy. Our daughter, two at the time, was on a mission to get to that piazza. I was huffing and puffing to keep up with her!

Now, some sights (like climbing narrow bell towers) will have an age limit -- so be sure you check that online first before you attempt it. 

2. Travel to places that allow you to roam and stroll. I find it's easiest to enjoy a trip with a toddler when you can let them walk around and discover, and don't feel rushed or that you have to see every single thing. One example was our trip to Cinque Terre. We could hike in the morning (our daughter was in the carrier), and then let our daughter explore and wander in the afternoon and evenings.

Now, we did break this rule a bit in on our trip to Florence (we had a long list of museums we wanted to check out). We decided to be strategic, and plan the "must see" museum stops around nap time, when our littles were asleep. That being said, if our whole trip was visiting bustling cities like Florence, the travel experience would probably have been more stressful than we would have wanted on our vacation.

3. Don't overthink it. When traveling with little ones (especially kids under three!), chances are even simple activities will entertain them, and you can enjoy the relaxed pace (and often gorgeous surroundings) as they climb and wander... ideally with some gelato in hand. Plan your trip based on where you, personally, want to go, and likely they'll be happy to explore alongside you.

4. Stop at local grocery stores. We've found that what makes traveling with a toddler worlds easier is if we always have snacks on hand. We like to pack light, so typically we only bring enough snacks for the flight and the first day or two of the trip. Then, when we arrive at our destination, we always make sure to stop at a local grocery store to stock up on snack supplies (for a toddler, this might include squeeze pouches, snack bars, and the like). This way, you'll always have something on hand if hunger strikes. Plus, you can get diapers and wipes there, too, so you don't have to bring a suitcase-full.

5. Cut your itinerary in half. I love using guide books to get inspiration, but you don't have to do everything their itineraries suggest. Say, if they recommend packing five sights or attractions in a day, we’ll choose two, and then add in playground visits and gelato stops.

Now, you could try to see everything, but when that’s the goal it takes a lot of fun out of traveling with kids (at least in my opinion). You’re so rushed, and your kids feel hurried along (which is never fun on vacation). But when we take it easy and aim for a more pared down itinerary, everyone stays happy.

6. Stay at a hotel with a pool (at least at some point on your trip). We love booking hotels with pools when we’re traveling (it gives us peace of mind, knowing there will always be something our littles will love on the trip). Not every hotel needs to have a pool (and the pool doesn't have to be big). Your toddler will probably just like a moment to splash around and cool off.

7. Book a hotel with a balcony (or an apartment with a living room). At the end of a long travel day, nothing beats putting your little one to bed and kicking back with a beer or glass of wine on the balcony. (Ideally you've brought a monitor along, so can check on them as they snooze). While securing a scenic balcany may cost more, you can save money elsewhere (like fewer dinners and drinks out). Pro trip: Just make sure the balcony is safe for your little one during the day, or always keep the door out to the balcony locked.

So, if you're debating traveling internationally with your toddler, think of this as your nudge to start planning!



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