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Traveling Overseas with a Toddler

With the holidays approaching, my husband and I are actively searching for affordable winter flights to go visit family in Europe. As usual, we are hoping to find a good deal but this year with an emphatically verbal and bouncy  three-year-old, we are looking especially at flight patterns with reasonable layovers and ideal sleeping hours in the sky. We have had lots of adventures on our trips overseas from a six-hour long stop in Amsterdam to a missed connection in Istanbul that luckily afforded us an opportunity to stay the night at a five star downtown hotel. International flights before baby were more about cheapest fares but now they are about managing the attention span and unwavering demands of a toddler.

In my experience traveling with child, there are various stages that each bring about their own challenges. Flying pregnant for me was dominated by in-and-out nausea while flying with a newborn was controlled by breastfeeding during departures and arrivals. Getting a one-year-old to fall asleep in the mounted bassinet definitely required its own skill set and running through airline terminals with a potty training tot was full of theatrics and extra heavy carry-on luggage. During the last ten hour airborne voyage, our super moody Energizer Bunny spent seven of them entertaining passengers with games of peek-a-boo as I tried to keep him from waking up Daddy.

Here are my tips for keeping your jets cool as your toddler steers your nerves at 40,000 feet:

Books. Picture books, short stories, activity and coloring books, magazines, even the flight instruction manuals will do! Visual aids are crucial for kids not just to spark their imaginations but keep them seated and distracted during shifts in altitude. Many carriers like Turkish Airlines offer kids fun packs full of everything from slippers and toiletries to magazines and miniature airplanes. However, having a small collection of your child's favorites is recommended.

Games. Electronics are almost requisite when it comes to family travel items but apps and YouTube may be limited to wifi availability. Memory sticks or other portable hard drives are essential when you need to quiet down a sleep deprived and irritable child.

Snacks. Traveling through different countries brings about a variety of cuisine. While airline meals may be met with curiosity, this interest can quickly change to resistance. To avoid a food fight, pack some of your child's favorite easy meals such as macaroni or chicken fingers.

Travel Gear. Before you finally reach the airport exit, your international journey may include long waits at customs and baggage claim. Keep your kiddo involved with a super cool piece of luggage.

Kids Luggage

1. Skip Hop Zoo Little Kid Rolling Luggage $29.99
2. Travelpro Minions Kid's Hard Side Luggage $39.99
3. American Tourister Disney 18 inch Upright Softside $39.99
4. American Tourister Disney 18 inch Upright Hard Side $50.39
5. Stephen Joseph Little Boys' Rolling Luggage $39.99
6. iFLY Luggage Hello Kitty 22 inch Hard Sided Carry-On Luggage $79.00

Are you planning an upcoming family trip?