My son Adam is now 7 months old and he has already travelled to South America and Europe (soon to the Middle East).
I think is important for me to write about my experience of travelling with an infant overseas because before I did it myself it seemed like a scary and difficult thing to do. I did lots of research about what to take, all the essentials, and the things that look nice but are useless at the end. Well, for me, none of that research helped until I went for it and took Adam away.
He is actually a very good plane traveller. He falls asleep as soon as we get on the plane, and that is great because he is not bothered by anything during the flight, except for the pilot or flight attendant’s announcements. For that situation we got a set of earphones he can use during the flights, and helps him sleep all the way.
What to pack? We decided to take all the needed during the next three days to give plenty of time to settle, so we could get more once in Italy. We took pampers, baby food, powder milk, and all the essentials inside his diaper bag like nail scissors, baby oil (he just uses the Yogis oil), his soap, favorite toys, books, and clothes.
Europe is not a continent designed for babies in general. Everything is old, and maintains the special character with roads made with stones, lots of stairs, houses without lifts, small spaces, and toilets without changing tables for babies. Because we have already been in Italy several times it was easy for us to have a good look at the best places to stay, because we designed a trip stopping several days in different cities, and a Mediterranean cruise (really important to read tips for travelling with an infant on a cruise). We booked our apartments directly with www.holidaylettings.com, and got great places in excellent locations near the main attractions. Travelling with an infant to Europe needs to be carefully reviewed as you can end getting frustrated and upset choosing a noisy, small, or too old place. All the apartments we stayed at were excellent for the baby. Although the one in Venice had not got a lift, it was a fifth floor and we had to carry the stroller up and down several times. It was worth the view though.
Venice has lots of bridges and stairs, so we aware of this if you are planning to travel to this city with a stroller. It can be challenging and tiring, especially in the hot summer.
In Italy you will find plenty of baby food, and even different type of meats we loved to try for Adam, like rabbit, lamb, fish, veal, pork, and even horse meat. They also have a great powder milk that Adam loved from the beginning. Be aware of the type of vegetables you will get as some baby foods can be very hard and thick, and others soft and blended. By mistake we got one of the hard and thick ones and Adam hated it, so needed to rush back to the supermarket to get some other. His favorite vegetable baby food was from a supermarket named Coop. Italy has opening times very different than the USA, so is recommended you check the opening times and availability of baby food, as some shops do not have the essentials.
We took a cruise with Holland America line and check all the requirements and restrictions of travelling with an infant on board, and knew ahead in time Adam could not use any of the facilities in the swimming pool, as it was required children are potty trained. Adam was just 6 months old.
The cruise also lacked of facilities for babies, like baby changing stations, so we needed to rush to the room, or change him wherever it was possible inside the public toilets in very uncomfortable positions. Another interesting thing was people’s attitudes. Some people loved to be near Adam and even play with him, and some others did not bother to have the patience to be around a baby. It was interesting to see that for me, as I never experience it from the other side.
- Bring baby earphones with you on the plane as the baby will be able to sleep and relax without all the distractions
- Have plenty of diapers (even extra ones), baby wipes and oil. I also travel with a small pouch for one diaper, baby wipes and the oil, so if I need to change Adam I just take the pouch with me and no the diaper bag. Remember the plane toilet can be really small.
- An extra bottle of water to prepare more baby milk is advisable as they can drink more milk when flying. Their bodies need to hydrate to compensate the high pressure
- Ask during the check in if they have availability of bassinets. We got them in every long flight and it was amazing to be able to relax while the baby is sleeping comfortable
- I always travel with a small hand luggage with wheels besides the stroller, even if travel by myself. I like to pack extra clothes., diapers, baby wipes, and food, in case something happen and I end up without my luggage, or to wait for it. Better to make sure I have some emergency kit available in case of
- Travel light, dress comfortably, as you will have to do and undo everything from the stroller and diaper bag once in the security checks. Also carry the baby and have to get your shoes off and on again. Easy to wear shoes is the best. Take yourself some extra clothes
- Forget about those times when you used to travel alone and take a book to read it while eating something waiting for the next flight. Time flights when you are with the baby. Be grateful if you get some chance to go to the toilet yourself. I like to have Adam on my sight at all times, so I try to be efficient with my time and things that need to do
- Take an umbrella stroller with you, as comfortable and light as possible. You would lose count of the number of times you will have to fold and unfold it (I love the Bugaboo Bee)
- People are usually nice and helpful. When I travel by myself people help me with everything. Some are not very patient, but fortunately is not the norm
- Go directly to the supermarket wherever you travelled to, and get the food you will need for the following days. Try to get more than usual as the baby’s appetite might increase to compensate for all the travelling
- Protect the baby using either a good-safe sunblock and/or a comfortable hat
- Spend time with your baby explaining what is going on and where are you at the moment. They like to explore and see different things and places
- Enjoy the trip with your baby, and relax. Do not feel stressed or scared about the trip. Everything would be alright. Always carry a first aid kit with baby medicine for cold, colics, bandages, and fever. It might be very useful if anything unexpected happens
Our trip to Europe with our six months old baby (who became seven during the trip) was really great. He got used to every situation, and we feel he enjoyed it a lot.
Some good contacts:
- if you ever visit Olympia and/or Athens in Greece ask for Mr. Bettoli Francesco (+30-2621051883). He is a great tourist guide and very reliable
- In Rome Paolo Marroccu (+39-3284787442) has a wide range of accommodations available, conveniently located