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Hey friends! I recently had a flashback post from my Italy trip so I figured it would be a great opportunity to share some insight on how to travel to Italy with a toddler.
See that picture right there, that’s my 1-year-old having a great time in Italy!
While he’s having a blast there, running around freely in front of the Colosseum in Rome, I have to be completely honest with you…I was kind of nervous to travel with him overseas. We had traveled to Jamaica when he was 7 months old so it’s not like we were strangers to traveling with a little one. What was my fear? Maybe it was thinking about the hustle and bustle of each day, knowing we would want to do a lot of sight seeing. Or him not being willing to sit for a long period of time especially on the airplane. I just wasn’t sure how he would react and I gotta tell you, I was worried for abso.lute.ly.nothing.
If you’re anything like me, worried or over-thinking, I want you stop right now. Going prepared is the major solution to overcoming your fears and I’m going to provide my personal insight on traveling with a small kid, how to be prepared early on and what must-haves you should buy. Although this post features insight direct from Italy this can be applied to any travel in the U.S. or overseas.
Here is a checklist of the items that played a major role in every smooth day from sight seeing to relaxing.
1. Car Seat and Car Seat Bag.
Let’s get the hard stuff out the way. To bring a car seat or to not bring a car seat is the million dollar question. This was one of the things my husband and I weren’t sure of originally. Some sites said don’t bother while other sites said absolutely bring one, but gave no additional helpful information. We thought about if we brought a car seat, who would hold it? Who would hold the baby? Who’s going to get the luggage? Oomph, it was a lot to think about! In the end, we decided to bring the car seat especially because we weren’t only staying in Rome, we had plans to visit multiple locations which required long car rides and bringing the car seat was one of the best decisions.
Travel Tip: Italians are fast drivers. I didn’t know how fast everyone drove in Italy, but when I got there, I had an eye-opening experience! If you’re going anywhere by car, bring a car seat.
So how do you hold the car seat and all that other stuff?
Traveling with a stroller, car seat and luggage in the airport is no easy feat, and that’s why you need this car seat bag. It comes with enough space to fit pretty much any car seat and equipped with a handle, two backpack straps and wheels. Depending on who’s carrying it, you have two options to get through the airport quickly. Certain airlines usually check this at the gate and if you’re not checking a bag, this can be checked for free. A extra tidbit about this is if you have overage in your luggage, you can throw it in here as a option so you don’t have to pay the extra fee!
Since this car seat bag comes with wheels, you maneuver the stroller while this car seat bag is wheeled behind you or if you can manage, you can carry it on your back.
This stroller (pics below) was a $50 lifesaver. It’s an umbrella-style stroller with a little extra cushion and space at the bottom to put some items for the day. I used Baby Trend’s Snap & Go car seat for when my son was a newborn, so when I saw this on amazon, I already trusted it. I heard of the the foldable-carry-in a bag stroller, but I couldn’t see myself paying $250 for a stroller just to take for vacations. You don’t want to bring your best stroller with you that will get thrown around and beat up and God-forbid lost. Take a cheap-y stroller with you on the go, that can easily be replaced. I used Baby Trend Rocket Stroller for 7 days in Italy and it still works to this day. The wheels especially was able to take a beating from the cobblestone streets that are all over Rome and Sorrento. There really wasn’t anything assembly instructions except for maybe snapping the wheels on, other than that, it was super easy and self-explanatory to use.
Here we are traveling in style on our day trip to the Vatican!
Babies sleep on planes. Lots of them enjoy the recycled cool breeze that filters through the plane. Or the soft humming of the engine that acts as a lullaby until they’re sound asleep. When they’re up and wide awake, they may be curious to look around and want to play. These are some recommendations of the things we used to entertain our one year old!
Does your child love a certain ABC video or numbers learning channel? Download a few and take that with you. Another option is to have tons of home recordings of your kid playing, laughing, having fun at the park, etc, it’ll keep them entertained like they’re watching a movie! Not only is it awesome while on the go, if you’re out of wifi range, this little entertainment hack will keep him or her quiet for a while and won’t cost you any extra data. Just keep your phone charged up with a portable phone charger.
Kids love toys and flashcards! Even if they can’t read yet, it’s a teachable moment while being on a plane or waiting for a layover at the airport even through town.
You can have a variety of English ones! In retrospect I would have gotten Italian ones too! “When in Rome” right? lol.
Bring a few of their favorite toys that they already own. Sometimes traveling with something familiar is a good way to keep your baby comfortable throughout the whole trip and that’s the best thing you can do.
Items to Bring:
– ABC Flashcards
– Favorite toy from home
– Small books like this one or this one
Something for you:
I’m a total advocate of trying to speak the language of the country I’m visiting. Even if it’s a few phrases, embracing the culture is amazing. I used this book while on the go, especially in the markets and at restaurants! It’s really fun.
One of the reasons why we chose Italy was because of their food. I know, it’s kind of silly, but I plan destinations based on what authentic flavors I’m ready to try. Second, but might even be more important, was what I thought my son would love. He was at the phase “I’ll eat anything if its pasta and sauce,” so I figured Italy would be a great place to visit for him and us! The food is pretty safe in general, nothing too spicy, no weird combinations, just al dente noodles and pasta sauce with garlic bread. And of course tons of pizza.
Some of the markets like the one we went to Carrefour (Via dei Santi Quattro 53, 00184 Rome Italy) everyday, have fresh squeezed orange juice, fresh produce and a bakery in the back that you grab and go to make more of your day if you’re not up to sit down for breakfast. It was right by our villa in Rome and it was opened 24/7, which is always good just in case you need anything late night.
Travel Tip: Just so you know, when you buy fruits and veggies in Italy, you have to weigh them yourself and get the little sticky printout to pay at the register.
If your baby drinks formula, one thing to note is that Italy has a LOT of mineral water. Almost everything is written in Italian so make sure you’re aware of what you’re picking up. If your baby drinks formula that requires water, most likely you’ll be giving him or her mineral water, just make sure its not sparkling mineral water. If you’re not comfortable with that, try packing a few bottled waters, but just note that it’ll way your luggage down more which leads to overage!
Pasta, noodles, gelato, delicious goodness is at every turn in every street in Italy. Your kid will have lots of fun trying new flavor profiles so bring plastic forks and bowls if they can feed themselves! Making them feel independent is a plus.
These Re-Play cups are perfect for toddlers. The stoppers that comes with it keeps liquids from spilling out! I use this all the time for travel and having a packs of 2-3 is perfect for day trips. Not to mention, they’re BPA, Phthalate, PVC and Melamine free!
Grabbing some fruits and pastries at the market!
Pack a lot. Figure out how much your child uses approx per day, then add a extra 2-3 to that. My son used about 7 diapers a day, but I ended up bringing 9 per day. Yeah I know, a lot of freaking diapers. 9(diapers per day) x 7(days we were in Italy) = 63 diapers packed in a carry-on. Worst case scenario, you can always buy more, but note that it may be different diapers from what you’re used to. On the go, you want to throw out any diapers you might have had to change in the car, on the plane, etc. These disposable diaper bags are a sanitary way to keep used diapers from touching anything else. Because they’re such a small thing, they can be easily forgotten about so don’t forget to add these!
Use overnight diapers for the travel because they have extra protection against wetness. You never know how long you’ll be waiting to find a bathroom. This tip will help with prevent him or her wetting through their clothes.
6. The Carry-On Bag.
Many people want to get rid of as many bags as possible as soon as they step foot into an airport. After having multiple experiences with luggage ending up in another destination or being left behind, I always pack a carry-on. I personally think ever smart traveler does. In the carry on should be all the essentials that your child can’t be without and that you most likely won’t find at an Italian market. Also, a few changes of clothes for you. This way if your luggage gets lost, you still can change your outfit a couple times until the luggage arrives or until you give in and go shopping.
7. Mommy Backpack Purse.
If you want a lifesaver for any trip, a backpack purse is definitely a win. Nix the diaper bag! Whether you need to fix your lipstick or grab a wipe, a backpack purse is the way to go. It replaces the need for a diaper bag for baby and a separate purse for you. I personally used a backpack purse from Target and although it was a bit on the smaller side, it totally worked. When I get ready to head to a new destination, I’ll either use the one I have or upgrade to a bigger one. Depending on how sporty you are, I also like the idea of a regular backpack too. Either way, you want to just have all your goods, extra diapers, change of clothes and snacks on hand.
Here’s a few links that have similar stylish backpack bags that can be worn without jacking your style or breaking the bank!
Packing clothes for kids is no easy feat which is why I sort items weeks before. I like to be on my A-game, so I don’t forget anything. It’s easy to say “I’m gonna do it later” and then totally forget about it! And trust me, I know first hand how easy it is to forget the smallest thing when you have to pack for yourself and also your baby and not to mention double checking with your husband to see if he remembered to pack his dopp kit. Lol. You guys know what I mean….
I know, documents. This is the boring part, but ultra important. I like to have all my items packed neatly in a document holder. In the document holder should be the passports and airline tickets. If you’re connecting flights having everyone’s together in one location saves time and keeps everything organized.
When you’re traveling with a kid, you definitely need a passport. Usually they ask who the mother is, so it’s probably easier to have Mom holding the baby as you go through security and customs.
Before I go, I just want to say there is so much to see and do in Italy. If you’ve never been, with all the new surroundings, there will be so much interesting things that you’ll be excited about! I was! And my son, he fed off that energy. As long as I packed extra snacks, stopped at the bakery in the mornings to get some bread or danishes that I knew he would like, we were totally fine! Leave any questions in the comments below!
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