|A little nervous but hopeful about flying with Finn|
|In the Elmo zone|
#1a. Kid-sized headphones. Because I didn't think everyone else on the plane wanted to hear Elmo (and this includes me). I also tried to get him used to these before we left and they were pretty successful. I downloaded some of Finn's favorite kids music (we love Elizabeth Mitchell) to my phone as well and listening to music was a good activity. We had these: Califone First Stereo Headphones
|First 100 Words Book|
#2. Books. Books are the best way besides technology to keep Finn's attention for any decent amount of time, but I didn't want to lug a whole stack of them in our suitcase. The two that we brought were jam-packed with stuff on every page so that reading them took a long time. They were First 100 Words and Fisher-Price Lift-the-Flap Let's Go to the Zoo. Again, I introduced them to him a couple of days before we left so that he was already interested in them when I pulled them out on the plane. Books and stickers are key for takeoff and landing when you can't have the almighty iPhone out. Make sure they are accessible for that time.
#3. Stickers and other stuff that sticks. I don't think Finn has reached his full sticker amazement phase, but he likes them okay. He played with each of these for awhile. Ultimate Sticker Book: Animals, Monkey Band-Aids, and a roll of blue painter's tape.
#4. A pack of glow in the dark bracelets and necklaces that link together. I found these in the $1 section at Target for $2.50 (I KNOW). We made a big loop of them and put it on Finn, on me, on his dad, etc etc and it killed a lot of time. You do have to watch them carefully (I don't know how else you could watch them when they are sitting on your lap) because the connector pieces are small and they shouldn't put the glow sticks in their mouths, but I felt fine about it.
#5. A big bang for the buck toy. Another great recommendation from MODG, the Melissa & Doug Three Little Pigs Play Set filled up a lot of time on the plane. There are three pigs to take in and out (and in and out and in and out) of the houses, and a wolf that actually huffs and puffs when you squeeze him. The whole set is easily squashed into a carry-on.
#6. Don't forget the snacks. We had Annie's Organic Cheddar Bunnies, Jammy Sammies, Happy Melts, dried pineapple, and the big guns: lollipops. I packed snacks in little ziploc bags inside a big ziploc bag and stashed them in our carryon. I also packed an identical ziploc for the return flight (so key not to forget this!) and a few extras for during our week of travel in our checked luggage. Don't forget a sippy/straw cup (I almost did).
#7. What didn't work for us: he wasn't interested in the Color Wonder Marker Set or the Ring of First Word Cards. I thought they were cool, but Finn didn't.
|Skycot, I love you|
|Snoozing in Heathrow during a layover|
5. Ditching the stroller can be a great idea. We used our Uppababy G-Lite (learn from me and get the way better G-Luxe instead) stroller in all of the airports, but while traveling around Italy we used a backpack style carrier exclusively (we have and love this one: phil&teds Escape Baby Carrier). I would STRONGLY recommend having a way to carry/wear your child, either a Bjorn or Ergo/Beco style carrier or a backpack, depending on their size. This allowed us to go up and down stairs, weave through crowds, and cross busy streets so much more easily and safely than with a stroller. Finn napped in it all around Italy, which allowed us freedom from having to take breaks in the day without getting him too far off of a decent nap schedule. It was great for him to be up high where he could actually see whatever cool thing we were touring a little better. Another awesome perk to the carrier we have is that there is a lot of easily accessible storage space for stashing baby stuff, your stuff, and even two cup holders. We typically didn't carry any other bag with us. All this said, the one drawback to the backpack carrier was that it was really too heavy for me to carry. Hubs took on 100% of the toddler-carrying responsibility, including during an intense 3-hour hike in Cinque Terre, and up all 463 steps up to the top of the Duomo in Florence. He didn't complain once, for which he should win a medal.
|Vatican Museum- not a toddler favorite.|
6. Travel with a kid is definitely a different experience, but seeing new stuff through your toddler's eyes is worth the hassle. We planned our trip much differently than we would have a couple of years ago. We only had one day heavy on museum type sightseeing (and it was definitely the hardest to get Finn through), we took everything at a much more leisurely pace, and we spent more time just running around in parks or enjoying downtime after dinner. I firmly believe that the key to enjoying travel in general is having a huge amount of flexibility when things don't go as planned, and never is this true more than when kids are involved. But if you're willing to shift your perspective just a bit, I think you'll be rewarded as we were with an amazing experience. We showed Finn how to throw coins in the Trevi Fountain, he ran around and became fascinated with the larger than life angels inside St. Peter's Church, and he splashed in the water in one of the most beautiful towns I've ever seen in Cinque Terre. We made the coolest memories traveling for the first time as a family of three and I love that we were able to show Finn a different part of the world, even if he won't have clear memories of it (we'll be sure to show him lots of pictures when he's older).
|Running around in Vernazza|
|Inside St. Peter's Church|
|Swimming in Manarola|
MODG - 5 Steps to a Successful Flight with a Toddler
Delicious Baby - Travel Tips
elefantitas alegres - International Travel with an Infant
Tulip Family Travels - Packing a Toddler's Airplane Carry-on Bag