I’m often asked how and why I travel internationally with my little ones. The answer is simple. I cannot NOT do it . I have to see the world and I’d miss those little crazies if they weren’t with me. There’s no excuse to pushing off your international travel for when they’re old, or when you trust them, blah-blah-blah. Go now and go often. Even better if you have a child under two because their tickets only cost 10% of a full-price.
Ultimately, traveling internationally puts us on the same course as our children. We need the foreignness to feel the sense of wonderment that they perpetually live in.
You want to cross the pond with your munchkin clan? Here’s what I think you need to do.
Be a Damn Roman in Rome
Rent a home via AirBnB, your kids will start to feel more at home in an actual home. Load up on local eats at the grocery stores and markets. Afford yourself a couple of days to be a local with no agenda other than walking around and taking it all in. Get to know the city. Feel it. Watch its people. Find the parks. Tire out your kids in them. Rent a car, get the carseats. Attempt the language. Live. Explore. Eat. Drink. Pass out in your drool.
Get Passports Immediately.
Get your kids passports. Now. I don’t care if your newborn is one day old. Get a passport. You can’t leave the country without one. Also make sure you have appropriate Visas–even my baby needs a Turkish Visa for our trip in a few weeks. Want to go to Brazil? You all need Visas.
Above is my newborn Miko’s first passport shot. The passport photo place wouldn’t take one because he was “too young,” so I put him on his white background (diaper changer) and did it myself.
Be a Decision Maker
Even if you’re naturally not a quick decision maker, you’ll need to become one. The last thing you want to do is stand around, mouth agape welcoming pickpocketers, or and sex traffickers to grab your kid. Okay, that’s a touch melodramatic, but just saying. Make shit happen. Make a freaking decision. Never stand around looking confused. Don’t study maps for longer than a minute. You’re not going to “see it all” so make the best decisions you can, stick to ’em, and enjoy the ride.
Guess what, they actually sell things abroad! I mean, nothing was here originally anyway (it was all made in China). Don’t overpack diapers. Don’t overpack clothes. DO NOT bring the big stroller (side note: your stroller is the size of two family-sized tables in most countries’ restaurants). Just bring:
- A couple of stylish albeit comfortable clothes with good walking shoes (no screaming bright tennis shoes)
- One dress-up outfit
- Stylish scarves for the whole family; Zara carries great scarves for children.
- Bjorn and/or very compact stroller
Seen above, a $19.99 crap stroller that has been up and down fjords in Norway, up and down a billion stairs in the Greek isles, and over millions of uneven cobblestones in Poland.
Eat or Die.
What, you have a picky eater? Welcome to the club. Eat or die, kid. Lil’ man doesn’t get his favorite cereal over there and he’s going to survive. This is the mindset you have to take on. Kids are resilient, they’ll end up eating. Starved after a few days of foreign eats, my one year old grabbed my plate of Païdakia in Athens and ate nearly all of it.
Seen above, my Max attacking golonka in Krakow.
Accept Meltdowns. They’re Half the Fun (later in your memory at least)
Your kids will melt down. Maybe even a lot worse than at home. They’re off schedule and out of their comfort zone. They nap in crappy $19.99 strollers and they sit there watching Mom and Dad eat and drink for six hours every night. It’s called character building.
Ditch the “Schedule”
Sure your kids operate better on a schedule. That’s not going to work abroad. Firstly, you’re in a totally new time zone. Secondly, you need to see and do what you want to do whenever possible. Making a train, boat or bus time, getting to the museum at the right hours, whatever it is, it’s not gonna jive with junior’s hit-or-miss naptime so don’t plan on it. Say goodbye to the schedule – that monotony is waiting for you back home and has no place on vay-cay.
Seen above: pregnant me and my one-year old in a jazz club that doesn’t get started until 11-ish. Disclaimer: the beer is my husband’s.
Where do you want to go? Where have you gone? Please share!