Advice Needed Re. Travel with 18 Month Old

Updated on April 04, 2010
R.P. asks from Los Angeles, CA
6 answers

We are thinking of taking our daughter to Vienna and Northern Italy this summer when she is 18 months old and would love any thoughts on how we can do this well. Our main concern is her sleep (no great surprise I'm sure). Especially naps. We are traveling by train so taking a portable crib like our co-sleeper seems impractical. What have you all done? I should add that she will not nap with us - I'm even concerned that she won't fall asleep while we are in the same room with her - and we will have a single room.

Please share any and all thoughts: gear, preparing her for the trip, do we take a car seat or not (we will not have a seat for her on the plane)any ideas of things we may not have thought of.

Thanks for all you help!

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answers from Chicago on

Hi R.,
We've traveled internationally with our daughter, at 9 months and again at 20 months. Be as prepared as possible, with items that comfort her, snacks, small toys/books and activities to help entertain her during the trip. I brought many smaller packs of wipes and put some in each bag, so I always had some within reach, as well as plenty of diapers, of course. Strongly recommend using only 'overnight' diapers for travel, as they're more absorbent than regular. Allow extra time at the airport b4 flight departs, as it will take longer for you to get through security with a toddler. As for napping, we've taken a small popup 'tent' with us, made for babies/toddlers. It folds up easily, can fit into a carry-on & is very lightweight. You may want to look into something like this (I found ours on a website, I think about $50 to $80 new. We used ours on the beach too and it helped keep her in the shade & away from bugs during nap time.
Another nice travel item is disposable sippy cups, you can find them with lids that lock, these were very useful and I didn't mind if one got lost. The airline we took did not allow 'lap babies' for under 2 yrs old on international flights, so we were required to purchase a seat for our child; if you haven't already checked into this with the airlines, I suggest doing so now. If you'll be traveling by car but not very much, you may want to ask a travel agent, online or with car rental in Austria & Italy if they have car seats available to rent with a vehicle. That way you won't need to take a carseat with, which you'd have to check-in on the plane if it's not used in a purchased seat. If you'll be doing a lot of walking/sightseeing, I recommend taking an umbrella stroller (small, sturdy & lightweight); you can use in the airport too & check at the gate. I don't think the airlines count a stroller checked at the gate as a 'checked' item, so you shouldn't be charged extra (I think, you'll want to ask if you do this). When you get off the plane at destination, they give you the stroller at the arrival gate; although after being cooped up in a plane for hours, your daughter will likely be ready to run around (if not sleeping!) Don't even consider taking a standard sized stroller, it will not fare well in checked luggage & it would be too cumbersome for travel.
I hope this has helped. With planning, preparation and patience, traveling with our daughter was not as scary as I thought it would be. Best of luck with your planning and have a wonderful trip!!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Boise on

For a portable crib, I would suggest the PeaPod from it is very compact, but gives her her own space. My son does very well when traveling with this. When we put him down for naps or sleep when he is in the same room, we are very quiet, and turn our backs to him, almost pretending to sleep ourselves until he settles down. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't, but he is zippered into his PeaPod and will eventually fall asleep when tired enough.

I would also suggest the Ergo carrier. It is very comfortable for the one that has to carry her, and if she falls asleep, there is a little snap up holder that supports her head so that it isn't flopping all over. This will allow her to nap when she needs to as you will most likely be on the go over there. Plus, it is a quick and easy way to get her through the airport, as you don't have to take her off of you in security because there isn't any metal. And, on the plane, my son always liked to nap on me in that position.

Good luck, and have fun.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

You are a brave woman! 18 mos is tough--that was the most difficult stage for flying for our now-3-yo DD. The first thing I would do is call your airline and ask if they can provide a bassinet for DD--I'm not sure if she'll be too big, but I know that many international flights will seat you and DH in the bulkhead and have a bassinet that attaches to the wall in front of you so DD can sleep through the night. Otherwise, I know it's exorbitant, but I'd strongly consider getting her her own seat--at 18 mos, our DD would not sleep on a plane in our laps, and really wanted her own space. We never sprung for the extra seat until she was 2, but then our longest flight was a domestic, daytime 4 hours.... For sleeping once you're on the ground, you have a couple of options. If you can get her out of her crib at home--e.g., put her crib mattress on the floor and have her get used to sleeping there while at home--you can then bring a toddler-size inflatable bed along for her to sleep in. You don't have to worry about her falling out, since she'll be on the floor, anyway. You will need to make sure that the rooms she sleeps in are safe for a roving toddler. Alternatively, you can get one of those baby tents (e.g. from One Step Ahead), which will also pack up relatively small, but keep DD contained. In any case, I'd transition to sleeping in her travel bed AND in a room with you while still at home, just to cut down on the number of adjustments she'll need to make at once.

Personally, I wouldn't bother with bringing a carseat--in years of "bumming around" Europe (all pre-kids), I rarely had occasion to ride in a car, and you'll almost certainly be able to avoid it. Trains are the way to go. Overall, I'd concentrate on packing AS LIGHTLY AS POSSIBLE. You'll be wrangling a toddler; you don't want to be wrangling luggage, as well. I'm a bit of a pack-light Nazi--I'll do a 2-mo trip for myself with a medium (carry-on sized) internal frame backpack; a year with 2 suitcases and a carry-on. But you're there to see the sights, not impress people with your shoe wardrobe. Remember that folks in Europe live their lives, and have kids, too--anything you really really decide you need, you can get there, too (yes, the diapers will be of a different brand, but millions of Italian kids grow up just fine with them!)

The trip sounds fantastic, and it's great stuff to expose your daughter to so early. I bet you'll be pleasantly surprised by how well she'll do. Just remember that you WILL survive the flight, even if it's long and difficult, and eventually, she WILL sleep, once she gets tired enough. In the meantime, enjoy and GL!



answers from Los Angeles on

You won't like my advice, but I will give it anyway. I lived in Italy for a number of years and also lived in Vienna for a few months with a 2 year old and a 3 month old. Italians, keep their children up late. Children often eat out with their parents. In Vienna we often took the family out with us as well as the family dog. .We took the dog all over Europe at one point and this was fun for the kids and gave them security. Sometimes we did get a sitter, but mostly just did what we liked with the kids along. I also once took a 13 month old to Singapore and Hong Kong and she loved it. In the orient one see kids up at all hours. I didn't see the harm.
An umbrella stroller was a big help.. At this time the kids who had been in Vienna were 7 and 9 and they kept the baby happy.
A nice afternoon nap is good for everyone especially the adults.
Just enjoy your trip. Naps can wait.
B. v.O.



answers from Las Vegas on

I wanted to go to Italy with my son at this age (he is 18 months old now). My husband thought the plane trip would be too rough on us though, which it probably would be since we just got back from a cross country trip, and it was hard. Hopefully your daughter will be distracted and not too antsy on the plane.

I saw someone else mention the Ergo and that is something you should definitely have! I love our Ergo (replaced a too small Mei Tai that was not quite as comfortable), and would never go on a trip without it. She can also sleep in it while you are walking around, so naps might not even be a problem for you. I doubt you will really have a problem with naps anyway, she will be so exhausted from seeing new things and exploring, she will probably sleep when she needs to.

I would leave the car seat, you can rent one there, and if you did have one for the plane (if you bought a seat), she is supposed to stay in it the whole time (which is ridiculous). You really don't need much, pack light, and just wash things in the sink if she has an accident or gets dirty. For preparing her, I would try the sleeping arrangements for a night or two. If she is sleeping with you on the trip, then try that. I wonder if you can rent a crib where you're staying, you could check into that, and test her sleeping in the crib in the same room with you as well.



answers from Los Angeles on

Hello! You've got a lot of good advice here already. Some more thoughts I would add.

The umbrella stroller is a great idea. Whether on outings in our home town or while traveling our (now 2 year old) son always falls asleep right in the stroller when he's tired enough. It's helpful to have it at the airport in case your daughter gets tired of walking or you need her secured while you take care of airport business.

You'll only need a car seat if you rent a car, and the agency should be able to provide one. But I would check with some companies ahead of time to make sure. You don't want to be lugging your car seat through the airport if you're not using it on the plane. (We used the car seat on the plane once, and our son slept in it very well. We actually got an attachment with wheels for it that made it easy to pull through the airport. But you have to take this off to attach it to the airplane seat. All in all it was too much of a pain.)

If you stay at a hotel without a crib for you to use, and your daughter won't sleep in the bed with you, you can make a bed on the floor for her. We always use extra blankets, towels, clothing, whatever is on hand to make a soft cushion. This works good for naps while at the hotel too. Don't have to worry about her falling off the bed. Like another poster said, you might try this at home to get her used to it.

Make sure and have plenty of activities for your daughter for the plane ride. Bring a couple brand new toys and/or books that you know she will like. Also, plenty of snacks, and extra clothes for her. (Though check with the airlines to see what their restrictions on food are.)

The best advice I have is: make sure she runs around a lot before you get on the plane or train. Then she'll be more likely to be relaxed or go to sleep.

(We always get a seat for our son on the plane which assists with the sleeping-but this doesn't help you! : )

And finally, you probably already know this, but just in case, make sure your daughter has a sippy cup, bottle, or pacifier (if you use one) to suck on during take off and landing.

Good luck and have a wonderful trip!

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