Tips on Travelling to Italy with a 17 Month Old

Updated on March 28, 2008
C.E. asks from Minneapolis, MN
17 answers

Hello everyone,
I am working on planning a trip to Italy with my husband ( who has never been out of the country) and my son ( who will be almost 17 months old). We are going to be meeting my mom and sisters there. Do any of you " travel savvy" moms have any tips for travelling overseas with a toddler, i.e. how to survive the flight to Europe, does it make sense to bring his car seat with us, etc? Do they have soymilk in Italy? I am desperate for any tips that would help make the trip easier!! Thanks!!

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answers from Rapid City on

I can't tell you how it would be to travel with a 17 mo old that far, but I will say it would be a good idea to take his car seat unless you can rent one over there. I would say to talk with the airline to find out what is allowed on the plane as far as liquids go. Bring interactive quiet toys. My granddaughter has a leapfrog book that can be changed. It is interactive and she keeps busy in the car for longer trips. She is 18 months old.
I don't know about the soymilk, guess you can google it and see.

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answers from Minneapolis on


I have to admit that I would reconsider flying that far simply because of the air pressure for that long amount of time. Perhaps a smaller trip unitl your little one was a little older?



answers from Minneapolis on

I have travelled several times with my son who is now 2 1/2. Take, in carry-on bottles that meet the airline standards, 1. benadryl to help you son sleep when needed, and 2. ibuprofen or tylenol just in case (you can also use the tylenol to help him relax a little to sleep on the plane as well). Also, pack light but smart. We bought sheets of small stickers and coloring books for my son for travelling...they work to keep him occupied for awhile, and when he gets tired of putting stickers in the coloring books, you can put them on the magazines in the seatbacks in the plane! Don't show him the stickers or coloring stuff until the plane so that they're new to him. The same with if you want to purchase a few small new toys that he won't see until you give them to him on the flight. I don't think the carseat is necessary on the plane--I think they're bulky and the child doesn't really stay in them for long, but that's my opinion. Hope that helps!



answers from Milwaukee on

Hello C.,
I hope i am not too late with my response. I have been traveling with my daughter on planes since she was 3 months old. We are quite the travelers. She is now 4. We just moved to Wisconsin after living in Brussels, Belgium for 3 years. So alot of travel was involved. I never took a car seat on the plane. I held her on my lap until she was 2. We had a great time (DVDs are a great idea also make sure if you can get 2 batteries so when one runs down, you replace it with the charged one) and she slept alot. Of course she is was a great baby. When she was young she breast feed and I made sure she did so on take off and landing. It worked great. I do suggest having something to drink or suck on during these times. and he may not be bothered by it at all. But you never know. I personally believe the less you take, the better for you and your travels. It becomes too cumbersome to be lugging so many things on a trip where you will be walking alot through airports and sight seeing. Italy is a BEAUTIFUL country and enjoy it to the best of your ability. Your son will have a great time as long and you and yours are happy and relaxed. He will be fine! Have a great trip! I'm almost jealous!



answers from Madison on

I traveled to India last summer with a 2 year old and a 6 year old. I would bring a car seat, you will feel safer with him, but I wouldn't bring it on the plane. Bring lots of stuff to look at. I have a video ipod and loaded it with familiar cartoons, this occupied my kids when they were too tired to play but not sleepy. Make sure to get kid size headphones, check online or toys r us. Also bring his favorite stuff, for me my girls love little toys and coloring. I surprised them with a new toy and coloring book when we got on the plane and that occupied their attention for a couple of hours. Plastic coated maps are fun to look at and easy to fold and you can show him where you will be going. Also bring something to help him clear his ears, breast-feeding, pacifier, chewy candy or gum have all worked for me.

Hope this helps,

ps India had soymilk, so I'm guessing Italy probably does too.



answers from Lincoln on

Your son absolutely needs to be in a harnessed seat (properly installed) for his safety. Even a little bit of turbulence can do a great deal of harm to an unharnessed child. The lap belt, on the airplane seat itself, can cause just as much harm. So, using a child-friendly seat is important...besides, he'll sleep better!

Do not check your carseat (your child should be riding in it anyway). Airlines are not careful with luggage and could damage the seat causing it to lose effectiveness in a crash.

If you don't want to lug a big seat around. A good, inexpensive, FAA approved carseat is the Cosco Scenera (5 point harness version). It rear-faces to 35lbs and forward faces to 40 lbs. It's very lightweight, so will be easy to carry and relatively easy to install. It can be found at WalMart, some Targets, and some KMarts for around $40 dollars.

This information is copied from a thread on for flying with a child and carseat

For others who are flying:

I flew last week on Continental and had no issues. However, this is what I brought in preparation:

1. 14 CFR 121.311 Seats, safety belts and shoulder harnesses

I went through and highlighted some of the relevant parts where it says that they may not prohibit use of a seat if you bought a ticket.

2. I also had my manual and marked the pages where it said it could be used on an aircraft and that it must be rearfacing (SS1).

3. Continental does not have a CRS use policy on their website, but many airlines do so I would print that out and bring along. This is the Hawaiian Airlines policy, for example:

If it is questioned, remain calm, ask for policies in writing, ask to speak to the pilot and all else fails, ask them to call their corporate office for clarification.

If you'd like to ask this question in a carseat forum where there are many, many helpful carseat techs go to It's a great place and you don't have to register to ask your question.
Happy traveling!



answers from St. Cloud on

Hi C.! I don't have any advice because I've never air traveled with my kids but I just wanted to encourage you by saying that I traveled extensively before I had kids and was on MANY long flights and crying kids bother people LESS than you know! If your kids fuss just know that people aren't going to miserable, they will just be sympathetic to your little one. If you do encounter irritated people just know that they are probably crabby for some other reason:) Have a great time! I think your little one will do very well! I have friends that travel the world with their SEVEN kids and they have a ball! Problems and all it is just part of the adventure!
ps. I agree with Sonoma.... use a car seat on the plane! Turbulence is nasty for little ones! You'd hate to have the little guy end up with a neck injury!



answers from Des Moines on

I think there's already a lot of great ideas here about the plane, so I'll offer input about the milk.

Call the concierge service at your hotel a few weeks before your trip. They should help you. I have dietary issues and have done this. Depending on what hotel you stay in, this could mean they'll stock your fridge or simply give you a list of local markets to call. If the latter, a vendor who doesn't regularly sell soy milk may be willing order some if you promise to purchase the full lot. So be sure to caluculate how much you'll need for your stay.

Wow Italy! Hope you and your fam have a wonderful time.

~Pam :)



answers from Davenport on

As a child passenger safety technician, I highly advise taking and using your car seat. It should be used on the plane and any vehicle to prevent injury. As others have said, most kids respond well to having their own car seat to sleep and play in. My friend's daughter loved being rear facing next to mom, so she could see and interact with her. Call ahead to check with the airline, but many will allow pre-boarding with car seats. If you have problems carrying the seat, you can push it in a stroller and gate check the stroller. Blessings, ~A. <><



answers from Minneapolis on

Check with the airline. If you are getting a seat for your child (which I believe the cut off age is 2), but then I believe that car seats are required. If they're not, they are a pain, but a good idea. On our last trip to England, we actually got a sit-and-stroll. The worst part about bringing the carseat is lugging it through the airport. The carseat/stroller combo was super nice.

As far as bringing stuff, bring as little as you need to and buy what you can when you are there. You have enough to keep track of with your child.

Have a good trip!



answers from Green Bay on


I have a 17 month old daughter and we have been traveling with her since she was 3 months old. As well, I have a 9 year old boy whom I've been traveling with since he was 8 weeks old. I've taken him to Cancun, Hawaii, Puerto Vallarta and more. My daughter is also on Soy Milk and that has presented the biggest problem. I've had to pack enough soy milk to get us through for a couple of days while I hunt it down where ever we go. There wasn't any when we went to Puerto Rico and she was 14 months old at the time. We had to substitute with soy formula for the time. We just bought the 9-24 month formula. Since then, I travel with powdered formula instead of soy milk and hope we can find the soy milk after we arrive. Other than that, I personally would recommend purchasing a seat for your son and bringing his car seat. Toddlers are accustom to riding in their car seats and it helps a lot to keep them contained, at least for part of the flight! Some Airlines will allow you to bring the car seat to the gate and if the flight isn't full they will just give you the seat at no extra cost. It’s a gamble though, because if the flight is full, they check the car seat for you and your stuck having a 17 month old on your lap to eat, sleep and play for the entire flight! Not fun, I've done it. You can call the airline ahead of time, ask if the flight is full and whether or not you can bring the car seat just in case it isn't.

Good luck, Italy is a great place to visit!

Stay at home Mom with 17 mo old Daughter and 9 yr old boy.



answers from St. Cloud on

My daughter first began traveling to Europe when she was 13 months old. Until she was a little over 3 we used her carseat on the plane since she was used to sleeping in this on car trips. It worked very well. She has traveled across the Atlantic many times and every trip has gone very well except one. She had a cold and it turned out she also had a double ear infection in each ear. We always carry medicine with just in case. We bring small toys, books her favorite stuffed animal and blanky. She also has many movies to choose from provided by the airline. Not sure if soymilk is provided in Italy but it is in the Netherlands, Germany, Belguim, and Spain. Best wishes.



answers from Minneapolis on

No specific tips on traveling to Italy, but I would beware the recommendation on Benadryl to help him sleep on the plane. In some children, especially those under age 3, it can have the opposite reaction and make them wired and very excitable. You can check out the label--it carries a warning to that effect. It happened the first time I gave my son Benadryl and it sometimes has that effect on me, even as an adult. I certainly wouldn't give it to him on the plane for the first time. If you want to use it try it out at home first. It's actually not supposed to be given to babies and really young children without a doctor's recommendation. Other than that, have a good time!



answers from Omaha on

My family has traveled quite a bit.
Last year I traveled with my 2 and 5 year olds to Dubai. It was a total of 22 hours travel time (6 hour layover in London). If your tickets aren't purchased, try to get a direct flight to Italy from the US or short layover in the airport. Europe flights are always overnight and you will be tired once you get there and won't feel like keeping up with the whims of a toddler!!
My daughter drinks soy milk (but she's picky on the kind) there was only 1 kind she would drink in Dubai and it was hard to find. I think Italy may be better, however if your son will drink the boxed kind that doesn't need refridgeration, I would take a good amount with you (it will leave you with extra room for your purchases on your return!)
I'm not sure, but it would probably be easier to check your own carseat, I wouldn't take it on board. It will probably just take up valuable space (unless he sleeps well in his seat; unfortunately mine do not).
On board don't overpack toys, small items are the easiest. Unfortunately, due to airline delays etc, I would make sure you have an enough milk and diapers for an entire extra day (we missed our outgoing flight once through Atlanta and I had to walk 2 miles from our "complimentary" hotel to a convenient store for diapers for my 8 month old).
Let me know if I can answer any more questions.



answers from Minneapolis on

We travelled to Australia when our daughter was 16 months old-a 18 hour trip (not including layovers) is a lot of work!! But to be honest, it was easier than we thought!
Our tips: by a seat for your son and bring your carseat and use it on the plane! I know this is expensive, but for our daughter she was happy to have her familiar seat and as soon as we landed, we were off ready to go! We also brough Benadryl and gave her a little to calm her so she could sleep. We packed spare outfits in ziplock bags, so when she needed an outfit change, it was all together. Also- choose carefully what you pack for her to wear- you don't want a lot of snaps, etc. We brought our own bottles (we purposely hadn't stopped a bedtime bottle before our trip so we could give her one while o/s) and the flight attendants were very helpful in getting us milk and warming it. Don't forget to order a toddler meal for the plane either! This was helpful!
We also went to the Dollar Store and bought some cheap 'new' toys that we ended up leaving with our cousin in Oz. One other product we've used during our travels is the "Travelling Toddler" - it's a strap that attaches your carseat to your carryon! That way we didn't need a stroller for the airport (and our family had one for us in Oz) We also brought some foods along- teething biscuits, fruit snacks, etc. And when we got to Oz, we mainly stuck to toast, fruit, veg, etc. Good luck!!



answers from Minneapolis on

We recently travel to Hong Kong and Malaysia with my 9-month old daughter. I'm not sure how young your baby has to be to request front row or bulkhead seats from the airline. But it will definitely worth a try, especially front row by the window. If your son is bored sitting, he can play on the floor and you don't have to worry about disturbing people who sit next to you. My daugther loves to walk around the plane and meet people. And my daughter was not bothered by the air pressure but we heard by massaging her ears, it will reduce the pressure in her ears, so we massage her ears during take-off and landing. Of course, any swallowing action (drinking or eating candy/etc) will for sure help. We didn't bring car seat but since she was only 9 months old and still like to be held, so we were ok. Good luck, hope you have a great trip!



answers from Minneapolis on

My husband is Italian and we traveled for three weeks in Italy when my son was 14 months old and had a blast! We rented a car and got a car seat from the rental agency and that worked great. If you bring one, I recommend getting one that converts into a stroller. We brought a lightweight stroller that compacts really well (cars and trains are small). Make sure you bring one that is narrow (space is an issue everywhere), has a sun shade, room for some storage, and reclines for naps on the go. I think we found one for the trip at Babies R Us for about $25. There are lots of stairs everywhere, so be prepared to have to carry the stroller up and down at times. Also, think about naps strategically. We made sure we did our driving during nap times so that he could keep on schedule and not disrupt our activities. It helped too that our son could sleep easily in the stroller if needed. Jet lag took a night or two to get over, but all I can recommend is to let him take a good nap when you arrive in the morning that first day but then keep him up as late as possible that night. Kids sleep better on the plane, so jet lag isn't as hard on them. Overall, Italians love babies and we didn't encounter any hassles traveling with a 14 month old. Everyone was very accommodating - from cribs to high chairs and special food requests. We had such a great time overall and our daughter was even conceived in Italy:>) I'm so jealous of you and wish we could go again! Relax and enjoy! Buon Viaggio!

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