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There’s something about the idea of traveling overseas on an 11+ hour nonstop flight to Europe that just scares the bejeezus out of me. Then there’s doing just that but in only a carry-on. However, in the weeks leading up to our month-long European trip, and breaking down what’s necessary and what’s not, made preparing to travel with our toddler less overwhelming. Not only will we have our initial flight over, but we’ll be flying throughout our trip – which means being prepared every step of the way.
Don’t believe the hype that in order to successfully travel with a child overseas, or even a domestic flight, you have to pack everything and grandma in order to survive and tell the tale. I’m telling you that with some planning ahead and being intentional with the things you pack will save you in the long run.
Here’s what we’re packing to survive our toddler on our flight to Europe as minimalists; saving you from having to spend hours reading up on this stuff.
TSA Pre-Check & Global Pre-Check
This is something you definitely want to consider and invest in when traveling anywhere. No one really discusses this as a part of their planning but in my opinion it ranks up there with having a current passport. The $80 was well worth it when it means we can breeze through security – although we should have thought more about the global pre-check option when we originally did ours. But, at least in American airports we won’t have to worry about the security line, which is worth it’s weight in gold. Next time though, and knowing my husband will have other overseas work opportunities like this one, we’re definitely getting global pre-check!
The Stroller vs Carrier
After much research and reading through a million travel blogs, we’ve decided to leave behind our Tula carrier in exchange for taking our collapsable stroller. Our toddler doesn’t much care for it and in previous flights he does perfectly well on our laps – and actually sleeps most of the way. We’re also flying business class which is a HUGE help because they have the fancy seats that lay into beds, making our initial flight over so much more comfortable.
We love our Summer Infant 3D Lite collapsable stroller! It’s so lightweight, effortless to put together, and collapses in a snap. We plan to gate check it and have found it to be the easiest stroller to use for travel. Especially for our our trip we needed a stroller that has durable wheels given we’ll be on different terrain from cobble stone to gravel – and this definitely could keep up.
Foldable Toddler Highchair
I am personally very excited about this slip on highchair for Greyson because not only can it transform practically any chair into a highchair, it folds up when not in use making it more convenient to travel with. When doing my research about what to expect in each city, I found multiple travel bloggers mentioning how highchairs aren’t going to be available at every restaurant. So instead of taking our bulky clip on highchair we are opting for this simple slip on one instead! Crisis averted.
Toddler Capsule Wardrobe
I’ve written a lot about capsule wardrobes lately and for good reason. Creating a capsule helps you narrow down your essentials and their ability to create multiple outfits using the same pieces in different ways. I’ve made my own, which you can read all about, and created one just for Greyson. Thankfully kids don’t need a lot when it comes to clothes, but making sure he’s prepared for the weather in each city is a must.
His capsule is made of neutral basic tops and bottoms that can also double as pajamas. He will need a lightweight jacket for London and other chillier cities but won’t need it so much in Italy or France where the temperatures are warmer. Here’s what we’re packing:
- 5 basic tees that can double as clothing and pajamas
- 2 pants (jeans + khaki or cotton)
- 1-2 shorts (khaki + cotton)
- 1 pair of shoes
- lightweight outerwear jacket
- sweater or hoodie
The Mom Bag
If you already have a large diaper bag, awesome. But you might want to consider a large cross body or diaper bag backpack to help free up your hands when on the move. This bad is not only useful on flights, but it will be a great bag for when you reach your destination. We have a toddler backpack for Grey that was given as a gift, but I’m not even going to bother with it on this trip because it doesn’t hold nearly what I need it to.
Longchamp is always my go-to brand for durable and high quality bags whether for travel or not. I’ve always used their large totes as a teacher to carry my work home and then purchased the Le Pilage backpack for our vacation to Hawaii a couple of years ago – the perfect day bag! The price tag is SO WORTH IT because you’ll literally have them for ages and they withstand the wear and tear of life. Here are a few of my favorites to consider for any travel bag.
*Earn points on your purchases through Chase Sapphire (see how we’re earning and saving our points)! We got 6 points/$1 on our new Longchamp crossbody tote by shopping through Chase’s website at GILT.
Keeping the Dragon Soothed
If you’ve been keeping up with my European ‘Minimalist Traveler’ series on the blog you’ve probably heard me use this term to refer to Greyson’s tantrum alter-ego known as ‘the dragon.’ Ever since we jumped right in to the terrible twos early, it’s increasingly important for us to keep Greyson happy and comfortable – otherwise a tantrum erupts and all of a sudden we’re those parents with that kid.
To keep his sleeping areas as comfortable, clean and familiar as possible, we’re planning to pack our own crib sheet for when we have a crib at the hotels, as well as his favorite George stuffed animal, baby blanket, and Soothie pacifier. And during the day we’ve got a few toys and books downloaded to our iPad for him to play with. We’re really banking on having adventure-filled days while moseying around to keep him occupied as well as visiting as many playgrounds and gardens as a possible 😉
Medicine & Hygiene
The last thing you need happening is your child getting sick or running out of something important like Tylenol. Being in foreign countries may be challenging to navigate when desperately trying to look for such things so taking your own will save you from the stress. We have our own little kit that we put together for all of the things he might need like Infant Tylenol, diaper cream, etc. The other items we’re packing are hygienic items like hand and mouth wipes, his toothbrush and toothpaste, pacifier and bottle wipes, and bandana bibs.
Whatever you didn’t pack you buy later.
We recognize that no matter how much we plan or think ahead about what to bring with us, it’s hard to anticipate every little thing. So, to keep things from crossing the threshold into overwhelming, we just plan to purchase whatever we need as a situation arises. This helps cut down on wasted space while flying and allows us to use only what we need. The key is just to keep things as easy as possible.
Be sure to check back for more about our travels and follow me on Instagram to see what we’re up to!