By: Revanche

Travel with toddler: going international! (Part 1)

May 10, 2017

Going international with JuggerBaby: Part 1 With a touch of Type A-ness, and as a chronic illness person who has to be very careful about allocating energy resources, I approach all travel with the intensity of an astronaut preparing to go into space.

I’ve had to get a lot better at this over the years.

I’ve made just about every mistake under the sun, starting with forgetting to pack my laptop charger and pants on a business trip, booking flights for the wrong travel dates in the early days of internet booking, and even going to the airport on the wrong day.

Trial and error has been a harsh, but mostly effective, teacher.

And yet when I booked a trip for PiC last month, I still had a moment of panic when the confirmation email landed in my inbox – had I accidentally booked it for myself??

(No, but it was a plausible error.)

I’ve developed a very involved to do list to follow before we travel but this was our first international jaunt. This trip wasn’t a vacation, it was mostly obligatory family stuff that I can’t get into, but it was still travel with all the inherent packing and planning needs of a vacation so I made what I thought were the appropriate adaptations for flying overseas.

Three months out

  • Check the dogsitter’s availability and save the date.
  • Research flight and hotel costs. Research also: best seats on various planes, best mileage earning options, lounge access (thanks to the Chase Sapphire Reserve).
  • Fill out passport application for JuggerBaby. Take the whole family on an adventure to the processing center and pay $80 to the U.S. State Department, and $25 to the processing center. Wait anxiously for the passport and birth certificate to be returned by mail.

Two months out

  • Make a final decision on flights and hotels. Book ’em, Danno!
  • Check everyone’s vaccine records, medications, and other critical supplies to ensure we have enough for the next 3 months. I don’t want to run out while traveling, nor to come back and find out that we’ve got one day of meds left! This has happened before, in unhappier days.
  • Scan a copy of everyone’s travel documents and back them up in two places in case we lose the physical documents.
  • Make up packing lists.
  • Find out that the sitter isn’t available for either this Big Trip or a smaller trip that’s going to happen sooner. Have a minor panic and spend several hours finding possible replacements. Spend more hours interviewing.

One month out

  • Get last check-ups. This round, only Seamus and I needed to be checked for clean bills of health.
  • Confirm dogsitter booking.
  • Decide that for 2 adults & 1 child, over 10 days, we’re taking 2 carry-on suitcases (9″ by 14″ by 22″), and 2 largeish backpacks. Redo packing lists. Pretend that we don’t go through more than one garment a day. Laugh because it’s utterly foolish.

Two weeks out

  • Put together Seamus’s vacation pack: dog food, medications, supplements, launder his bedding.
  • Order a refill of his medication from the mail order pharmacy – it takes 5-7 days to deliver.

One week out

  • Triple check Amazon subscribe and save order – make sure that all the essentials will be delivered the day after we return.
  • Ditto mail – put it on hold until the day we return.
  • Recall that JuggerBaby has been the Worst about going on walks, demanding to be carried at least half the distance that ze can easily run six times over given the proper motivation. Panic about traveling with a heavy well fed toddler without a stroller, having sold your awesome but bulky infant / toddler stroller on Craigslist three weeks ago (+$50). Buy an umbrella stroller that’s only a little broken (-$35) but still functional and only 1/3 the size of the last stroller.
  • Realize you’ve run out of time to have a night away for a trial run with the dogsitter. Realize you’re a neurotic dog mom who didn’t want to be parted from him for even a day, much less a week, and mentally stomp your feet about going without him. This is the second hardest part about travel.

The day before

  • Top up travel sized liquids for carrying on the plane. This was a masterpiece of jigsawing and make do. I rescued a sturdy plastic zipper bag, our free-with-baby package of hospital amenities from JuggerBaby’s birth, and filled it with rescued bottles. Motrin replaced liquid infant Vitamin D, Zarbee’s replaced now useless teething tablets, eczema lotion filled the 3 year old mostly empty jar of Noxema. All under the required 3 ounce liquid limit, all reused, nothing had to be bought! Tiny frugal victories.
  • Break the plastic zipper on my document envelope and curse the cheap plastic roundly. Force the clip back on and proceed with maximum caution because losing our passports at any point on this trip is a big fat No.
  • Overpack our carry-on backpacks: a change of clothes for everyone, a day’s worth of diapering supplies, all the medication for everyone, a sleep pack for JuggerBaby (pajamas, book, stuffed animal, blanket, lotion and nighttime chest rub), a thousand toys and “toys” (stickers, bubble wrap, Lego people, window clings, reusable stickers, Crayons, colored pencils, paper).
  • Print boarding passes because some airlines are stuck in 1993.
  • Wash, dry, fold two last loads of laundry so we’ll come home to clean clothes and towels. If I were really ambitious the sheets would have been done too. Β #Nope
  • Triple check the lounges we have free access to for departing and returning airports, make sure we have our lounge passes and be heartily annoyed that PiC’s has gone missing. If my desk weren’t a certified disaster zone I’d know exactly where it was. I think.

My policy is not to spend while traveling unless it’s absolutely necessary, but that has to be balanced with our ability to carry everything. This round of planning and packing went well. I had to replace a few things on the trip itself (cheap plastic!!) but overall I managed to pack only 15% more than we actually needed and part of that 15% was simply because the travel was overbooked and we didn’t have the leisure time we anticipated.

:: How do you prepare for international travel? Is it old hat to you, or do you get the giddy pre-travel anticipation that I do?

7 Responses to “Travel with toddler: going international! (Part 1)”

  1. This is a pretty good list for preparing for international traveling w/ kid. While I don’t anticipate doing it for a while, I need to pin it for later. (plus, it’s good for a giggle.) Bon Voyage!
    Emily @ JohnJaneDoe recently posted…Mutual Fund Terms: Don’t Guess the Flavor EditionMy Profile

  2. Oh my goodness, you’re a planner! Such detail – and I appreciate the dry humour : ) We have pretty well ruled out travel as we pay off our mortgage, but even when we take a road trip, it’s my husband who has the “Type A-ness”. Every couple has got to have one. I’m glad that your trip went well. JB clearly rose to the occasion!
    Fruclassity (Ruth) recently posted…Natural Disasters Really Do HappenMy Profile

    • Revanche says:

      Travel will be limited mostly to what we can get with miles and points, so this isn’t going to happen too frequently for us either. πŸ™‚

  3. Joe says:

    Good luck! I’d pack a tablet and stock up on electronic books and games. Long flights are tough on kids.
    Our son was 3 when we flew to Hawaii. He didn’t have too much problem with it.

    • Revanche says:

      Thanks! JuggerBaby has a very limited attention span for the iPad unless it’s streaming music which we can’t do on the plane (the music, that is) because ze wants to stand up and dance wildly πŸ™‚

      Hawaii feels like it was an easy trip in comparison with a 10+ hour flight!

  4. OMG this post is super helpful and timely. I also have a toddler, and we will need to travel internationally in the near future. Thanks for the tips!
    Ms. Frugal Asian Finance recently posted…Why We Don’t Buy Home WarrantyMy Profile

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