5 Quick Travel Tips for This Holiday Season While Traveling with Infant/Toddlers

“If you want a good trip, keep me happy” – Olivia (its what I assume she is thinking with this look )

Planes, trains, and automobiles, long travel times are never easy. There have been moments that I wanted to cry out for mommy so imagine how your child feels. No one is going to have a good trip if the child is upset.  Olivia has traveled with us to Hong Kong, Taiwan, NYC, Scotland, Vancouver, Quebec City, Montreal, Toronto, Spain twice, Canary Islands, Portugal twice, and France. Here are 5 tips to insure the entire family has a great trip.  

  1. Hotels/Apartments – Our family does a mix of hotels and apartments as they are both great in their own ways. Hotels are great because who doesn’t like their bed made for them every morning? Vicente loves hotel breakfast, and it allows him to sneak some food for an afternoon snack. I like the gym amenities that a hotel provides. Most hotels in Europe are extremely  baby friendly. You can request a free crib and bathtub. Some hotels even have cute baby specific toiletry upon arrival. Call your hotel, they may have strollers and car seats for use as well. We also like apartment rentals, especially when Olivia was an infant, we filter our search for apartments with washing machines. We try to pack light and being able to do a load of laundry is a life saver, babies are messy! We travel with TONELIFE laundry soap sheets. They work great in a hotel sink or in a washing machine. Apartments with kitchens allow us to make food for Olivia that she is accustomed to, giving her a little reminder of home.  The extra square footage in an apartment allows your toddler some space to explore that does not have a toilet in it. 
  2. Rent a Car Seat or use trains. We like to travel light so when we fly, and rent a car, we rent a car seat. Our favorite travel option is the train. You will get to walk around with your babies and its safer. Papa (Vicente), our driver, gets to enjoy some scenery as well.
  3. Early Dinner, having a baby doesn’t mean you have to resort to room service. You can still go out to restaurants. Just go a little earlier so there is more room and less people to bother. Not an early dinner family and you want room service? Use the hotels ironing board on its lowest to the ground setting. It makes a great child height eating surface.
  4. Wardrobe malfunctions and disasters happen – Bring extra clothes, diapers/wipes and trash bags so you can change anywhere.
  5. A supply of stickers works as a better bribe than candy or cookies. Why? Because who wants to deal with a child hopped up on sugar stuck in a car, train, or plane?

Lastly check out our post specific to flying if that what you have going on. Have a wonderful trip and enjoy your family everywhere…

Do Two Year Olds like Vineyards?

“What time will we start drinking?”, asked mostly out of fear. I will get to the answer later but my British friend David Kell, who has a strict not before 5pm rule, would not approve…

The Douro Valley, origination point of the wine we had been enjoying in Porto, has been on our list from before Olivia was born. There wasn’t  a question if we were going, only for how long and how we were going to get there. With Olivia, our two year old, we were not sure if the travel time would be too long for a day trip. Would there be anything for her to do if we stayed for a few nights? Once we decided on a day trip the next question was tour group or self guided? After adding up all the expenses, the hassle of taking the train, and finding a taxi to every vineyard we decided on booking a tour. Based mostly on the fact that the self guided savings seemed to be minimal and the early morning train coupled with a late return was far from ideal. Turns out we made the right decision. 

one of the scenic view stops on the tour

We booked with Oporto Road Trips, booking direct with the tour company saves you $10 the perfect amount to buy more Port wine.  We received 2 tasting at different vineyards, stops for some very scenic pictures, a 45 min boat ride on the Douro River, and lunch. This tour group was the only one we could find that did not have an added charge for Olivia. Free of charge she was still given a meal at lunch, a car seat in the Mercedes Sprinter, and non alcoholic beverages at the vineyards. The convenience of being picked up and dropped off from the hotel was very appreciated. 

The vineyards all gave more than enough wine and Port to experience a solid level of day drinking without being neglectful parents. The first vineyard, Quinta Do Beijo, gave us an in-depth tour of the property and process for making wine and Port. We were lucky enough to be there during harvest time and saw full exposed vats of crushed grapes. As a “thank you” for visiting, guests are given a taste of a Port wine straight from the barrel. This white port is so old that the tour guide struggled to figure a price if it was sold by the bottle, its not. After our tastings we were off again in the sprinter van.

At this point we were asking ourselves when lunch would be. Turns out we still had picture time, boat cruise, and a quick stop at an old train station before any food is offered. I highly recommend taking a light meal with you and eating breakfast. For your child there is little to no opportunity to buy food so bring enough for most of the day. 

Hand painted tiles at the old train station in Pinhao


The best time for trying to put your little one down for a nap was the rabelo cruise. For nap time we put Olivia in the Lille Complete and she was out before we boarded the small wooden boat. My one disapointment is that the cruise would have been a perfect time to sip on some Port now that Olivia was asleep. Tip, stash someting to drink or eat for the boat ride. There are no easy oportunities to buy anything before the cruise so this takes some day before planing.

We did not bring a stroller but it seemed one would be useless and hard to maneuver in many of the toured areas. There was not a huge amount of walking but there were a few stairs.

… 9:45am, that’s the time we had our first drink. Bring some food and prepare to take some incredible pictures of one of the most beautiful wine regions in the world.  

WELCOME, AND THANK YOU FOR YOUR VISIT

Thanks for taking the time to get to know the Fernandez family. In 2014, when we were only a two person family, we took off for a year long trip around the world. While this would have been a wonderful point to start a blog we were too distracted with surviving as two New Yorkers completely out of our comfort zone.

In 2018 the family grows by one. With the addition of Olivia we were often met with the phrase “guess you won’t be traveling as much now” or at all. We heard it so much we almost started to believe it ourselves. So as soon as we had the pediatrician’s approval we took off on a 19 hour flight to Hong Kong from Atlanta with three month old Olivia. Olivia did not know it but she was creating two parents that were forced to learn all they could about traveling with children.

It’s our hope that this site will empower you to travel with your family. The benefits of travel don’t require a passport, an extremely long flight, or even a flight at all. You simply need to go to a place you have never been or even a familiar place and look at it in a new way. Taking your family with you, near and far, insures generations to come will have a wonderfully large world view. Expanding who they include when they use a phrase “people like me”…

8 Tips to Fly Better with Your Child

When Olivia was 2 months old we were at Rite Aid trying to figure out how to get the white background behind Olivia for her passport photo. There was a moment that we considered one parent holding her up off camera while the picture was taken. After some debate we were allowed to remove the roll down white back drop and place it on a counter to take an aerial shot. This passport photo has taken Olivia with us to Hong Kong, Taiwan, Canada, Scotland, France, Spain and Portugal, in under two years. In those two years we have learned a lot but still have lots more to learn. These are our routines and tips for the best flight experience for you and your family.

#1

Buying the Ticket – Infants under 2 years old fly free as a lap child. If having your child sit on your lap for 6 hrs does not sound like your idea of a vacation you could buy another full price ticket and use your car seat for your child to sit in. A lap seat ticket is free on most domestic flight but on international flights you should expect to pay about 10% of the adult ticket. Most airlines we have used do not have an option to add a lap infant ticket so you have to call to add the lap infant.  *Beware* on some ultra budget airlines like Ryanair, it may be cheaper to buy your infant a seat as their standard infant fee can be higher than a regular seat. If you are flying with a lap baby ask every employee, until you receive, to have an empty seat next to you. Along every stage every worker does have the power to change your seat assignment.

#2

Request a Baby Bassinet when booking – Baby bassinets are first come first serve  request them while you are on the phone with the airline adding your lap child ticket. There are only a handful on each plane so if you wait until check in it will most likely be gone. The bassinets are great for babies to sleep in or to store your diapers and snacks so you don’t have to get up for the overhead bin every 10 minutes.  Its also a way to get a bulkhead seat with extra leg room, a luxury that most airlines charge for now, for free. 

#3

Strollers/Carseats/Baby Carrier – Strollers and cars seats should be checked in at the ticketing counter as soon as you can.  Why would you want to carry all of these things with you around the airport, and gate check them? The less things you need to carry the better and letting your child burn off as much energy as possible, walking around,  before getting on a long flight is always a good idea. If Olivia needs to be carried we use the Lillie Complete Carrier. She can nap in it comfortably and I can usually keep her in through security checkpoints be prepared for a swipe test on your hands if your choose this method. The soft carrier also stores easily in what ever carry on bag we are using. 

#4

What to bring in your Carry On Diaper Bag – Pack enough Diapers/Wipes for the entirety of your flight plus some incase of delays. You don’t want to be stuck at the airport or on the plane without these necessities.  Pack an outfit for the baby as well as the caretaker  because well you know blow outs! You can bring as much liquid for the baby as you need, they don’t follow the 100ml rule most likely they will run a test on your liquids at security. Yet an other benefit of breast feeding is it allows you to bring all the food the baby will need no matter how long the flight. Now that she is older we bring water and snacks, while some flights do give you some food for your lap child its not a guarantee. Bring lots of snacks because no one wants a hungry toddler running around a plane. Now that Olivia is almost a toddler and requires more entertainment I try to pack a new item for each trip. This way we can maximize the time it will entertain her.  It can be stickers, a new book, or a small toy. Reusable stickers are great for window seats and the back of try tables. On our trip to Portugal Olivia was almost 2 years old and we got a “mess free “ coloring book. It worked out great, the color only appears on the special treated pages of the book, even the removal and replacement of the caps on the markers was a game.  The markers only work on special paper so her hands, clothes, and the plane will stay color free.

#5

Take off/Landing – Babies don’t know how to equalize the air pressure in their ears, breastfeeding while takeoff and landing helps. You can also use a pacifier or a sucking candy as they get older. Planes have become a lot better about equalizing the cabin pressure so ear popping is not the pain it once was.

#6

Family Boarding – Take advantage of family boarding. We like to board early so we have time to wipe down the seats, head rest, and tray tables especially when Olivia was only a few months old and her immune system was not as developed. Now, about to turn two years old we are experimenting with the idea to have one parent board for family boarding clean the area and have the other stay outside the plane. This would allow Olivia to burn off some more energy and minimizes the time she needs to sit on the plane unnecessarily. 

#7

Before boarding – Change into a fresh diaper, the bathroom on planes tend to be small and not the cleanest. This way your child can be as comfortable as possible for the flight. We also try to give her as much time to run around before the flight.

#8

Seats – I try to avoid the back of the plane and where the bathrooms are. It can be smelly and noisy. People tend to stand around and stretch out at the back of the plane so it may be distracting for your baby if they are trying to sleep. 

Have any great tips for flying with a child? Please let us know, your idea may be included in our next list.