My TOP 10 TIPS for Traveling Internationally with 4 Children Under 8
Before diving right in, we have to start with this girl. 9 months old and traveled like a champ.
Without a happy baby, our jetting here and there and everywhere would have been incredibly difficult.
In terms of gear, just know things are very expensive in Costa Rica with baby items topping the list.
HERE is my post outlining in detail what you should pack and what you can buy in Costa Rica.
We stayed at THIS house in Nuevo Arenal (That is "new Arenal" and the "old" Arenal is drowned literally under Lake Arenal).
HERE is my post all about the house/property and we highly recommend it...if you are traveling as a couple or with older kids.
A. They are runners.
B. They are explorers.
C. They listen...but not right away.
All of those things made for some difficulties in the jungles of Costa Rica.
Here are some of the very happy arts of the trip...
A small baby bird flew into the house.
They were totally enthralled with her and we took her outside where she flew off.
Sadly I think something got to her before her mommy did because this similar colored
mama bird hung out on the porches around the house tweeting for the next few days.
That is kind of how I felt as a mom of little kids traveling internationally.
...like I was tweeting nervously at them constantly. There was not a lot of relaxation, but I anticipated this.
I just did not anticipate the amount of snakes. Big snakes. Poisonous snakes. In real life.
Aside from the snakes, the flora, fauna and wildlife was incredible.
I took a couple walks by myself to take photos and it was divine.
With kids however, the walks were more an exercise in protection and restraint.
Aside from the (scary! dangerous!) jungle, the kids traveled very well. Here are my tips:
1. Travel when the kids are tired. If you can get the kids to sleep on the plane/taxi/train, they will barely notice they are sitting for long amounts of time. If your kid will not nap anywhere but in their crib, try waiting a few months before traveling, or travel mainly when the child is typically awake. we had good success with sleeping children on this trip.
2. Bring mints. Mouths get stinky when traveling and ears pop on airplanes. Mints are invaluable. Bring handfuls. They are great bribes as well :)
3. Plan on eating 3 meals and 2 snacks. Grumpy, tired children are one thing. Add in hunger and you are going to have a BIG problem. Children cannot handle hunger while traveling like adults can. Plan your outings to always involve food when you are with young children.
4. Water is even more important. A bottle of water will always get used on a walk or hike. It is rarely a heavy burden as the kids will suck it down quickly. Buy them in bulk at the grocery store, but shell out the dough for one at a souvenir shop if you are going without. Cold water is worth it's weight in gold with babies. Also, always make baby formula with bottled water no matter where you are traveling. The risks are not worth it.
5. Chapstick, Tylenol (for grownups and kids) and sunscreen/ lotion are always needed. I carried them in our diaper bag everywhere. You want a bag with at least two separate pouches and a large inside for diapers/extra clothing, etc. I used this bag from Duluth as it has the perfect pocket sizes for an iPhone, kept separate from all the toiletries.
6. Hand sanitizer. When traveling, you never know when you will be able to wash your hands and with "new to you" germs everywhere, hand sanitizer comes in handy. I stopped by Bath and BOdy works before we left for some sample sizes and had 5 in different bags. One in my tiny hip purse (like this one), one in this diaper bag, one in the car, one in the beach bag, etc.etc.
7. Separate bags will save your sanity. Babies and children have a lot of "gear" and if you want to be making quick trips to town/quick day trips, you will want separate bags that are always stocked. As mentioned in #6, I had a small hip purse, a diaper bag, a beach bag and a carryon bag that were always stocked. READ MORE ABOUT my "BAG THEORY" HERE. Thanks again to Duluth!
8. Take pictures. I always forget to take a lot of pictures while traveling and hate taking a big camera around on little trips with the kids. My phone was a very welcome addition on this trip even though the only thing it is really good for is pictures outside of the States.
9. Bring extra underwear. The stories are gross, but learn more HERE on my packing post. Extra underwear are ALWAYS needed!
10. Hover "just enough". Protect those babies, but try not to hover. It is hard when there are snakes in the jungle and I am not good at it, but try. Try to make them think you aren't watching some of the time. They will feel like they are truly having an adventure. One you get back home, breathe a sigh of relief and turn the TV on. You deserve it after all that worrying!