Maybe it was my mistake thinking it wouldn't be that bad doing a 14 hour flight with an 18 month old. Maybe I gave Riv a lot of credit for being a chill little one. Maybe I was brave... or maybe I was delusional.... whatever it was that that I was thinking, here are the top five things I learned while traveling internationally with a toddler.
1. REMINDER: TODDLERS/BABIES DON'T COOPERATE WHEN YOU WANT THEM TO
When we booked our tickets to Korea, we didn't think it was going to be that bad. Mainly because Riv usually cooperates for the most part. I was wrong. Toddlers don't care what you have planned. They do as they feel. So as a parent, be prepared for anything. Our "angel" child showed me and Ray all of her worst sides during the trip. Tears, tantrums, random joys, pain... all of it.
2. OVER-PREPARE TO ENTERTAIN THE LITTLE ONE
Ray and I were very under-prepared:
Drawing pad and crayons, check.
Stuffed animal, check.
Diapers, wipes, extra clothing, check.
Lots of snacks, check.
Why did we stop there? What were we thinking? That she would sleep for 90% of the plane ride? That she really likes Elmo so worst case scenario, she'll get a lot of screen time? Wait, what? She didn't even care about screen time? What?!
Be. Prepared. For. Anything.
3. BE FLEXIBLE
Ugh, I hate being flexible. Why do I have to do what my one and half year old wants? Why can't I sit at a cafe for an hour and enjoy my latte? Why does she have to nap right now?
Yeah... be flexible. When the little one is happy, everyone is happy. Trust me on this. I always try not to give in to everything but I'd much rather have a content Riv who had a solid nap then one who throws tantrums and tears in a crowded subway.
4. FIND JOY IN THE LITTLE MOMENTS
I think this particular comment/advice is shared often when you have kids. I fully realized why when Ray and I got to Korea. Both of us had hopes of a dream international vacation (as if we were single again) and reality hit us hard when we got there. Let me also preface this by saying: NOT all babies/toddlers are the same. For those of you who travel often with a kid, I give you my impressive and slightly jealous look. You are lucky!
Our hopes of shopping and eating late at night on the streets... cafe hunting and tasting different types of coffee... doing fun touristy things all the time...
We fulfilled all of those things... partially.
We did some shopping... inside the mall. (We got to go out maybe 2-3 times in the evening without the kids so I guess we can check this off the list)
We drank coffee at cafes.... for a few minutes before the kids were over it.
We went to a palace thinking maybe we could dress them up in traditional hanboks and take sweet pictures... we went to the palace, took quick pictures and left because the kids were hungry.
Really though, my favorite moments are of Riv being happy that she gets to run around or when she deliciously ate dumplings and noodles or when she stuck her head out the car window (no car seats in taxis there) and yelled at everyone to say hi. Find joy in those moments and make it worth it or else, you'll dwell on everything you sacrificed or can't do and be super depressed.
5. GIVE THEM EXTRA TIME TO ADJUST AND GIVE YOURSELF EXTRA TIME TO RECOUP
Apparently, it takes the kid as many days to adjust back as the number of time difference. For us it was 13 hours so 13 days. I almost fell over in instant exhaustion thinking about it. But also, why do I always think that Riv is older than I am? By that, I mean. I think I always feel like she should be adjusting quicker than Raymond for example... as if she's not just 18 months old or something. If Ray takes two weeks and more to adjust to jet lag... then I should be giving Riv three. Instead, I kept thinking she would adjust quickly and wondered if something was wrong with my little baby for having a total meltdown at 2am. What do they know?? Her body is confused and she is frustrated that she can't sleep when she wants.
On the other side of this, make sure you're giving yourself a ton of TLC. Light a candle, take baths, read a book, lie down, or just freaking sleep when and if you can. You're taking care of this little one so make sure you're staying sane and healthy to keep up with their wonky schedules and random tantrums.
Giveaway Question #4: Where is your next (dream) vacation destination?
Don't forget to comment with your response for a chance to win any of our 3 giveaways coming up on Thanksgiving! (Refer to our previous post for more details)