One of the things I get asked the most, aside from “How to Move Overseas with a Dog?” is what it’s like to move with a toddler… like what to bring and other practical tips. So started writing this blog post last September 2021 but only finished it today. I hope will be helpful for you parents who are moving & it gives you ideas of how to move smoothly with your children!
Of course things are protocols are changing rapildy as the pandemic is winding down in many parts of the world, so please do a quick google check on the requirements of the airline & region/country you are heading too. Though many will no longer require a mask & faceshields, it is still up to you what you are comfortable with. I’m writing about our experience moving in April 2021 in the very midst of the pandemic, so adjust accordingly.
This is us tearfully saying bye to Yaya B because we didn’t know when she would be able to follow us to Switzerland. I had to really prepare so TD & I can handle the international move with our dog & 5 year old toddler without any help.
GATHER CHILD’S IMPORTANT DOCUMENTS
Make sure you have the items below before you travel. Even better if you can have certified true copies made and leave one copy with relatives & another copy in a safety deposit box, which another trusted relative should have access too incase you need it.
- NSO Birth Certificate
- EU/German Birth Certificate because DiploBaby was born in Germany
- Marriage certificate (just in case they ask for it)
- Passport make sure it is not expiring within 6mos of departure
- Vaccination book
- Health records from Pedia
- Dental records from kids’ dentist
- Baptismal certificate if you are Catholic
- School records We requested from Playworks even if he was just in playschool
- ID photos
- Visa to destination country
- Other IDs like baranggay ID & School ID
- PCR test To be safe do it closest to departure – we did it the morning of – because it is valid only 48hrs before arrival to destination country, so it it’s a long flight & layover you risk it lapsing if you do it the day before departure if there are delays
What other documents do you think is important to bring when moving with your child? Am I forgetting anything?
WHAT TO CHECK IN
Here’s a hack: a passenger with a child is entitled to check-in/gate-check 1 car seat per child for FREE. So I take advantage of this benefit, so that when we arrive we already have a car seat ready to use, especially if the destination is strict with carseats for children. However, you can also buy a car seat at your destination, just make sure that taxis there or the person picking you up, will have a car seat for your child(ren).
I purchased this EU approved car seat from my favorite German car seat brand in hopes of an EU posting and thank God I did! It’s important to check if the car seat you are taking is approved in the country of destination.
For the trip, it’s good if you can find A PROTECTIVE CAR SEAT BAG WITH WHEELS to make it easy to bring through the airport. If I could do it all over again, I would have ordered this way ahead on Amazon:
Wheels make it easy to bring with you through massive airports
But if you prefer a knapsack, I found this one too. You will just have to check that the dimensions will fit your existing car seat. There are many other options HERE.
I admit I was too late to prepare this, so I found a trolley with wheels from Ace hardware and used small furniture wrap to attach it.
So with a little creativity this is how it looked. As long as it makes it easy to bring around the airport!
A friend gave us a car seat bag, but it did not fully fit around the stroller wheels, but it did the job.
Usually airlines will have a big clear plastic bag to place the car seat in so the bag is not really necessary, just nice to have.
The best is if you can GATE CHECK THE CAR SEAT, so that it goes straight from the departure area/entrance of the plane into the plane cargo. If you are able to GATE CHECK, it reduces the risk of the carseat getting banged up.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Car seats that are banged up, dropped or thrown are not safe if they get banged up because it can dislodge the interior parts that keep our child safe during an accident.
Unfortunately we had no choice with Turkish Airlines in Manila but to surrender upon check in. They did not allow us to GATE CHECK our car seat. I BEGGED them to please handle it with care because it could mean the life of my child if we got into an accident, if the car seat is banged up. I think they understood, but of course upon receiving the car seat the plastic had some tears, but no visible damage to the bag or seat.
Please note that not all airlines will have a carseat bag because sometimes they run out. You can check with your airline before departure to be sure.
WHAT WE BROUGHT WITH US ON THE PLANE
The most important thing for me it to bring an airline approved stroller that can fit the overhead bin. It’s important NOT TO CHECK IN YOUR STROLLER especially if you a) have a layover and/or b) have a late night/early morning departure or arrival. It may seem doable to carry a baby, but airports are huge & the walks to/from the departure area are long. So if you want to be comfortable & your child to sleep through these long walks & layovers, you have to have your stroller with you.
If you check in your stroller, most likely you will not see it until your destination, with your luggage. I’ve heard of different experiences from moms. But it’s also possible to ask the airline if you can get your stroller as you disembark for your layovers so that your child can sleep comfortably & get around huge airports.
BIG BONUS: It’s a one handed close & open.
When we are boarding, it’s so convenient to be able to fold it so small & pull it through through the departure area, tarmac & plane because it rolls like a hand-carried luggage. Btw they always ask us to surrender our stroller, but I carry an extra lock & say I would rather surrender our trolley (make sure it’s the one without the valuables) than our stroller coz DiploBaby always falls asleep in the plane & when we arrive we just plop him on the stroller as we disembark coz he is too heavy to carry.
A stroller also helps with carrying the diaper bag & handbag to keep your hands free! The best thing about the looping stroller is that when you aren’t using it, you can roll it around & not have to carry it like the Pockit stroller. The Pockit is the lightest stroller & we owned one but when we were in Japan it was such a hassle to carry it when we weren’t using it, it’s much easier to roll the looping when not in use. This is such a convenient feature you need to carry less things when you are traveling, especially if you are moving!
Another advantage of the looping is it can carry a heavy child. It’s supposed to be only up to 20kg, but we got the bigger wheels and even if my son’s legs are a bit long we still use it when we travel by plane because last year at 26/27kg he is impossible to carry when he is sleepy.
This is a bit bulky, but it’s really the best potty for us. When we use this potty DiploBaby’s legs and nether regions don’t end up touching the gross public toilet seats & it gives more support than the folding potty that we used to have but he outgrew already. We just placed it in our hand-carry trolley.
DiploBaby has been using The IKEA Tossig potty since he was 2months until present. He is already 30kg at almost 7 years old.
3. Comfortable Children’s Masks
As a rule bring enough so you can change your child’s mask every 4 hours PLUS EXTRA just in case they sneeze our cough inside of it. Bring the same for yourself of course. For DiploBaby we brought 2 kinds:
- GOOD MANNER kids KF94 disposable masks (We order from Mariel of Little Soon shop on Lazada +639176319306 but here are other sellers on Lazada & Shopee)
- UNIQLO Airism masks in SMALL for when he is sleeping. the softest & most comfortable reusable mask for DiploBaby. They have this even lighter updated version too.
NOTE: In case you are wondering, Ilwoul is the best disposable masks for our faceshape. It’s sooo light, breathable & it doesn’t hurt around the ears. The fit is so much better than others we’ve tried. We get ours from Menchie +63 917 893 5653.
4. ADJUSTABLE FACESHIELDS THAT CAN HINGE UP
This is important because masks + faceshields tend to fog. I found [INSERT BRAND] which hinges up so that when you feel that it’s fogging you can move it away from your face.
It’s also easy to hinge up or open when you are eating or drinking. They are thick but very light and well made. The adult one fits on us and our toddler. But please note he has an extra large head. I recommend ordering to test on your kid.
We only needed to wear the faceshields until Istanbul, but we still carried it along with us & wore it when we felt like there were other people nearby.
We paid extra to go on business class because when you have a toddler & a dog, it’s better to have more space. And during this pandemic, if you can afford it I highly recommend it because there will be less people around you,so it feels sooo much safer!
These helped us keep our handbag/diaperbags/knapsack attached to our luggage, so we weren’t juggling too many things.
Seriously these bag bungees saved us coz I had to drag the 2 trolleys + 2 knapsacks across the Istanbul airport by myself while pushing DiploBaby’s stroller as TD – who was holding DiploDog – was being whisked off by an electric wheelchair assistant.
If you are moving you are most likely bringing a lot of things, like your valuables, papers etc so anything that can keep them all compact and easy to pull, especially if you are traveling with kid/s and a dog is super helpful!
This also prevents losing your stuff, which would be a nightmare coz your valuables are in there.
5. 4 WHEELED LUGGAGES + BOXES WITH HANDLES
When traveling, especially when you are moving, I recommend only using 4 wheel luggage. This is easier to handle than old school 2 wheeled luggage! You can even easily push 2 large luggages back to back with one hand. This is not possible with 2 wheel luggage. You want to keep your other hand free for holding your toddlers hand or to push the stroller.
We couldn’t really afford to buy more luggage so for our other items we used boxes. To make them easier to pull on and off the pushcart/carousel, I highly recommend using box straps. We bought these balikbayan box straps from Ace Hardware in Makati. They come in 2 sizes. They also have boxes available there.
It’s not perfect, so I used duct tape to seal or make it watertight
I did wrap my boxes in plastic furniture wrap, so it wouldn’t dissolve if it rained. I usually purchase these in Office Warehouse, National Bookstore, Shopee or on Lazada. It’s not always on stock so if I see, I buy these immediately.
WHAT WAS IN OUR DIAPER BAG
My son by this time was no longer using diapers, but we still brought his travel diaper bag because it’s light, compact and also has a strap to attach it to our hand-carry trolley. So what did we have in our 5yo son’s diaper bag?
- 2 Soft Tees
- 2 extra socks
- Extra pair of Muji toddler easy to move denim (It’s the best for travel coz it has the softest waist band & denim)
- Cold weather: UNIQLO ultra light down jacket the best for travel because it’s super compact & light
- For cool/warm weather I recommend UNIQLO’s UV protection parkas for sun/wind
- New small pack of LEGO with instructions in a ziplock bag for playing
- WELEDA nappy cream The best for all irritations & dryness, not just the nappy
- Snacks like his favorite sunflower seeds & KIND dark chocolate & sea salt bar
- Organic biodegradable wipes
- Lots of thick tissue
- Purilyte Non-toxic Sanitizer
- KUJAKU water bottle with cold water seriously best water bottle ever
- 2 milk bottles with lukewarm water
- Stackable Milk Powder Formula Dispenser with premeasured formula
- Portable potty for peeing just in case we cannot find a safe place for my son to pee
Our flight from Manila to Geneva was about 18 hours including 4 hour layover in Istanbul, so adjust the what you are bringing & the quantity according to how long your flight will be and the season you are flying to.
UPGRADING TO BUSINESS CLASS
When TD and I didn’t have a child yet, we would move traveling economy then DiploDog would usually be checked in with his doggie carrier. But when we were leaving Berlin, DiploDog was too old to withstand the harsh conditions of the cargo hold – he is alone & it’s super cold in cargo without any climate control – so we found out that some airlines like KLM & Turkish Airlines allow small pets in the cabin.
So imagine moving with a newborn (DiploBaby was only 4mos) AND a dog in economy? It’s would be so difficult, so we decided to pay with our own money to upgrade to Business Class to have more space. The bonus is we can also bring more. From 23kg per person to 32kg. This plus added comfort made it so worth it for us.
Last year when we moved during the pandemic, it also helped us feel safer in business class. There were only 3 families in business. But I think more people are traveling business now to have less people & socially distance. I still recommend it because of all the benefits that help reduce stress during the moving & flying process for us.
The Business Class seats were actually a bit difficult to get in and out off for a plussize person like me. It was also hard for me to help DiploBaby even if we were beside each other. But we choose Turkish coz it has the best schedule for us & the layover isn’t too long OR too short.
Being in business has some perks that I enjoyed like the safe so I can get up without being concerned about my valuables and of course better food.
TIPS BEFORE LEAVING
Make sure to check what the airline allows in your carry on & luggage & pack accordingly. For example on Turkish Airlines I found these links helpful:
- What is the maximum allowable weight for our luggage (car seat is not included in this)
- What’s allowed in the free baggage
- What’s allowed in the hand carry luggage
- Complete list of restrictions
- Any other questions on what we can/cannot bring
When moving & traveling, it is important to have a luggage weighing scale because we usually want to maximize our weight allowances. This is another advantage on upgrading to Business Class we can take more with us. On Turkish Airlines, the maximum weight of 1 piece of baggage is 32 kg for Business Class. We do not travel light when we are moving because we are basically moving our whole lives & household so we do bring A LOT with us. Below is what went on the plane with us!
15 pieces total for check in + hand-carried items combined:
- Airline cabin overhead fitting stroller
- Car seat with wheels
- Airline approved dog bag coz DiploDog was going with us in the cabin
- Childs bag with toys, books, snacks
- Diaper Bag that I would carry with my own valuables
- TD’s knapsack with all the important documents & gadgets for easy removal during security
- 2 handcarry luggages (one each kami ni TD with our knapsacks attached for convenience)
- 4 full-sized luggage for check in
- 3 balikbayan boxes with handles for easy handling. I also wrapped the boxes in furniture wrap so in case it rained, the contents wouldn’t get wet. The handles are important for me because it’s hard to grab boxes quickly from the carousel without handles. It also saves our backs.
We hired a van to take us to the airport in Manila so all the luggage would fit.
Of course hire a porter to make everything manageable in the departure area in Manila. Enjoy while porters still exist coz there are usually no porters in developed countries where labor is expensive.
Choose a layover that is not too quick, especially if you will go through security. For example when we were moving to Berlin, we chose an airline that had a layover in Amsterdam that was too short… I think it was just 2 hours. It wasn’t enough to get through the whole airport + security. Because of this our bags did not make it on the plane and we were literally running as they were calling our names. The people on the plane were giving us dirty looks because we caused a delay.
With a child, do not choose a layover that is too long either. Because this prolongs the trip and is very tiring physically, not just for the child but also for the adults. 4-5hrs is the perfect layover for me. Enough time to go through large airports & eat, but not too much that we are bored out of our wits and end up shopping.
Of course if there was a direct trip, that would be the best to reduce travel time & stress. This means no deplaning, waiting, going through security more than once, etc.
Because of the amount of sanitizing you will be doing during your travel, I highly recommend bringing a non-drying safe sanitizer like Purilyte. Alcohol is a toxic substance that we absorb through our skin whenever we use it so it can tax our internal organs. It is also dangerous to inhale. I literally shipped a few gallons of Purilyte to Switzerland and still using it coz my son’s sensitive skin gets burned with the chemicals of normal hand sanitizer/alcohol.
Also traveling is very dehydrating so be sure not to drink beverages that make it worse like tea, coffee and soda. We prefer calorie free yet refreshing sparkling water which we introduced to our son early so he isn’t addicted to fake juices with tons of sugar. Hydrate & use the loo if you need to. If you are in business, this shouldn’t be a problem. The loos are very clean.
Because of TD’s cancer limb saving surgery his legs cannot withstand long quick walks through large airports so we always request for wheel chair assistance. If you have any sickness that limits mobility or have senior citizens, I always recommend this. Do not be embarassed because you don’t want to end up injured at the very beginning of your move. You need all the strength for house hunting and so much more!
Wheelchair assistance will bring you to the lounge and then pick you up in time for boarding.
When we arrived, we were thankfully met by TDs office with 2 vans and of course #DiploBigBro was there too!
Here we are in #DiploBigBro’s car, happy to have arrived in one piece with everything we brought with us intact.