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  • How to Travel to Italy with Baby
    Get tips on how to get to the Homeland with your little one in tow
    Our Paesani

    by Francesca Di Meglio

    I'm about to embark on a life-changing trip to Italy. My husband, who is a native of Ischia, the island of my ancestors, and I are taking our 18-month-old son to the homeland for the second time. Last year, we took him to meet his Italian relatives in Ischia. We stayed for three months, during which Baby Boy had lots of beach time but also a month-long bout of diarrhea that had him lose all the weight he had gained while there. This time, we'll be there for almost a year. We're missing American Fourth of July, Halloween, and Thanksgiving in favor of Ferragosto and Italian natale. Our son will celebrate his second birthday there.

    But before we can get to all that good stuff, we have to get there. Traveling from the United States to Italy with a toddler can be a challenge. It was hard enough when he was six months old and couldn't walk yet. Despite the differences – now, my son who has the energy of the Energizer bunny will be itching to hop around during turbulence – there are some lessons that I picked up on our first trip.

    Since I know many of you are thinking about taking trips with your families, sometimes with little children or teens in tow, I thought I'd share what I've learned. Here goes nothing:

    Know your luggage limits.
    The airlines have strict rules about how much weight you can carry. Most airlines allow each person who paid for an adult ticket to have one luggage at 50 pounds. If you go over this 50-pound limit, you'll have to pay a fee. Sometimes, if one person's luggage is under weight and the other's is slightly over, the airline will let you move something from one bag to another to get them both at regulation.

    If you want to bring an extra luggage, you'll have to pay around $100, sometimes less, sometimes more, but usually in that arena. I often pay this fee because I bring gifts for relatives, and it's much cheaper than actually mailing a box to them from the States. When you're bringing a toddler for nine months, you have no choice but to carry an entire kids' wardrobe, so there's no choice but to pay these fees.

    Of course, you can also bring some things on the plane with you, usually a personal computer or bag and a carry-on luggage. I bring a mini rolling suitcase that keeps all my office supplies, including my laptop and other electronic devices, adapters, and battery chargers. Then, I bring another duffle bag full of goodies and treats for my son. My husband brings one of those, too.

    Be prepared for boredom and discomfort.
    Our carry-on bags are full of sippy cups (one with milk and the others empty for water or juice), some crackers and puffs for snacks (enough to last us for the nearly 24 hours of travel that we'll be doing to get to Ischia), toys (little ones that are interactive, such as a remote control that plays music and sings the alphabet, coloring books, crayons, and his favorite Mickey Mouse stuffed animal, which has become like a security blanket. I also bring a heavy baby blanket and a light one, and extra clothes. I like to keep him on schedule by changing him into pajamas when it's time to catch some zzz's. Plus, you never know if he'll have an accident, so I bring two pajamas and two extra outfits (including socks) just to be safe. I usually bring at least one snazzy outfit for when we finally arrive in Naples (where relatives usually meet us to catch the boat to go to Ischia).

    Have fun in flight.
    Try to stay calm even if your baby starts to lose it. Baby Boy got rather agitated and quit breastfeeding in flight when another baby started screaming last time around. But we stayed quiet and rocked him as best we could, and then we put him in the little cradle that the airline gave us to attach to the wall in front of us. This is super convenient, and you should ask the airline to reserve a spot like this for you if you have a little one. When baby is not sleeping, you can occupy your time with those toys and in-flight films or cartoons.

    Show them their heritage.
    Once you get to Italy, make like the Italians. Even baby can do as the Romans. For instance, my son ate pureed rabbit and all of his veggies were mixed with pastina. Of course, be careful; if your child has known food allergies, read labels and ask lots of questions before having him or her try something new. Also, bring baby to meet relatives, sing Italian songs, watch Italian cartoons, and say a few words to them in Italian. If you can, have them play with other Italian kids. Even if baby is too little to remember your adventure in the homeland, you'll have the memories for a lifetime.

    Di Meglio is the author of Fun with the Family New Jersey (Globe Pequot Press Travel, 2012), which is available on Amazon.com, and you can follow her life and work at the Two Worlds Web site.


    Article Published 3/25/13

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