What to Buy or Bring: Traveling with a Toddler

KidCo PeaPod  This is a small pop-tent which functions as a crib with integrated mosquito net.  It folds down into a tiny (~8”) circle, and just magically transforms into a tent when released.  It has a self-inflating mattress that fits well with the rest of it when folded up.

The PeaPod has screen windows.  I took it out back and hosed it down with Sawyer Permethrin Clothing Insect Repellent, waited until it dried, and soaked it again.  Instant mosquito-proof baby crib.  (This has been important because not every place we’ve stayed has nets, which is another story…)

The PeaPod has been a big success.  It is rugged, packs light, and sets up easy.

USB-powered fan  The PeaPod can get hot if there’s no electricity and the overhead fan is out.  But we have a USB powerpack & solar charger.  We wish we’d brought this…

Valved toddler sippy cup  We tried to skate with the disposable sippy cups.  Without a valve, they slowly leak when tipped over.  This means they can’t be left in the PeaPod.  Hydration was a serious concern, but our toddler self-hydrates pretty well.  He carries around his cup and sucks on it more or less non-stop, just like we carry around water bottles.  He understands to bring it to us to refill when it’s empty.

City Mini GT or similar large-tired stroller  Seduced by the light weight, we brought a high-end umbrella stroller.  It hasn’t cut it in the dust, sand, and rugged terrain of Ouagadougou and Brazzaville city “streets”.  It has terminal Mars Curiosity wheels.

Beco Gemini or other backpack style carrier  My wife demanded that I include this.  We haven’t used it at home recently because of his growth, but there have been plenty of times on this trip when it would have been the best option.  Unfortunately, we left it at home.

Cosco Scenera car seat  Primarily because it’s inexpensive, but also because it’s easy to quickly pass a seatbelt through to secure it.  We are treating this as disposable because it’s taking a beating in taxis but keeping the kid safe.  There will be an upcoming blog post devoted to carseats in Africa.  Abstract: They think you’re crazy, but do it anyways.

A cheap pill cutter-crusher  A spoonful of peanut-butter helps the Malarone go down, Malarone go dowwwn, Malarone go dowwwn…

Battery-powered night-light  The downside to the mosquito-proof PeaPod is that it isn’t as easy to get him in and out for hugs, water, etc. at night to help him quiet down.  In some cases, a night-light would have helped.  This is what we’ve got at home and is great, but it would take modification for charging; my wife thinks this would be better for travel.

Lots and lots of extra blue blankies  What can I say?  We have Linus.  We brought six, and it’s been a struggle to keep a couple clean and dry at all times.  Because he’s going through a lot of change, he has been glued to his security blanket.