Travelling with a baby can be exhausting. You need to spend more time and effort on planning (it’s not such a big deal to sleep in a car when you’re alone but with a baby, you need to have a more decent place to spend the night at). With a baby, you may not travel on a pace you want to but, on the other hand, the baby can make you move quicker, like in the morning when you have to get up, ready and going before the time of the first nap.
Nevertheless, as daunting as it may seem, having a baby didn’t make us stop travelling. We just love it too much. The first time we went to another city by train when our daughter was 1 month old, first time to another country when she was 8 mo, and when she turned 1 year old, we dared to go on an adventure overseas, namely to Canada for 6 weeks. There were some other trips in between but this journey through Canada taught us a lot: we tried and proofed various techniques on how to make this trip as enjoyable and safe as possible. These we want to share with you.
First thing first, how to combine baby’s needs with travelling?
Babies need routine, no matter where you are. When the baby is healthy and happy, the travel is fun and joy for all. We developed a well-working routine and it helped us to keep pace in our trip too. It looks like that: baby wakes up, we get up and ready and no matter what hit the road around the nap time, baby sleeps in the car. If the destination is closer than her nap duration, we drive slowly (making the drivers behind angry but sorry, baby comes first in our priorities). During the awake time, we always give the opportunity to stretch the little legs and walk around till she gets tired (doesn’t last too long at 13 months). Second nap (if any) can be in the carrier or during the car ride back home or to another destination. By 20:00 we get home, so no night lights for us with the baby around (and several years ahead I guess).
Important! Entertainment on the go:
When the baby was awake during the drive, it was very helpful to have lots of little toys: finger toys, rattles, a massage ball, board books etc. (tip – new toys work best. To make them “new”, hide the toys you are going to take with you at least a week before the trip and they will be better appreciated then). And heaps of healthy snacks: rice cookies, corn/ peas/ vegetable puffs, dried fruit (dried mango is a big hit here from 6mo, cranberries are also great), half grapes and blueberries are also good since they are tasty and not messy.
Feeding the baby on a trip:
There is a great invention – pouches with pureed food, you can find them in any baby food department, they are easy to feed and don’t make a mess. Unfortunately, our girl refused eating out anything but snacks and breastmilk. So we had to mix those poaches with her porridge in a bowl for breakfast and dinner at home. But she had eaten them so well before this trip.
And to keep her clothes from ruining we used bibs with sleeves. Very handy.
Not every Airbnb and not every cafe has high chairs, so (talking about planning) we bought another great thing in advance – so-called safety seat belt, or travel high chair. We checked a lot of products offered online and chose this one – cheap, lightweight, takes very little space, easy to wash and fast to dry, it also fits every chair for its simple design.
We also own a travel potty which can be used as a potty on its own or “trainer seat” and folds to take very little space in your bag.
As people who like to travel and plan, we bought a travel buggy too.
It’s a good thing to have but not very convenient in cities with bumpy cobblestones, especially built on hills. And its useless on the most mountain trails. Solution? A backpack carrier. We use it a lot and take it on every trip. It frees up your hands, gives you mobility, well, a sore back too sometimes but still, it’s much easier to carry a child in it than in a front carrier.
Travelling by air
So far we’ve only travelled with an infant without her own seat, anyway she has always slept only in my arms. It is not easy to hold the baby for many hours sitting in one place. What helps is a sling which frees your hands and removes your worries to drop the baby if you relax or even fall asleep. I wish I’d thought of it before the 8 hours flight. In a separate post we’ve gathered more tips on how to survive a flight with a small child.
Where to stay when travelling with a baby?
When we choose an accommodation for our trips, we prefer to stay at apartments with a kitchen, a big bed (or even 2), in a quiet place but in a walking distance to the attractions, if possible, ideally – and with a terrace or balcony with a view – to be able to enjoy the evening when the baby is already asleep. Mostly it’s Airbnb for us.
Do you really need screens?
We’ve got a tablet, mostly for work but also downloaded our favourite educational cartoons, like Baby Einstein, just in case. At home, our smart tv is a saver as it’s often the only way we can manage to feed our picky eater. However, on a trip, there’re so many interesting things around that the previous tips and some of your unique inventions, only you may think of while interacting with your own unique child, will be enough to entertain your little one.
We always take with us a little first aid kit, including paracetamol, Betadine, some band-aid, antidiarrheals, nausea medication, thermometer, tweezers for removing ticks – things that don’t take much space but can be so helpful, especially when travelling with a child. And international medical insurance is a must, of course.
Is it difficult to travel with a baby?
Of course! But it’s not easy to be a parent no matter where you are. But is it worth it? They will not remember anything, it is tiresome for you and for them. So why bother? That’s why:
Of course, the memories will not stay in their young developing brain, but it’s amazing how they develop on a journey! Our baby started walking on a trip, she has no problem falling asleep in unusual places (as long as mommy is with her), she has seen so many new animals and beautiful places, and all these experiences have enriched her inner world immensely. And that will stay, it will not go anywhere. Our girl really enjoys travelling, she likes seeing new things around her, being on the move and out, being not bored at home. After every trip she begs me to go outside from the early morning.
So why rob yourself and your kids of beautiful experiences, memories and full life? Take your child(ren) on an adventure, show them this world, let them see how big and diverse it is! That’s a great gift you can give them. And if you have any questions or need advice, feel free to ask in the comments, in person or in any other convenient way.