Finally, here’s a topic I officially feel like an expert on.
Me, the mom that signed her baby up for a US passport the week after she was born…because OF COURSE I’d still be shooting that Destination Wedding 10 weeks after my due date! They sleep all the time! You only live once! Travel baby!
I swear I wasn’t *so* naive. I knew it would be hard. But you just cannot know exactly HOW HARD. I didn’t know I’d be pumping every two hours in the middle of the night in Bali just trying to get enough breastmilk for that 10 hour wedding day. I didn’t realize just how long it would even take me to pump. I didn’t see myself jiggling that screaming newborn in that Japanese department store endlessly, trying to get her to just go.to.sleep.already.
But you know what, it’s ok. It may have been foolish. But I look back on that trip as our parenting trial by fire. If we could survive this, we could survive ANYTHING (we hadn’t started to cry – it – out yet).
We actually took her on her first flight at 6 weeks. Honestly the flights, in the beginning, are the easiest parts. And even the sleep isn’t that bad. For me, traveling in the beginning was hardest because of how long it would take to breastfeed her. I just felt like we couldn’t do or see much of anything before she needed to eat again. And with your first, it takes some time to do all of it on the go. The best thing in Tokyo were the nursing rooms in every department store. It was a welcome respite to go into a cool, quiet place to nurse. In Bali, there were no such thing. And I had to become comfortable with my breasts real fast. Which wasn’t necessarily so bad. Next baby, you can bet I won’t be wasting any time with private rooms.
Fast forward to today, and my daughter is 18 months. Almost 2. I’ve traveled a lot with her, by myself, with my husband, with girlfriends, on the road, on a plane, for work, with family, and everything in between. What I can say, with my limited experience, is that traveling will bring out the best in you and the worst in you. That’s true whether you have a child or not. With your child on board, everything is intensified – every layover – every hour on the road – every inconvenience. You have to be more flexible than you can imagine.
Also, before your baby is 2 years old, every day, every week, every month, is different. You can NEVER predict how your child will behave on a trip or while traveling. At least, I think that’s true. I happen to have a very spirited one, so maybe it’s more true for me than for more mellow babes. But I still think that you never totally know when they are going to get sick, start teething, decide to start crawling, etc. And you don’t always know how they will be in a new environment.
But if there’s anything I want to leave you with, it’s this :
It’s WORTH it.
Every trial makes us stronger. Every experience enriches us. And as a parent, you cannot protect yourself from those trials (See also : baby jet lag.) So you may as well embrace them. Face them head first.
Just because you have a kid doesn’t mean you have to stay home for the next 18 years. Sure, there are some years it will be especially challenging (HELLO TODDLER TOWN!) but you just have to get creative, and prepare thyself.
I’ll leave you with a few practical, off the top of my head travel tips :
- Sleep train them! And get a lightweight travel crib. These two things are pretty much the key to traveling with ease.
- Wear them through the airport in a carrier or sling or wrap thing – you don’t have to take them out through security! And bonus, hands-free to chug a Starbucks iced coffee right before you board.
- Stay in ONE place. Have a home base, and take short trips from there. The hardest part of traveling with a kid is all their junk, and moving that from place to place. Having a solid home base eliminates the amount of schlepping you will have to do. Plus if you stick it out at least 2 nights they will be sleeping like champs in that new place for however long you are there.
- Be realistic about how much you can get done in one day. Plan for one awesome excursion and have some time to hang at your home base for a bit after that.
- Be flexible with naps. They just might take crappy car/stroller naps the whole trip, and then you’ll just deal with the fallout when you get home. It’s all part of the adventure.
- Remember that babies are tiny mental patients. Repeat JBBB to yourself and your spouse as often as needed.
I would love to hear your tips and tricks for traveling with babies in our comments! Hit me mamas!
This post is in Collaboration with some other RAD MOMS! Read their posts on Traveling with Tots Below :