Your baby just might be the most well-behaved traveler you encounter on your journey
If you’re struggling to get out the door with a baby for daily errands, you’re probably not considering a road trip, going camping, or even a flight any time soon. But taking a trip with a baby is actually easier than you think. And straight talk: Traveling with a baby is easier than with an older child, so get out while you can.
Plus, you’ll score some amazing memories, killer photos, and probably a few funny stories out of it. So if you’re dreaming of traveling, here’s why you should make it a reality now.
photo: Derek Owens via Unsplash
1. Babies sleep. A lot. If you anticipate your baby’s needs by scheduling regular feedings, cuddles and diaper changes, they’ll be mostly content to snooze as you explore your new surroundings.
2. Time goes so fast. Take these moments to travel while you can.
3. You usually don’t have to pay for your child’s seat on a train or airplane until age two. Just pop them on your lap, which is their favorite place to be anyway. They will also likely not have to pay an entrance fee at museums and other must-see attractions. Yep, that includes Disney theme parks.
4. Your child will see a whole new side of you, and experience a sense of wonder you can’t get from your regular routine.
5. You don’t have to pay for baby meals either. You may be lugging along some extra gear, like baby bottles or formula containers, but you’re not paying for an overpriced meal that an older child would say “All done!” to after eating only two bites.
6. You can be present in a different way than you can at home. You’re experiencing new things right along with your child, and there’s magic in sharing that sense of excitement and wonder together.
7. It’s hard to believe, but you have more flexibility now than you will when your child is older. Before you know it, your child will be in school and enrolled in activities and your adventures will be restricted by those schedules. So enjoy that you only need to plan around adult schedules now.
8. Travel is the most fun way to learn that yes, you can do hard things as a parent. Packing for the trip, dealing with delays or other uncomfortable travel moments, resolving conflicts with your partner, all these things can happen. And while they’re what travel horror stories are made of, they’re also a way to impress yourself with how well you’re able to adapt, alter plans, speak in a foreign language or comfort your child. It’s just one of the many ways travel enriches our lives.
9. Traveling is good for your relationship with your partner. Babies tend to become the main topic of conversation with your partner because they’re both super cute and super needy. And while traveling with a baby won’t change that, it will give you and your partner lots of new things to discuss, as well as memories you’ll treasure.
10. Fact: Sometimes babies cry on airplanes. And despite the horror stories you’ve heard, most people are nice about it. You’ll be surprised at how helpful other passengers, and especially flight attendants, can be to parents with little ones. From offers to walk with your baby up and down the aisle to bringing snacks for you, you’ll find a community onboard that’s ready to help you get through an in-flight meltdown. And if someone is a jerk? Well, you’ll never have to see them again.
11. Portability! Non-mobile babies are along for the ride. Pop them in a stroller, infant car seat, hiking front pack, or baby carrier, and they will nap and chill while you go off on adventures.
12. A non-mobile baby gets into less mischief in a new place than an older child would. Once you plonk them down someplace safe, you don’t need to worry about them putting something dangerous in their mouth, knocking over a fragile vase, or toppling down ungated stairs.
13. Once kids can walk and talk, they have a lot of opinions about what they want to do and when. Babies mainly want to spend time with you, so you get to decide where you go and what you do, provided you’re mindful of naps and mealtimes.
14. That first year can be a blur of sleepless nights, feedings, and diaper changes. Traveling with a baby gives you new and exciting things to focus on, which can up your mood and your energy level. That’s good for you, and it’s good for your baby to see you excited and experiencing things you love.
15. Everybody loves babies. Expect kindness from strangers, hotel staff, and restaurant managers as they go out of their way to help you and make sure you and your child get the most out of your travels.
16. It’s the best kind of quality time. Experiencing new things as a family builds special bonds that are hard to create at home, where you’re working and rushing through your regular routines.
17. Visiting new places is an education. Point out different colors in the woods or name landmarks in a city to develop your baby’s language skills.
18. In addition to language skills, exposing your child to new people, sights, sounds, smells, foods, languages, and scenery enriches their mind and their life. Take photos and videos so you can remind them of their baby adventures when they’re older. Kids love to hear about things they did when they were younger, and travel gives you lots to talk about, from funny memories to historical landmarks you saw and interesting people you met.
photo: Larry Crayton via Unsplash
19. You’ll love seeing the world through your child’s eyes. Watching your baby experience sand or ocean waves for the first time is a memory you won’t forget. The same goes for snow, new foods, and visits with relatives who live too far away.
20. Getting away from your home and most of your stuff shows you in vivid detail how you can be happy and fulfilled with so much less, and that definitely includes baby gear. Yes, you’ll need to bring necessities like diapers, but you won’t need all the toys, all the outfits, all the stuff. Try this test: Give your baby an empty water bottle or magazine and you’ll see how a random object can hold a baby’s attention as well as a toy does.
21. You’ll spot things you wouldn’t have otherwise. Watch your baby intently looking at an animal they haven’t seen before or laughing at an unfamiliar sound, and you’ll develop a new appreciation for your surroundings and your child’s brilliant developing mind.
22. Perspective. Babies thrive on routines and schedules, which can be difficult to maintain during travel. If you’re the kind of parent who freaks out if you get off schedule (same!), seeing that you and your child can survive a time difference, a missed nap, sleeping in a different bed or other shifts to your routine can make you relax and be willing to take other worthwhile risks in the future.
23. Traveling with a baby teaches you to slow down and adapt when necessary. It’s harder to maintain an itinerary when traveling with a baby, but it can be incredibly valuable to take an unexpected break and sit while your child drinks a bottle or nurses. Or to leave a museum amid a baby meltdown and walk the grounds instead. Stepping out of your scheduled activities to adjust to your child’s needs can also open you up to experiences you wouldn’t have had otherwise. A later start time, taking a different route or spending longer at one location can all lead to fortuitous surprises.
24. Self-care. Visiting a place you’re excited about and planning an enriching itinerary can make you feel like your pre-baby self again. And all new parents need that sometimes. Pro tip: Take turns with your partner to hang out with the baby during naps while the other parent slips out for some solo activities.
25. You’ll instill a love of travel and learning in your child. Even if your baby won’t remember the adventures you took when they were little, they’ll know that exploring the world is important to you and that can shape their own interest in new experiences.