Travelling with a baby: Is it Possible?
While pregnant my husband and I determined we weren’t going to let a baby change the way we lived our lives. Ha… again, seriously though.
While we have worked hard to preserve certain aspects of our marriage and life, things have definitely changed. When our daughter arrived, my whole world turned around. But the biggest shocker, even though I knew, was that our daughter was a whole new little person with all her own personality and preferences.
While pregnant, my husband and I planned a 3 week trip to Europe. Our destinations: Venice (Italy), Vienna (Austria), and Berlin (Germany). I’ve decided on separating posts into subjects. I will share from our experience, how we prepared, what we brought, what our experiences were, and really what worked and what didn’t.
So the big question, is it possible to travel with a baby? Yes. Is it possible to travel internationally with a baby? Indeed, the answer is still yes.
My biggest advice to you if you are thinking about travelling is to know yourself and to know your baby. You may have traveled in the past and loved certain aspects of what you did and how things went. I assure you, travelling with your child will be completely different and also wonderful.
Think very hard about taking your baby half way across the world before you make the decision. I personally never would have traveled internationally without my husband’s help with our daughter being between 4 and 5 months old. If you’re traveling with family or friends who are able to help, that’s a huge bonus! Traveling on it’s own is exhausting, traveling with a baby is even more so. At least that was the case for us. We are very blessed that our daughter is a super champ. We took a total of 8 flights and she was a superstar for a majority of them. Even the flight she karate chopped me in the neck momentarily cutting off my air supply. When she had meltdowns or was upset, it was very difficult to feel frustrated or upset as we felt her upset was warranted. Travel days are hard for adults! How much more so for a little who can’t express themselves fully or is out of their routine and comfort zone?
In choosing a destination, specifically for travelling internationally, pick a place that is flexible for sight seeing and the things you want to do. Take Paris for example. My advice is if you’ve never been to Paris don’t take your young baby with you unless they’re very calm and flexible. While in Venice we paid $50 to view art at one of the museums with audio tour guides. We were there a total of 10 minutes before our daughter began shrieking at the top of her lungs. We were unable to view much of anything and no toy or pacifier or source of comfort would soothe her. A similar situation happened when we visited a palace in Vienna. We were able to walk through the site, but low and behold she shrieked and squealed a majority of the time and we sped through faster than we would have sans baby. Our daughter in particular enjoys shrieking as a way of expressing herself. Your child may be very different from ours. We had to cater our visits around her volume and “squiggles”, so our site visits were short and we usually ate in, especially in the evenings when she is the most tired.
So if you’re wanting to go to Paris and spend hours walking through the Louvre, or stroll through Versailles, or gaze at the Eiffel Tower’s sparkling lights while sipping wine late at night I would suggest waiting until your child is older, or taking the trip with just you and your partner. But again, you may have a child that is much more flexible than our own. Our daughter is neither needy or super independent. I believe she is acting her age in which shrieking, babbling, and wanting what she wants right now is all a part of normal life. Know your child, they’re not anyone else. You know what they can handle, and what they cannot.
If you’re concerned about your baby being troublesome to other people at sites or on flights, please don’t be. Most people either found her amusing, or wanted to help us soothe her. And if people were being jerks, they were being inconsiderate regarding basic hospitality that all parents of children deserve. Don’t worry about what other people think. If someone is a jerk to you while travelling, that’s all they are.
We generally walk a lot on our trips as we enjoy seeing sites more than sitting idle. Baby girl was in her carrier or her stroller while out. I personally found it unfair for her to be in the carrier or stroller for long periods of time. We provided her with toys yes, but often my husband or myself would take her out to hold her and walk. We would talk to her and show her things. We also needed to restructure our days, because again, I didn’t think it was fair for her to be lugged around all day because we wanted to see things. She is an individual too, and we need to respect her wants and needs. So usually we would spend an afternoon or a morning at the hotel or Air BnB so she could play, stretch out, and get a couple of solid naps in. Or if for some reason we were out for longer, we would stop in a park and lay out a blanket for her to stretch, play, and gets some better interaction in.
Travelling with a baby is so much more low key than travelling on your own. It’s a must to rest, and to factor them into your lifestyle as well. We needed to change the way we traveled because she is just that important to us, but she is also a part of our lives as well. And to be happily blunt, she fits right in. Our trip was amazing and she was too. I cannot brag or boast about her enough.
Would we travel with her again? Yes definitely. Later this year I’ll be travelling domestically on my own to visit relatives, and in the new year we will be travelling to Asia to visit relatives as well. I am certain both those trips will be drastically different from the one we just took for various reasons such as length of time, but mainly because our daughter is growing non stop and she will be so much older and life will look so much different. Maybe those trips won’t go as smoothly. But maybe they’ll be just amazing as well.
Some pros to travelling with a young baby.
- They’re portable and light.
- They haven’t yet started solids. I exclusively breastfeed and this made things extremely easy being on the go. I know that not all parents are able to breastfeed, or choose not to. My daughter has refused to be bottle fed since 9 weeks, and there are many times that I’ve wished she’d just take a damn bottle so I could have a break. But not having to worry about bottles, pumping, or formula on this trip was a huge time and space saver.
- They’re not crawling, cruising, or walking yet.
- They adjust very quickly. If you’re worried about jet lag, don’t be. It only took a couple of days for her to adjust in Europe, and only a couple of days being back home for her to adjust back. My husband and I were/are extremely jet lagged.
- They can sleep on the go! Baby girl slept in her carrier as well as her stroller for a nap or two during the days. (Our daughter in particular does not nap as well on the go, so doing this all day was not ideal for us.)
Some cons to travelling with a young baby.
- Breaking out of routine can be difficult or challenging. I believe children are very flexible, but that doesn’t mean things can’t and won’t be difficult for them. Our daughter started sleeping through the night days before we left for Europe. Do you think that continued after we left? Nope. There were nights away that she woke up 8–9 times. She would fall asleep quickly afterwards, but her sleep was not as restful as it is at home.
- It’s easy to miss out on their mental and physical growth. I know this may not be a huge thing for some people, but every day I felt like I didn’t get enough time with my daughter and time passed so quickly while we were away that when we got home I felt like she was suddenly a whole new little person. She grew out of a large quantity of clothing while we were away!
- You will be tired. Oh so tired. Taking care of a baby all day in the comfort of your home and regular life is tiring. Doing it out of routine and having that change up every few days is exhausting. If travelling with your partner - tag in and out. You will be exhausted, and there will be points where you don’t want to do anything. But, you have a child, there aren’t any breaks. Sleep when they sleep.
Travelling to Europe was eye opening and different. There was a lot more rest, and yet it was more tiring than my previous travels before becoming a parent. I had never seen the allure of lounging on a beach for a vacation previously, but there were many times on the trip I longed to just be able to lounge in the sun, drink in hand, and enjoy watching my daughter play in the sand (not that she’s old enough yet, but a girl can fantasize).
But, we visited 3 new countries and got to experience them as a family together. Our daughter was doted on by strangers, and my husband and I ate good food, drank good wine and beer, and saw beautiful things. We are better educated on world history, and we were able to connect together on a vacation like all couples and families can. The biggest highlight of our trip was just being able to spend time together and with our daughter.
So to close this post off, pick a destination that’s right for you and your family. Don’t be afraid of flying or jet lag with your child. Kids have meltdowns, they cry - it happens. The air pressure on the flights did not bother our daughter, but I’ve been told breastfeeding or using a pacifier helps. Jet lag was a non issue for us. I think the long flights are what frighten people the most, but when your baby is 4–5 months old, it seems like the most opportune time to actually go! I was told this by multiple people, and found it to be true. Our daughter has not been ill effected in any way, she is an insanely happy girl. Maybe you’re not someone who wants to bask in historical works, but just want to beach lounge. Go. Take your family and have fun. Enjoy that drink on the beach, get a tan. Have fun! Travelling with a baby is more than possible, and you can have a lot of fun doing it. Just adjust your expectations and know vacations are going to look different for the next few (20?) years.