When I imagined my life as a traveler, I saw myself solo, wearing a backpack, volunteering for Peace Corps or the like. I never imagined I would be traveling married, wearing a baby sling, loving life as a stay-at-home mama. While many may forfeit relationships and family for the freedom of travel, I’ve found great fulfillment in traveling as a family!
Many people dread even sharing a flight with a baby, much less traveling with one. Yes, there’s an extra little person to consider, an extra bag to carry, extra gear, and, once they hit the golden age of two years old, an extra flight ticket as well, but traveling with a baby isn’t all bad and the experience has a lot to teach us all. Here are just a few lessons learned from our little star trekker!
1. Take the time to plan.
Many wanderlust travelers love to “travel on the fly” and just “wing” their way through a new destination. You can stumble on a hotel and create (and recreate) your itinerary as you go but with a child, you realize that a tad more planning can save a lot of headaches, long walks, and wasted time. Taking the time to research your travel plans and accommodations are the most important points. While the low-budget traveler may always opt for the cheapest flight itinerary, traveling with a baby warrants that you examine your flight schedule closely. Bed times and nap times are sacred and should be guarded as such. Be mindful of layovers, flight transfers, and travel times, if you want to smooth out the already challenging airtime.
2. There’s a season for everything…including an upgrade!
In the interest of saving money, child-less travelers may opt for hostels, street food, and public transportation. However, traveling with a baby definitely warrants adding a star to your accommodations, a rented car or taxi, and inclusive breakfast deals. Yes, you may have to shorten your trip to balance out the budget but you’re more likely to enjoy a well-rested, healthy, and energetic stay as a result.
3. Familiar routines are orienting.
Young children are especially sensitive to routines and rhythms. If you have morning or night rituals, like stretching, meditation/prayer, reading, etc., maintaining your practice while travel can help you to feel centered and whole as you discover the day. You also may find that you rest better at night and meet the day feeling recharged and ready!
4. The early bird catches the worm.
If you fear oversleeping, there’s no better alarm than a young child! You’ll be sure to catch all of what early rising offers: watching the sun rise, visiting museums and cultural attractions before peak crowds (or peak heat), and the best pickings at the breakfast buffet! 😉 Additionally, you have a full day of touring ahead, way before worrying about closing hours.
5. Mid-day siestas are not just for Spain.
I’ve recently rediscovered how refreshing naps can be! These are especially critical if you started your day early. In warm climate regions, the mid-day is the best time to take a break indoors and avoid blazing heat. Even if you’re not tired, you can use the break as an opportunity to re-strategize your afternoon and evening plans, so you have a game plan for tackling the second half!
6. Always keep a snack packed.
Travel can be as unpredictable as life itself. Even the best itineraries are not immune to traffic jams, road detours, checkpoints, getting lost, etc. Keeping a healthy snack can help you ride the currents of an unexpected delay, stretch the time in between meals, and steer clear of temper tantrum meltdown. And don’t forget to pack your water bottle and stay well-hydrated!
7. There’s more good in the world than you might have noticed.
Traveling with a (calm) baby is almost guaranteed to evoke a smile, or at least a smirk out of others. In nearly every culture, babies are cherished and to see strangers express warmth and kindness to you and your child reminds you that the world is not so bad a place after all. Yes, there’s corruption and war, chaos and injustice, but there’s still mercy and love, generosity and compassion, and none teach us this better than a pure little being.
Without a doubt, traveling can be a shared adventure. In some ways, you get to see less because of higher travel costs, slower pace of activity, selective outings, etc., but seeing the world through new eyes also allows you to see more. “Settling down” might mean “slowing down” but it doesn’t mean “staying still”. 😉
This post was originally published at Women of Color Living Abroad.