Sure, it can seem hard to even get out the door with a baby, but taking a road trip, going camping or even a flight may not be as challenging as you think. And straight talk: traveling with a baby is generally easier than with an older child. Plus, you’ll get amazing memories, 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 with regular feedings, cuddles and diaper changes, they’ll be mostly content to snooze as you explore your new surroundings.
2. 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 probably 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.
3. You don’t have to pay for meals either. You may be lugging along some 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.
4. You have more flexibility now than you will later. 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.
5. It’s good for your relationship. After having a baby, that becomes the main topic of conversation with your partner. And while traveling won’t change that, it will give both of you lots of new things to discuss, as well as memories you’ll treasure.
6. Fact: Sometimes babies cry on airplanes. And despite the horror stories you’ve heard, most people are nice about it, especially those who’ve been in the same situation. 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.
7. Portability! Non-mobile babies are along for the ride. Pop them in an infant car seat, hiking front pack or baby carrier, and they will nap and chill while you go off on adventures.
8. 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.
9. 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.
10. That first year can be a blur of sleepless nights, feedings and diaper changes. Traveling 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 experience things you love.
11. 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 from your travels.
12. 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 going through your regular routines.
13. Visiting new places is an education. Pointing out different colors in the woods or naming landmarks and new foods in a city develops your baby’s language skills.
14. 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 babies, 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
15. You’ll love seeing the world through their eyes. Watching your baby experience sand or ocean waves for the first time is a memory you won’t soon forget. The same goes for snow, new foods and visits with relatives who live too far away.
16. 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.
17. 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.
18. 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, 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 help you relax and be willing to take other worthwhile risks in the future.
19. Traveling with babies 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.
20. 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 relax with the baby during naps while the other parent slips out for some solo activities.
21. 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.
—Eva Ingvarson Cerise