International Travel: 10 Tips to Traveling With a Baby
December 21, 2011
As a family with the “adventure bug,” I will admit that having a baby put us in a bit of an upside-down state. Gone were the days of randomly getting in the car and getting lost somewhere, leaving for the weekend on a whim or even spending the day in the mountains with little to no preparation. Or were they?
That first year was comical to say the least. It took me all that time to realize two little concepts:
1) Babies do not require an insane amount of baggage – the things you truly NEED (versus the things people make you THINK you need) are actually quite minimal, and
2) Having a baby does NOT stop your ability to ENJOY LIFE!
We tested this theory with a number of small trips here and there, usually up in the mountains, while working up the courage to overcome the stress of a real vacation. When the opportunity to take a trip across the world to Singapore presented itself, I was torn between my stress of traveling with an 18 month old, and my real desire to take my family somewhere incredible. Needless to say, that adventure bug wiped out any hesitations and within a matter of weeks we were up in that airplane traveling together.
I’ll let you in on a little secret: Not only did we survive, but we truly enjoyed our trip.
The anxiety I had about international travel was ridiculous and makes me giggle now to think about how nutsy I became. Thank goodness my dear husband has the ability to nod & smile when I go all crazy. However, in addition to an amazing, supportive husband and an incredible baby, there were a few things I learned along the way that I want to share in hopes of easing the anxiety that any mother may have about an upcoming trip.
1) Other countries do have food and water. You do not need to pack your entire kitchen as a carry on. Furthermore, airplanes typically serve both food AND beverages, particularly on long international trips.
2) Anticipate some upset moments. As soon as you accept the fact that your baby will likely get upset at least once while in flight, the sooner you can move forward and be proactive. You know what makes your little one happy – so plan accordingly.
3) Don’t take bouncy balls on the airplane. Trust me.
4) Leave your stroller at home (and then sell it at your next garage sale). Would you want to be pushed around, out into a world that you’ve never before experienced? I think not. Carry your little ones! Not only will they enjoy the experience of traveling, but they will feel safe in your arms.
5) Immerse yourself into REAL culture, if only for yourself. True, my son may not remember our bike ride through the rain forest of Pulau Ubin. But you know what? I have about 652 photos to help him remember when he gets older, and a million memories I wouldn’t trade for the world. Plus, how many babies get to experience something so amazing?
6) Did I mention the necessity of a baby carrier? Weather is a non-issue where this is concerned. Singapore is HOT – and when you take that into consideration along with me being a huge wimp, that is a tricky situation. But despite the sweaty days, I could not have made it a single day without my baby carrier. Wear a hat. Drink water. Wear sunscreen. Walk in the shade when possible. Period.
7) Understand other cultures and adapt. It took me about an hour of clinging to my son for dear life before I realized that all the people around me were not trying to hurt him, but they thought he was so cute they simply had to touch him. This wouldn’t fly here in the states, I typically refuse strangers the privilege of touching my amazing baby, but hey, when in Rome…
8) Pack light. There are certain things you do need to have on hand, be it a clean diaper or a change of clothes. Don’t weigh down your day with a 100lb diaper bag – use something light and compact. My bag of choice was naturally the Boba Pack, but despite my bias on brand preference (lol) the ability to carry what little items I truly needed right on my carrier was invaluable.
9) Don’t take the public restrooms in the US for granted. Then pack a small thing of tissues or toilet paper wherever you go.
10) Live your life! Having children is not a burden, it’s an amazing journey and only you have the ability to live every moment to the fullest.