How to travel with a baby
As a family we have been on the road since our first son, Crusoe, was seven weeks old. Well, actually, we were on the road since he was but a speck on an ultrasound machine, setting off when I was 8 weeks pregnant and living in our small self converted camper van, Koti, for the duration of my pregnancy. So many of our friends have looked at us like we’re completely mad, seemingly dumbfounded at how we’ve done it. But honestly, I really do believe there is a huge misconception about travel with babies and children, and if you’re prepared and have the right mindset, then it’s not only possible, and pretty easy – it’s also one of the very best things you’ll ever do. Here are my top tips for anyone considering hitting the road with their children, I hope they help and I promise you one thing – you won’t regret it!
Flying with a baby
The thought of taking a baby on a plane makes a lot of parents break out in a cold sweat – the possibility of being “that poor parent’ desperately trying to quiet a screaming infant while being simultaneously glared at and pitied, the chances of a poo-nami rendering all of you socially unacceptable, or worse yet, the projectile puke that could quite possibly extend across the isle onto the 20 something dude with his Bose noise cancelling headphones on…it’s terrifying. But, there is a way to survive it! In our experience, flying with Crusoe was one of the easiest parts of travel with him, and this is how we did that:
- Where possible, choose flight times that coincide with nap time, and definitely overnight for long haul. Crusoe had the best sleep of his lifetime on our 12hr flight to Cape Town, lulled by the white noise of the plane he didn’t stir once.
- Feed or make sure you have a dummy handy for take off and landing, this helps their little ears to pop in the change of pressure and hopefully means no aching ears causing screams
- Book the bulkhead seats, and ask for a bassinet as soon as you board. Sometimes they’re in short supply on the flight so make sure you’ve got an attendant on your side securing one for you asap.
- Pack a change of clothes…for everyone! Then, if there is a disaster, it’s no problem. Just a quick change, an awkward wash in the tiny sink in the loo, and away you go.
- Pack a small bag of toys, preferably things your baby hasn\t seen before. That way they’re more likely to engage and find them interesting!
This was a skill that took me a while to master. But, so long as you have access to laundry every few days or you’re happy to hand wash you really don’t need an awful lot of stuff. You’ll no doubt be able to buy nappies wherever you’re heading to, and I really do promise that you don’t need all the things you’ve accumulated in your home life with you. Babies don’t notice 98% of the “stuff” I see advertised for new mums, in my opinion it’s all a bit of a marketing and money making ploy and really, staying streamlined, light on your feet, and not bogged down in stuff makes for a much happier family experience all around.
Surviving the hard days
Yes, there will be hard days. But, there are hard days parenting at home. Here’s my argument to do it while travelling – the hard days at home are wrapped in the knowledge that yesterday, and tomorrow promise the same routine, the same space, the same pace. To me, that would make a difficult day with a small person feel all the more overwhelming. Now imagine, a hard day sat at the base of the Pyrenees mountains in France, with a journey into Spain on the agenda for tomorrow, and a swim in a wild river this evening to wash off the stains of the day. In my mind, the knowledge that there is change on the horizon, that life is full of inspiring experiences makes that moment when you’re in hour four of a screaming babe bearable.
Trust your baby
This was something John taught me and I will be forever grateful. Trust that your baby will tell you if they are uncomfortable, don’t hold yourself back in anticipation of that. The amount of times we set off for an epic adventure where I thought Crusoe would be too hot, too cold, hungry, too tired, and I almost made us stay at home, only to find that he was absolutely fine, in fact he thrived in it, was a huge lesson in giving things a try, and if it doesn’t work, then what’s the big deal – change plans, readdress, head back.
Have fun, remember it’s your trip too
Another of Johns pearls of wisdom, remember it’s your trip too! Don’t feel you need to plan absolutely everything around your baby. They’ve joined your adventure for now, so we carried on as we would have done before Crusoe was here, with of course the slight adjustments to life like a nappy bag and a nap schedule, but it never stopped us from doing what we wanted to do.
Remember, magic happens at the edge of your comfort zone!
This is a big one!! Staying in that comfort zone is great, it’s safe and warm and cozy and the change table in the nursery means you’ll never be changing your baby’s nappy on the floor of a public toilet. BUT – there is so much more magic beyond the boundaries of your comfort zone, and if you just give yourself the chance to experience it we promise that your life as a family will be fundamentally altered for the better, for what is life if its not magic.
Overall – our family motto of Be Brave, Think Big, Explore never had to lead our decisions more than it did when we set off as a new family with a seven week old baby. We trusted in it, let it lead us, and look where it took us – we wouldn’t change a single second of it for the world.
If you’ve got any questions or if there is anything we can help with them please reach out, always very happy to help! X