Having a baby doesn’t mean you have to give up your adventures in travel. Here’s how to bring the kiddies along for the ride.
I didn’t attend last year’s annual Urban Adventures conference because my due date was two days after it. Of course I considered going — how could I miss the opportunity to travel to Annapolis (a new city for me) to meet up with awesome people? But I couldn’t justify flying in the last week of my pregnancy. And it was a good thing too, because not two hours after joining the conference by video, I had my first contraction. Unfazed, I continued to participate in the conference, assuming I could focus. But then the contractions came on full force. I left the video on over lunch, but couldn’t sit at the computer for more than a minute before I had to get up to take a lap around my home office. By 5pm, my son was born and the conference goers were out to drinks and dinner on the town.
We barely had time to get the baby a passport before his first scheduled trip at just under three months, for a wedding in Canada. (Babies need a passport no matter how young they are and it’s good for five years — the hardest part will be getting them to stay still for the photo.)
Shortly after our Canada trip, we decided to drive from Los Angeles down to Mexico — since my son had his passport, the world was our oyster! In September, we made an impromptu trip to Ecuador to visit friends. Come October, he was going to tag along for a business trip to Morocco, but we decided I needed to go alone to focus on my work. I was forced to see adorable pictures of him in his pumpkin costume on Facebook, and I wished instead I had brought him to meet my friends in a new land.
Baby will now be celebrating his first birthday in the Yucatan, so I feel I can say that having a baby has definitely not slowed me down!
If you fear that having a baby means your days of travel are over, don’t worry, they’re not — you just have to prepare a bit more. Here’s what I’ve learned from one short year with a baby on board:
1. Allow extra time
Leave early for the airport, take the longer layover, and don’t plan anything major upon arrival. Changing, feeding, and caring for a baby while travelling are only difficult if you’re in a rush. Make sure baby gets a fresh diaper and a bottle before boarding the plane and/or have a bottle ready for once you’re on board. An empty thermos means you can fill up with hot water at an airport café (use purification tablets if you’re in a destination where the water is questionable) — so you can easily warm bottles on the plane.
2. Slow down
Baby might not be comfortable moving about at renegade speed. Plan to change locations less and take sufficient breaks between activities. For two weeks in Ecuador, we spent mornings at home, planned late lunches or dinner visits, and took afternoons for ourselves, as well as a day or two with nothing on the schedule. Each weekend we did an overnight trip to a close-ish destination.
3. Budget for baby
You’ll already be weighed down with extra baggage and busy tending to the needs of another human being, so give don’t worry if you need to give yourself and baby a few luxuries to make your life easier — a taxi, an extra checked bag, etc. My boy, at 11 months, practically needs his own meal and can’t wait long when his tummy is grumbling, so we often have to buy extra snacks to ensures he’s comfortable.
4. Don’t pack everything
Odds are, you can get pretty much everything you’ll need once you’re in destination — baby soap, shampoo, diapers, formula, toys, medicine, etc. And if not, well, kids can get by without a lot, and adapt to your creativity and expectations. An empty tissue box and soda bottle have been great toys on our current trip. The items we’ve found essential are a good, lightweight carrypack (we have a Catbird), a lightweight car seat that can strap in without a base (if you plan to use a car frequently), stuffed music lamb and monkey blanket (familiar sleep items for baby’s comfort), a teething toy for chewing on while landing (helps pop their ears), an easy to handle, foldable stroller (we’ve used both the Graco frame that goes with the car seat and our Babyjogger City Mini depending on the age and size of baby as well as the destination), and the aforementioned thermos for hot water. Car seats and strollers can be checked at the door of the plane and will usually be returned to the door of the plane when you disembark, so it’s super easy to fly with them! We also love he SkipHop diaper bag for organisation while travelling and it’s diaper changing pad that goes down anywhere you might have to change the little one (bathroom counter, park bench, car trunk — we’ve done them all!)
And don’t be discouraged from taking tours with baby — if your baby is well-fed and comfortable, they should be happy so you’re free to do regular activities (psst, we have a few kid-friendly tours you could do).
Four and a half years ago, something amazing happened. I became a dad. A pivotal moment in anyone’s life that pretty much changes everything. My wife and I met whilst living in Egypt. We were both tour guides and wanderlusters of the highest degree.