Guest Post :: Tips For How to Get Started Traveling With A Baby

by Tina on October 1, 2015

in family, Travel

  Ania is back again this week with another guest post.  Let’s give her a warm welcome.  I can’t wait to hear what her tips for how to get started traveling with a baby!  We have both had a baby in a country other than our place of residence, but let’s assume that’s cheating!  {smiles}

Read more about Ania and her life as The New Diplomat’s Wife and as a foreigner with a child who attends forest school in Denmark at A Toddler in the Trees

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There’s a proverb that reads that the journey of a thousand miles always begins with a first step – traveling with a baby is no different.  At some point, you have to take a first step in one direction or another.  Which hopefully is good news to moms and dads out there.  Sometimes when people say “traveling”, it conjures up these images of caravans and backpacks and packages of food rations… it doesn’t have to be so complicated at all!  The most important thing is just to open up the door to the world, and get out there and see something.
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Prior to having kids, I traveled all the time without giving it much thought – I could nearly pack in my sleep.  With children, and especially with a baby, that automation went out the door with the diaper pail and I lost a bit of confidence.  All of the sudden I started to question whether our chosen destination was a good idea, or if we were prepared, or nearly any one of a list of a million different worries.  But once we were in the saddle though, that confidence came back and it gets higher with each trip.  Now that we’re doing it all over again, I’ve had to remind myself of the tips we learned about getting started on traveling with a baby:
1.  Go local: Traveling with a baby will be different, no question about that so choosing a smaller trip, like a day trip or weekend trip, for the first few runs helps you acclimate to those differences with the safety net of going home at any time if you need to.  You’re on the move with a baby, so it’s perfectly okay to take “baby steps” to get started (pun intended!).
2.  Start with the car: Traveling by airplane these days in an exercise in keeping your sanity, so if you can, start out your travels by car.  We found that once we looked on the map, there were lots of towns or outings that were worth doing that we never considered before.  So we got the benefit of having a less stressful outing with the car, the freedom of knowing we could turn around and come home if needed, and the added bonus of exploring the area around us much more.  Once you get a little more comfortable, add things like airplanes, trains and boats (i.e. modes of transportation that operate on their own schedule – in a car, you are still on yours).
3.  Work with lists and refine them: Smaller trips closer to home let you practice packing  – while babies don’t need all that much, we seem to think that they do. A few trips closer to home will help you define the list of what your baby actually needs in order to be comfortable while out and about.  As you find things that work, and figure out the things that don’t, refine your lists so that packing for a trip develops that same level of automation you once had when packing for yourself.
4.  Relax: Travel is supposed to be fun after all! The biggest thing you can do to make your baby comfortable in a new environment is to be comfortable yourself.  Babies will be able to sense anxiety and worry from you so even when things don’t go according to plan and you find yourself out of diapers and out of a change of clothes for baby, fashioning a wrap and sling out of your expensive scarf that you received as a gift (true story), just let it roll off your shoulders.  If you know what your own stress points are (for me, it was being out of milk or food), you can always manage around them (and so I always pack extra milk, more than I think we will really need because I need to know we’re covered).  If things aren’t going as planned, a couple of deep breaths or humming along might help diffuse the tension.  Basically, your baby will take cues from you always so keeping calm help keep the peace.  After all, what’s the worst that can happen?
5.  Know when to declare victory: When you travel with a baby, you might find that your plans change for a number of different reasons.  And that will be okay.  If you keep flexible, you’ll know that if you have to make an earlier return, or take a longer lunch break, or head for a calm day to the pool instead of that extra museum are all okay if that’s what’s best for right now.  Go with your gut.  The point of travel is not to check off every item on your itinerary but rather to broaden the experience of everyone on the trip, and that includes baby…and you…and whoever else is with you.  It’s okay to redefine what victory is on the trip and adjust accordingly.
What about you?  What have been your tips for exploring outside of the house with baby?
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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Casey F October 1, 2015 at 2:04 pm

When I get worried I’ve forgotten something, I simply remind myself “You can buy it there if you have to.” In most cases, it’s true. Also, babies need far fewer toys and entertainment than parents seem to think. My toddler would be happy reading the same three books over and over again for a week!

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Alexandra October 6, 2015 at 12:21 pm

Love this post! I agree with starting with short-distance trips to learn what you and your baby need. But if you can do a bigger trip (plane trip, cross-country, overseas, etc) in the first year of your baby’s life, I think that is so valuable. For me, it made me confident in my my ability to travel with a kid and gave me that push to keep traveling through the trickier toddler years. And you’re absolutely right about knowing when to declare victory. My baby and I were on a solo trip to Philadelphia in the winter, we had had a good, if cold, weekend in the city, and I was trying to decide what to do with our last afternoon. We could try to sight see…but what I really wanted was to watch the Olympic Ice Dancing finals, so we went to a nearly empty sports bar, had lunch, and I pushed my sleeping baby in her stroller around the floor while watching the ice dancing. A win for all!

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