Is it alright to travel with your baby? There are plenty of reasons to feel nervous about the idea. From the prospect of changing diapers in an unknown place to the fear of causing a disturbance on a plane, you may decide that it is too much of a nuisance to travel and it is better to wait for a few years.
But far from being a nuisance, traveling with a toddler is a great idea and may be the last opportunity you have to go on that dream trip for some time. It does require some extra preparation and research to ensure a safe and enjoyable trip for everyone. But babies offer unique benefits which make them terrific travel companions and improve your trip as long as you are properly ready for the journey.
So how can traveling with a toddler be beneficial compared to waiting for a few years? There are several reasons.
First, babies do not have opinions. You can go wherever you like and do not have to worry about your child crying about how this place is boring and he wants to see the dinosaurs again for the hundredth time. They are not mobile, meaning that you can take them in a baby carrier or stroller and do not have to be terrified of them getting lost or separated from you. You do not have to pay for extra airline seats and will often get special accommodations such as being the first to a coveted window or viewing spot which you will not receive when traveling with a little kid.
But there are two reasons above all else which makes going on trips with your toddler or infant such a fantastic experience. The first is that babies attract attention like nothing else. Locals will rarely hesitate to coo over your child and tell you how cute they are, giving you a chance to meet people you might have never talked to. And as you might have already experienced, you can always use the classic excuse of “my child needs a nap” to leave and remove yourself from unwanted attention.
The second reason is that things which may appear old hat to you are fresh and amazing in a toddler’s eyes. As Marim Ottimoflore with The Huffington Post points out, traveling at a young age encourages kids to be interested in the world around them and more willing to try out new things. It can help instill a lifelong love of geography and appreciating different cultures, even if you are simply traveling within your own country.
So what preparations should you make before traveling with toddlers? Most parents may be worried about flying with infants, but there are already plenty of guides on that to be found on the internet. The flight is not the only thing you should be prepared for.
For example, living in the standard one-bedroom hotel room is not a great idea when traveling with infants, even with the help of a tour planner. If your baby wants to fall asleep at 6 pm, that limits what you can do for the rest of the evening. A better idea is to get a suite where you can stay in a separate room from where the baby is sleeping, or consider a short-term apartment rental from Airbnb or Expedia.
Furthermore, less is not more when traveling with infants. If you are traveling for three weeks, bring three weeks’ worth of baby formula if you do not breastfeed. Do not assume that you will be able to buy additional formula when traveling abroad, as your baby may reject the slightly different formula and make things difficult. Also consider bringing children’s Tylenol if they end up in pain from teething or minor accidents.
And above all else, consider your destination carefully. While you do not have to worry too much about your child’s opinions as noted above, the best travel trip should be filled with things which would interest them. Aim for more natural and tranquil vacation spots like national parks or beaches as opposed to say, Las Vegas.
Traveling with an infant is different compared to traveling in the past, where you may chase an itinerary of things to do and places to see. But while the vacation may be slower with more time looking at cows or trees, it will be all the richer for it. A true vacation is not about seeing everything there is to see. It is about taking the time to relax, bond with your family, and teach your baby at a young age the wonders of this world.
So do not hesitate to take a trip over this summer or year. With the right preparations in advance, traveling with an infant becomes not a burden, but a blessing for everyone.