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Travelling with Baby: 5 Golden Rules

Updated: Nov 27, 2020

For babies between 2 -18 months.

Casa Lercaro, Tenerife, España


Travelling reinvented

If you'd told me 5 years ago I would be travelling like a marsupial (photo above), I would have had serious reasons to believe you are nuts and that you should seek medical assistance.

Travelling with a baby was never on our plans until he was conceived (and then born, of course). A lot of people we know give up with their travels and choose to either stay at friends or some all-inclusive resorts. During pregnancy, my wife and I were trying to work out how we will keep going with our cosmic wandering and did some research to see what's on with baby travelling and how people cope. I was blown away by the positivity and the numbers of highly energised people out there, despite all hardships coming along with this kind of travels. The sky is not always blue and is quite hard to master/juggle everything the baby is throwing at you. It's messy and sometimes out of control and stressful; a stroll out for fresh air or supermarket shopping takes ages and military preparation beforehand and yet you always forget something. Sleep deprivation doesn't help and only tops up, so my suggestion is to travel when the baby has established a satisfactory sleep pattern (after 4 months).

But it's not all doom and gloom and you should not be put off by any difficulties because some great experiences lie ahead for the bold and yes, with the right preparation and equipment (check my ultimate packing list in this post) you can even go out for a nice dinner or drink with your little one and enjoy it as much! It's hard, I won't lie, but it is rewarding for the following simple reasons:

  • Make no compromise on destination choice even if you know your holiday is not going to be the same as before children. Read the 5 rules below that might help you mitigate.

  • Your child gets used to changing places, beds, environments, foods, climates and cultures and he is more receptive and confident in changes and travels for the years to come. This is an investment for your future.

  • Baby flies for free until the age of 2!

5 Rules for reduced stress baby vacation

We first travelled with him when he was 5 months old, then 8, 10, 12 and 18. Being a parent is learning about strengths you didn't know you have and dealing with fears you didn't know existed. What we learned from our travels is to make use of our strengths and fight our fears back. By all means, going places with the baby ended up to be so much fun and we really enjoyed it. Be it a short city break locally in your country or a foreign, or a long 3-week vacation somewhere remote like Thailand's Andaman coast, I have worked out 5 basic rules that will help your travel preparation (which, as you will see, is mainly common sense), mitigate your fears and that have been tested and worked wonders in every travel of ours:

  1. Plan well ahead. Do your research online or talk to families you know they've done it before and have experiences to share. Prepare your tips and checklist of baby essential accessories. This list might be slightly different depending on the style of travel or the age of the infant. For instance, you need extra things to consider when you move often and stay in apartments or tents as opposed to staying in a 5* hotel or all-inclusive resorts. Additionally, do research things you will need at your destination e.g. nearest supermarkets, pharmacies, hospitals and emergency telephone numbers: pin them into your google maps, take some Google keep or Evernote notes to remember. I also keep handwritten notes of all these, just to have redundancy (sometimes tech fails).

  2. Don't overload your day schedules with activities or site visits. What we usually do is basic planning on where we want to stay, how are we going to move around (especially road trips) and what to do or visit and then choose the top 5 must-do priorities out of this list. Don't get disappointed if you do not manage to see all the popular attractions; set the top 5 and spread it as much across the days you have to spend at your destination, and enjoy every moment of it.

  3. Plan your moves in short time segments and try to move when the baby is asleep. If your baby sleeps twice a day (around 6-12 months old) even better! you can plan your travel when he takes his morning nap and your return during his afternoon nap. Especially if you drive... can't stress enough how peaceful our drives were when he was asleep!

  4. Teamwork. One of you checks everything out from the checklist and packs while the other prepares and entertains the baby. Leave that phone and social catch up for later, when he's asleep or when he plays with his mum. Teamwork will make you ultra-efficient let alone inflate your pride when you get to a restaurant without highchair and pull your portable chair harness from your bag like a rabbit out of a hat.

  5. Maintain his sleep routine. Every baby has a different routine, especially for getting to sleep, but generally, the rule is to follow his sleep schedule to the best possible extent wherever you are. If that means you have to carry his blanket (or sleeping bag), a couple of books you read to him before sleep and his dummy then do so. Routine helps babies feel safe and sleep easy.

At the end of the day think it like this: travelling with your baby is a unique family moment that will never come back as your baby grows and changes fast (no kidding). Grab every opportunity for travel and vacation with him, take as many photos as you can and enjoy every little family moment. Even the messy ones. After all, these are the ones that you will eventually vividly remember.

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