Ten Tips for Travelling with a Tot*
I love to travel!
I spent a lot of my 20’s living and travelling around the world; doing university exchange in Lund, narrowly escaping arrest in Italy for walking through the Roman Forum in the middle of the night**, volunteering in Africa, getting food poisoning and monkey blessings in India, snorkelling with sea lions in Mexico, hiking through Argentina, dancing till dawn in London, having my first kiss with my husband in Paris after cycling there from Reims…
Now, as you know, I have a baby. But I dream of travel. My current wish list includes Canada (for the great outdoors, camping, and seeing friends I’ve gathered. I seem to get on well with Canadians. Hi Anna!), the Maldives (although I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to afford one of those amazing stilted cabins out over the water), Borneo, Hawaii… ok, I could go on, but the point is that just because I have a kidlet hasn’t muted my wanderlust!
But it’s true that it’s not quite as easy as it used to be.
We’ve got a trip to the UK planned in May for my sister-in-law’s wedding and I CAN’T WAIT!! The little dude is busy getting excited as well. Buuuuttt, if I’m honest I’m also a little bit nervous about it all. So we did a test run last weekend and went on a family road trip!
We drove up the coast from Sydney to Newcastle where we stayed with friends who also have a bambino. We paused along the way at a beautiful spot called Moony Moony to feed, had meals out and meals at home, went to some markets, swam at the beach and lazed around chatting.
And I came up with these ten tips for travelling with a baby:
1. Live how you want to live.
This is a wider topic that just a trip away, but I have a little theory*** that kids adjust to however you frame their lives. If you want to go out, go out. If you want to have people over for dinner, do it. If you want to go on a trip away, make it happen! Sometimes you may end up with a complete meltdown and dinner is ruined, but the more you make it normal to do the things that make you happy as a family, a couple and a parent, then the more normal it’ll be for the babe. So choose to travel, and head off on the trip.
2. Choose your destination.
Much as I love camping, we decided that a camping trip wasn’t the best first travel attempt idea. We drove up the coast from Sydney to Newcastle – not too far away, access to all amenities – and stayed with friends. They have a spare room and a spare baby’s room, so we didn’t even have to share a room with the little dude (he snuffles and snorts all night long like a drunk old man)!
3. Choose kid-friendly travel companions.
We visited friends who have a one month old baby girl. I’m certainly not saying you can only travel with other friends with kidlets once you have one! But if you have a baby and the other people you travel with want to stay up till the wee hours nightclubbing and then sleeping till midday, then you might feel a bit old and lonely on your holiday. So pick travel companions who won’t get wound up by crying, changes in schedule and a bit of mess^, and who you can have fun with when you have a babe in tow.
4. Pack your sense of humour.
At one stage my little dude and the little dudette were both screaming. My friend and I looked at each other and laughed at what our lives have become. Sometimes you just have to laugh…
5. Work the travel route around the little people.
My little dude still eats every 3 hours, and his sleeping at the moment is up and down. But, thankfully, he’s pretty good at sleeping in the pram and the car seat (refer to point 1. Or, more likely, maybe I just got lucky). So when he needed to sleep we loaded him into the car and drove until he needed to eat. We found a pretty spot to stop and feed when he needed it, then tossed a few toys in the back with our wide awake baby and got back on the road, and he slept more along the way. We’ve also gone on trips where all driving happened during sleeps, so stopped for a swim at the beach during the feed, play time and drove for the sleep time. It makes the journey take longer, but it’s a road trip, right!
6. Be brave and get out!
Plan some activities, get out and about; make sure there’s a point to being away. We had a walk on the beach, pizza for lunch, dinner out, bought cucumbers and brownies at the farmers markets and had a bbq with other friends in the ‘hood. So it was a nice full weekend; we explored, laughed, moved and ate. There’s no point doing all the packing that kids require if you’re going to go and huddle in the hotel room.
7. Be smart and stay in.
Get out, for sure. But make sure you also get some down time while you’re away. If you’re anything like me, exhaustion makes you turn into a scary, scary monster. I would not want to spend time with sleepy Sam. I don’t even want to spend time with sleep Sam and I AM her!^^ So although we got out and about every day, we also took it slowly getting started in the mornings, and we spent plenty of time lazing on couches chatting. There may have even been an afternoon snooze or two thrown into the mix.
8. Be flexible like a contortionist.
Babies don’t like schedules. Well, ok, it sounds like some do, but mine doesn’t. So make flexible plans, and let things flow as they will. If you’re about to head out for a walk and the babe has a meltdown, just wait. The more you stress the more they stress. So plan your weekend in a way that the plans don’t matter. Running late?^^^^ No big whoop. Kidlet needs some food so you have to stop on the way? No big whoop. Head to the festival then discover it’s so boiling hot that the whole child might evaporate if you don’t leave post-haste? No big whoop. Just go with the flow.
9. Embrace the new.
There’s a new bed for the kidlet, new toys to play with, a new mat to play on… Just allow it all to happen, and expect the best. We took a couple of wraps that the little dude uses every night to help him smell of home and aside from that everything was new. I figure, if I want to eventually be able to take him to dinner and get him to fall asleep in someone else’s bed while we eat, drink and be merry, then I might as well start early! Side note: there was an enormous thunderstorm that night and the thunder and lightning woke the little dude up in a fright. So that was new.
10. Have an adventure!
Remember, this is meant to be a holiday! So laugh at the tears, nap if you want to, don’t stress about a late night with the baby ruining the next day and live an adventure.
What are your top tips for baby travel? I’d love to know your tips before we brave a 24 hour flight!
*tell me you didn’t love that alliteration. Go on, tell me. I won’t believe you!
**I was with an Italian tour guide. I’m sure he’d never taken anyone else there before.
***don’t feel like you have to trust me, I’ve got a test case of one and he’s only 6 months old. But I still like the theory!
^and vomit, in the case of the little guy. He spewed straight down my top this morning and that’s not the first time this has happened!
^^thankfully, though, not right this minute
^^^late is my permanent state right now!
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