I’m Abbie! I’m a wife, mom of two little minions two and under, high school teacher, and explorer. I journal about fashion, fitness, family, faith and other ‘f’ words from behind my mom goggles (and a locked bathroom door) in Saskatoon, Canada. I’ll be sharing travel tidbits and tips for parents of littles every Tuesday on my blog at www.grumblinggrace.com. Follow along (or offer professional help).
Congratulations! You’re a parent!
In the nine months prior to meeting your tiny human, you’ve already experienced scads of unsolicited advice on everything from nutrition to nannies from everyone (your mother, the parking attendant at the mall and even that nice panhandler outside the bank).
When you decide to travel with your new babe – get ready for round two. I’ll leave ALL the reasons you should stay tucked up at home with the door locked to Great-Aunt Margaret and your dog groomer…
I’m here to tell you why the first year of baby’s life is the BEST time to travel as much as you can.
10. Free. Free. Free.
Babies are like celebrities. They get in free or receive fantastic perks just about everywhere.
Is it because they don’t count as people yet? Is it because they are so feared? Who knows and who cares.
Brandishing a baby allows extra bags (and paraphernalia) on most flights, better connections, upgraded hotel rooms (to the padded block), seats on the subway, extra plates of food at restaurants and access to VIP airport lounges.
*Travel Tip: Ask nicely. Smile sweetly. Pinch baby. Count to ten.
9. The Internet.
Have you heard of this tool?
Do your research. We love hiking, camping, Airbnb and generally getting outside. Maybe you love five star hotels and symphonies. The internet is your friend.
Check out your destination ahead of time for things like:
• rentable carseats, cribs and strollers
• vaccination requirements
• amenities in the area like laundromats
• where babies are allowed… Tip: In most of the world? EVERYWHERE.
Planning ahead a little can save a lot of money, sanity and adorable *couple moments* that aren’t going to be funny until well after your sweet bébé is potty trained.
8. Maternity/Parental Leave.
Note: Dear U.S. of A. I am sorry. You have In-N-Out Burger, but this is poor consolation for the lack of maternity leave available to you. Not cool.
Here in Canada as in many other countries, we receive up to one year of paid maternity leave in most circumstances. If you can stretch the budget to take advantage of this and in some cases, work the parental leave portion so both parents can get a block of time off together, why NOT travel.
Maybe one partner has a job opportunity they’ve always wanted to try. Time to go along for the ride. Get creative. Visit Uncle Jimmy’s cousin’s neighbour’s son in Australia.
Now IS the time.
7. Babies are portable.
It never gets easier than it is right now… Sorry about that.
Babies keep getting BIGGER. They learn to talk and walk and holy-moly, do they get opinionated. Right now (and for the next 18 months), you are in control. Do what YOU want, baby adult.
6. It takes the same amount of stuff to walk to the park as it does to travel on a plane.
So why not go? Believe me, the sound of the waterfall is just as effective as your white-noise app. If flights are too daunting, drive, baby, drive. Instead of bemoaning the diaper bag packing, get in the car and the highway will put Junior out like nothing else.
5. It’s a Small World After All.
You’re out of diapers? You have to find a medi-clinic? Not sure if little Suzy’s poop is the right colour? (Refer back to that handy little #9. Internet.)
The world is small.
You can generally find the same information you need on your phone at McDonald’s in Cairo as you can in your living room at home. Ditto to calling your mom on Skype. Just go.
4. Begin how you mean to proceed.
They won’t remember this, but you will. Our life philosophy includes exploration, wonder, and lots of time in the great outdoors. The sooner you start incorporating kids into your rhythm, the more natural it will be for all of you.
3. You won’t be sleeping anyway.
I know, I know. All the sleep books say: if you stand on one foot and keep baby in a quiet/loud, cold/warm, sea-level room and rock them/let them cry it out/sing them songs, they will sleep like angels.
Lies, my friends. Yes, travel can be disruptive to little gaffers, but so can teeth, fevers, imaginary nothings, and growing. The routines you set, even on the road, may or may not make a difference, especially in the first six months.
So the question is… Sleepless in Saskatoon? Or in Santiago?
2. Babies are universal icebreakers.
What’s the one thing you’ll find anywhere in the world?
Toyotas… Oh, and babies.
Your little ball of spit-up and squirts will get you talking to people everywhere you go. Prepare to make some new friends and learn some new ways of doing things.
The more you interact with parents and families around the world, the more you ease back and relax into parenting your own children and the less equipment you feel like you need to do the job…
Which leads me to the top and final reason for traveling with baby…
1. All you need is love.
I know you think you NEED the tent, the carrier, the raingear, the potty seat, and the sleep sheep — and don’t get me wrong, those things are great…
…but the more places I travel, the more I realize that an adult t-shirt, a roll of tape and a garbage bag will get you through most calamities.
Kids are 100% washable (towel or air dry as necessary) and they are happiest when their parents are happiest.
So my advice to you whether back-country camping or beautiful resort?
GO. Make some memories, because wherever in the world your heart takes you, the thing your kids need most from you is time with you.
And P.S. Don’t forget to send Great-Aunt Margaret a worrying postcard or two…