I wrote this article after receiving many requests from new moms, moms-to-be, and those thinking about becoming moms in the distant future.
“What’s it really like to travel with a baby?” they asked. “Now tell me the truth!”
Here’s the good, the bad, and the ugly when traveling with a baby. It’s a perfect title because there’s so much good, bad and ugly!
Remember, George is now 16 months old, so technically he’s not actually a baby anymore. But he’s not yet old enough to say how wonderful it is to see the world through the eyes of a child and experience the wonder of each new experience, yadda yadda yadda. George is just as excited about a trip to Aldi as he is about traveling abroad, so I think it’s safe to say we’re not quite there yet.
Babies can fly for free
Infants under 2 years of age travel free of charge. That’s it! That has to be the first “good” on the list, right? You don’t have to pay at the hotel, and if you’re breastfeeding, you have even more freedom. Oops. Yes, you will have to pay taxes, but it will be minimal.
Read more: What to bring on a plane with your toddler
lots of people talking to you
There’s nothing like a baby to break the ice. Puppies are fine, but don’t get distracted by the long list of cute things you can use to relieve tension.
No matter where you are in the world, people will talk to you when you hold your baby in your arms. Men, women, children, police officers, businessmen, waiters, everyone. It doesn’t matter if you speak the same language or not, they will still speak to you.
Traveling with a baby is a great way to chat with locals, meet friends at bars, and get to know people at the beach or on the go.
baby forces you to slow down
At first I thought this was a bad thing, but being forced to relax on vacation can only be a good thing. It may not be an action-packed itinerary, but you’ll have plenty of time to relax and soak up the scenery.
Spending time with your baby is wonderful
We can’t forget this! We are a world full of busy people, but holidays are a great time to actually relax and spend time with your loved ones instead of rushing to work, chores, or one of the countless to-dos. It is often one of those rare occasions when you can list.
If vacations allow families to come together and spend some quality time together, that can only be a good thing.
That’s a good photo
This probably shouldn’t be on the list because no one takes a vacation just to take cute pictures of their baby on the beach, but taking cute pictures of your baby on the beach is great!
Take good pictures, because these are the ones you’ll be looking back on in years to come!
Now onto the interesting stuff – because it’s not all about cute pictures and rosy memories
Babies thrive on routine (at least in my case). That means there’s little room for spontaneity.
We had a lot of conversations like:
“Would you like to go to that fancy bar and have a drink?”
“I just put George down for a nap. Let’s go as soon as he wakes up.”
George finally wakes up two hours later.
He has food because he is hungry.
He makes a big mess and needs cleaning.
He poops and needs to be changed.
We’re just about to leave, but he’s sick and needs a change of clothes.
Three hours later, I finally arrive at the bar, but it’s almost dinner, bath, and bedtime, so I have to gulp down my drink and leave quickly.
I feel like I need to pack a lot
I say “feel the need” because you don’t actually need to pack a lot. Because there are babies in every country in the world, there are stores in every country that sell baby products like diapers, wipes, and even your favorite brand of baby formula. But something in the back of your mind will tell you to cram it all in. Pack everything all. If you go on a weekend, he’ll give you a month’s worth, and if you go for a week, he’ll give you a year’s worth.
Even if you know there is a store next to your hotel, you still need to pack all the items you might need, plus a few extra things just in case. And pack some crazy stuff you’ve never used at home. Because you never know when you’ll need it.
Yes, we all know it’s terrible when a baby cries, but if you cry at home, you just have to put up with it. You silence them, appease them, and eventually make them quit. But it’s a million times worse when your baby cries during the holidays.
You are well aware that others are on vacation and trying to relax and have fun. When you’re on a plane, you think everyone hates you. When you’re in a hotel, your neighbors can probably hear you.
So you get stressed out and try to get the baby to shut up early, but it clearly doesn’t work because the baby senses your stress and cries even more.
It’s an incredibly stressful situation.
Dinner is.. difficult
It can be difficult to say the least. When you go out to eat dinner, you’ll probably find some babies sleeping soundly in their strollers. You can happily go to any restaurant because no one will bother you and you can be sure that your perfect child will sleep through the entire meal.
I don’t have any of these kids.
I have a baby who has to go to her crib as soon as 6:30 p.m. Otherwise, tears will flow uncontrollably. This is great at home because he is always in bed by 6:31pm. Not so great when you want to go out for dinner.
That means your only options are a ridiculously early dinner or room service.
Flights will never be the same again
There was a time when I also enjoyed long-haul flights. Indeed, this moment feels like a lifetime ago. I get work done, read a book, have a few G&Ts, watch a few movies, and take a guilt-free nap. Oh, it was bliss. Not so much these days.
We often hear stories of babies falling asleep on airplanes, or of babies sitting on their parents’ laps for hours happily watching the latest movie.
Unfortunately, most babies don’t do this.
One of my babies tears up an in-flight magazine, licks the window, stares at strangers for an uncomfortably long period of time, plays peek-a-boo with anyone he makes eye contact with, and finally ends up playing peek-a-boo while I’m sleeping, who spends most of the flight tearing up the in-flight magazine, licking the window, and eventually crying himself to sleep. I apologize to everyone around me.
Being “ugly” when traveling with a baby is a rare occurrence. It’s unlikely that something like that will happen on vacation, but when it does, things can get pretty ugly pretty quickly.
The last thing you want on an expensive trip is to be stuck in a hotel room with a sick baby. Sick babies are the worst. They don’t know what they want or how to get it, so they cry and cry and cry and there’s nothing they can do to make it better. And you can’t really do anything because they sleep and sleep and sleep. And then they cry and puke and poop and cry and sleep some more.
Luckily, George never got sick during our vacation, but he started getting sick on the flight back from the Maldives. It was the first time he had been sick and I didn’t understand why he was so restless. He slept for about 30 minutes and then woke up and he cried silently until he fell asleep again. He didn’t eat anything and didn’t want his favorite toy. We didn’t know what to do.
That’s really the only ugly thing and it can’t be helped. You can’t put your life on hold just because there’s a small chance your child might get sick. You just have to keep at it and hope for the best!
If you enjoyed this, you’ll love it…
Why traveling with a baby is so important
The best travel hacks for traveling with a baby
Tips for flying long distances with a baby
Newsflash: Life doesn’t stop when you have a baby