Travelling with a Baby Part One: 11 Ways to Prep for Adventure
Part One: 11 Ways to Prep for Adventure
Travelling with a new baby can be daunting. When we first found out we were expecting Ollie, we naively declared that we wouldn’t let our lives change too much. We’re travellers, we’re adventurers, we’re restless wanderers. You can do all that with a new little babe…right? We realized that yep…you sure can, it’s just going to look a whole lot different than you’re used to! Once you can wrap your head around that, travelling as a family and creating memories all over the world could not be more rewarding. While some may argue that your babe may not remember these trips at such a young age, we’re firm believers that travel will influence your little one in the best ways and will help shape the bond your family will share for a lifetime. While we don’t claim to be experts in any way, there are a few things we learned in the first year of Ollie’s life that made exploring with a baby just a little bit easier.
Table of Contents
1.) Get out there
The first piece of advice we have that we can’t repeat enough: Get out there. Of course, this may look differently depending on each family, but it was important for us to get outside as soon as we felt comfortable after Ollie’s arrival. This might not mean getting out into the forest or up into the mountains right away, but for us, it was a trip to Costco after 7 days. We realized that the more we got used to getting out and about, the easier it became, and the more Ollie got used to being on the go. Packing supplies becomes second nature and packing up the stroller and car seat becomes routine. After walks around the neighbourhood parks and to our favourite coffee shops became comfortable, we started venturing out for hikes in Ollie’s carrier.
2.) Make it easier on yourselves
While you’re still getting used to navigating your gear and getting your baby to and from different places, practice packing your diaper bag, folding up your stroller and putting on your carrier. Make it easier on yourselves by investing in quality gear that will encourage you and your family to get out as much as possible.
3.) Start Travelling before 6 months
We’ve heard countless times from various health professionals and seasoned parents that travelling between the ages of one month and six months is ideal for most families. Why? Your baby typically has very few needs, is likely not eating solids, and is not yet mobile! Take advantage of this time and travel as much as you can.
On The Go
4.) Choosing accommodation
We choose between hotels or vacation rentals (VRBO, Airbnb, etc.) based on a few factors, as some hotels or resorts can be very accommodating for families.
- Look for accommodations with ample space. It’s great to be able to put babe down to sleep for the night in a separate room so you can still enjoy your evening. However, if there’s a dark corner, extra bathroom, or even a large walk-in closet, these are all great places to put a travel crib!
- We check for laundry facilities if we’re going for a more extended trip (washing machines are amazing and mean that you don’t need to pack as many onesies!), and air conditioning if it’s a warm destination. A kitchen is also convenient if you’re using bottles or preparing food.
- Make sure your accommodation is stroller accessible! Many vacation rentals are walk-ups, and some international hotels don’t have ramps or elevators that strollers will fit in. We’ve been in elevators in Rome and Paris that even a small travel stroller would have been too big. You won’t want to lug everything up several flights of stairs!
- Choose accommodation close to areas you want to explore. You won’t want to continually be packing up your family into an Uber or cab to head to various attractions. It’s nice to be able to walk!
5.) Sleep options
As mentioned, while not required, it’s nice to have a separate room for babe to sleep in. Keep things as DARK as possible. Alternatively, it may sound weird, but having baby sleep in a dark, quiet bathroom or large walk-in closet is another option! Some hotels or vacation rentals offer cribs or infant beds, so always check ahead. Otherwise, bring a travel bed that fits easily into your luggage, and make sure to have some of the comforts of home. We bring Ollie’s sleep sacks, sound machine, and blackout blinds with us to make bedtime a little easier. That said, we try to encourage him to sleep in different environments.
6.) Bathing options
Sink baths, holding a babe in the shower, or in the tub are all great options for bath time. Our personal fave has a family shower – with one person holding babe snug and the other doing the washing. There are also portable travel baths that you can buy if you can afford the travel space, we especially like the inflatable ones!
7.) Pack wisely
8.) RESEARCHING YOUR DESTINATION
Check ahead for safety issues in the city, any health concerns for your babe, and locate the proximity of any local hospitals, clinics, or doctors to your accommodation. Consider the type of walking you’ll be doing – are there many hills, uneven roads or cobblestones? Will it be unusually hot or cold? Is it a rainy season? This will help to determine the type of gear you’ll need to bring and the mode of transportation once you arrive.
9.) Exploring the city
Research modes of transportation. Commuting in a new city can be stressful when you’re amongst locals! Are there buses, streetcars, trains, or Ubers? We often travel by train, and it’s suuuper helpful to find out ahead of time if certain cars are accommodating for luggage and/or strollers. We once found ourselves stuck on a jam-packed car on the London Tube for an hour ride from the airport, and all the locals glared and swore at us under the breath. (Honestly, yeesh! Talk about anxiety-inducing.) Turns out the stroller car was right next to us…ha…whoops!
- Find local malls or department stores with family bathrooms or change areas, and take note of their location. It’s so great to have somewhere to go for an emergency blow out situations! A mall we went to in Lisbon even had a parents’ area with kitchen facilities, feeding areas for older toddlers, and private pods for nursing and changing. Some busy stores also have priority lines for families at check out, so keep an eye out.
- Feed anywhere! Honestly, for us, it was all about somewhere comfortable to sit. In coffee shops, in a park, on the floor at a museum, we’ve done it all.
10.) Invest in quality gear
A comfy carrier that lightens the load on your shoulders and back and a light, easy to fold travel stroller can make all the difference in the ease of your trip.
11.) Set your expectations
We received some great advice from a fellow parent before leaving on our first overseas trip with Ollie. This wise mama told us, “don’t go expecting to be able to do all the things you used to do when you travel. Travelling with a family will be a whole different experience.” They told us that suddenly we’d find ourselves going back to the hotel early, eating on the go at odd times (and skipping some of the less baby-friendly restaurants we’d typically want to try), and missing out on lots of attractions. If you set your expectations right off that bat that travelling with an infant will look very different, it allows you to really enjoy this new adventure. Travelling for us now is all about the memories we’re building as a family, and it couldn’t be more memorable. Instead of setting an agenda and stressing out about those bazillion things we want to do and try in every new city, we’ve really slowed down, taken it one day at a time, and enjoyed every second of exploring together. It’s been the most incredible lesson of all!