The thought of traveling with your baby can be overwhelming. Do not let the anxiety of traveling with your baby get the best of you. It is a lot easier than you think. If we can do it so can you. Here are the valuable lessons that we've learned traveling around the world with our baby.
Lesson 1 - Less is more
When you have a baby there is an insatiable need to buy cute baby things. Everything from clothes, socks, sheets, and toys seem to be calling your name. How could you pass up those cute tiny shoes?
We learned firsthand that you do not need half of what you think you need to travel with a baby. When traveling with a baby you only need the necessities. The necessities are food (milk), clothes, socks (always pack extra babies are little ninjas that somehow manage to kick them off), medicine, and safety gear (car seat/stroller/carrier). The main priority is to have everything you need for the transportation portion of your vacation, everything else can be purchased later. While in China, we went to Walmart to purchase diapers, it turned into a fun adventure.
Do not pack a lot of toys. You’d be surprised the things that babies find to play with, instead of the expensive toys we buy them (our son can spend up to 40 minutes playing with his feet). Also, people like to give babies things to play with so we left with 4 or 5 more toys than we came with.
Lesson 2 - Babies are adaptable and resilient
We (moms) tend to overthink everything when it comes to our children. Babies are low maintenance and can be taken anywhere. As long as their basic needs are met they are happy. Since your little one will be on a liquid it is not likely they will get sick while traveling. Taking normal precautions such as sun protection, proper hand washing or hand sanitizer, and mosquito repellant bracelets.
Our tour guide to the Great Wall of China wanted to hold our son. They fell asleep on the ride.
Lesson 3 - Babies are a great Icebreaker
People are a lot more open and friendly when babies are around. Babies are a great icebreaker because people will want to smile at them or “baby talk”, who can resist an adorable little one. In Beijing, we were approached by a lot of locals who wanted to talk to the baby. Even though he could not understand what they were saying he was laughing and playing along with them. There is something about a baby’s laugh that is universal and makes you smile. We were able to interact with locals through our son, even though we did not speak the same language.
Lesson 4 - You will make mistakes, laugh and let it go
There is an old saying “Man plans, God laughs”, there is nothing truer when it comes to travel. Almost nothing will go as planned, things will get lost, and you will make mistakes. It is ok to just let it go and move on. Babies cry and as quickly as it started it is over and they move on. It is interesting to watch because they are on to the next moment and are no longer concerned about what upset them in the first place. We can take this lesson from our little ones. Forgive yourself for the little things, let it go, and move on.
We were not able to go to the top of the Great Wall of China as a family because I changed the day of our tour and it ended up snowing at the top of the wall on the day we went. I spent the rest of the day being sad that we could not all go to the top instead of marveling at the fact I was able to go to the Great Wall of China. That just turned into another opportunity for us to go back to Beijing to visit a different part of the wall.
When you are traveling you have almost no control over what happens. There are delays at the airport, the weather can change in an instant, hotels can’t find your reservation, Wi-Fi goes down, or you lose baby’s favorite sleep toy (guilty). As long as there is nothing that is life threating there is always a solution. Take a step back and remember why you are traveling. For us, there is nothing more important than spending time together as a family and watching our son grow.
Lesson 5 - Enjoy the moment
There is one certain thing, time will continue to go on whether we want it to or not. As much as we want our little ones to stay our babies forever, they will continue to grow up and become independent (hopefully). Cherish all the moments that you have and capture them while they are young enough to want you around. There is nothing like watching them roll over for the first time, take their first steps, or say their first word. Traveling with our son takes us away from the everyday routine and allows us to enjoy uninterrupted time together.
Lesson 6 - People are more helpful than you think
Some people cringe when they see a baby coming down the aisle of an airplane. On the other side, there are also people who smile and are willing to help. In our experience, there have been more people who smile than cringe. Our first flight from Denver when baby Cee was 2.5 months he screamed for over 20 minutes. We were frantically trying to figure out what was wrong and get him to sleep. The woman in the seat next to us was so sweet; she talked to him which seemed to help calm him down. After the flight landed and everyone was getting off no less than 15 people stopped to ask if we needed help gathering our items to leave. It relived our anxiety that so many people were willing to help given his episode. It was after this flight we learned that babies will be babies. They will sometimes cry but it will not last forever.
Our time at the airport going through security was even pleasant. The TSA officials held him while our stroller was being inspected in San Diego. Security in Beijing played with him and entertained him while we packed our items back into the stroller to head to our gate.
Lesson 7 - Sometimes the best thing you can do it nothing
We arrived at our hotel in Beijing at 2 pm only to pass out and sleep until 10 pm that night. I was upset with myself for sleeping for so long and wasting a day in Beijing. I had to remind myself that we took an 18-hour journey across the globe with a 4-month-old. Every second of the day does not need to be filled with activities it is okay to rest and recharge. We used our son’s naptime as the perfect opportunity to get rejuvenation as well.
Lesson 8 - Slow and steady wins the race
When you are traveling with a baby everything will take longer. You will need to prepare earlier to leave on time. You will need to stop more often for diaper changes or to check that you did not forget something. You will not be able to visit all of the attractions that you wanted. Make a list of all of the places that you want to visit then prioritize. There is nothing that says you cannot take turns with the little one and sightsee on your own. I was able to go on a tour to see Forbidden City, the Summer Palace, and the Temple of Heaven while Mea and baby Cee enjoyed the museum.
Lesson 9 - They are free
Who doesn't like to save money? Babies are great because they get in almost everywhere for free. They may even score you an upgrade. We were able to upgrade to premium seating on our flight to and from Beijing.
Lesson 10 - Have no regrets, just go for it
We saved this lesson for last because it is the most important one. There is no perfect time to travel with a baby. You have to get take the plunge and get the first trip with your baby out of the way to calm your fears. Do not let the fear of traveling with a baby stop you from taking off. If you are like us and have a burning desire to see the world your little one can join you. We place so much importance on the things in life that do not matter when everything we need is right in front of us. There is nothing more important than family and if you can create everlasting memories, why not? Your little one will not be able to remember the journey but you will. Take pictures and videos to document your adventures and thanks to the cloud they can be stored forever. There is nothing more beautiful than the moments that are shared between the people that you love.
What lessons have you learned traveling with your little one? Comment below.
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