Destination Unknown: Planes, Trains & Automobiles. And a Baby.

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Even before our baby was born I went to the discussion forums and parenting sites in search of information on how is it really to travel with a little one. And I gave up pretty quickly. Especially the forums put me off with the negativity and the impossibility of it all as traveling parents were often criticized for being selfish in continuing their travels and “dragging” their babies and children along.

Instead, I decided that we would just go with the gut feeling and five weeks after our little one had made her entry we were off! And not only traveling from point A to B and back, but from point A to B to C and D by train, ferry, car and airplane. And we have not stopped since.

Traveling with a baby as seen on http://www.skimbacolifestyle.com/2012/08/traveling-with-baby.html

Early spring day on the beach in Venice, Italy with "papa"

Traveling with a baby doesn’t have to be challenging or problematic. All it takes is a little more time and planning, and once you have done it once, it is easy to keep on going. At this point I have to admit though that we have been blessed with an “easy” baby who is content with bit of sleep, food and lots of cuddling. So if we ever have a second one I might have to come back and rewrite this whole article along the lines of “how we thought it was best to stay at home with a crying baby”!

However, in the end of the day I think part of it is down to our own attitude and the way of seeing traveling as an eye-opening and enriching experience for all of us, and hopefully the little one will grow up with the same curiosity to see the world as us.

Sunny day by the sea in Helsinki, Finland as seen on http://www.skimbacolifestyle.com/2012/08/traveling-with-baby.html

Sunny day by the sea in Helsinki, Finland

I think most of the “baby travel essentials” are down to common sense, hence I didn’t want to compose a list of “baby travel musts”. However, here are some pointers which have made my travels with our baby more smooth. Especially as most of the time I have traveled with our now seven-month-old daughter on my own.

  1. Check the policies of your carrier or agency: While airlines generally have fairly standard procedures when it comes to babies on board, hotels, travel agencies and other transport companies vary hugely. It is good to know what to expect before you travel. For example, some airlines will only refund damaged prams if the pram was transported in a special purpose bag.
  2. Timing: If I can, I travel in the morning. That’s when our baby sleeps the best and early morning train journeys or flights can be very pleasant with a sleeping baby, who also seems to enjoy the motion of the vehicle and may sleep little longer than usual.
  3. Get ready to suckle: Especially on those first flights I made sure that our baby was suckling on something during the take offs and landings, to make sure her ears would not be affected by the changes in pressure. After a while when I saw that her ears were not a problem for her, I have not worried about this so much.
  4. Think of renting: Want to travel light or save in costs? In most major cities you can rent prams, car seats and other bigger baby equipment. If you are renting a car this option is also worth checking out as the baby car seats provided by car rental companies can be costly. In many cases the baby equipment rentals will deliver the products you want to the airport.
  5. Have a plan B: Have a plan B in everything. Couple of extra nappies, change of clothing and little extra milk go a long way when your luggage goes missing or flights are extremely delayed. And never travel without a babycarrier of sorts. This comes especially handy if your pram has been damaged (as ours have) or you need to run from one terminal to another in between flights. If you are traveling alone, what is more convenient than having your hands free for carrying luggage or looking for the travel documents when needed!?

What do you think about traveling with small babies, have you done it or why would you not do it? What has worked for you and what hasn’t?

About Satu Vänskä-Westgarth

Satu Vänskä-Westgarth decided to take a year off from her nine to five marketing executive life in Finland early 2009 to travel with her kayak, bike or skis and sometimes without. "One year" turned into a new lifestyle as a travel writer, accompanied with a not-so-British entrepreneur husband from Britain, who seems to spend more time outside the borders of his homeland than within, and their baby, who has already spent more months outside Norway than at their home in Norway, where the family resides at the moment. For more stories from the road, visit Satu’s blog Destination Unknown and connect with Satu on Twitter @SatuVW.

Comments

  1. Many parents wait until the baby is older to travel the first time, but I think it’s very smart to start early on to get the child already used to traveling. Even adults who don’t travel often get sometimes nervous when traveling – it’s not about AGE, it’s about EXPERIENCE!

    Traveling becomes like a second nature, and changing environments and new situations are not that scary, and the baby/child will feel safe – and it’s the feeling “unsafe” and “unfamiliar” is the biggest reason why some kids don’t travel well.

    We have been “dragging” our babies around the world since they were babies, in fact, they all three were born in different countries within 3 years, so they all had passports when they were just a few weeks old. Now when they are 9, 10 and 12, traveling with them is EASY, and in fact they help ME to carry my luggage too, that’s how excited they are about traveling and know what to do in the security checks etc. at the airports. I don’t have to even pack their bags anymore – they know better than me what they will want to take along… They are now in the perfect travel age to see the world, and I thank myself for getting them used to traveling and excited about exploring.

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