Have you noticed that travel has become nearly a new form of rat race? You read definitive guide upon definitive guide on a place, and then there is so much pressure to instagram it, and photograph it, and make a video collage and montage and triage… You work to get through all the recommendations you’ve filed away on a place so that somewhere, someday you can write the newer and even more definitive guide. The cool thing about traveling with a baby is that you let that all go…first because you’ll have too, and later, you’ll find you do because you want to.
Traveling with a baby is the perfect excuse – or the perfect scapegoat – for slowing down. It might take you one or two trips to realize that you can’t quite keep your prior pace without making yourself and everyone around you crazy, but once you do, I think you’ll find it’s the most freeing admission you’ll make in your traveling memory.
A baby in tow on your travels means that days will likely start earlier, that it will take longer to get out the door, that breaks will be more frequent and that bed times will come sooner and not always be uninterrupted. After all, most babies prefer to be on their own schedules, rather than follow yours – and that’s doubly true if there is jet lag involved.
But it also means that you yourself will slow down. You’ll get to know hotels and their staff better. You’ll learn your hotel room actually matters because you’ll naturally spend more time in it. Or you might bypass hotels altogether to stay more in apartments and home swaps, taking on the identity of resident in your chosen destination for just a little while. You’ll realize how important it is to you when waiters and salespeople and total strangers take the time to be nice to your baby or hold the door or help out when needed. Little connections start to mean a whole lot more than big landmarks. And those connections are what you remember, and what you start telling people about when they ask how your trip was.
Slowing down with a baby also means that you’ll be able to absorb the little corners of places more fully, like the cafe where you stopped to feed, or the statue by the park bench where you sat to rock the baby to sleep. New places that you travel to become your own places in a special way because there was a new little person to share that moment with you. Because that person is likely the most important person in your life, those memories really hold, regardless of whether you got a picture of it or not.
As your child gets older, you’ll be able to do more – the pendulum does swing back. Eventually, you’ll find that you might even be able to return to your old pace, but I suspect, after getting used to all of this, you might not want to. That’s okay, just keep blaming the baby. They won’t mind.
Parts of the Traveling with a Baby series first appeared on Valentina Fussel’s Traveling Mama (who is now over at the very fab House of Valentina), but I wanted to share our few tips and tricks in the full set of posts here on the blog. This isn’t so much about the gear because the truth is, you don’t need much of it (although a few things can definitely be helpful!). It’s not about traveling with kids in general (although happy to talk about that too separately). This is a little more on on how to get started on traveling with a baby from a personal perspective, what to look out for, and above all, how to enjoy this new lens on seeing the world around you, both near and far! We keep our littles on the road a fair amount but we also like to keep things fun. And we’re always looking to learn from other parents so please feel free to share your travel tips and adventures below here too!
PS – Photo above is from a stroll as our second one just learns to take his first steps with a bit of help at the Jardins Majorelles in Marrakech, Morocco.