Ford and I recently became parents, which we couldn’t be more excited about. While our son, Miles, isn’t even two weeks old, we’ve already started thinking about travel planning with him, so I was hoping to get some advice from OMAAT readers who are parents.
Family travel is complicated (of course)
It cannot be denied that traveling as a family is much more challenging than traveling alone or as a couple. I’m excited for the challenge because it’s a whole aspect of travel that I’m looking forward to learning all about.
Having a newborn is really special, although travel-wise, I can’t even express how excited I am when Miles is a little older and we get to see the world through the lens of a child. I remember when I was pretty young and how excited I was every time I would go on a trip, the first time I visited cities that I had only learned about in school, etc.
However, realistically speaking, we are a few years away from that. Right now we just have a ridiculously cute thing that sleeps, drinks formula, and goes out all day.
The bad news is that the travel experiences probably won’t be very enriching for him for the next year or two. The good news is that babies don’t cost you anything extra to travel domestically, while abroad you “only” have to pay 10% of the adult fare (although they also have to sit on your lap and don’t get a seat) .
Is there a sweet spot for baby travel?
Obviously people will have very different views on baby travel, although I’d love to hear where OMAAT readers who are parents stand on this.
The advice I’ve received most often so far is the following (or maybe I’m just listening to the advice I want to hear… hah):
- The ideal time to travel with a baby is before they start learning to walk, as you can take them everywhere with you; once they start walking, it gets a lot more complicated
- If you have kids traveling with you from a young age, they will be better travelers and it will be less daunting of a task in the long run because they will be so used to being in the travel groove.
As I begin to consider a possible baby trip, this brings me to a few questions and things I am considering:
- How early is too early to start traveling? I ask this in terms of the child’s development in general, the immune system, various vaccines, etc.
- Is it better to stay roughly in the same time zone, or how do little babies do on plane rides and long drives? I mean, he’s sleeping about 20 hours a day right now, so is there really that much of a schedule change that can happen? 😉
- Are there pros and cons to the types of destinations you visit with a baby, whether it’s a tourist destination or a city destination? My gut says resorts are better, as you can enjoy the fresh air and not be around too many people…
- Is traveling with a baby just a recipe for a bad time? It’s clear that caring for a baby takes a lot of effort under normal circumstances, and when you add the potential stress of travel, is it more trouble than it’s worth?
- Apparently with a baby you only commit to being with them 24/7 when you travel, but is there a point where you feel comfortable finding some sort of childcare (through the hotel or whatever) so you can go out for a nice dinner one night, or is it just off the table for a long time?
These are just some of the things that cross my mind. Realistically speaking, I think we’ll start slow and work our way up there. Maybe we’ll do a local layover first, then take a short flight somewhere, and then maybe try a long trip soon enough.
As much as I hope that Miles will become a good traveler over time, ultimately half of that equation is for us to become good travel parents, because I understand that there is a big learning curve there.
Finally, I’m sure some OMAAT readers are wondering “does this mean no more international travel reports for the next two years?” No, my plan is to still do review trips like I did before the pandemic, where I can only travel for a few days, looking at a variety of airlines and hotels. I’m lucky enough to commute from anywhere, so I’m usually at home 24/7 with Miles. I think it’s also reasonable to travel for review – after all, this blog is my livelihood.
It’s a whole new world of travel for us now that we have a newborn. While we’re not ready to travel with Miles yet, we’re ready to start planning a few things. I’m not sure what time frame makes sense to travel with, what kind of destinations are best, and how do jetlag newborns do since they sleep most of the day?
For OMAAT readers who are parents — any advice?