The Fun of Travelling with a Baby

I packed my essentials in the backpack

Ever since I gave birth to my son, I started paying attention to all the baby-talk in my environment and broader on the internet. And those things I hear make me realise that we have the whole concept of travelling with young children wrong.

I saw women asking on the travel forums: “Do you think I have to stop travelling after giving birth?” I also got some condolences-like comments from my child-free friends about not being able to have adventurous trips from now on. Maintaining your travelling schedule after you have had a child is seen not as a norm and continuation of the normal lifestyle fit to your personality, but some kind of achievement, almost worth an Olympic medal.

Family travel
So, a bit of background of this happy family travel photo. We were almost late for the train, so had to run like crazy. We are actually so sweaty and my hair so greasy in this photo that I made it black and white to look decent. And when we made it, we realised that I booked us train tickets with the wrong date. So we had to pay double and sit on some small extra seats next to the toilet. But Mark really enjoyed the situation. He greeted each passenger who came to pee and waved them goodbye, when they closed the door. And of course at that moment we both would have preferred to stay quiet and read a book instead of running after this bundle of joy and apologizing to other passengers. But at the same time a train ride which I would otherwise have categorized as a “shitty start of the holiday” turned into a tiring but very funny one.

But travelling with a young kid or kids is not like travelling with an oversized luggage full of fine china or your leg broken and in a cast. It is not about a great obstacle preventing you from having your dream trip. An obstacle, which you somehow overcome and still manage to have some fun in the end. As if no one expected you would have fun in these circumstances, but you actually did, and on this you are congratulated.

I will be extremely provocative here and define travelling with a young kid as travelling with a human being, who is very close to you and whom you happen to love. Like for example your boyfriend or girlfriend. And yes, I know that sometimes your baby would demand much more effort from your side (nappies, feedings etc). But I’m speaking about the whole concept here, and those nappies – however annoying at that particular moment – are just the logistics.

Shocked by Budapest
One of the tram lines in Budapest was under construction, so temporarily the Szabadsag bridge was closed for transport and became a party place. We came there on a Saturday evening and found it full of live musicians, friends having picnics, couples on a date and all other sort of people. There was a lot of action and a lot of music. And while it was fun for us, it was even more fun to see Mark so shocked and fascinated by all this big city life.

So, how would those questions sound, if you exchange the word ‘baby’ for the word ‘partner.’ “Ana, I heard you are travelling again soon after you started dating?” “How was your trip? I admire you so much for travelling often with your boyfriend; I don’t think I would ever dare to do it myself.”

Really, parents, can we get rid of all this “overcoming the struggle” notion? I gave in myself (and wrote some tips about hassle-free travel), but then thought: “What’s wrong with me?” Ok, it can be a hassle to have to suddenly look for a toilet on a busy street in London or for a quiet place to breastfeed in the middle of Jerusalem old town.

But when I imagine the same trips, just without Mark in them, I see that they would have been so much duller. When I now think back about the trips we had, I remember the fun we had together much better than those moments of complicated logistics. I’m speaking very generally here about the fun, but if you would like a list of very concrete reasons why exactly it is fun to travel with your kid, here is one.

The world is full of amazing things, and my travels are fuller, when I can share those amazing things with my family. On our first trip to Crete, when Mark was 3 months old, my husband looked at him looking at the sea, and said: “So now we have a travel companion.”

Eating oranges in Iseo
In Italy we went hiking. Mark weighed around 10 kg at that time, so the hikes required more strength and we probably walked less than we would have done otherwise. But then Mark tasted his first orange, his first pizza, his first pasta and his first foam from my cappuccino. And even though for us those experiences were so far from first, they felt almost new as well.

So I suggest that we – the parents out there – reclaim the fun. We are not victims of some small humans, who came to enslave us and take the fun out of our life. We need to understand ourselves that we actually just got another cool companion to travel and to share the adventure with.

19 Replies to “The Fun of Travelling with a Baby”

  1. I agree with you completely.

    Children are not possessions, they are people in their own right. They have ideas, desires, passions, sorrows and deserve to be treated as such.

    Ours have brought me more joy than I could imagine and taught me so much. Travelling as a family is a shared experience made all the richer because of every member in the team and the individual strengths they bring to it.

    1. merrygoroundslowly says: Reply

      I’m glad you have a similar experience. I also think it makes you richer, even though sometimes more tired.

  2. I love what you are saying here. I travel a lot and sometimes do worry if it would be more difficult when we have a baby. But yeah, it sounds like it could be done with so much joy (and a bit of hassle). Thanks for sharing.

    1. merrygoroundslowly says: Reply

      It will be a bit of hassle, true, but do remember that a lot of joy will be there too!

  3. This is a great approach. My approach to travel has changed a bit since having children, purely because their travel personalities differ from mine. My eldest son is six and gets really homesick so we tend to do shorter trips now.

    1. merrygoroundslowly says: Reply

      That is of course very true! You have to take your children’s wishes and personality into account. I was talking more of the parents’ perspective, that sometimes we get into this wheel of sacrificing our interests without any real need to do it.

  4. We traveled with our daughter starting at the age of four months. It takes a lot of patience and planning, but it was great. Continue to travel. Your child will always thank you.

    Carol

    1. merrygoroundslowly says: Reply

      Thanks Carol, that’s very reassuring. 🙂

  5. Very nice to see since I am a traveler no matter what, so if I did have kids this would be a worry for me. We like to constantly run around and do a TON when we travel which would be hard for a kid to handle, so we would have to slow down somewhat, but I am sure after giving birth might be more preferable to move at a slower pace (for me anyway.)

    1. merrygoroundslowly says: Reply

      I think you can set the pace in the beginning, when your baby is very small, and just see what works and what doesn’t. Later the pace will be set by all the family members, so by your kid(s) as much as by your partner and yourself.

  6. I remember when we took our son to Bali when he was 9 mo. When we sipped our welcome drink and waited for the front desk to prepare the check-in, the waitress came and asked to hold our son. She played with our son until we got the room, and I admitted it gave us a bit of relaxation time after a flight from Jakarta. It’s different when just the two of us, but it’s richer and more exciting since the birth of our son. Keep traveling with your son!

    1. merrygoroundslowly says: Reply

      I’m glad to hear about your experience. And yes, sometimes it’s so nice, when people like your child and want to spend some time with him. We had it a lot in Italy. When we were on the train, for example, a couple took him to their sit to play with him for the whole trip. They all enjoyed it – and we could also relax and read a bit about our destination.

  7. I don’t have kids myself, but have gone on a couple road-trip adventures with friends who do. I can definitely say the baby made the trips more fun — there’s nothing better to pass the time on a long car ride than having to keep a six-month-old entertained! Great post.

    1. merrygoroundslowly says: Reply

      Oh yes! The time passes so quickly, when you are acting like a clown, right? 🙂 I’ve been in that situation so many times.

  8. your baby is soooo cute <3 I salute you for being a strong and brave mom.. and always looking/creating the positive side of things! I don’t think I can handle that myself.. traveling with a baby.. haha

    1. merrygoroundslowly says: Reply

      Thank you! :)) If you ever in that situation, you might realise it’s easier than you thought 🙂

  9. Good on you for traveling with your child. Although I don’t have any kids myself – Friends of mine who do have a child went on a around the world trip traveling long-term with no end date in mind with their child and say it’s the best decision they possibly made. A lot of family and friends tried to deter them, I was in favor of it as I’m a long-term traveler. And when I do have a child I will defo be doing the same with mine. 😀

  10. I am expecting now but I willl definitely be traveling with my baby so this is extremely helpful and reassuring.

  11. TOTALLY in your side!!! SO happy to see traveling families out there and making the most of the travels with the little ones. MY GOSH… my travels without kids is fun but sooooo much fun with them around. They see the world in a different perspective and I love seeing it thru their eyes. Such a wonderful experience and that…. I will not exchange for anything else. Happy and safe travels…. Kisses to your lil traveler:)

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