Last Updated on November 15, 2021 by Nellie Huang
Ever wondered if traveling with a baby is possible? As a mother, I’ve brought my baby to 10 countries in 15 months and I also travel solo from time to time. Don’t clip your travel wings just because you had a baby. Here’s why.
Since I became a mother, I’ve been receiving lots of emails from fellow travelers who want kids but are worried that it would change their travel lifestyle.
I get it. It’s inevitable to have such worries and doubts. We live in a society where there’s an underlying belief that women who have kids can’t travel the world. Even TIME has published an article that perpetuates this myth.
Truth be told, when I found out that I was pregnant, I had the same doubts myself. I was worried that having a baby would hold me back — from traveling, from doing what I love, from being myself.
Table of Contents
- But I didn’t let having a baby stop me from traveling. Neither should you.
- Traveling with a Baby
- Read more: Why You Should Travel with Baby
- Traveling Solo Even After Having a Baby
- Other Families on the Road
- If We Travel with Kids, So Can You!
- Why Traveling with a Baby Is Important
- Traveling with a Baby Doesn’t Need to Be Different
But I didn’t let having a baby stop me from traveling. Neither should you.
I know, traveling with a baby is not easy; and a baby can change the way you travel (to a certain extent). But with some adjustments and proper planning, it IS possible to continue exploring AND enjoy it with your baby in tow. With some help from others, you can even travel solo after having a baby (like me!).
Today, I’m going to share my own experience and also that of other traveling families to show that you CAN travel the world even if you have kids.
Traveling with a Baby
Kaleya is now 15 months old — and she’s already been to 10 countries (and seven more while in my womb!).
Alberto and I brought her on her first international flight when she was just five months old, and since then, she’s been to Singapore, Maldives, Cyprus, Norway, United States, Poland, Hungary, Ibiza, Gran Canaria and Belgium. In a few days we’ll be heading to her 10th country, Jamaica, and we’ve got plenty more travels planned for the upcoming months.
She’s always been a great flyer, often sleeping throughout long flights; she dozes off in the car as soon as the engine starts and I often find her staring out at the sky when on road trips. Oh and most of all, Kaleya loves trying new things: like eating delicious Polish perogies and Cypriot pita bread, swimming in the warm Indian Ocean, and playing with snow.
Read more: Why You Should Travel with Baby
Traveling Solo Even After Having a Baby
I don’t only travel with Kaleya though; I still get to travel solo on assignments and to far-flung places in adventurous ways, just the way I did before having a baby. In the past year, I’ve traveled on my own to Cuba, Ghana, Togo, Benin, Latvia, Romania, Cape Verde and the Faroe Islands for work and leisure. I also have plans to travel solo to Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Chile over the rest of the year.
It can be hard to be away from her for long — there’s a lot of guilt and emotional struggle involved.
Thankfully, I have a supportive husband who knows that travel is my life and I need to travel to be happy. He is absolutely capable of taking care of Kaleya while I’m gone, which puts my mind at ease. I also have understanding in-laws who are more than happy to help out and spend time with their grand-daughter. Without them, it would be hard to take off on my own.
But then again, my motto has always been, “If there’s a will, there’s a way.” If you’re determined enough to go traveling with a baby, you’ll always find a way to do it.
Other Families on the Road
I’m not the only mother who travels.
My friend Katja Henschel , a professional photographer and single mother, has been traveling around the world with her baby, Atlas, since he was just a few months old. They tend to travel slowly, spending a few months here and there, from Thailand to Maldives and South Africa. Being a single mother can be extremely challenging – traveling with a baby singlehandedly must be even more so, but Katja doesn’t let that stop her.
Another friend of mine, Erin Bender travels the world nomadically with her family of four. In 2012, the Bender family left their home in Perth, Australia, when the kids were still 2 and 3 years old, and have been wandering the globe since then. They are currently on an epic road trip through the United State; the kids are undoubtedly loving it.
If you think that a baby will change the way you travel, think again. My friend Satu Vänskä-Westgarth and her husband are real adventure junkies who work in the outdoors and have always liked challenging themselves. They haven’t let having kids change their lifestyle. They go cross-country skiing, long-distance biking and whitewater kayaking with their little ones — to places like Faroe Islands and New Zealand. They brought their young one on his first skiing adventure at the tender age of 17 months old!
Renown blogger and writer Christine Gilbert who writes at AlmostFearless.com have also been moving around the world with her baby daughter, toddler son and husband since 2008. They’ve studied Mandarin in China, Arabic in Lebanon, and Spanish in Mexico. She recently published a memoir to chronicle her journey of raising bilingual kids in foreign lands.
Photo by Travel with Bender
If We Travel with Kids, So Can You!
These families are average people just like you and me — they simply chose to give up the conventional life for a more exciting one on the road. It may be tougher than the routine life at home but nothing worthwhile comes easy, right?
I’m not saying you should quit your job and become nomadic — what I’m trying to say is that you don’t have to clip your travel wings just because you had a baby.
If you’ve always traveled adventurously to far-flung places, what’s the harm in bringing your baby along? If you’re used to going on weekend trips or hiking excursions in the national parks, you can still do that with the baby. And if you love camping and road trips, better yet — those are perfect for babies!
Even if you can only afford to go on two or three vacations a year, it’s better than not traveling at all! Don’t forgo your vacations just because you think it’s going to be hassle — think about how much fun it can be to see your baby play in the sand for the first time or try new foods for the first time. Go, explore and bring your little bub along!
Why Traveling with a Baby Is Important
Traveling with a baby is, without a doubt, harder than traveling solo or as a couple. But it can be SO much fun showing your kids the world and also refreshing to see the world through their eyes.
I will always remember the awe in Kaleya’s eyes when the plane took off from Oslo. She had flown before, but this was the first time she actually stared out of the airplane window (instead of snoozing) and watched in amazement as the ground faded into the distance.
And then there was the time when she saw snow for the first time in Lake Tahoe, California. She was so bewildered — the feeling of the icy snow on her cheeks just made her giggle each time. On our recent trip to Budapest, she just loved being in the thermal baths (natural spring water) because of the nice warm temperature — something that she wouldn’t experience here at home.
It’s experiences like these that are so precious and make for amazing memories. Many parents complain about not having spending enough time with their kids; I think traveling is the best way to bond and spend quality time with your children. At home I’m usually trying to multi-task and I get distracted by work or my phone, but when traveling, I’m more ‘present’ in the sense that I give Baby Kaleya my full attention, we do things together and we bond more.
Even though Kaleya is just 15 months of age, I can already see how traveling has made her more adaptable than other kids. Since her first trip at one month old, she’s been a great traveler: she sleeps really well in the car and airplane, she eats better than at home when we’re traveling and she makes friends at airports so easily.
Of course there are the occasional meltdowns like the scream fest on our baby’s first flight (I think she just didn’t want to leave to Maldives) and on our way back to Budapest when she had a major mishap and we ran out of diapers (luckily a family came to our rescue)! But these are just part and parcel of travel and they’re easy to deal with.
It’s not just our kids that benefit from travel. Let’s not forget about ourselves! We, the parents, need to relax, break out of our routine, travel and explore too. It’s true, nobody talks about the parents’ needs. We need to travel for our own sake even if our babies don’t really care where they are.
Traveling with a Baby Doesn’t Need to Be Different
And having a kid doesn’t have to change the way you travel — unless you let it. Granted, you may have to carry a lot more things than you used to (for a guide on what to bring when traveling with baby, read my baby’s packing list.) But pack smartly and you can travel with just a carry-on like we do!
When we travel with Kaleya, we still go hiking, camping and exploring off the beaten path just the way we used to. There are some places that I prefer not to bring her to since she’s still really young (like parts of Africa where Malaria is an issue), but other than that, we’re keeping our usual travel style and making adjustments to fit Kaleya’s needs.
Traveling with a baby doesn’t mean you need to stick to an all-inclusive resort and keep activities to a minimum. Based on our experience, it IS possible to go on road trips, camping (or glamping) trips, city breaks and or even skiing breaks with your baby.
Most babies sleep well in moving vehicles (including Kaleya) so road trips are perfect for them. Glamping is also a great way to explore the outdoors while making sure your baby is comfortable; Kaleya enjoyed glamping all over Spain with us last summer, especially when we stayed in an Airstream in the woods. City breaks are even easier — when she was smaller, I would wear her on a baby carrier and walk all over the city (while she napped in it); now we just strap her on her stroller and she would nap or people watch while we wander the city.
In writing this article, I hope I’ve shown that traveling with a baby is entirely possible. The world is a beautiful place — so go out and explore with your little tot in tow. It’ll be the best gift you can ever give to your baby.