Travelling with a baby is exhausting but rewarding. It creates exclusive obstacles that other travellers do not need to overcome. Maternity leave provides a unique opportunity to travel. Gemma and George aims to encourage first time parents to realise at least one of your travelling dreams. “Can you travel with your baby?”
The answer is simple, yes. The real question is “should you travel with a baby?” When I took my 12 week old baby, for a three week tour of SE Asia, friends told me I was crazy! But once you get into the swing of things, it isn’t as difficult as you think. You find solutions to problems and grow in confidence, as a traveller and as a parent.
You bond with your baby and with your partner. You meet new people and everyone loves babies. So you are always popular (perhaps not so popular on the plane). You can witness your baby drinking in the wonderful sights, smells and sounds of their new surroundings. You absolutely can adapt your home routine to travelling. Here are my travel tips for travelling with a newborn.
RECOVERING FROM LABOUR
Your body has been through an amazing journey. From creating, growing life and then bringing your little one into the real world. Make sure you slow down your pace and look after yourself. Drink plenty of water and don’t push yourself too much. It can take up to one year for your body to fully recover, take this into consideration when planning your trip. You can’t do everything in one day! You’re not a loser, if after lunch, you’ve had enough exploring and just want to relax!
BOOKING THE FLIGHT
Where possible, book a flight with a bassinet. A bassinet is a bed for babies, which is fixed to the wall/back of the cabin of the plane. There are a limited number of these on board so if you want one, you need to request it when finalising your booking. If you get a bassinet, you do not need to book your baby their own seat. For more advice on how to book a flight for your baby, click here.
PRAMS AND CAR SEATS
Take your pram. You will not be charged for taking your pram (and car seat, if you intend on hiring a vehicle) onto the aircraft. Most airlines allow you to keep, and use your pram, right up until physically boarding your flight. A pram serves as a bed when a cot is not available and can carry your baby and all of their required ‘stuff’ for the day. There are a broad range of prams/strollers available for travel that are smaller and lightweight. We travelled to SE Asia with our normal pram and didn’t upgrade until George outgrew it!
PACKING FOR YOUR BABY
Don’t over pack. You may be tempted to pack, using the ‘what if’ scenario and whilst this mentality can prove useful when packing the ‘medical bag,’ for everything else, it’s really not helpful. Remember whatever you pack you must carry, as well as your own luggage. Most countries will have the basics, such as nappies and wet wipes so pack enough for the flight and one or two days. Babies go through a lot of clothes, bibs and muslin clothes but if your trip is longer than one week, you can do laundry to save on packing space. Most hotels have a laundry service or use google maps to locate the nearest launderette to your accommodation. For more information on what to pack, click here.
HEALTH CARE FOR YOUR BABY
Before embarking on your journey, use google to locate the nearest Hospital or Doctors to your accommodation. If you do not intend on staying in one fixed location, take screenshots of the main Hospitals in the ares you intend on visiting. That way, should an emergency or accident occur you can pass the paper to a taxi driver (eliminates any issues with language barriers) or enter the coordinates into the GPS yourself (if travelling in a car, RV or Campervan). This is not to say that anything will go wrong but as a new parent, this tips is here to reduce anxiety and encourage you to enjoy your trip.
FEEDING YOUR BABY
Whether you are breast feeding of bottle feeding, you will need to be comfortable doing so, in unfamiliar locations. Your baby may become distracted when feeding because there is a lot of new things to see, hear and smell. I recommend finding a quiet, cool place to feed or using a muslin cloth to provide a little privacy for you both if in a public place. No matter what happens, remember that you are not the first parent to feed their baby in that region and you won’t be the last – it is the most natural thing a mother can do.
Enjoy your time with your newborn. They are only that size for a short time (a cliche but it is so true). Embrace parenthood and spend the day cuddling guilt free. You will walk away from the experience with confidence in yourself, as a parent and in your relationship with your partner and baby. It is an incredible experience and you may find yourself booking your second trip sooner than you think! Still not convinced? Here are five reasons you should travel whilst on maternity leave.