The reality of traveling with an infant, is it worth it?

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Traveling with kids, some bloggers display it as heaven on earth, some bloggers say it’s absolutely undoable to visit faraway destinations with kids. As with everything I guess the truth is somewhere in the middle. Yes, you can visit those exotic destinations and no, heaven on earth is not how I would describe travel with kids. Don’t get me wrong, we love love love traveling with our son, but it’s definitely not all glitters and glory. Some days I’d even go so far to say ‘no pain no gain’ is a lot better description! So what’s it really like to travel with an infant?

We want to inspire other parents to travel with their kids, not make them believe that family travel is easy peasy. Some days it is and some days it isn’t. Just like at home. Raising kids is a challenge, wherever you are. We don’t want to inspire you to travel and then have you find out that the reality is quite different. We’ve always been pretty upfront about what our travels are like. And really, there’s no reason not to. Travel with kids is fantastic, but it can be taxing.

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10 months of travel: 25 flights and 32.645 miles

Is it responsible to travel with such a young child?

This is a question all traveling parents have heard at least once… Of course, there are certain practical things to consider, insurance, health care, medical requirements. We made sure these were well taken care of before we left. And obviously there are some locations we wouldn’t choose to travel with an infant, like a water bungalow or a tree house in the jungle. Those can wait till he’s a bit older. We think the best thing you can give a young child is lots of love and attention. While traveling we were together 24/7. What more can a child wish for than to have his parents around all the time and to do fun things with them? There really are a lot of reasons you should travel with your kids. Our little world traveler is very flexible, not a fussy eater and quickly at ease in new environments. Of course we can’t be sure that this is due to our travels, but we’d like to think so.

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Family pic during an island hopping tour in El Nino, Philippines

The importance of routine while traveling with children

Since we were traveling long-term we specifically chose to follow our son’s routine as much as possible. We started our 10-month trip when he was 17 months old. At that point and during the whole trip he napped once a day after lunch for 2-3 hours. We made sure to be ‘home’ for his nap as much as possible. Occasionally he would sleep in the carrier or stroller, but we preferred for him to sleep in a bed (or his travel tent) because he would sleep longer. The way we traveled, we definitely didn’t get see as much as if we’d go out sightseeing and exploring the whole day. Even though we never stayed anywhere for more than two weeks and often only for a few days, keeping to our son’s routine meant that the days were fairly predictable for him. Keeping to his routine ensured that our little world traveler was generally rested and happy, which in turn made sure we could relax too.

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Making friends in Sri Lanka

Traveling with an infant: a typical day

So, we woke up when our son woke us and got ready to start the day, usually around 8. Then we either went out for breakfast or fixed some breakfast in our hotel room or apartment. After that, around 9:30 we were ready to start exploring. Generally we chose one activity to do each day, which we did in the morning. Between 12:00 and 13:00 it was time for lunch and after that we returned ‘home’ so our son could sleep. This meant that one, but mostly both, of us would stay with him during his nap. The perfect time to write for our blog or do some work. After his nap it was snack time, followed by some discovering near our hotel or apartment, usually combined with finding a nice place for dinner. Dinner between 18:00 and 19:00 and then back ‘home’ and our son would be in bed by 20:00. We spend most of our evenings at home too, watching a movie, working or checking out new destinations…

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Celebrating our little world traveler’s second birthday at Sendowan Baru in North-Sulawesi

Is traveling with kids worth it?

So, seeing as we (voluntarily) limited our sightseeing during our travels when our son was younger, do we still think it was worth it? Yes, absolutely! One thing our son taught us was to appreciate the little things and the cultural immersion. When you travel with kids, you slow down and see things from a child’s perspective. Even just going for a walk in a new environment, talking to locals  or shopping in a supermarket in a different country helps you to really experience and appreciate your travel destination. A lot of things change when you travel with kids, it’s a whole new dimension of travel. We didn’t see as many of the large attractions as we would have when we traveled solo or as a couple, but we did get to truly experience what it’s like to live like locals. Other than that, the time we spent as a family was amazing and we’ve seen so much. Being together 24/7 can be taxing, but it was a fantastic gift for the both of us that we could spend so much quality time with our little boy. Other than that we simply love to travel ourselves. And kids are definitely more happy when their parents are happy.

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Helping our Bedouin guide to make tea in Dahab, Egypt

Would we recommend traveling with an infant or toddler? 

Oooh, that’s an easy one… YES! I don’t think there’s a ‘best age’ to travel with your kids. Each age offers its own challenges and rewards. We actually found it very easy to travel with an infant. Infants don’t need much. Eat, play, sleep and be close to their parents, that’s about it. We’ve seen and done so many wonderful things: celebrated our son’s 2nd birthday in North Sulawesi, did an awesome motorbike trip in Vietnam, saw wild elephants in Sri Lanka, spent New Year’s Eve in Bangkok went island hopping in The Philippines… we made so many memories! Now that he’s a bit older our little world traveler is really starting to discover his individuality and have an opinion. It’s amazing to watch, but can sometimes be a bit of a pain when traveling. Luckily we’ve never had to experience a tantrum in an airplane at 36.000 feet (yet).

If you’re waiting to travel till your kids are older, you’re really missing out. Missing out on traveling yourself and also missing out on some amazing travel experiences with your kids. The best advice anyone ever gave us about family travel was to ‘just go!’ Don’t overthink all the reasons why you shouldn’t or can’t. If it’s your dream, make it happen!





Author Description

Lisa

Lisa

Lisa is an experienced online marketing professional currently working as digital nomad. She's the mother of a precious little ginger haired boy and if time permits she likes to read, write, travel the world and dive.

There are 12 comments. Add yours

  1. 13th September 2017 | Claire at Tin Box Traveller says: Reply
    I totally agree that if you want to travel when your kids are young you should do it! There's not enough time to see the world as it is! Trying to stick to a routine has really helped us too, as has slowing things down and only trying to achieve one things each day. Great article! Thanks for sharing it with #MondayEscapes
  2. 6th August 2017 | Cath - B says: Reply
    Great advice. We decided before our son was born that we would continue to travel and do holidays that we wanted even with him in tow. Why put your lives on hold just because you have a child. It not only strengths your family bond but broadens their horizons too. We too adjusted our travels to fit around our son which makes travelling for us quite easy. Naps and bedtime were kept as close to home time as possible and he adapts quite quickly. Although we are a bit apprehensive about a 9-hour time difference when we head to the Pacific North West later this month with our 3 year old. But we'll adapt as best we can! #fearlessfamtrav
    • Lisa
      7th August 2017 | Lisa says: Reply
      I couldn't agree more, no need to put your life on hold for a child. They're more happy when their parents are happy anyway, I believe. Time difference can be a bit of a challenge. We always tried to find a long stopover about half way so we could adjust gradually, but that won't work for long crossings. Make sure you're well rested before the trip, so you can handle a few sleepless nights while you transition to a new routine! Happy & safe travels!
  3. 5th August 2017 | Ariana says: Reply
    Excellent post, well written and comprehensive. We always have tried hard to keep to the routine of a midday sleep. We found that often we would all sleep, not just the toddler... Coming from #fearlessfamtrav
    • Lisa
      7th August 2017 | Lisa says: Reply
      Thanks Ariana! In hindsight I should have slept wayyyy more when I had the chance ;-)
  4. 5th August 2017 | TraveLynn Family - Jenny says: Reply
    Great post and couldn't agree more. We still adhere to the routine with our 2yo and 3yo and like to head back to the room for naps. They seem to need the longer nap (including our 3yo!) when travelling and also means we can stay up a bit later in the evenings. #fearlessfamtrav
    • Lisa
      7th August 2017 | Lisa says: Reply
      Yes, exactly! We did a 2-week city trip to Vienna, Prague and Berlin last year and even though our little one stopped napping well before that, he started doing naps in the stroller or carrier again. He loves the new impressions, but it can be tiring too. And although at home I prefer for him to be in bed in time so I have a bit of evening left to work, it's nice if he can stay up a bit later when we travel and isn't grumpy for dinner ;-)
  5. 3rd August 2017 | Baby Loves Travel says: Reply
    I think this type of long term travel with little ones is a great idea. You get to spend so much more time together as a family than you would do at home. #fearlessfamtrav
    • Lisa
      7th August 2017 | Lisa says: Reply
      Yes, it's amazing to have so much quality time together as a family!
  6. 1st August 2017 | Corey with fifi + hop says: Reply
    I totally agree that not only should you travel for the kids, but for yourselves too. You only live once. We didn't do the kind of long-term traveling you've done when our kids were babies, but we still went on the trips we did prior to having kids. And like you, nap time was always in the crib! We all need that break. #fearlessfamtrav
    • Lisa
      7th August 2017 | Lisa says: Reply
      Thanks for the comment Corey! We do a lot of short trips with our son now, even just day trips and it's great fun for all three of us.
  7. 1st August 2017 | Wandermust Mummy says: Reply
    I agree with you so much about how worthwhile family travel is #fearlessfamtrav

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