The Good, The Bad & Not So Bad of Traveling with a Small Child, Part 2 – The Good

Wednesday, June 10th, 2015 | Posted under Family and Friends, Personal

Way back when, I wrote about why it can be tough to travel with a baby or toddler, but there are two sides to everything, right? So it wouldn’t be fair to make you all think that you should swear off traveling with young kids. I thought about why traveling with young kids might actually be pretty cool. Here’s what I came up with:

People love kids (well, at least outside of the U.S.). I remember our last real trip outside the U.S. to Antigua late last year. I could not begin to describe the Side Eye I got from a young couple at the sight of Baby C running around the airport gate. Yep, she’s a ball of energy but that doesn’t mean she’s going to ruin your flight, people. Contrast that with our experiences in Montreal and Costa Rica, where folks just smiled when Baby C even entered a restaurant. I’m not saying we’re curmudgeons in the U.S., but children are often welcomed and accepted in other countries in ways that they are not here. It’s made it easier to not feel so bad when we’re chasing Baby C around a restaurant knowing that people are a bit more accepting.

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Kids are conversation starters. A small baby will cause many people to stop and say hello or make comments. If anything that becoming a parent has taught me, it’s that people are nosy and like to make comments about kids whether you want them to or not. Strangers have initiated conversations with us in airplanes, airports, buses, and restaurants all because of Baby C. A woman in Montreal even offered to hold Baby C while I ate. That definitely made eating that dinner a lot easier. Baby C made interacting with locals a lot more fun. In a way, she made the introduction for us.

Babies and toddlers force you to travel slowly. I’m a New Yorker, and I walk pretty quickly. In the old days, Husband J and I used to run all over a city all day and collapse at the end of the day in our hotel room before what we hoped to be a great dinner somewhere. Now due to Baby C’s naps, we’ve got to take a break in the middle of the day. I gotta say it can be nice to stop and chill for a few hours and maybe even take a nap myself. Sometimes as travelers we try to cram every moment/historical site/fun activity into our travels. Baby C makes me figure out the highlights, take a breather, and then keep going. Instead of rushing to see everything we can, Baby C forces us to choose where we want to go in that country, stay in one place, and get to really explore it. Some people call it “traveling slowly”. I call it “traveling with a kid”. This is not to say that you can’t jetset with a little person, but sometimes it’s nice to enjoy a place for awhile.

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Babies and toddlers get something out of it, too. As I’ve said before, I can only speak for Baby C, but I have to disagree that you shouldn’t travel because kids “don’t get anything out of it.” For some reason, I’ve been seeing that statement everywhere, and I’m a little puzzled by it. Baby C’s avid people watching is something I’ve noticed a lot when we go away. I’ve also discovered her love of yucca, grilled fish, and other foods that surprised even me. She is seeing new colors, experiencing different environments, smelling new scents, and eating things that I wouldn’t usually cook. Plus, just getting Baby C out of New York isn’t such a bad thing. To me, my child is definitely getting something out of our travels. Maybe she doesn’t get the historical or other significance of everything we see and do, but she’s still experiencing something.

So like I said, it’s not always easy or fun, but travel with a baby or toddler opens up your travel experiences in ways that you might not realize.

For those of you who have done so, what have been the good points of traveling with a small child?

 

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The Good, The Bad & Not So Bad of Traveling with a Small Child, Part 1- The (Not So) Bad

Wednesday, March 18th, 2015 | Posted under Family and Friends, Family Travel, Personal, Travel Tips

I am not going to sugar coat traveling with a baby or toddler. If you’ve read anything online that is telling you that it’s easy, THEY’RE LYING. Ok, fine, maybe not lying completely, but they might not be telling you the hard parts of traveling with a small one. Because I love you all, I am going to give it to you straight — no chaser. Traveling is still doable, but there are definitely some things that you need to think about more fully than when traveling solo or traveling with your buddy/significant other. Here are some areas to think about while you prep for your next trip with the little person in your life (You ARE going to keep traveling by the way… because I said so. :))

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Getting ready to head to the beach in Antigua

Sleep – Some people are blessed with children who will sleep anywhere everywhere at whatever time. If you happen to be one of them, then please bow down and worship any deity that you choose or at least thank the Universe because many kids aren’t like that. I kid you not as I am drafting this post Husband J and I are trying to figure out where to go in 2015, and part of what is holding us back are time zones. People travel with kids all of the time across time zones, but when you’ve got one like mine that seems to have low sleep needs and wakes up at the butt crack of dawn, wanting to brave a drastic time zone change just doesn’t sound fun. Time zones definitely played a part in our experience in Costa Rica, and I can tell you that it is dark at 3am in Costa Rica in August…in case you were wondering. Our trip to Canada in 2013 was before Baby C was even sleeping through the night. With a little co-sleeping we took care of that, but good dear, we were a little bleary eyed for parts of that trip.

 P1090380Hanging in the Park in Montreal – She’s going to kill me when she’s older for posting this. 

This is all to say that sleep is real, maybe more for some kids than others, but if your kid sleeps well or even if he or she doesn’t, it will still be a factor in how you experience your trip.

Oops…I almost forgetting napping. Baby C needs to nap in a room. She’s fallen asleep in a stroller a total of five times her entire life. When she was a smaller baby, she would nap in the carrier and that was helpful because we just kept it moving during the day.

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Carrier naps are your friend! 

These days, Baby C needs to have things shut down, or she won’t shut it down. She really does need to be in a room in some sort of a crib to get that necessary nap. Yes, that nap is necessary. Baby C is great kid, but she’s even better in the afternoon after a nap.

Activities – Baby C is still at the age where activities can be tricky. Unlike during her small baby stage where we just took her almost wherever we wanted to go, we now have a mindful little person who is beyond curious and is absolutely ready to run everywhere and touch everything. I know not all kids are like this, but this is one we’ve got, so we’ve got to work with this little bundle of energy. One of the reasons I was hesitant to go to Costa Rica was the fact that we’d be limited in some of the activities we chose. Zip lining? White water rafting? Probably not. That doesn’t mean that we weren’t able to do fun things. We just needed to be more particular.

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Off for a walk in Manuel Antonio Park 

Food – Okay. I’m not going to totally count this as a possible difficulty for us while traveling with a small child. Baby C gets modified versions of things on our restaurant of choice’s menu. We try to steer clear of the children’s menu, but boy, does she love her some French fries like her mother. I know some kids are a little pickier than others; so for some, having to be limited in where to eat can be challenging. I do remember the time we went to Antigua, and Baby C wasn’t totally eating regular solids (we did start with pureed food). Food pouches are your friends in that case, but we did bring some of our own food for her. Depending on where you are, some hotels are helpful in preparing baby–friendly foods or staying in an apartment like setting with a kitchen can help if you just need to have a meal in for the night.

Rooms – I don’t really know if I can stay in a small, little hotel room anymore. Baby C goes to bed early (often by 7:30pm!). I have no desire to go to bed then. None. We’ve stayed in a larger hotel room, but even that wasn’t much more comfortable. We’ve had a much better time with Air Bnb and other rental apartment set ups where we could spread out with the gear we try to limit bringing with us (that’s another post). I will say that I did like our hotel in Costa Rica, which had the benefit of essentially being a large apartment. It was actually bigger than where we live now! If you’re okay with smaller spaces and have one of those kids mentioned above that sleeps through anything, then a traditional hotel room might work. Being choosy about accommodations is just another aspect of travel that just changed for us.

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Don’t look down, Baby C!

Did I forget anything? I hope this post hasn’t dissuaded anyone from traveling with your young one. I’ve actually enjoyed many wonderful travel moments with Baby C. Seeing her observe the parts of the world we’ve visited since she was born has been one of the best parts of being her parent.

There are absolutely great things about traveling with small kids, and I’ll highlight those in a separate post.

If you’ve traveled with a small child, what was the hardest part for you?

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