Ford and I recently became parents, which we couldn’t be more excited about. While our son, Miles, isn’t even two weeks old, we’re already starting to think about planning travel with him, so I was hoping to get some advice from OMAAT readers who are parents.
Family travel is complicated (obviously)
There’s no denying that traveling as a family is significantly more challenging than traveling solo or as a couple. I’m excited about the challenge, because it’s a whole aspect of travel that I’m looking forward to learning all about.
Having a newborn is really special, though on the travel front, I can’t even express how giddy I am for when Miles is a bit older, and we can see the world through the lens of a kid. I remember when I was pretty young, and how excited I was every time I’d get to go on a trip, the first time I visited cities I had only learned about in school, etc.
Realistically speaking, though, we’re several years off from that. At the moment we just have a ridiculously cute thing that sleeps, drinks formula, and poops all day.
The bad news is that travel experiences probably won’t be very enriching for him for the next year or two. The good news is that infants don’t cost you anything extra to travel with domestically, while internationally you “only” have to pay 10% of the adult fare (though they also have to sit in your lap, and don’t get a seat).
Is there a sweet spot for infant travel?
Obviously people will have vastly different takes on infant travel, though I’d love to hear where OMAAT readers who are parents stand on this.
The advice that I’ve received the most often up until now is the following (or maybe I’m just hearing the advice that I want to hear… hah):
- The ideal time to travel with an infant is before they start to learn to walk, since you can take them everywhere with you; once they start walking, it gets a lot more complicated
- If you have kids travel with you from an early age, they’ll be better travelers, and it will be less daunting of a task in the long run, because they’ll be so used to being in the travel groove
As I start to consider possible infant travel, that brings me to some questions and things that I’m considering:
- How early is too early to start traveling? I ask this in terms of child development in general, immune system, various vaccines, etc.
- Are we best off staying roughly in the same timezone, or how do young infants do with jetlag and long haul travel? I mean, he’s sleeping about 20 hours per day as of now, so is there really that much of a schedule shift that could happen? 😉
- Are there pros and cons to the types of destination you visit with an infant, be it a resort destination or a city destination? My gut says that resorts are better, since you can just enjoy fresh air and not being around too many people…
- Is traveling with an infant just a recipe for a bad time? Obviously taking care of an infant takes a lot of effort under normal circumstances, and when you add in the potential stresses of travel, is it more trouble than its worth?
- Presumably with an infant you commit to just being with them 24/7 when traveling, but is there a point where you feel comfortable finding some sort of child care (through the hotel or whatever other source) so you can go out to a nice dinner one night, or is that just off the table for a long time?
These are just some of the things that are crossing my mind. Realistically speaking, I think we’ll start slow and work our way up from there. Maybe we’ll first do a local staycation, then we’ll take a short flight to somewhere, and then maybe we’ll try long haul travel soon enough.
Just as I hope that Miles will become a good traveler over time, ultimately half of that equation is us becoming good travel parents, because I recognize there’s a huge learning curve there.
Lastly, I’m sure some OMAAT readers are wondering “does this mean no more international trip reports for the next couple of years?” Nope, my plan is to still do review trips as I did pre-pandemic, where I might just travel for several days, reviewing a bunch of airlines and hotels. I’m fortunate that I get to work from anywhere, so usually I’m at home 24/7 with Miles. I think it’s also reasonable to take review trips — after all, this blog is my livelihood.
It’s a whole new world of travel for us, as we now have a newborn. While we’re not quite ready to travel with Miles yet, we are ready to start planning some stuff. I’m just not sure with what timeline it makes sense to travel, what kind of destinations are best, and how newborns do with jetlag, given that they sleep most of the day?
To OMAAT readers who are parents — any tips?