Why it’s so important to travel with babies

While I was pregnant with George I read a lot about travelling with babies. I read tips and advice and a million and one explanations of how travelling helps babies develop into well-rounded children who are open to other cultures and comfortable in new environments.

To be totally honest, I don’t know how true this is. I don’t think you need to travel around the world for a child to develop into a happy, well-rounded, confident and accepting adult.

Maybe it is true but George is only 15 months old and doesn’t seem to care where he is, provided he’s getting lots of attention and an unlimited supply of grapes (although they have to be green grapes, red grapes just won’t do!)

He’s just as happy in the gym swimming pool as he was in the sea in the Maldives and he has a habit of sleeping through really incredible experiences. He’s slept through three seaplane flights, missed the dolphins in the Maldives, was asleep for every gorgeous sunset stroll in Portugal and even missed seeing baby turtles hatching while he was in the land of nod. Try getting him to sleep through a long-haul flight and that’s a completely different story…

Some people think it’s selfish to travel with babies. Why drag them across the world on a plane and take them away from their home comforts if they’re just as happy at home?

So why do I think it’s so important to travel with babies?

It’s for the parents!

The Maldives with a baby

Why does no one mention the fact that it’s important to go on holiday with your baby because YOU need a holiday!? Because you need to relax and have fun and spend some time with your partner too.

Caring for a baby is tough. It’s wonderful but it’s tiring and it’s messy and it’s undervalued. You have a never-ending list of chores and it’s unlikely that you’ve just sat down and chilled out for months.

As a new parent, the thought of having someone do all my cooking and cleaning for a week is almost as exciting as the holiday itself. Not only that but you don’t have any of those boring errands like going to the bank, food shopping or appointments. You can spend your entire holiday focusing on nothing but yourselves and your baby and that is the most important reason to go on holiday with your baby!

I had a very wise midwife who was unlike all the others. She didn’t follow a textbook and didn’t tell me what I ‘should’ do as a new mother – she told me to do what made me happy. Of course, mine and George’s health were her priority, but she was a firm believer that a happy mama leads to a happy baby. And if a holiday is going to make you happy then no one can argue with that!

I’m the first to admit that long-haul flights with babies can be tough but once I arrive in my destination it’s actually much easier than being at home. I stick to George’s normal routine but he loves the excitement of being somewhere new and meeting new people. He might not appreciate the historical significance of an old church or the beauty of a pristine beach but he definitely likes to be out and about and seeing new things.  And do you know what, constantly going out and seeing new things in your hometown is tough!

Visiting Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu with a baby

Going to baby groups and talking to other mums about nothing but breastfeeding and night time routines and ‘how many words can your baby say?’ and ‘does your baby sleep through the night yet?’ and ‘have you read The Baby Whisperer?’ and ‘oh my goodness, did you know that Jane STILL hasn’t weaned Olivia!?’ Yea, it drives me insane. I have some fabulous mum friends who I love to pieces but I also like having conversations that don’t revolve around the consistency of baby poo.

Not only does George like to experience something new but I do too. I need a break from our normal routine.

Parents with babies rarely get ‘date nights’ or the chance to spend time together without feeling guilty about the million and one things they should be doing

Another reason to travel with babies (if I haven’t convinced you already) is because once babies turn into children things get expensive. You have to start paying for their seat on flights, paying for them to stay in hotel rooms, paying for proper meals (how dare they eat so much!) and travelling within school holidays when everything is busier and more expensive.

Why it's so important to travel with babies

TheTravelHack

Monica is the founder and editor of The Travel Hack. She began the blog in 2009 when she left the UK to travel around Asia and Australia for two years. She's now a professional blogger and has travelled around the world in search of stylish adventure travel. Monica has recently had her second baby and is determined to prove that travelling with a baby is possible!

SHOWHIDE Comments (36)
  1. You are SO right about the need to travel is totally for the parents. Breaking away from seeing and doing the same stuff every day is a welcome change that is essential for parents health. Whenever I get back from a family trip with my toddler son, I am always amazed at how much he has developed during that experience away from home. He seems to thrive by spending such quality time with us, and seems so much more aware and curious about his surroundings. I think it also improves his vocabulary because we spend do much time explaining all the exciting new things we are seeing in our trip. Personally, I think you’re crazy if you font travel with your baby!! Great post – thanks ??

    1. Yes, it’s all about the quality time together. So many people are saying they see their kids developing while they’re on holiday. Maybe they really do come on faster or maybe we’ve just got more time to notice it – either way, it’s a good thing!

  2. I jokingly said to Justin this week that I can’t wait to go on an upcoming press trip as someone else will be making the bed and doing the cooking/housework. I only look after the 2 of us and (due to this line of work) don’t even do that all that often so I can certainly imagine how having a break from the usual routine with a baby would be so refreshing and a little treat for new parents. Love the honesty of this post Monica. If/when we decide to have children I feel much more prepared for the realities and reassured that our lives don’t have to change completely thanks to bloggers like you.

  3. its not selfish, its just a new normal. I’ve travelled a fair bit with my now pre-schooler and he’s a mostly happy bunny as long as there is somewhere we can get pasta, a play park and that we’ll read books at bedtime. I’m all for it. Keep it up.

  4. Definitely – although school is on the horizon for us, we’re now at the stage where my daughter asks when our next holiday is going to be. To her, it’s just part of normal life now (not quite sure if that’s what I’m aiming for or if I’ve created a monster!) but I can’t imagine the past four years without travelling. My husband says he always notices a development in her after a break together, usually that she’s chatting even more after some one-on-one time.

    1. Hehe, you might have created a monster there!
      When I was a teenager I used to babysit a little girl who was about 2. Just didn’t talk much and then she went on a 2 week holiday with her whole family (grandparents too) and she came home and could talk – like full sentences! I couldn’t believe how quickly she came on. It must have been all the attention she got while she was away.

  5. This is such a brilliant post! I love it so much because it’s so insightful without being preachy. I’d never even thought about the fact it would be cheaper, and easier to travel with babies……which is ridiculous as it’s super obvious now I think about it.

    The broodiness is back on!

  6. Of course I’m going to agree with you 100% here!!
    But on top of that now that my “baby” is 6, I totally believe that travelling with them when they’re babies really helps them get used to the idea of travelling when they’re older (and more opinionated!) too. My Mr6 doesn’t think twice about getting on a plane, or hearing different languages, or seeing new food or whatever, and while of course he’s enormously privileged to feel that way, it has helped him learn so much about the world and made a difference at school too!

  7. I totally agree with you Monika. Traveling with babies is really very important for parents. I’m a mum and I’m looking to go for a holiday with my husband and my little princess. And your post is really helpful to me.

    Twitter: @lowe_freya

    Thanks.

  8. So much yes! I have a four month old daughter and we still travel all over with her. I’ve had people tell us we’re nuts or brave (or both!), but I think it’s important to continue to do the things you love, even after having a baby. We’re still the same people we were before children, now we just have a baby in tow 🙂

  9. Great post Monica and refreshingly honest. I’m at the point where babies are on the horizon and I’m constantly thinking about will I or won’t I be able to keep travelling and feel very selfish for being so concerned about it! (But when it’s your job that’s fair right?!) This will put many travel writers and soon to be mums at ease! Congrats on baby no. 2!

  10. LOVE this post! Travelling is beneficial for everyone – baby, mama, dada. The government should basically give parents a year of maternity leave to explore the world. 😉

    Nova is now 7months and he’s developed (crawling, standing, tooth etc) on every single trip. It could just be coincidence, but as we love travel I’m going with it!

  11. This has definitely given me food for thought!

    I don’t have children yet, but we get married at the end of July and we’re already planning on starting a family as soon as we can. On the other hand, we’ve both got the bug for travelling at the moment (we’re off to Amsterdam in August and I want to put money aside for other trips to mainland Europe, even if it’s only a few days at a time) and I mentioned waiting a while so we could enjoy our freedom. But like your article says, there’s no reason why we can’t still travel and enjoy ourselves. I’ve always thought it’s important to expose children to new cultures at an early age anyway, even if they can’t really appreciate it yet. How awesome will it be for them to look back on the photos when they’re older? Of course, there are things you can’t really do with a baby, but for just walking around, enjoying the culture and the sights, nothing has to be different.

    So I’ll be showing this to the other half 🙂

    1. I’m so pleased this has given you something to think about! Most of the people who are getting in touch about the post are saying exactly the same – mostly newly weds or people *thinking* about starting a family in the next few years but they’re also really enjoying their freedom and (probably) a bit of disposable income.

      Like you say, there are things you can’t do when you have a baby with you but there’s still a lot you can do!

  12. I love the idea of traveling with a baby, but it always scares me. What about their schedules? What will they eat? How will the plain ride go?

    My husband and I are finally taking the plunge this fall and going on a trip with our daughter, who will be 15 months old. I break out in cold sweat, thinking about the two flights ( one 3 hour flight, a layover and then a 10.5 hour transatlantic flight). Then there’s of course the jet leg that will set in?? Do you have any tips for such long flights with very active toddlers? What’s the best way to get them to sleep on the plane if you are not buying them a seat.

  13. Yep! Tin Box Tot is now three and we’ve started paying for her (even half price is painful). I hate to think of the costs when her baby sister is older. However, I do think that travelling, local and international, plants a seed in your kids. The Tot asks me every night ‘where are we going tomorrow, mummy?’ and this melts the traveller mum in me. I know that she loves exploring new places and experiencing different things, and that makes me happy. So yeah, travel is partly for me, but I know that it will definitely be for for my girls as well.

  14. This is amazing – I don’t have a baby but I’m an avid traveller and we have plans to have one soon. I keep thinking surely there are better things to do during maternity leave than mother’s groups? What better time to travel & make the most of new motherhood! I’m hoping to do this when the time comes and your blog makes me feel more confident that it is achievable!

    1. Definitely, you might as well make the most of your maternity leave while you can! Did you read about the mum who travelled around the world during her maternity leave!? I’m not sure I could do that but she’s definitely an inspiration.

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The Travel Hack

The Travel Hack is a blog about stylish adventure travel and affordable luxury.

We believe luxurious travel can be affordable and isn't just for the rich. Follow along with our worldwide adventures as we share our trips and tips for incredible travel experiences on a modest budget.