So travelling is skill. When with other people it more certainly is a test and naturally sometimes a challenge. It is pure exhilaration and pure exhaustion. It’s something I adore — the prep, the packing, the productivity before you leave home. (I swear travelling makes you a more productive human! We always accomplish more in weeks leading up to a trip than any other time.)
And travelling with a baby is no exception. When I was pregnant and mentioned that travelling with our baby was hugely important, people would purse their lips and roll their eyes a little giving the “you just wait and see mama” look that people do before you’ve had a kid of your own, thinking that everything you love and do will just keep on keeping on the way it always has. Okay okay, I admit it. It IS different. But it is still possible.
So far, we’ve taken our seven month old to the London, on a road trip to visit family in the English countryside, camping in the national parks of Ontario, to Prince Edward Island, to Vancouver Island – moving around from the harbour city of Victoria to some of the Gulf Islands and on to the actual end of the Canadian landscape, Tofino. We’ve done, planes, trains, automobiles, boats and managed to not only keep this bambino alive, but also keep him interested and seemingly happy.
The pace I move has changed. That’s what I notice most about travel with a baby. That’s what I notice most about life with a baby. My days are non-stop and yet everything seems paused, movement slowed down to the speed with which a little-person desires. His rhythms and sleep (and poo!) guiding our every move. Where I used to plow through a list of everything that needed to be done in one day or pushing through a travel day driving across a three countries to make it to our destination before we sleep, now those things don’t happen. Because this pint-size dude tells us he’s done with the car and demands a nap making me focus on one errand or chore at a time. It’s slower. And simpler. And is probably the best thing that ever happened to my type-A go-go personality.
Besides the velocity shift (and the lack of sleeping in. Ever.) the only other thing that’s been an adjustment with travel has been adding another to my pre-occupation of feeling well while on the road.
I am fairly sure that growing up travelling as a child learning how to stay healthy and feel good while away was the best preparation for travelling with an infant. The things that many people find tedious about travelling with a little one are things I’ve inherited from my parents. I think kids are so in the now (I’m hungry, NOW!) and we make them our priority — where we’ll sometimes skip packing healthy snacks and just grab whatever is around for us, we will always make sure we have backup snacks for our little-ones. I think that if we begin to learn how to nurture ourselves then doing the things to keep babies happy and healthy becomes less of a chore and more just second nature and all of a sudden the challenges of travel become not only manageable but enjoyable. Here are my basics of travelling healthy (with or without a baby!):
- Bring snacks. All the snacks. Bring some in your luggage for while you’re away (ziplock bags of homemade energy bars, trail mix, dried fruit, rice cakes). Bring some for the voyage. A variety and more than you’d expect to need for the plane or road, somehow families get more snacky and hungry while travelling. I usually pack a picnic meal for
- Bring staples. Things you can cook in a pinch and have on hand to keep your digestion and health feel good. (Brown rice, umeboshi, miso, green drink, sea salt, popcorn.)
- Find a local market when you get there. Asian markets are great for finding a variety of greens and vegetables.
- Kitchen. If you can, have access to a small kitchen. It makes such a difference.
- Attune first, schedule second. Watch for your baby’s (or your!) cues more than the clock. When they are out of their normal time and space we can’t expect them to keep their normal schedule so I find a good rule of thumb is to connect with their state of mind and become attuned to what they are feeling, needing, wanting and rolling with it rather than thinking nap times and snack times will be according to a certain proper time.
- Move. Lets face it any form of activity or exercise makes you a better feeling (and looking!) human.
- Get outside. Our baby sleeps sounder, naps better and giggles sweeter when we’ve had outdoor time. And hey, so do I.
- Pause. Being out of your zone is the point and purpose of travel, so take your time —chill in that cafe a little longer, sip that almond latte a little slower and be here now.