I have to confess that I don’t even know where to start with this article, or rather with this new direction that our travel and photo blog could take. Because yes, for those who don’t know us yet, we are a couple of bloggers living in French Polynesia as well as the proud parents of a little Louis, 4 years old already. His little brother’s arrival in the next few months really motivated us to write about traveling with a baby.
For one of the first times, Melanie, who usually stays in the shadow of the blog, comes out of her shell to write with me a part of this article and (I hope) of the next ones that will follow on this theme. I reassure all the readers following us on the travel and photography part of the blog, we are not going to become a baby-oriented blog. But what could be more logical for a (soon) family of 4 and bloggers than to write on this subject?
This article was hard to start, and it took a lot of research and brainstorming to know what points we were going to cover, in what order, and how much detail we needed to go into. Because let’s say it simply, it would be quite possible to hold a whole blog only about travelling with babies, as the associated themes and topics to cover are so numerous. We made the choice not to create a second blog and rather to lump it all together.
So, what are we going to talk about here? In fact, I tend to say that we’ll touch on everything, not because I don’t want to go deeper or because I don’t have enough time, but because each paragraph or question could (and will, who knows?) be the subject of a full dedicated article. In the main lines, we’ll present you why travelling with children, the organization related to all that, which destinations to privilege and finally, everything related to the transport. In short, there is a lot to do. We will write the article together, but we will speak in “I” anyway! Let’s go!
PS: Melanie asks me to channel my fingers on my keyboard to avoid writing loads of I don’t know how many pages that nobody will read! Personally, I think that those who are interested, who already have (or are about to have) young children and need these information will take the time to read, right? If you have reached the end of the article, don’t hesitate to leave us a little note to tell us what you thought of it! If you have any questions or tips that we may have forgotten to cover, don’t hesitate to ask!
That might make you smile, but to tell you the truth, it was quite a serious question for me. One of the first things I said to Melanie when we were thinking about having children was “listen, to have children is great, but it shouldn’t stop us from traveling and discovering the world, it’s out of the question”. That defined the framework and it was finally quite clear for us: there was no discussion about changing our habits because of the arrival of a baby. So, let’s not fool ourselves, we have changed, or evolved if I may say so, but we haven’t stopped anything! Everything is not always hunky-dory when you travel with a baby, but overall, with hindsight, I can see a lot of advantages!
To begin with, the classic phrase that many people tend to say is “why traveling with a child that young when he won’t remember anything…”. But do you think he will remember all the gifts you bought him for Christmas when he was 2 years old? Or that he will remember the walks in the park when he was in a stroller? NO. So for me, the argument doesn’t hold water. Of course, technically speaking, it is true that he will not remember his trip, but what about the positive side effects for his development and for the years to come, even for his whole life in my opinion?
We strongly believe that going on vacation with a baby really does have positive effects. Not to mention the fact that it allows you to create really deep bonds with your newborn (which you have less opportunity to develop in everyday life if you work 35 hours or more per week). In my view, the development of the baby is increased tenfold. Indeed, he develops in particular his capacity for adaptation because yes, even if everyone will tell you that YOU have to adapt to the rhythm of your baby (which is true, of course…), you are still going to place him in situations he doesn’t know up to this point: things as simple as taking a plane, being in a car for hours, listening to another language, tasting another food, observing different landscapes, meeting new animals, sleeping in another bed,… In short, so many new things for your baby to which he will have to adapt. And you know what? They do adapt very quickly!
In our opinion, travel leads (in addition to the development of his ability to adapt to the world in which he lives) to develop his self-confidence, his openness to the world as well as his curiosity. Even if they are very young children, I think these things are easily done at this age. Without actually forcing this “development”, which is done naturally enough during the trip, it is a good school of life for a little poppet. From birth, he is immersed in a world of permanent changes and discoveries, which is great for his evolution.
If I had to go back in time to tell you our experience, our little one took the plane with us for the first time at the age of 2 months, to an island in French Polynesia. He took his first baths in the sea straight after, discovered the texture of the sand under his feet – in short, right from that age, we awakened his senses. And all these little things led little by little to form the child he is today, that is to say a curious child, happy to learn and discover new things, and open to others (he speaks as much as I do, and even more…). I often say around me that I have never seen and felt my child as happy and with his most beautiful smile as when we are on a trip, and this is a good sign, isn’t it? Damn, I realize that I already wrote 4 paragraphs on the first point of the article – that’s going to be quite long I guess…
To make it shorter and “practical” for those who want to know more, I see some interesting points worth noting. Traveling with a baby won’t cost you more than if you leave him at home. His flight ticket is free until he’s 2 years old (only taxes to pay), and this is a pretty good reason to have him travel quite a bit before his 2 years old. After this age, the expenses are already considerably higher, despite a child fare. Another point to note is that before 6 years old, you don’t have any obligation for school, so you can make him skip a week of school (which we do maybe too often) (Louis has never done a school start in 2 years). It won’t change his life and, considering what he learns in kindergarten, I think he will be even more enriched during a week with us somewhere by a lake, a volcano or a mountain. Another point: traveling with a baby means getting up early (forget sleeping in!). And it’s still a good point to be able to enjoy the day and the beautiful morning lights, especially for us, passionate photographers. You will also meet more people with a baby, because it must be said that when you travel, many locals come to see you because “your baby is so cute”. It makes it easier to meet and talk to the locals, and that’s great! Finally, I think it is important to point out that traveling with a baby also means traveling serenely, more calmly, and in the end better, in my opinion. We do not run anymore to “see and do everything”. We do what we can, or rather what we have time to do, a “forced slow travel” in a way, and it suits us well!
Last point: traveling with a baby has advantages also for the parents. Clearly, it allows us to get out of our comfort zone and force ourselves to get used to different situations. A little anecdote? During a trip here on an island in French Polynesia, we arrived at night in a guesthouse with Louis, who was 4 months old at that time. We had booked a baby bed (what we thought was an umbrella bed, obviously). It turns out that there was a problem of understanding since they only added a single bed… Here we go, improvising a baby bed for the week by sticking our bed and the single bed against a wall and hanging our mosquito net with rope in the bungalow!
I have to find some disadvantages because, otherwise, you will say that I am not honest! Among the points that are a bit hellish, I’d say: no more light travel and small bags, the number of suitcases increases and so does the number of kilos (a little wink to our family who have to play Tetris with our luggage when they come to pick us up), little communication with the outside world and even with you (in my opinion, it’s much more interesting when around 3-4 years old for example) and an obligation to adapt at least a little to the destination, for example according to its sanitary conditions. As soon as he grows up (18/24 months, or 36 months), it is even more complicated than with a toddler. Why? In short: he will start to become autonomous (so to speak), to touch everything, to run around, which will require a greater vigilance on your part. It’s also the beginning of temper and tantrums that you will have to learn to manage. In short, with hindsight, it is finally more difficult to travel with a baby as soon as he is walking (I would say between 12-24 months) than with a very small baby (0-12 months). Another point is that you will have a little one who walks certainly, but not enough to go hiking and walk for miles. The problem is that he is starting to weigh a lot and you’ll have to carry him… Finally, you will have to keep a certain routine for the little ones, especially during the first months/year, whether for meals, naps, or sleeping hours. This requires adaptation and finally, it is also a learning process for young parents. Maybe it’s not such a big inconvenience then?
Vacation with your little one is not always easy, and a minimum of organization must be planned. When I talk about baby, we will say that’s from birth to 24 months (it is subjective, I grant you).
Unless I am mistaken, there is no French regulation saying at what age you can travel with your baby. It’s all a question of common sense, health and administrative formalities. Because in theory, you could very well take your baby 1 hour after leaving the maternity ward and put him in a car for a road trip somewhere. Because a trip doesn’t necessarily mean traveling by plane/train or abroad. In my opinion, if you stay in France and don’t need to take public transportation where you can be asked for identity papers, you can perfectly go on vacation with baby from his first days.
Now, things get more complicated if you need identity papers since the application for an identity card or a passport can quickly take 1 month, depending on the city. So, even if you want to travel in Europe, you have to have an identity card and then it will be this paper which will decide “when” you will be able to leave. Personally, we are going to leave for France about 1 month after the birth of our little one. So, you have to be ready for the passport application, but you can anticipate and pre-fill everything before. The only thing that is a bit difficult is the shooting session with an infant, because you have to follow the classic rules: no soother, no cuddly toy, eyes open and head straight. As a personal experience, for our first child, I (Melanie) went to the photographer to take pictures almost at the exit of the maternity, and I admit that it is not simple at all to gather all the good conditions. You have to be patient (and so does the photographer!). For example, a friend of mine had to remove the nipple as soon as the photographer was ready! For the last one, Sylvain took the pictures at the maternity hospital and sent them to a photographer for retouching and homologation. Two other advice as well: I would tend to recommend you to order the passport and the identity card at the same time because in case of loss, it will save your life! Finally, for unmarried couples, we had my name (Melanie) added to the passport as a common name to simplify things when I travel alone with the little one!
Last important point: health, and in particular vaccines. You have to consider the time to get an appointment with the pediatrician, for example, to get his first vaccines, even if some institutes (such as Pasteur in Paris) offer days and hours without appointment. And again, I would say that having all the vaccines up to date is truly necessary if you plan to travel outside France. You can very well bring your baby, even if he is only a few weeks old, on a trip to France by car. Knowing that many vaccines are no longer mandatory (it’s a personal choice but we chose to do all the recommended ones).
In summary, as long as you have the necessary identity papers to travel and the vaccines up to date, you can be “ready” to go on the road. However, the organization of the trip with baby will require some preparation, both in your mind and in practice…
As mentioned above, except if you are traveling in France (or in your country no matter which one it is, but this article was first written in French, sorry – and even then, it is always better to have identity papers anyway), you will have to think about “papers” to travel with a baby (or a child). Here is what comes to my mind, in no particular order:
- The national identity card or passport,
- The family record book and an authorization to leave the territory (Sylvain had for example written me a letter for the passage to the USA while I was traveling without him as I don’t have the same name as my son – but when will he accept to get married?!)
- The health booklet with the up-to-date vaccination booklet,
- For babies who are on medication (antibiotics or other), remember to take the prescriptions with you so you can explain the situation at customs or border crossings,
- For European who travel in Europe, you can (and should) subscribe to the European Health Insurance Card (GHIC), which allows you to be taken care of on the spot for the medical care necessary for the baby, according to the legislation and the formalities in force in the country, of course. Plus, it is free!
- Outside of Europe, the GHIC will only work in very rare cases, and I strongly advise you to take a private insurance specialized in travel. We have chosen Chapka Assurance several times recently, very simple, at a fair price and perfect for traveling with your baby/child safely,
- For trips of less than 90 days, you can ask your bank for information, because your credit card often covers a lot of things (assistance and insurance).
I am not going to hold forth on this point because we will perhaps write a complete article on the ways to travel with a baby, but it is obvious to speak about it in this article. We travelled a lot with Louis between his 0 and 2 years old (and even after), and I must say that we tested a little bit of everything! Here is our opinion on the advantages and disadvantages of the different ways of carrying.
We have already tested the three most known means of carrying: baby wrap/sling, baby carrier and stroller. Each and every one will have their own personal views on this, and there is no absolute truth, but we can talk to you about our experience and our opinions on these various means.
This is the first thing many people think of when going on a trip. But is it really a good idea? Personally, we took the stroller on his first few trips, let’s say before he was 1.5 years old. After that, I don’t think it was part of the trip anymore, as we preferred other means. But I would say that everything depends on the age of your child and if you are traveling alone or in couple.
However, we can’t forget that having a stroller on a trip does have some advantages:
- Baby’s nap: I would say that this is the main advantage of the stroller while traveling, especially with a baby who is not walking yet. It allows baby to fall asleep more easily (at least in our case, it worked well anyway) and you can easily take a break to have a drink or something. Not to mention that you don’t have to carry him, and walking long distances with a baby who weighs 5, 6, or 8Kg is quickly felt on your back.
- Eating in peace: it may seem silly, but when your baby can’t stand or walk yet, without a stroller, you can forget eating in a restaurant or a snack bar. This is the perfect accessory to put your baby down and eat quietly.
- Avoid carrying your baby: I mentioned it above, but with a baby who doesn’t walk, carrying him continuously in the city for hours is obviously more difficult than putting him in the stroller.
- Making him eat if you don’t have a highchair or a nomadic seat: it’s certainly a small detail, but it’s quite easy to make your little one eats when you don’t have anything to sit on and when he can’t stand up yet!
- Changing him: we don’t often think about it, but the stroller quickly becomes an improvised changing table, and we can then change him comfortably without folding on the floor. It also avoids him to turn over and start to crawl…
- and of course, having priority at the check-in or the customs, which is not always the case if you are with a baby carrier for example, even if it can also depend on the airline!
In general, I would say that as long as your little one is not walking (say before 12 months), the stroller seems to me to be a good ally, even if it is an extra baggage to carry. It will allow you to be less tired, for example in a long queue at the airport. Speaking of airports, you can often put it in “ACC” for long-haul flights with a stopover (e.g. Paris – Tahiti), i.e. with you in the cabin, ask for it at the check-in counter. You keep it until the boarding and you get it back when you leave the plane at the stopover, or for some you can even keep it as cabin luggage. Once the baby is walking, I would say that it is less important, even if obviously you have to always keep an eye on the little one to save him from going anywhere!
- Bulkiness: I would say that this is the main disadvantage, which will be even more so once your baby is going to walk a bit. You will have to carry your empty stroller while your baby is walking. If you are alone, for example, it quickly becomes a hassle. As a couple, it’s still manageable: one takes care of the baby and the other one of the empty stroller (but well…). Not to mention that when you travel, you’ll have to carry the stroller in the means of transportation, whether it’s a bus, your rental car or a train, and also store it in your accommodations. In short, it takes up space, that’s for sure!
- The “not handy” aspect: indeed, you will not only travel to places where the use of a stroller is perfect. There are certainly cities that are stroller friendly, but if you’re traveling to the far corners of Africa, Asian capitals, or even the islands here in French Polynesia, using a stroller is a bit of an obstacle course. You have to slalom between obstacles, poles, garbage cans, passers-by, animals. I’m not even talking about the condition of some sidewalks (when there are some).
Another point: depending on the kind of trip you are planning – and I am thinking in particular of walking in the mountains – it seems obvious to me that choosing a stroller will never be a good idea! It will be cumbersome and most of the time not adapted, not practical.
- Safety and health: another important point which is worth noting. The stroller is at the same height as a lot of not-very-nice things: exhaust pipes in the city, and I also think about animals, especially dogs. Here in French Polynesia, there are a lot of stray dogs in the islands, and I would always run with my baby carrier and my baby against me than seeing dogs running around the stroller, ready to bite my baby!
I have to say that this is a way of carrying that I do love, especially when they are still newborns. You can put them in it from birth until quite late. Well, when they grow up, it becomes less practical, and I rather give him to Sylvain in a back carrier, for example! Here are the advantages of the sling, still in no particular order:
- Safe for baby: and yes, there is the smell of the mom, the “skin to skin” and the sound of the heart, which reassures the baby and which is more personal, I find,
- Physiological: the baby will take the same posture as in mom’s belly, and the holding is adapted to the natural position when he is snuggled up against you,
- Body heat: yes, it keeps the baby warm,
- A protective role: indeed, it protects him from the wind, and from the rain to a certain extent,
- Freedom: this is the big positive point for the person who wears it: having his hands free. I remember wearing Louis when he was little and being able to do a lot of things on the side!
- Discreet: it’s ideal for breastfeeding. Your child can suckle discreetly and quietly.
- Varied: there are many models of different and very nice colors and fabrics!
- Not very cumbersome: you can slip it into a small bag.
At the time I used it for Louis, I had chosen the very beautiful sling of the brand “Je porte mon Bébé”, which became now “Love Radius”. Today, I’m going to test with pleasure the “Baby wrap without knots” of the same brand, that I just received two and a half months before my labor. It looks great and very easy to put on. Here is our detailed feedback on these baby wrap from this brand that we really love.
The sling really has few drawbacks in my opinion. It just involves mastering the knots, that can be sometimes complex, and the length of the wrap that can drag sometimes too (or maybe it’s just me who didn’t know how to manage it well, haha). A disadvantage that will no longer be valid with the small knotless wrap of the new models since it is now adjustable with the help of the 2 rings.
After that, the sling reaches its limits as soon as the little one grows, and I preferred to take a baby carrier to be freer and to let baby see more things from “up there”. It was also a way to share the carrying with Sylvain, who was not comfortable with knots.
This is the other classic way to carry your baby, especially when he has grown a little. We used two types: a classic one (when he still was a baby), and we recently used a backpacking baby carrier from Katmandu, until he was about 3 years old. So, to not go into too much detail (it may be too late…):
- More ventilation than a baby wrap,
- Easier to put on anyway,
- Possibility to store things in pockets (depending on the model),
- They are more adapted to the evolution of the baby thanks to their different positions (front/back),
- You can add accessories such as sunshades, rain protection, etc.
- There is a large number of models according to our desires/expectations,
- Very often, the classic models are recommended only from 6 months,
- It is more cumbersome than a sling,
- The price is often more expensive.
- The baby carrier is heavier than the wrap
However, some brands such as Love Radius answer the demand by proposing physiological baby carriers, with a booster pack, allowing to use them from birth. Moreover, we will be able to personally test the two new models, the Physiocarrier and the Hoodiecarrier. If you want to support the French brand Love Radius, don’t hesitate to ask us for a personal promo code of -10% by email!
I wanted to say a few words about the benefits (or not) of bringing a car seat with you on vacation with your little one. So, what about it?
- Safety: when it’s our own car seat, we know how it has been maintained, the associated standards, and that it has never had an accident for example,
- It is a point of reference for the baby as he can recognize the seat,
- It is in theory free to bring with the majority of airlines until 2 years (until you start paying basically), check with your airline anyway.
- Its rough handling during loading/unloading on the plane, for example,
- It takes up a lot of space (no matter how you travel).
In short, I’ll tell you our personal experience with the car seat. During our first trip to Easter Island with Louis, we took with us his baby car seat as well as the stroller, and I must admit that it was quite practical, knowing that he didn’t walk. For our road trip in New Zealand (Louis was 1.5 years old), and for the one in the United States/Canada (he was 3.5 years old), we chose to bring our own car seat. I have to say that it’s a pain to carry during the stopovers, to load in the car, etc. I’m not sure I would actually recommend it, knowing that you can rent it along with your car/van/camper on vacation… matter of taste!
And yes, because traveling with your baby does not often rhyme with lightness (and still!), I wanted to talk about the childcare equipment for the trip and what to put in his suitcase. Well, I’m going to touch on the subject once again as we are thinking of writing a complete article on the baby suitcase and its contents, because there is enough to write about!
Let’s be clear, you don’t have to leave for a trip being loaded like a mule, just because you have a baby, right? I would say that, as a general rule, the smaller they are, the more space they take up, how funny is that? I’m not going to list everything I find necessary, but here are some ideas:
- A travel bed: useful when he is really a baby, from 1 year old we made him sleep in a single bed anywhere. Even afterwards, while camping, he slept next to us in his sleeping bag! Here is a model that pleases a lot! For those who are interested, we’re also going to test a nomadic bed with our second little one. We bought this one.
- A means of carrying: we talked about it above, each to his own! Personally, I would say stroller is better when he doesn’t walk yet, along with a sling. Afterwards, until about 3 years old, carry baby alone is enough. Well, you can also do without anything,
- Changing bag: when they are really a baby, it’s useful. Indispensable? Not sure…
- A sleeping bag: if you go in the cold, some baby models do exist. We have the Little Star Exp de Deuter, and we are delighted!
- For the meals: it will be necessary to not forget bottles (normal/isothermal), small pots to store and a box to put the portions of milk ready to use.
- Nomadic seat: We bought one from Badabulle, very easy to store and quite light,
- A baby phone: we never had one, but it can be used if you don’t sleep in the same room and your child doesn’t sleep through the night yet (it will get better, I promise haha),
- A nomadic bathtub: I find it very practical, light and can be easily stored in the suitcase. We have an inflatable model that can be stored pretty much anywhere!
- Finally, a night light: I think it’s also essential to bring him his (or another) night light. There are small models like this one.
As I said in the introduction, I am not going to detail everything here since it will be the subject of a complete article. I talk about suitcase in the broad sense of the term. At first sight, I see:
- The contents of the changing bag (for Teo, I opted for a backpack) / handbag
- All the hygiene accessories (diapers, cream, gel, first aid kit, basic medicines etc…)
- Clothes: it varies according to the age but especially to the destination, always put a change in the changing bag.
- All necessary administrative documents
- Everything needed for meals
It may sound silly, but during our last 3 road trips (2 in New Zealand and 1 in the USA/Canada), we always used applications on our iPad/iPhone for the road, to be able to find our way, to know where to stop, etc. And I must say that we were very happy with the way we used them, which is a lot in relation to the baby, especially for: finding public toilets on the road (in case of need), parks (to stop for lunch and for the little one to play too), places with stores (to buy food for the baby – milk, diapers). My pediatrician had also recommended an app to know the equivalence of medications.
Here are our recommendations:
- Currency Fx
- Fizzer, to send small personalized postcards
I have to say that while preparing this article and searching what was said on the net about it, I was very surprised to see the content of some articles. I think we are quite relaxed parents, not really stressed by this and I think that we could have brought our baby almost anywhere, without it being particularly complicated.
Let’s say that if I had to give some points of attention, I would say:
- Avoid unstable countries: but actually, it has nothing to do with the fact of traveling with baby or not…,
- Be careful with harsh climates: bringing a baby in the middle of Siberia at -30° or in the middle of Mauritania at 40° may not be ideal. These are extremes, of course, but you get the idea. We have personally camped with a one-and-a-half year old baby in 0°, it can be done without worry if you are well equipped and if you don’t stress for nothing! You just have to take precautions for both hot and cold countries,
- Beware of the seasons: depending on the country, seasons vary enormously. Be careful.
- Altitude: it is not recommended to go to high altitude with a baby, especially during the first year. From about 2 years old, that’s fine! Maybe avoid the high altitude of Nepal or Bolivia at 4000 m, eh!
- Health risks: I don’t really know what to think about it. To tell the truth, I’m not sure I would really recommend someone not to go to the far end of Burma or Mozambique, under the pretext that it’s not that “clean”. Yes, the health risks are more important, but if you are careful enough, then I think you can go pretty much anywhere. This is our own vision of the thing, not a universal one…
- Finally, the time difference: clearly, you can travel anywhere, even to the other side of the planet with your baby. We have already done several round trips between Tahiti and Paris when Louis was a baby, and this was never a problem. He even adapts better than us to the time difference, I think. But I would advise not to do a long-distance flight with a big time difference over a short period of time. Let’s say 2 to 3 weeks is good. When Louis grew up, we adjusted him to our own time zone, with the technique of “I immediately adjust to the local time zone, even if it means I have to struggle against my tiredness, or I’m dead”!
I end this very long article on travelling with baby with some specific points about the means of transport. I have voluntarily excluded hiking as one of them, but this definitively could be the subject of a more detailed article.
We have flown so much with Louis when he was a baby that we do know the subject very well. We are not going to detail everything here, there is a complete article about it (there is a lot to say!) where we share with you our personal experience. A few points mentioned:
- The price of the ticket (it’s economical before two years),
- Various advice for the preparation, as well regarding the age of the baby and its evolution as the length of the flight or how to take care of the baby in airports,
- Equipment to consider for the plane (hygiene, clothing, meals, accessories, etc.)
- Advice on how to manage the baby on the plane (activities, air conditioning, location, crib, meals, earache, etc.).
The article is already so long that I can’t go into detail on all these specific points. In summary, I would say that it’s not a big deal to fly with baby, as long as you are well prepared for what’s ahead. Stay calm before and during the flight, even if it is not always easy when the baby is crying or agitated. But generally speaking, flying with a baby who doesn’t walk is, I find, much easier to manage (basically, he sleeps in the carrycot, he eats, he poops, that’s it!). As soon as he walks, you’ll have to go for a ride with him on the plane, haha! Want to know more about flying with a baby?
Living in the middle of the Pacific right now as we write this article, we’ve only taken the train with our baby in France (there’s no train in Tahiti huh). But we took the cable car in San Francisco, that counts, right?
Some interesting practical information to remember when taking the train with a baby:
- In France, up to 4 years old, his seat is free if you take him on your lap. Otherwise, to avoid having a kid moving around for several hours, you can pay €9 per seat,
- There are family areas in some trains with baby changing and play areas. In case there is nothing, I recommend to take seats in a square,
- You always have a corner to change your baby on the train,
- You can also heat your baby’s bottle in the nursery areas or simply ask the train staff at the bar car. Another tip is to get your baby used to drinking his bottle cold so that you don’t have to worry about bottle warmers (okay, it’s probably easier for us as we live in a warm place),
- It is perfectly possible to board a train with a stroller, a bike or a baby carrier. You can leave it between two cars or fold it up to store it,
- There is a Children+ discount card at the SNCF (75 €/year with 50% savings for the child and 25% for the companions),
For personal advice, I would say:
- Choose the most direct routes possible and avoid connections as much as possible (what a pain to get off and have to carry everything, especially if you are alone),
- Think about asking for the frequent flyer card, which allows you not to have to stamp your ticket at the station,
- Travel as light as possible: if you can, avoid carrying large suitcases and even the stroller since it quickly becomes complicated with a baby,
- It can be cold in the train (because of the air-conditioning) so I advise you to cover your baby well if this is the case,
- I recommend you to play with your baby and to show him his surroundings, while explaining to him that the train is a quiet place. The interest is to avoid being hated by all the neighbors of the car before the end of the journey. If you are with other parents, it should be fine, but not everyone is so understanding…
- Don’t let other people’s looks get to you. There will always be some who are not happy and will complain, no matter the situation. Take care of your child, that is already a good thing, while trying to do the best you can so that he doesn’t bother everyone. I know from experience that Louis often had “his preferences”. When he spotted someone he liked, and if that person was receptive and played along, I let it happen (it saves time, and everyone is happy, right?)
Even though we live in Tahiti, we have been driving around a lot lately, during three road trips abroad. Of course, during the last one, our son was 4 years old, so not really a baby anymore. But for his first road trip, he was one and a half, which I still consider as “little”. We did 4000 km in New Zealand without too much trouble.
According to our experience in car, here are the advice I would give you if you plan to travel with baby in car:
- Travel time: try to calculate well the departure travel time and to add a little more time for the breaks that you will surely take with your baby. They are essential in our opinion and allow everyone to relax a little too!
- Travel hours: ideally, you should opt for times when you have the best chance of your baby falling asleep, so during nap time for example, right after lunch. That’s the theory. In practice, if you are on a road trip, you will probably take the car and move around every day, so you will not have much choice and you’ll usually be driving in the morning, just after breakfast, which brings me to the next point,
- Keeping him busy on the road: Of course, they are going to need to be occupied and we always leave with new games/toys so that the baby can have a discovery moment! I also advise you to play with him, for example on small simple games. We also spend a lot of time simply looking out the window. If you have a curious baby who likes to discover things, you can awaken him to the maximum by making him discover many new things that he does not know yet, or that he is not used to see (animals for example),
- Snacks: always remember to bring a little something to eat and drink for the road. It is important that everything is easily accessible of course (and I know what I am talking about…),
- Organization of the car: try as best as possible to organize yourself so that you have everything at disposal and he can also access his toys,
- Music and screens: we always plan a small playlist on a USB key that we plug into the rental car. After having listened to the same song 40 times because he likes it, we quickly get crazy, haha! About screens, everyone has his own way of doing things. From time to time, on long trips, we gave him our iPad with educational games adapted for babies. It makes the time go by. Well, I advise you anyway to set a time limit so that it doesn’t become a habit in the car,
- Diapers and bottles: it’s sometimes a bit of a hassle on a car trip. Things are simple in my opinion: you will have to stop to change baby’s diaper from time to time. For the bottles, we only heated them a little bit as a rule so it wasn’t a problem in itself. I would say that you have two solutions, either you prepare everything in advance (by bringing with you hot or warm water) and you just have to pour the milk, or you can simply take advantage of this moment to stop in a place and take a moment to give the bottle to your little one. For women who are breastfeeding, obviously the question will not arise: you will have to stop driving!
Well, I’m coming to the end of this article. I should apologize for having written so much (well, we have written so much!) because Melanie has participated quite a bit and finally, she also writes a lot when it is a subject in which she takes a keen interest. Traveling with baby is a really fun thing to do. You will have to adapt yourself a little bit, but frankly, I would say that you can do almost anything you want to do with a baby! Stay calm, don’t worry and everything will be fine!
Don’t hesitate to tell me what you thought of this first baby-oriented article, and we’ll see you soon for another one!
See you soon,
Mel and Sylvain